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Learning Notes On The Piano

Updated on October 5, 2016

Introduction To Learning Notes On The Piano

A piano is a keyboard instrument. You make a sound by pressing the black and white keys. You can get upright versions , as seen in the photograph of my piano and mini grand and grand versions which spread out more.

Many people have a piano tucked away in the living room or spare bedroom. And, you are one of these people who have a piano in your house and are keen to learn how to play it. That's great, because playing the piano is very rewarding.

This lens gives you an introductory overview on learning notes on the piano. You may be keen enough to keep learning and eventually be able to play your favourite tunes for fun and relaxation.

Pianos For Sale

If you would like to learn the piano and have not got a piano floating around in your living room then.....you can purchase one. There are many options to choose from. You need to think about the space you have for one. Do you want an upright version like I have or a grand option or an electronic piano? Then there is the make, colour and price options to consider.

Upright Piano

Yamaha Upright Piano
Yamaha Upright Piano

My upright piano is not a Yamaha but Yamaha instruments are very good. I own a Yamaha Keyboard.

 

Electronic Piano

Yamaha Arius YDP-181 Traditional Console Style Digital Piano  with Bench, Rosewood
Yamaha Arius YDP-181 Traditional Console Style Digital Piano with Bench, Rosewood

Here is another Yamaha piano option in a different colour and it is electronic.

Electronic pianos are generally cheaper than acoustic pianos.

 

Introduction To The Piano

When you start learning notes on the piano you will need to know how to sit properly with a good sitting posture, the position your arms, hands and fingers are in order to play good sounding notes and fingering.

Sitting posture

You need to sit upright on a comfortable chair or piano stool with a straight back and feet firmly on the floor. If you are too short eg a child, to get your feet on the floor , then use a stool or a few books to put your feet on. See the diagram. Note the straight arm position.

Arm-Hand-Finger Position

Your arms should come directly out from the piano so that your arm-wrist-hands are in a straight line. The seat needs to be at a comfortable distance away from the piano in order for you to do this.

Your hands-fingers should be curved such that you imagine holding a small ball without it dropping or a bubble in your hand without it popping. The fingers can then touch the keys lightly on top ready to play as in the first diagram below.To make a sound press the keys. A firm press will create a louder sound and a lighter press will produce a softer sound. Just remember to keep that curved hand-finger position when you are playing the piano.

Exercise:

Play any key, black or white, on the piano with your:

1. right hand

2. left hand

Try pressing keys firmly for loud playing and lightly for soft playing for each hand.

Correct Hand Position

and Good For

Piano Playing

Hand Position is

Not Correct Here

and is

Not Good

for Piano Playing

Fingering Numbers For Playing Notes On the Piano

When we play piano sheet music, finger numbers are placed near some notes so that we use that finger on that note each time we play.

Each finger is given a number with the thumb being number 1 and the little finger number 5.

Check out this poem and move the relevant fingers on both hands as you read through.

I'm the thumb , I'm number 1

How do you do, says number 2

Look at me, I'm number 3

Knock on the door, I'm number 4

I'm alive, says number 5


Exercises:

1. Draw around one hand, label it right hand or left hand and then write the finger numbers above the fingers.

I did this exercise with both my hands as seen the photogragh.

2. Now press a piano key with

a. the right hand 2nd finger, then right hand 4th finger

Have a look at the photo to the right.

I labelled my fingers and you can see my second finger

in right hand pressing down a white key.

b. the left hand 1st finger, then left hand 3rd finger

Look at my 3rd finger in the left hand

pressing down a white key in the

photo to the right

Introduction To Learning Black and White Notes On The Piano

When you look at the piano you see black keys and white keys.

When you press any of these keys you produce a note sound.

When you are learning notes on the piano you need to understand these black and white keys first.

You will also learn how to piano read sheet music. When you read piano sheet music you read the notes on the page and these notes will tell you exactly which piano keys to press down.

Let's look at the black and white keys in more detail.

Black Keys

You will see from the picture of my piano keys to the right, that the black keys are placed in repeated groups of 2 keys and 3 keys all the way from the lowest notes on the left hand side of the piano to the highest notes on the right hand side of the piano.

