What Are Piano Chords
Okay, weve talked about notes and keys on your piano. But unless you want to just plunk out songs one note at a time , you need to learn more about piano chords and what piano chords are. My approach is all about helping my students learn to build chords groups of notes that sound good together and add depth to your playing.
Most chords have three notes in them. And most traditional piano teachers teach you to play them by looking at sheet music, figuring out the notes within each chord as they appear, and playing them in your left or right hand depending on whether they are in the treble or bass clef. Sounds complicated. Right?
Im happy to tell you that the way I teach chords is so much easier actually, some people tell me it sounds too good to be true!
Practicing With A Metronome
Practicing with a metronome is often the single difference between a successful and great sounding musician and one who is meddling, and plays poorly. You can use a metronome when you are first learning a song to help solidify the rhythm. The only thing to remember is consistency is the key. With Skoove, you can practice and consistently expand your skills as a pianist. With the new metronome feature, you can make sure that your rhythmic skills are advancing. Skoove has added a metronome feature to their iOS, Android and Mac app for users to practice with. The Skoove metronome allows users to adjust the tempo in their practice all inside the Skoove app.
Now you have the combination of hundreds of lessons on repertoire, theory and more with the added benefit of a metronome!
How To Play Notes On A Piano
Now, it is time to start playing some notes! The simplest way to do this is to find a note on the keyboard and then press down on the key. You can also hold down multiple keys at once to create piano chords. The most common chords are major and minor chords. To play major chords, hold down the first, third, and fifth keys in a row. To play a minor chord, hold down the first, flat third, and fifth keys in a row.
There are eight notes on a scale: C D E F G A B C. The most common scale is the C major scale. To play this scale, start on note C and then play each successive key up until you reach C again. Then, you can start over from the beginning or move on to another scale.
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I Want To Host A Caroling Party
We had a mom who took lessons just to be able to play Baby, Its Cold Outside for a Christmas party, says Lipson. She and the teacher sang it as a duet at the party, and it was amazing. For finding songs at an appropriate level for absolute beginners, Lipson recommends The Easy Christmas Songs Fake Book. The songs are all in the key of C, so once you sort that out, youre good to go.
Beginners should know they may need more time to get performance-ready than they think. People think it sounds simple, so they show up six months before, says Yedidia. But then they realize they lack all the beginner skills, like a basic reading ability or even simple finger coordination, and that simple song is at an intermediate level. He recommends starting lessons a year in advance of your event. This way, youre not stressed out there and making mistakes and suffering in the moment. You really want to enjoy the moment.
One Great Teacher:Kai Ono, independent and Natalia Huang Piano StudioOnos familiarity with arrangements and independent composers makes him an especially good choice to work with on a specific project, like performing at a friends wedding.
The Dream Vs The Reality
Most of us want to sit down at our pianos or keyboards and effortlessly whirl our way through our favorite tunes. Its easy, it sounds great, and its a great way to enjoy music in a creative way. Awesome!
Now heres the grim reality: Playing piano isnt like that for most people. Most people find it complicated and confusing. Many people find practice sessions boring and discouraging. And a lot of people who study this instrument arent happy with their results, even if they have a lot of time-consuming lessons and practice under their belts. Even easy songs to play on piano might take a lot of work to learn.
The dream versus the reality what a difference.
Personally, Im really bummed when I think about all the people who toil through lessons they hate for results they dont love. I was one of them for a long time. It sucks.
But I dont just relate to that frustrated feeling Ive moved past it. After giving up on learning to play piano for a while, I had the good fortune of meeting someone who introduced me to another method that worked better for me. Having information presented in a way that I could understand and easily apply made all the difference.
Knowledge is power. Knowing your needs plus your options is the best way to find the right approach for you. Lets look at what you need to learn to play piano. But before we continue with the rest of the article, heres a quick video I made showing you just how easy learning piano can be:
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Get Your Own Piano Or Keyboard
You cant learn how to teach yourself piano if you dont have one! Even if theres a public place where you have access to a piano, its far better if you have one in the privacy of your home. That means its time to make an investment.
Acoustic pianos typically range in price from $2,000 to $10,000 or more for some high-quality concert grand pianos. Obviously, as a beginner, you dont need a grand piano, but youll at least want a quality instrument to practice on. Acoustic pianos are large and heavy, and require regular tuning to remain playable. Even though these aspects seem like downsides, nothing can truly replace the sound and feel of a real piano.
