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Piano Playing Basics

The great thing about learning to play the piano is that it's very easy to get started. Anyone can walk up and play every note on the piano just by pressing down the keys. Even little kids can learn to play simple songs pretty quickly. This is different from other popular instruments like the trumpet, violin, and guitar where learning to play that first song or note properly can be quite difficult and can take a lot of practice.

Playing the piano

However, another great thing about the piano is its complexity. While learning a simple song is easy, learning complex songs takes years of painstaking practice together with a good teacher and a lot of musical skill.

The Keyboard

The piano keyboard is made up of 88 keys. There are white and black keys. The white keys represent the notes A, B, C, D, E, F, and G. The smaller black keys are the sharps and flats. The black keys are grouped into groups of 2 and 3. They also alternate between the white keys.

piano keyboard with notes

The keyboard consists of a repeating pattern of these keys called an octave. Each octave has 7 white keys (A, B, C, D, E, F, and G) and 5 black keys for a total of 12 keys. The same note is always in the same position. For example, when you look at the keyboard and you see the group of two black keys. The white key between them is always a D. The white key to the left is always a C. This repeats over the entire keyboard.

One of the most important keys to learn at the start is where the middle C is:

When you first start to play, you will generally play notes above (to the right) of middle C with your right hand and notes below (to the left) of middle C with your left hand.


A chord is when you play several notes at once. There are all sorts of combinations of chords you can play on the piano.

Position and Relaxation

You need to have a good position and proper posture when playing the piano. It also helps to be relaxed and not too tense. When setting up your position, make sure the seat is at the right height. You don't want to be reaching way up to the keyboard or too far down either. Your forearms should be parallel to the floor (flat) when your shoulders are relaxed and your hands are on the keys.

Another good idea is to sit on the front side of the bench. You don't want to be leaning to far back where you can move about freely.


Like any musical instrument you can only get better with practice. A good teacher can help you in what to practice, how long to practice, and how best to practice, BUT your teacher cannot practice for you! Its up to you to make sure you practice every day. You should also always be willing to try new and more difficult pieces of music. This is how you can improve.

More on the piano: Other musical instruments:

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