Learning how to play the piano can be intimidating, especially if you don’t know what it entails. Even if you are musically inclined, the piano is quite a different instrument than most other instruments. To make things more intimidating, it can be quite difficult to find effective, free piano lessons for beginners on the internet. Well, we’re here to help! In this guide, we have included an easy step-by-step tutorial that will help you learn how to play the piano, while also learning more about the piano itself.
In addition to learning how to play music, an effective piano lesson should also teach you the parts of a piano, posture, sitting properly at a piano, and hand & finger placement, as well. All of these factors come into play when you are learning how to play the piano. This guide will cover everything you need to know about playing the piano, broken up into easy-to-understand sections.
Follow this guide, and you’ll be tickling the ivory keys in no time!
Parts of the Piano
Understanding the parts of a piano is the first step in learning how to play. There are many parts of the piano aside from the keys and the pedals – though those are the two that you’ll be using the most. While those two parts are more important to your learning, each part of the piano plays an important role in the piano’s sound and performance.
The first part of the piano is the lid which can be left open or kept closed. If it is open, it needs to be propped up with the lid prop which is attached to the body of the piano. Having the lid open allows the music to project louder to the audience, but if you’re just playing at home or for fun, it doesn’t have to be open, unless you prefer it that way. Additionally, the fallboard is the wall behind the keys. The fallboard is a good way to gauge your sitting position, which we will cover in the next section.
The pedals are also very important to the sound that the piano produces. Each pedal has its own role in the piano’s sound. The soft pedal produces a softer sound; the sostenuto pedal assists in holding certain notes and playing quietly; and finally we have the sustain pedal which creates a full, strong sound.
All pianos also have a music desk, too, which is especially beneficial during piano lessons for beginners, when a player is just starting out. But even professionals have a music sheet in front of them while playing!
Those are all the parts that you will actively use and need to know about. There are other important parts of the piano that are good to know, even though you won’t have to use them very often. This includes the structural components such as the rim, key bed, and legs. While you don’t need to “use” these parts very often, they do play an important role in the sound that the piano makes. Most pianos also have casters which is just a fancy name for the wheels that help you move the piano around.
Sitting at the Piano
Let’s move onto sitting at the piano. Sitting correctly at the piano is not only important to playing it well, but it also allows you to play the piano comfortably. Having an adjustable stool is ideal for playing, because it allows you to easily customize your sitting position. However, regardless of the type of stool you have, you can still sit correctly at your piano. The first step is to judge the distance between your stool and the piano. Just like sitting at a computer, you want to make sure you have a proper distance from the piano so that you can properly play. Make sure you’re not so close that your elbows are severely bent; but also not so far away that you are stretching your arms.
Make sure your stool is centered to the piano, and that you are sitting centered on the stool, so that when you are seated, your body is in the middle of the piano. You also want to sit on the edge of the stool with your feet flat on the floor. You should be able to reach your arm out straight, elbow very slightly bent, fist clenched, and just barely touch the fallboard.
If you need to adjust, adjust your stool first, rather than your body. Having your stool in the proper location relative to the piano will allow you to move your body to the right sitting position, too. If a visual is helpful, there are many resources related to piano lessons for beginners that will demonstrate proper seating position for you.
Now that we’ve covered the parts of the piano and how to properly place your stool and sit at the piano, let’s talk about another important piece of learning to play the piano: posture. Having a good posture while playing the piano will allow you to play more effectively and comfortably, without straining certain muscles or body parts.
First, it’s important to sit tall but not stiff; your body should be loose without slouching too much. Try to make sure your arms are loosely hanging from your shoulders. Keeping your upper body loose, but up straight, will allow you to play using proper techniques. Slightly slouching your shoulders can help as well.
You also want to make sure that your elbows are slightly higher than the keys in front of you. This helps to create a proper sound. It can be uncomfortable, and feel unnatural to hold your elbows up. They do not have to be a lot higher than the keys; just as much as you can do while remaining comfortable. If you find that you are too low and have an adjustable stool, you can raise the seat (while keeping your feet planted on the floor).
The most important aspect of correct posture while playing, is to remain tall but not stiff. Stiffening and tightening your muscles for continued periods of time may cause strain or injury. If you start feeling stiff, take a break from playing to loosen your muscles.
