How To Guides

How to Play Piano in 8 Easy Steps

Posted on September 26, 2019

If you’ve always had a secret desire to be able to sit at the piano and roll out a great song to an admiring audience, but felt that the work to get to that point is too overwhelming, read on.

It’s very possible to learn how to play 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 music is a bit harder, but if you have a really good musical ear and can pick out a tune on the piano, then you’re half way there. 

If you want to go on to play lots of different songs, then you should seriously consider learning a lot of chords, and learning to read music – at least the right hand notes – as this will open up a whole world of possibilities. 

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 time is what you’re short on right now, try the following steps. You can start to learn piano this way and then take piano lessons at a later time. 

So here’s how to play piano in just 8 easy steps. 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 are in groups of 2 and 3, 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.

Piano Keyboard White Keys Pattern Of Notes

Your first step to learn how to play 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’s first, then all the G’s and so on. You’ll be surprised at how fast you remember where they are. 

Step 2 – Start to play piano with the right hand

This is just to get some more experience finding your way around on the keyboard, making it easier to learn piano, and also to get some finger dexterity.  

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 piano and place your right thumb on it.  Let the other fingers fall over the other notes naturally. So 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, and 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 for hand position changes that come later. 

Play Piano With Right Hand

The tab line itself is laid out intuitively. There are six lines that run horizontally (left to right) across the page. Each line represents a string on your guitar: the line on the bottom is the 6th string (the thickest), and the line at the top is the 1st string (the thinnest). It’s like looking down at your guitar laying in lap, with the big E-string closest to you, and the little E-string furthest away.

Now, play your first song!  Play the following finger numbers – where 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

Play Piano With 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 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 3 notes played together at the same time.  

Build a chord by playing the note that has 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: 

Piano C Major Chord

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.  

Piano F Major Chord

Now try a G chord.  It should look that this: 

Piano G Major Chord

Now play a D chord, like this: 

Piano D Minor Chord

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” and they sound happy.  

If you use all white notes, an E chord also comes out minor:

Piano E Minor Chord

And so does an A chord:

Piano A Minor Chord

Any minor chord can be made into a major chord by moving the middle note up one step.  In the case of a chord of A, the C moves up to the nearest black note, C sharp:

Piano A Major Chord

Likewise, any major chord can be made minor by moving the middle note down one step to the nearest black note.  Here is C minor: 

Piano C Minor Chord

Spend some time finding these chords and listening to see if 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.  

Let’s take the Beatles song “Hey Jude”.  The first four chords are: 

G, A, A, D

The first word, “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 5 or 6 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 with them.  

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’re able to, or you can learn to read the right hand notes and get the music notes.  This just depends on how good your musical instincts are. It’s not necessary to read 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: 

Piano Notes

It’s easiest to learn the lines and spaces separately and 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:

Piano Notes Above The Staff

There are two more important signs 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 got 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. 

So, do you think you can learn the piano easily?  I hope you’ve got the hang on it! Show your friends and family what you can do!  Get a program together of a few songs or piano pieces that you can play and make your dream of being able to play piano come true! 

To your success!