Learning the piano can be both interesting and frustrating at the same time. Piano lessons for beginners should focus on familiarising the student with the instrument and how it operates. Just like the tuition of any subject or skill, the student must learn and understanding the fundamentals gradually and as a skill playing the piano will improve with time and diligent practise.
The most basic place to start would be numbering the fingers. This helps with referencing during the learning process. A simple 1-5 numbering is sufficient with palms facing away starting from the thumb for each hand.
There are seven key names on the piano, named from the English alphabet as ‘a –g’. A standard piano contains 88 keys. There are basically black keys and white keys, a colour coding system which helps with accurate key identification. C is the most important or rather most utilised key on the piano.
Determination and interest is key in the learning of the piano hence one must commit to memory the location of keys on the board for example, you have to memorise the position of C, which is to the right of the middle black block. There are a number of lookalike keys on the piano such as c and f. It is therefore also important to be able to recognise the sound of each key before attempting to use them. When playing a key, be sure to go right to the bottom. The speed of depression determines how loud and soft the sound produced is. Refrain from exerting force into the key and instead let the weight of the hand itself do the work. The fingers will get accustomed to the depressing motion but the thumb is usually the most awkward to use.
A good hand and body posture is critical to comfortable piano play. Keep hands level or parallel with the floor to avoid having to dip the wrists. A suitable chair should be available to enable this do that the wrists remain relaxed and doesn’t stiffen. Play keys as loud as you can to train your fingers and keep them curved for better pressing. This curve should be the natural resting posture not a deliberate and straining effort. Once you have realised your comfortable hand positions and familiarised yourself with the keys, find a simple music sheet and familiarise yourself with the notes.
Reading and Understanding Music Notes
This is the other critical part of learning the piano, one cannot possibly play if they cannot decipher the music and coordinate the hands and eyes to transform the notes into meaningful music. Get the piece of music sheet on a vantage and visible point that allows you to look at both the music sheets and the keys. Remember that every note on the piano has an exact visual note representation and make sure you have the correct notes memorised.
Notes on the sheet that are lined up (one on top and one below) mean that they have to be played together or simultaneously. Perfect hand and eye coordination can only be mastered if learned separately. Remember, music notes are just like regular sentences in that you read them from left to right. Each of the areas/rows is called the staff. The top staff is called the treble clef, the bottom staff is referred to as the bass Clef. The base clef covers all the low notes which is consistent with bass sounds. Likewise, the treble clef covers all the high notes.
Each staff has five lines and the notes generally fall into the lines however a few special notes called ledger lines do not conform to this rule. Reading music is, therefore, a matter of memorization of locations and positions of notes on the music sheet because the lines and spaces on the two clefs are totally different.
The first line in a treble clef, for example, is an ‘e’, the first line in a bass clef is a ‘g’, second space from the top is a ‘c’, the same note in the base clef is however an ‘e’. Mnemonics can be used to memorize these notes and master them. ‘Every good boy does fine’ for instance represents the letters egbdf in ascending order in the treble clef.
Once the reading of the notes and key identification has been mastered, it is now possible to play the piano. Start with simple music and don’t be hard on yourself. Generally ignore any misses and slips, gradually they become fewer with more practice!