Have you always had a secret desire to be able to sit at the piano and roll out a great song to an admiring audience? If you feel that the work to get to that point is too overwhelming, read on.
It’s possible to learn how to play the piano quickly and easily. You can play using chords, which you can learn very fast while singing the tune. Or, you can play the chords with the left hand and learn to play the tune with the right hand. Learning the tune without reading sheet music is a bit harder, but if you have a good musical ear and can pick out a tune on the piano, you’re halfway there.
If you want to go on to play lots of different songs, then you should consider learning a lot of chords, as well as how to read music (at least the right-hand notes). This will open up a whole world of possibilities for your piano playing skills.
Of course, you can find a teacher and take piano lessons. This is always a good thing to do, but it’s a big commitment of time and money. If you’re short on time, try the following steps when learning to play. You can start with these easy steps and then take piano lessons at a later time.
So here’s how to play piano in just 8 easy steps. Be sure to spend some time on each step.
STEP 1: LEARN THE LAYOUT OF THE PIANO KEYBOARD
This is quick and easy to do. Notice the pattern of the black notes. They’re in groups of two and three, all up and down the piano. Find a group of two black notes, then find the white note immediately to the left of them, and you have the note C.
The piano notes are named like the alphabet: A, B, C, D, E, F, G. After G, the alphabet pattern starts again. Notice how the notes are always in the same place in relation to the set of black notes: every A is between the top two black notes in a set of three, and so on.
Your first step when learning how to play the piano is to play and name all the notes, getting quicker at finding them as you go. A good way to do this is to find all the C notes first, then all the G notes, and so on. You’ll be surprised at how fast you remember where they are on the keyboard.
STEP 2: START TO PLAY PIANO WITH THE RIGHT HAND
This is just to get some more experience finding your way around the keyboard. It is much easier to learn how to play when you are familiar with the keys. You’ll also be getting some finger dexterity practice along the way.
Number your fingers 1 through 5, 1 being the thumb and 5 being the pinky. Find the C that’s in the middle of the keyboard and place your right thumb on it. Let the other fingers fall over the other notes naturally. Now you should have 1 on C, 2 on D, 3 on E, 4 on F and 5 on G.
Lift your wrist so that you could balance something on the back of it. Next, round your hand a little bit so that you’re playing almost on the tips of your fingers, rather than with flat fingers. This makes it easier to play, and also makes it easier to change into hand positions that come later.
Now, to play your first song, play the following finger numbers. Whenever there is a — dash line next to a number, hold the note a bit longer:
3 2 1 2 3 3 3— 2 2 2— 3 5 5— 3 2 1 2 3 3 3 3 2 2 3 2 1—
Pretty simple, right? Trust us—it is!
STEP 3: PRACTICE PLAYING PIANO WITH YOUR LEFT HAND
To learn piano properly, you want to play with both hands. Place your left pinky on the C below middle C (8 notes lower). You should have 5 on C, 4 on D, 3 on E, 2 on F and 1 on G. Now try playing these finger numbers:
3 4 5 4 3 3 3— 4 4 4— 3 1 1— 3 4 5 4 3 3 3 3 4 4 3 4 5—
If you heard the same tune, you got it right!
STEP 4: PLAY PIANO WITH TWO HANDS
Now play the same song with two hands, each hand in the same position you’ve just practiced. The top line here is the right hand and the bottom line is the left hand. Notice that your hands are moving in the same direction the whole time:
RH: 3 2 1 2 3 3 3— 2 2 2— 3 5 5— 3 2 1 2 3 3 3 3 2 2 3 2 1—
LH: 3 4 5 4 3 3 3— 4 4 4— 3 1 1— 3 4 5 4 3 3 3 3 4 4 3 4 5—
Now that you have an idea of how to play piano with two hands, we can move on to the next step.
STEP 5: LEARN TO PLAY PIANO CHORDS
Chords are three or more notes played together at the same time.
Build a chord by playing the note with the same name as the chord you want to play. So for instance, if you want to play a C chord, you start by playing C. Now skip over the next note (D) and play E. Then skip over the next note (F) and play G. You should have this pattern:
Now build an F chord. Start by playing F, skip a note and play A, skip another note and play C. Play all three notes together and you have an F chord.
Now try a G chord. It should look that this:
Now play a D minor chord, like this:
Can you hear that it has a different quality than the other chords? It sounds kind of sad. This means that it’s a minor chord. The other chords you played were major chords and they sound happy.
If you use all white notes, an E chord also comes out minor:
And so does an A chord:
Any minor chord can be made into a major chord by moving the middle note up one step. In the case of the A chord, the C moves up to the nearest black note, C sharp:
Can you hear the difference between the A minor and major chords? Like with the A major, any major chord can be made minor by moving the middle note down one step to the nearest black note. We already looked at C major. Here is C minor instead:
Spend some time finding these chords and try listening to whether they are major or minor. In every case, the note you build the chord on is still the name of the chord.
STEP 6: START LEARNING A PIANO SONG WITH CHORDS
You can find the chords for almost any song you want to play online or in a book of songs, whether you want to play classical music or a popular pop song.
Let’s take the Beatles song “Hey Jude”. The first four chords are:
G, A, A, D
The first word of the song, “Hey”, comes before you play your first chord. The next four chords are:
G, D, A, D
and then the whole pattern repeats.
You’ll find that most popular songs only have five or six chords in them. Usually, most of the song has a repeated pattern of four chords.
A lower case “m” indicates the chord should be minor. If there is nothing after the letter name, then the chord should be major.
How are you doing so far? Practice these chords a lot, and then try singing along.
STEP 7: PLAY THE TUNE
Play the tune or just a few notes of it to guide you as you sing. You can either pick these out by ear if you can, or you can learn to read the right-hand notes and get the music notes. This depends on how good your musical instincts are. It’s not necessary to read sheet music to learn how to play piano, but it does help to learn more songs.
STEP 8: LEARN TO READ THE RIGHT-HAND NOTES
Notes are written on five lines and the noteheads (the round bit) alternate with the line going through the middle of them (line notes) or sitting in between the lines (space notes). Like this:
It’s easiest to learn the lines and spaces separately. When working out what letter the note is, just use F A C E for the space notes and E G B D F for the line notes.
Notes can be written below and above the staff. The note just below the five lines is D and the note below that with its own line through it is Middle C. The space note that sits on the top of the staff is G and the next note up is A:
There are two more important symbols that you need to know: a “flat” (represented with a little b) which flattens the note down to the nearest black note and a “sharp” (#) which pushes the note up to the nearest black note. Sharps and flats always appear in front of the note they affect.
Once you have the hang of reading the right-hand notes, try reading the music for a song you like and putting the chords in your left hand. If you want to learn how to play a song on piano, it’s good to start with something you are familiar with already.
Putting it all together: Learn how to play piano in 8 easy steps
Okay, we have covered a lot by now. Let’s recap the steps that’ll help you when learning to play:
- Learn the layout of the keyboard
- Start to play piano with the right hand
- Practice playing piano with your left hand
- Play piano with two hands
- Learn to play piano chords
- Start learning a piano song with chords
- Play the tune
- Learn to read the right-hand notes
So, do you think you can learn the piano easily? I hope you’ve got the hang of it. Learning piano is not something that happens overnight, so keep practicing and don’t get discouraged.
Get together a selection of a few songs or piano pieces that you can play and make your dream of becoming a skilled pianist a reality. Show your friends and family what you can do!