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Piano Lessons For Beginners: Lesson Three
In this lesson you're going to start reading music. First, take a look at the image below. It's a picture of the keyboard showing middle C.
In this lesson we're going to move away from the black keys and start using the white keys. To get ready, you'll need to put both hands in the middle C position, with both thumbs on the key known as middle C.
It might feel strange at first, with two thumbs sharing the same note. Try to relax and don't worry if they're a bit crowded. With a bit of practice they'll sort each other out. Play the notes on each hand in this new position before proceeding to the next step.
Start with either hand and play the notes from your thumb to your little finger, fingers 1 to 5, giving each finger its own unique note to play.
Notes C to G and F to C
Now that you've got your hands in the middle C position, it's time to start playing music. We'll begin with some letter names of notes, just to get your fingers moving, and then we'll move on to notation.
Try to play the following exercise, starting with the right hand and finishing with the left hand. Notice that the finger numbers are written above the notes. If you find it confusing, try reading only the finger numbers to start with.
Did you manage it? I'm sure you did. You may have noticed that while the right hand pattern starts with the thumb and ends with the little finger, the left hand moves in the opposite direction. This isn't meant to confuse you -- it's just written that way to make the melody end on C.
We're going to play this melody by reading it from musical notation. Before we do that, though, here is a table of musical symbols for you to have a look at. Read through them carefully until they make sense to you.
Table of Musical Symbols
You might have noticed that the first item in the table is a note you've already played a few times. It's the one-beat note or quarter note. If it's still a bit confusing, don't panic. It'll make more sense when you get to to the next section of the lesson.
Good work! Now let's put everything together in a song using real musical notation.
Below is the musical notation for the song you played earlier in the lesson. That means that you should already be able to play it. This time, though, it's written out properly as a piece of music. See if you can play it without looking back at the earlier version.
Remember to keep your hands in the middle C position, with both thumbs on C. Play the right hand first, and then the left hand.
Real Piano Music!
Well done! Now here's the same piece of music written out in full musical notation for the piano or keyboard.
You'll notice there are two independent parts, one for the right hand and one for the left. We call the lines that music is written on a staff, and each hand gets its own staff. In this example the right hand plays notes on the top staff, written in the treble clef, and the left hand plays notes on the bottom staff, written in the bass clef.
You'll also notice that when the right hand plays on its own, there's nothing written below in the left hand part, and vice versa. The whole thing is like a timeline moving from left to right, and it also tells you exactly when to come in with the left hand. Have a go at playing it from the full notation.
What a Star!
Congratulations! You did it!
Did you notice that some of the finger numbers were missing? By this stage you're getting so good at playing that you only need hints to be able to play.
Reading music isn’t really that difficult when you know what to do, is it? There's a lot to remember, though. Make sure you understand everything before moving on to the next lesson. Don't be afraid to go through earlier lessons if you need to refresh your memory.
See you in Lesson Four! And please vote in my poll if you get a second.