If the cost is an issue for you, however, a digital keyboard is a totally acceptable place to start. A full 88-key version starts at about $150. Remember, youll also need a keyboard stand, piano bench, and sustain pedal. The more features you want , the higher the investment will be. Most importantly, dont be tempted by inexpensive, low-quality keyboards. Insist on weighted keys, which is the key to achieving different dynamics in the music you play.
TakeLessons Live is perfect for beginners. Its an online learning subscription where you get unlimited piano classes in small group settings taught by an expert pianist. Sign up for a free 30-day trial.
Piano Basics : Finger Numbers
Because you will be playing music written on a grand staff, this means you will be playing both low and high pitch notes. Often, your right hand will play the melody or the high pitched notes while your left hand plays the accompaniment or the low pitched notes. An easy way to practice getting used to this is by numbering your fingers.
For finger numbers, your thumbs are number one, your index fingers are two, your middle fingers are three, your ring fingers are four and finally, your pinky fingers are five.
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Playing Both Hands At Once
Now, heres where things get a little trickier!
Place your right hand in position for the five finger scale, starting at Middle C.
Then, place your left hand in position on the octave below, the 3rd octave, where your pinky will start on C3.
Now, play C with both hands at the same time.
Feels weird, doesnt it?
Now, play D with both hands. Remember, it will be opposite fingers of both hands your ring finger on your left hand will play D3, and your pointer finger of your right hand will play D4.
Practice going up and down the scale together with both hands to get the hang of it!
Apply The 80/20 Principle
The 80/20 principle has become popular in business and skill development. Its a simple principle when you take a look at it.
The idea is that 80% of your progress will come from 20% of the work you do. How does knowing this help though?
Dont put all your efforts into learning every piano skill you can. Only focus on the skills that once you master will make everything else you learn easier.
You can also use this principle to play the music you want to focus on. Chances are what you want to play only uses a subset of the types of playing out there. Focus on what you need to know to play the music you enjoy.
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What And How To Learn
Formal, in-person lessons arent the only option for learning how to play an instrument. There are many other options available across the internet.
You can find some free tutorials on YouTube. Remember that the qualities of these can vary. If youre willing to pay some more, there are many online lesson programs available.
Also, playing piano isnt just running your fingers through exercises. Learning music theory fundamentals can be very helpful. Consider researching these online to help you improve your playing.
Melody And Playing By Ear
Heres where things can get a bit more complicated. Learning melody and incorporating ear training take some extra work. But the payoff can be truly worthwhile.
Why do melody and playing by ear go hand in hand? Well, training yourself to hear changes in the music precisely is a good way to develop melodies without sheet music. When you can pick out melodies without needing to sight-read, you can spend a lot less time worrying about individual notes or mimicking the original song like a robot. Learning how to play piano by ear allows for more personality in your playing.
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Choosing The Right App To Start Learning
Learning online by yourself can be a very intimidating prospect, because how can you as a beginner tell if an app is good or not? The simplest way is to make sure there is a lot of well written, easy to access information, a large music library, and the ability for the app to tell you if youre playing the correct notes or not, the same as a teacher would be able to.
Choose the right app for learning to play the piano.
Warm Up Before You Practice
It might not seem like a lot, but your hands are doing a lot of work. Like the rest of your body, if you dont make sure they are ready to work, you can risk injury.
Before you begin, stretch your hands and perform warm-up exercises. This stretching will help blood flow to your hands and remove any stiffness in them.
You can also get into the right frame of mind by practicing simple techniques and progressions before you start your practice. A good set of exercises to learn are the Hanon exercises.
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Learn How To Quickly Find The Notes On The Keyboard
To quickly find the notes on the keyboard, you need to look at the keyboard and quickly make out these two groups:
The idea is actually quite simple. In Group 1 we have two black notes while in Group 2 we have three.
The note that shall always be under the first black note in Group 1 is Do , and under Group 2 it is Fa .
If you learn this simple information by heart, it will be easier for you to find the other notes. For example, if you want to find mi, you just need to count two white keys after do. If you want to find sol, then this shall be one white key after fa.
Another way of memorising the location of the notes is through songs. The following lesson is a good example of how this can be done in practice:
The Correct Posture And Finger Position
Remember our method of assigning a number to each finger? This was a tool to prevent your fingers from tripping over each other. For the finger technique to work, however, your hands must be correctly positioned.
