Getting Started with the Piano

Know The Keys

First, let’s keep it simple. There are two kinds of keys on the piano: black and white. These keys alternate in a consistent pattern. There are sets of two black keys and sets of three (known as accidentals), and the rest of the keys are white (the naturals).

The white keys follow a consistent pattern from A through G. D is always located between a set of two black, or accidental, keys, so you always know where you if you can locate D. In total, the standard piano has 88 keys, 52 naturals and 36 accidentals, which are the sharps and flats.

For now, we’ll use the right hand. Place your pointer finger on the closest D (remember, it’s the white key between the two black ones above it). Now, slide it over two white keys to the F. Next, put your middle finger two white keys over, on the A, and your ring finger over on the C that’s another two keys away. If you keep this simple formation you can move up and down the keys to play various chords. Below you will find the 24 Basic Major and Minor Chords.

Identify the repeating pattern of keys on the piano. Find the note "C" on your keyboard, as shown in the image above. This is the first note of the C Major scale: C, D, E, F, G, A, B, and back to C.

Note the pattern of white keys: three white keys enclosing two black keys, and four white keys enclosing three black keys.
You can also see it this way: the black keys repeat a five-key pattern of two black keys separated by one white key, then two white keys, then three black keys separated by one white key, then two white keys.
This pattern is constant on all keyboards. Every note on the keyboard is represented in this single 12-note octave—they're just higher or lower in pitch.


Note that each black key has two possible names. For example, there is C sharp (C?) and D flat (D?). What you call this note depends on what key you are in or what chord you are playing. Here are the names of the notes on the black keys:
1st black key in the group is C? or D?
2nd black key in the group is D? or E?
3rd black key in the group is F? or G?
4th black key in the group is G? or A?
5th black key in the group is A? or B?
Notice that to find the note of a black key, you either go to the white key immediately before (to the left of) it and use a sharp sign, or you go to the white key immediately after (to the right of) it and use a flat sign.

Octive 1


Start by finding Middle C. This note belongs in the octave 4, and is highlighted in red, above.
Go down or up to reach the octave that your key is in, decreasing or increasing the octave number respectively as you go.

Learning what the written notes look like can also help you understand the relationship of the notes.

Here is a chart showing what the white notes look like, musically, starting at C4 (the C in the 4th octave).
Here is a chart showing what the black notes look like, musically, starting at C?4. On the top line, the notes are written as sharps. On the bottom line notes are written as flats. Though they look different, they sound exactly the same.

This is the lowest note playable and it is designated A0 (the A at the zeroth octave).

The keys you'll encounter are detailed as follows:

First (left-most or lowest) white key is: A0
2nd white key is: B0
3rd white key is: C1

Notice and repeat the following pattern for the remainder of the white keys, starting at the third white key:

3rd white key is: C1
4th white key is: D1
5th white key is: E1
6th white key is: F1
7th white key is: G1
8th white key is: A1
9th white key is: B1
10th white key is: C2
Notice how, after reaching B1, the pattern will repeat again for the next higher octave: C2. This pattern continues up the keyboard: C2 to C3, C3 to C4, and so on.


Starting at the lowest black note on the keyboard—at the leftmost side—the first black key is A?0 or B?0.

The symbol ? is read as sharp', and the symbol ? is read as flat.

Move up (to the right) in the keyboard, you'll find the following group of 5 black keys immediately after the first black key:

2nd black key is C?1 or D?1.
3rd black key is D?1 or E?1.
4th black key is F?1 or G?1.
5th black key is G?1 or A?1.
6th black key is A?1 or B?1.
As with the white keys, the black keys continue the same pattern up the keyboard.

Tips

Memorize all the white and black notes for one octave—C to C. Once you have those memorized, they are exactly the same for every octave on the keyboard. Whether your keyboard has 2 octaves or 8, it's all the same!
When starting to learn the piano, spend time watching your hands and learning the right position. Practice the proper posture when playing as this is very important as you progress. It is always harder to undo bad habits!

Warnings

Do not write the names of the notes directly onto a piano or keyboard. Some keyboards have the note names written already so if you really want that feature, buy one of those. However, the practice itself is not recommended. While it may seem easier at first, It will become a crutch that will actually slow down your progress.

  2014 Progressive Edge Records