Let's Play MARY HAD A LITTLE LAMB

Method

1. Play the tune with your right hand and then left hand.

2. Pick any set of 3 black notes grouped together.

3. Remind yourself of the finger numbers you learnt earlier by saying

'1 , 2, 3, 4, 5 ' and moving the appropriate finger (" fingering" ) at the same time.

4. I have given a finger number for each black note on each hand as seen in

diagram. You are to use these finger numbers when playing the tune.

5. The finger numbers for the tune are written below. You are to press the

appropriate black key using the fingering as shown, counting 1 beat or count to

each finger number.

Please note that the word:

- "off' is 1 beat

- "oo" is 1 beat which means "oo-oo-oo" = 3 beats

~ the right hand and left hand have different fingering for the same tune.

Here is the tune:

Right Hand Fingering:

4 3 2 3 4 4 4 off 3 3 3 of 4 4 4 off

4 3 2 3 4 4 4 4 3 3 4 3 2 oo-oo-oo

Left hand Fingering:

2 3 4 3 2 2 2 off 3 3 3 off 2 2 2 off

2 3 4 3 2 2 2 2 3 3 2 3 4 oo-oo-oo

There are many pieces you can play using the black notes and finger numbers. This gives you practise at getting used to pressing keys down and using your finger numbers whilst playing simple tunes right away.

White Keys

The white keys are represented by the musical alphabet which is A B C D E F G

When you are learning white notes on the piano you can start off by learning note names and their position on the piano before reading notes on sheet music.

How do you know which white key is a B or C or G?

Well, white note names are found in relation to the black keys.

eg C's are always found directly to the left of the set of 2 black keys.

B's are always found directly to the right of the group of 3 black keys.

G's are always found directly to the right of the lowest black key in the group of three black keys.

Exercises:

1. With right hand thumb play C's on the upper half of the piano.

2. With left hand thumb play C's on the lower half of the piano.

3. With right hand third finger play B's on the upper half of piano.

4. With left hand third finger play B's down the lower half of the piano.

You may have heard of middle C. This is the C in the middle of the piano.

You can work out all the other note names and positions from using the position of C which you have just learnt. The next note to the right of C is D. The next note to the right of D is E and so on through the musical alphabet to G then A then B . The whole piano is derived from repetitions of A to G.

Please note that when you are learning piano notes in consecutive order up or down, you use your next door finger.

You can follow on this introduction to learning the piano with the help of a TUTOR BOOK and MUSIC LESSON either in person with a teacher or online, to give you step by step instructions for note by note learning.

Ode To Joy

Try the following piece using your finger numbers on the white keys.

Place your fingers evenly on the keys with finger number 1 on C, finger number 2 on D etc.

Here it is:

3 3 4 5 5 4 3 2

1 1 2 3 3 2 2 hold

3 3 4 5 5 4 3 2

1 1 2 3 2 1 1 hold

Good luck!

After this piece you may find learning notes on the piano using your fingering a little easier.

Musical Sounds

Top 10 of Classical Music: Classical
Top 10 of Classical Music: Classical

If you go to track 10 then you will hear Ode To Joy

 

Here is the sound of Ode To Joy - on something completely different

But it gives you the tune so you can get the idea of how it goes on the piano.

Learning Note Lengths On The Piano

When you hear a piece of music are all the sounds the same length? NO

Therefore you need to learn note lengths in the process of learning notes on the piano. When you start out as a beginner you will most likely come across the 4, 2 and 1 count notes lengths first. The 3 and 1/2 count note lengths get added as you learn more note names and musical terms associated with learning notes on the piano.

The order of which you learn note names and note lengths is dependant on whether you are taking lessons with a teacher or learning yourself through an ONLINE PIANO COURSE or a TUTOR BOOK.

The diagram to the right is a note tree.

There are big pictures, taken by me, of the note lengths below.