Figure 1 shows the correct hand position: The back of the hand is parallel to the piano keys. Try it yourself! Hold your hand over the keyboard as shown in Figure 1.
See how your forearm is parallel to the keyboard?
When youre ready, play a note. Remember that the anchor point is in your wrists and not your elbow. Therefore, only your wrist and of course your finger joint should move when you press the key. The movement is similar to scratching your leg. Try it again!
Here are some more tips on posture:
Your fingers should remain slightly curved under your hand.
You should sit up straight like youre typing a letter.
Your arms should be relaxed.
Your right foot should be higher than your left foot so that the heel can support your back position.
Thats it for this lesson. Your motivation to learn the piano is to be highly commended! You studied all these lessons without a teacher to help you. Your self-initiative and passion will be invaluable in your quest to become a good piano player.
One day, you will need the help of a mentor or teacher to refine your skills. But remember, you dont learn to play the piano overnight, its a long journey.
Play Slow In The Beginning
You arent a master musician yet. Its okay if you dont play your music fast.
Before you start working on speed, make sure you are accurate. Spend your time making sure you hit all the right notes.
As you rack of practice time, muscle memory will start kicking in. When this happens, you should see your speed begin to get better.
Until then, take things slow and do things right.
Following Videos And Tutorials
Learning keyboard or piano skills this way resembles standardized online classes, but it differs due to a more bare-bones approach. Rather than offering a multifaceted toolset, this approach centers exclusively on sequential, prerecorded video presentations.
If you prefer online video learning, but you also prefer a simplified approach without the bells and whistles, then consider this learning path. If you do, you will encounter a variety of options.
To be sure, you will find many free options for learning keyboard skills on . As you would expect, teaching quality will range from terrible to excellent.
To learn basic piano theory and keyboard skills, the Piano Keyboard Guide is promising.
The video instructor, Mantius Cazaubon, also offers an array of focused keyboard classes at Udemy for as little as $18 per class. You will find other worthwhile video-learning options at Udemy as well.
Before you commit to a free YouTube or paid Udemy track, you should explore your options at Lynda.com as well.
This is a growing, professional video-training treasure trove provided by LinkedIn Learning offering a promising set of options. To sign on, you must subscribe for as little as $25 per month.
Beyond this, other independent options include sites like Piano in 21 Days and Playground Sessions, and the list is growing every day.
Playground Sessions platform has been around for more than 7 years, and today its one of the most reputable piano learning software out there.
Start By Finding Middle C
So your keyboard is all set up and youre excited to get going. If you have no musical background, you may feel overwhelmed by looking at all those keys but dont worry! A great place to start is by finding middle C.
Think of middle C as home base, the place where all beginner pieces work off of. To find middle C, sit down in front of your piano and position yourself at the center. The black keys are arranged in sets of two and three. Middle C is the white key just to the left of the grouping of two black keys near the middle of the keyboard. Place your right thumb on Middle C, pointer finger on the next white note , and your middle finger on the white note next to that . Using these three notes, you should be able to play Mary Had a Little Lamb by ear .
Before you can expect to play more than Mary Had a Little Lamb, you need to pin down some good resources that explain how to teach yourself piano. The Internet is one of your best resources, but certainly not the only one. Here are some helpful resources to get you started:
Why Should You Learn To Play The Piano
Playing the piano can be a great way to relieve stress. It can also be a great way to bond with friends or family members who also play the instrument. Additionally, the piano playing learning process can help improve your coordination and memory. And of course, playing the piano is a great way to show off your music theory skills!
Myth No : It Takes Years To Learn Piano For Beginners
Another thing people often say to me is:
Ive never been able to find the time to learn piano. I cant commit to hours of practice every week, let alone commit to years of lessons! Is it possible to make any real progress in a short amount of time?
Simply put, the answer is yes. I have seen firsthand that it absolutely is possible to get playing real songs on piano in a relatively short time. If it wasnt possible, it would be pretty silly of me to name my website pianoin21days.com!
With traditional piano lessons, it can take 10-12 years for someone to reach advanced levels. To put that in perspective, you could earn a PHD in that amount of time and still have a couple years left over! So I understand why it feels daunting to learn piano.
But Im not here to turn my students into advanced classical pianists. To the contrary: most of my students arent interested in classical music and dont want to become professional performers.
Thats why my chord-based approach meets their needs so well I help them build a foundation of practical, streamlined knowledge so that they can focus on playing songs they love. With some consistent practice and self-motivation, you can get to this point in as little as three weeks!