How to Play Piano for Beginners

By Carl Hose

The piano is one of the most widely used and versatile musical instruments there is. Pianos can play notes in both the bass and treble clefs. Piano music can be found in musical genres ranging from classical to rock. Learning the basics of piano playing isn't difficult, but learning to master the instrument takes time, patience and the desire to play.

Familiarize yourself with the piano keyboard first. A full size keyboard is 88 keys and spans a little over seven octaves. Start with middle C. It's a good idea to have a keyboard note chart handy until you memorize the notes. You can buy one in a music store or find one online. The same 12 notes repeat over and over on the keyboard, so once you have played them several times, you should be able to get rid of your note guide.

Learn basic music notation. Keep a reference chart handy until you become familiar with reading the notes on the music staff as they relate to the piano. You want to focus on the note rhythms as well. Whole, half, eighth and sixteenth notes are basic rhythms. Until you are familiar with the way they're broken down to form rhythm structure, don't be afraid to use a music reading cheat sheet.

Start playing chords right away. You can purchase a beginner's chord book at a music store or find one free online. Chords are the quickest way to begin accompanying yourself or others while singing. The more chords you know, the more songs you will be able to play. Learn your piano chords by shape (which fingers rest on which keys). The shapes of the chords stay the same on the piano, but the names change depending upon the note you start the shape on. It takes time to memorize a wide chord vocabulary, but the more you play them, the easier it will be to memorize them. Playing simple chords in a progression and singing along will make it sound as if you are more advanced on the piano than you are.

Play scales. Playing scales will not only help you learn where the notes are on the piano keyboard, but also strengthen your fingers. You can purchase a book of piano scales for beginners or find one online free. Start with major and minor scales in every key. As with chords, once you know the pattern the notes are played in, you can play in any key simply by changing the note you begin on.

Try playing simple piano music in between practicing your scales and chords. There's no better way to improve than to put the chords and melody notes you learn to work. You can find simple piano music online free. Each time you learn a new chord, try playing a simple song that contains that chord. Don't worry about fancy rhythms at first. Play simple chords with your left hand and a melody with your right. Use your reference note charts until you become familiar with the notes on the music staff as they relate to your keyboard.

About the Author

Carl Hose is the author of the anthology "Dead Horizon" and the the zombie novella "Dead Rising." His work has appeared in "Cold Storage," "Butcher Knives and Body Counts," "Writer's Journal," and "Lighthouse Digest.". He is editor of the "Dark Light" anthology to benefit Ronald McDonald House Charities.