Welcome to what I believe is one of the easiest beginner piano lessons you will find anywhere. I’ve built this introduction to piano based on the experiences I’ve had successfully teaching countless others. My method is to keep it simple, make everything make sense, and move at a pace that keeps things interesting.
When you look at the piano keyboard, you see white keys and black keys. Each key represents a note. Notice there’s a pattern; the black keys are arranged in groups of two and three. Everywhere you see the group of three, the white key positioned between the second and third black key is called “A.” If you play an A and read off alphabetically as you play each white key after the A, you will notice that the note after G is also between the second and third black key. It is another A. Notice how the tune of both A’s is identical; one is just higher than the other.
We call the distance between one A and the next A an octave. “Oct,” the root of octave, means eight. There are eight notes from A to A. The distance from B to B is an octave also, and the same is true for all the notes on the piano.
Find the note “C” on the keyboard. To locate it, you can either count up from A, or I’ll give you a hint: somewhere in the middle of the keyboard, locate a group of two black keys (not three); C is the white key just to the left of the first black key. Now, play the C and each white note to the right of it, reading off the names of the notes – C, D, E, F, G, A, B – until you land on the next C. Congratulations, you’ve played a scale in the key of C!
The scale is the most basic building block for everything we do on the piano. The first note of the scale you played was C. Your scale, therefore, was in the key of C.
You build chords – melodic groups of notes played simultaneously – from the notes in the scale. To play a C chord, you would play a C, E and G together. Go ahead and place your thumb over the C, your middle finger over the E, and your pinky over the G. Press down on all three notes together. That’s a C chord.
While your thumb stays over the C, locate a C two octaves down to the left and play it with your left thumb. Play that note together with the C chord. You’ve just combined bass with your chord. Here comes the tricky part. Counting from the C, move your left thumb to the right until it is over the F. With your right fingers positioned over the C chord, move them to the right until your thumb is over the F, your middle finger is over the A, and your pinky is over the C. Play the left and right hand parts together. That’s an F chord with F for the bass. Finally, move everything one more position to the right – left thumb over G and right thumb over G, middle finger over the B and pinky over the D. Play it all together and you’ve played a G chord with a G bass.
Believe it or not, you’ve just played the basic three-chord pattern of most of the rock songs written over the last six decades!
Get comfortable playing notes and chords and combining them with bass. From here, you can learn to play real songs. Check out the links section to decide where you personally want to go next!