Hand and Finger Placement
The best hand placement for playing the piano is to keep the fingers slightly bent and relaxed while you’re hitting the keys. You also want your wrists to be at the same level as your hands to reduce any potential straining. The position should feel natural and not tense. If it feels strained, try to focus on relaxing your hands by stretching them or shaking them out.
Generally, if you find piano lessons for beginners online, you’ll see that they assign numbers to each finger to help the beginner better understand how to play each chord. The way this works is that your pinky fingers are 5; your ring fingers are 4; your middle fingers are 3; your index fingers are 2; and your thumbs are 1. You’ll find sequences that use these numbers, rather than the actual chord names, to help you while you are starting.
Using the right fingers and moving your hands in an unrestrained way is an important part of learning how to play the piano. Improper hand placement can affect the sound of your music. Additionally, and more importantly, improper hand placement can cause injury over time.
When you are starting to play, try to do simple, short sequences over and over so that you can get used to playing with all five fingers on both hands. The most important thing is to play in a natural way and use all your fingers. Sequences like 1-2-3-1-2-3-4-5 will allow you to use all five fingers and to get comfortable using them all while playing.
There are hundreds of thousands of songs and music combinations that you can make with piano chords. Generally, during piano lessons for beginners, just the more basic chords are covered.
The four basic chords are:
- C major (chord symbol “C”)
- G major (chord symbol “G”)
- A minor (chord symbol “Am”)
- F major (chord symbol “F”)
When you see the words “minor” and “major”, those refer to the scales of music. Each scale is a series of chords that create a musical sequence. While the word “major” makes it sound like the major scales are more important, that is not the case in piano playing. Both scales are equally important. The difference is that each series of chords is different in its sequential notes.
You’ll also see the words “flat” and “sharp” while learning about (and playing) the piano. This refers to the type of sound that certain notes make. A flat note sounds lower in pitch, while a sharp note is higher in pitch. When you’re actually playing on the piano, sharp means you go up a half step, while flat means you go down a half step (up means moving to the right on your piano and down means moving to the left).
Most piano lessons for beginners will start off with learning a C major chord because it is one of the most often used chords in piano playing. The progression of a major key chord is an important thing for a beginner to know. This refers to the keys that are used on that scale. For example, the basic progression of a major key chord is: “Major, Minor, Minor, Major, Major, Minor, Diminished.”
Starting out with a solid knowledge of the chords will prove beneficial when you start to read more music and play more often. Practice by reading music sheets consistently; read sheets of music for songs that you want to eventually play.
Starting to Play
When you are ready to start playing songs, pick songs that use a repeating sequence of notes. Picking easier songs in the beginning stages of your piano learning are important. It helps you to get comfortable with certain keys and using them in a sequence of notes.
Some common songs that people use while they are just beginning to play are old nursery rhymes and other popular children’s songs. Popular songs to start with include Hot Cross Buns, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, Itsy Bitsy Spider, and other similar simple sequences. And there are so many easy songs to start out with; you can even find a favorite song of yours that is easy enough to play. For example, Let It Be by The Beatles is a common, easier song to learn while you’re just starting out.
You also want to focus on the fundamentals. That includes learning to read music, proper hand and finger placement, memorizing the keys, chords and scales, and understanding basic rhythm skills.
It’s also important to focus on accuracy rather than speed. It can be easy to try and rush through a song to keep up with its tempo, but while you’re just starting out, it’s actually more beneficial to be accurate and slower. Once you get used to the correct sequence, you’ll be able to play quicker.
Lastly, it’s important to practice consistently. This is an important part of piano lessons for beginners. You should try to practice a little bit each day. When too much time passes between your lessons, you will end up forgetting things and it could slow down your learning progress.
We hope this guide has proved helpful in your journey to playing the piano. With continued practice, you can be playing like a pro in no time. In addition to teaching you how to play music, a valuable piano lesson for beginners should include other important things as well. This includes posture, sitting position and hand placement, which are all very important aspects of playing the piano correctly. Learning to read music and understanding basic rhythm skills are equally important, as well.
We know it can be difficult to find quality free piano lessons, especially online, and we hope this has been a valuable resource for you to use. Feel free to save or bookmark this article to refer back to as you start your piano-playing journey