Note Lengths - Pictures Created By Me

Click thumbnail to view full-size
This is a 4 beat note called a semibreve or whole note.This is a 3 beat note called a dotted minim or dotted half note.This is a 2 beat note called a minim or half note.This is a 1 beat note called a crotchet or quarter note.This is a 1/2 note called a quaver or eighth note.
This is a 4 beat note called a semibreve or whole note.
This is a 4 beat note called a semibreve or whole note.
This is a 3 beat note called a dotted minim or dotted half note.
This is a 3 beat note called a dotted minim or dotted half note.
This is a 2 beat note called a minim or half note.
This is a 2 beat note called a minim or half note.
This is a 1 beat note called a crotchet or quarter note.
This is a 1 beat note called a crotchet or quarter note.
This is a 1/2 note called a quaver or eighth note.
This is a 1/2 note called a quaver or eighth note.

Note Length Exercises To Practise

Semibreve Exercises

1. Do the following using the semibreve or 4 count whole note.

a. Press any key on piano , with any finger using the right hand, for 4 counts i.e. press any key and count 1 2 3 4.

b. Repeat .a. using your left hand.

c. Press middle C with the first finger on right hand for 4 counts i.e. press C and count 1 2 3 4.

Variation:

play 2 C's in a row counting 4 counts ( 1 2 3 4 ) on each key

play 4 C's in a row counting 4 counts ( 1 2 3 4 ) on each key

d. Repeat .c. using your left hand first finger.

e. Press C and follow the rhythm, which I created myself, from the photo to the right,

A rhythm is a set of long and short notes of varying time lengths played one after the other.

Minim Exercise

2. Repeat exercises 1a,1b,1c,1d using the minim or 2 count half note instead of the semibreve or 4 count whole note.

Play C using the rhythm, which I created, as seen in the photo, to the right.

Crotchet Exercises

3. Repeat exercises 1a, 1b, 1c, 1d using the crotchet or 1 count quarter note instead of the semibreve or 4 count whole note.

Play C using the rhythm, which I created, seen at the right.

More Exercises to Practise Learning Notes On The Piano

What you can do is repeat the three exercises above:

1. using the other notes of the musical alphabet eg all D's , all Es etc.

2. using different notes names in a row eg C // C D // C D E F //

Then you can play rows of notes with varying note lengths and names. Remember to count carefully each note length. You can be creative and compose your own rhythm or 'row of notes.'

You can try playing your rhythm on one key first and then different keys. It may help to write down some note names and place them above the note lengths.

Try playing the example in photo. The blue numbers are the counts. And yes... I created this rhythm too.

Just remember the 3 P's : PLAY PLAY PLAY

The more you play the easier is gets.

Listen to some Piano Right Here

It is important to listen to some piano music to keep inspired. Perhaps you have a good ear and are able to replicate what you hear.

Movie Theme Songs - Piano Music
Movie Theme Songs - Piano Music

People go to movies and love to be able to play their favourite movie theme tunes.

 

Conclusion To Learning Notes On The Piano

There is a lot to learn when you are learning notes on the piano. You need to sit properly and use a correct hand position. You will learn that fingers are given numbers which are written beside notes on sheet music to make your playing easier. You will learn the musical alphabet or note names, their positions on the piano and note lengths. And this is just the beginning.

The next stage is to learn to read piano sheet music and to interpret these musical notes into playing the correct keys on the piano.

What Do You Think Of This Lens

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    • Ann Hinds profile image

      Ann Hinds 6 years ago from So Cal

      While I play, I have tried to teach my grandson. There are some helpful hints here that I am going to work with. Thanks. Angel blessed.

    • Irenebonjour LM profile image

      Irenebonjour LM 6 years ago

      great lens!! i find it very informative!! check out my lens, too. i'd posted videos of my original compositions there. thanks!!

    • JoyfulPamela2 profile image

      JoyfulPamela2 6 years ago from Pennsylvania, USA

      Awesome stuff for beginning musicians! I can't wait to read more of your lenses. *SquidAngel Blessed* and featured on "Musical Angel"! =D

    • Violin-Student profile image

      Violin-Student 8 years ago

      Some very good information here! Thanks a lot!

      Art Haule

      https://hubpages.com/technology/fiddlesticks

      http://www.violinstudent.com