Beginner Keyboard Lessons Part 1

Keyboard/Piano Lessons for Beginners

Learning the names of the notes

Piano Keyboards with keys labeled with notes

Please note that this illustration does not show the 88 keys found on acoustic pianos.

The black keys are located between the white keys. They are grouped in sets of two and three. For instance, C-sharp and D-sharp make up a group of two black keys while F-sharp, G-sharp and A-sharp make up a group of three. This two-and three-group black note sequence is consistent up and down the keyboard. The black keys are called sharp keys because they're slightly higher (sharper) than the white key that precedes it. For instance, the black key C-sharp is slightly higher in sound and pitch than the white key C. When playing in flat key signatures, the black keys are also called flat keys.

The note called middle C is located approximately in the middle of the keyboard. Actually, it's a little left of the middle-slightly left of the manufacturer's brand name on the fallboard. If you count up from the lowest note on a keyboard instrument that has 88 keys, middle C will be the 40thnote up from the bottom.

Applying Your Fingers to the Keys

Looking at your right hand, let's assign numbers to each of your fingers.

  1. thump

  2. index finger

  3. middle finger

  4. forefinger (ring finger)

  5. smallest finger

Two-finger exercise

This first series of exercises will use only your first two fingers: your thump (1) and your index finger (2).

Place your thumb on middle C, press down on the key, and release it. Repeat this action a number of times. Place your index finger on the D key and do the same. Play D a number of times. Using your thumb to play middle C and your index finger to play D, alternate playing both notes in the following sequence: C, D, C, D, C.. Try to play the two notes evenly with the same measured time for each note. Keep playing this simple two-finger exercise until it feels comfortable and sounds good.

Three finger exercises

Now let's add your third (middle) finger to the exercise. Place your third finger over the E key (key 3) and press and release it a few times. With your thumb positioned above middle C, your second finger above D, and your third finger above E, play the following sequence of notes: C, E, D, E, C, E, D, E, C, E, D, E... Another way of thinking and playing this exercise is to use the corresponding number of your fingering sequence: 1, 3, 2, 3, 1, 3, 2, 3, 1, 3, 2, 3....

example 1:

It's important to note that the middle C on your keyboard corresponds to the written quarter note C, located on one ledger line below the staff. This note is the first written note.

Now play reading the music. Your fingers and hand stay in the same position, so you don't have to look down at them. Instead, keep your eyes on the music. Keep repeating this exercise until it feels good and sounds good.

Using the same three fingers, place your thumb above the D key, index finger above the E key, and your middle finger above the F key. Play the following sequence of notes: D, F, E, F, D, F, E, F, D.... The corresponding numbers of your fingering sequence is exactly the same as 1, 3, 2, 3, 1, 3, 2, 3...

example 2:


You have just played the first in a series of sequential exercises. The fingering configuration - 1, 3, 2, 3, 1, 3, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3, - can be played on any group of three piano keys.

Beginner Keyboard/Piano Lessons Part 2

Beginner Keyboard/Piano Lessons Part 2

Noting the Symbols

Before we continue with the exercises, let's take a close look at all the symbols used in Part 1.

First, we see a treble clef sitting on the far left of the staff.

The treble clef is also called the G clef because the curl wraps around and stops at the G line on the staff. This clef tells you that the letter names of the lines and spaces on the staff are: E, F, G, A, B, C, D, E and F. Next, we see the first note D, which is a quarter note

and whose value is one quarter beat in the measure. As you can see, the quarter note is shaped like a filled-in circle with a stem attached to it. The following F, E and F are also quarter notes. So, we have four quarter notes (D, F, E, F) in the first measure.

Immediately following the fourth quarter note in the first measure is a bar line. The bar line separates the measures on the staff and keeps the four quarter notes together in one measure. The next measure (measure 2) is an exact repetition of measure 1: same notes, same keys, same fingering, and same number of beats in the measure. The same is true in measure 3 - a direct repetition of measures 1 and 2. Again, please notice the bar lines separating each measure.

In measure 4 we see only one quarter note followed by a quarter rest

(the curved zigzag line) and a half rest

(the small rectangular block that sits on the middle line of the staff). A quarter rest equals a quarter beat, and a half rest equals two beats. The combined value of one quarter note, one quarter rest, and one half rest gives us four beats in measure 4. The first beat has sound, which is the quarter note D. The second beat is silent, represented by the quarter rest. And the third and fourth beats are silent, represented by the half rest. The symbol we see at the very end of the staff is called a double bar line.

The double bar line means this is the end of the piece.

Beginner Keyboard/Piano Lessons Part 3

Beginner Keyboard/Piano Lessons Part 3

Moving up the Keyboard

Let's continue with the exercises using the same sequence starting on different notes. Just like in Part 1 of the beginner Keyboard/Piano Lessons.

As you can see in example 3, the fingering is exactly the same as example 1 and example 2. The only differences are the pitches and letter names of the notes. You're simply moving your fist three fingers up the keyboard and playing the same sequence. Play example 3 starting with your thumb playing the E key, followed by your middle finger playing the G key, and your index finger playing the F key.

example 3

Remember: As you play the exercises, try to play the quarter notes evenly, since they all have the same equal value.

If you get lost during the course of playing these exercises, refer to example 2. This illustration shows you where the letter names of the notes on the staff are relative to the piano keys. For instance, the first note in example 4 is F which is four notes above middle C on your piano. Play example 4 starting with your thumb playing the F key, followed by your middle finger playing the A key etc.

example 4

Looks like there's something new in example 5.

example 5

Immediately following the treble clef are two fours, one on top of the other. This is a time signature. The top number four tells you there are four beats per measure, and the bottom number four represents the quarter note, telling you the quarter note gets the beat. Examples 1, 2, 3 and 4 are also in 4/4 time. This time start the sequence on the A key.

example 6

Something new has been added in example 6. The word moderato in the upper left-hand corner indicates the rate of speed at which the exercise should be played. Moderato is an Italian word that means 'moderately' - not too fast and not too slow. This is the tempo (rate of speed) at which the music is to be played.

The first note in example 7 is B.

example 7

There is a change in the placement and direction of he quarter note stems in example 5,6 and 7. In the previous exercises, all of the quarter note stems are placed on the right side of the notes and go upward. When notes are on the middle line of the staff (B) and higher, note stems are placed on the left side of the note and go downward. Directly below the 4/4 time signature is the symbol mf. This symbol stands for the Italian term mezzo forte, which in English means 'medium loud'. example 7 should be played at a moderate tempo and played medium loud.

Example 8 introduces another musical symbol called the repeat sign.

right repeat sign jpg

It is located immediately to the right of the 4/4 time signature and again at the end of measure 4. As you can see, a repeat sign is a double bar line with two small circles in the A and C spaces of the staff. There is also written text telling you to repeat three times at the end of measure 4. This tells you that after you have played the exercise once, you are to repeat the entire exercise twice. In doing so, you will have played the exercise a total of three times.

example 8

Be sure to give the quarter rest and the half rest in measure 4 their full values totaling three beat of silence - one beat for the quarter rest, two beats for the half ret. It might help to count one, two, three, four for each beat per measure. For instance in measures 1, 2 and 3, as you're playing the quarter notes C, E, D, E say on, two, three, four. When you get to measure 4, count one for the C note, two for the quarter rest, and three four for the half rest.