The purpose of this website: helping you learn to play the piano.  Building a strong foundation of piano-playing skills will lead to a lifetime of piano-playing joy.


Lesson 1
The Piano Key Layout:
Black Notes Are The Key

The piano key layout must become a solid image in your mind if you want to play with confidence. The keys on a piano are arranged in a simple pattern which you need to see mentally and feel physically with your hands.

To learn the piano key layout, focus on the black notes. (See video below) . This video includes the two "Black Note Songs" listed below. Sorry, but the video demonstration is a bit goofy.) The black keys on a piano are arranged in groups of two and groups of three. Learn this pattern by doing the exercises below.

(The exercises here may seem simple, but you should still repeat them many times a day, for several days, as you are trying to develop your “inner keyboard”, physically & mentally. Also, the instructions for fingerings and hand switching are purposeful.)

For all exercises, indeed every time you sit down to play, be aware of your hand position and your sitting position at the piano. (-click here to see a video on sitting at the piano, hand position, etc...)

The video



Exercises for knowing piano key layout:

Black Note Variations (repeat each variation at least 3 times)

1. Basic Exercise: Play all the groups of two, from the bottom of the keyboard (the left end) to the top (the right end), and then back down (ascending & descending).

The Variations: (mix and match as you please…have fun!)

- start with left hand at the bottom half of the keyboard, switch to right hand in the middle (ascending), and vice-versa (descending)

- hand over hand (alternating)

- play the notes simultaneously (harmonically)

- play the notes individually (melodically), goofing around with the order of notes

- try all these finger combinations: 1&2, 2&3, 3&4, 4&5

2. Basic Exercise & Variations: same as above using groups of three. (finger combinations: 1&2&3, 2&3&4, 3&4&5)


For a more complete understanding of how to build your piano-playing foundation,  read

"Piano Player... You".

For the most direct, organized, and progressive path to learning to play the piano, start

the Piano Skills Foundation series of piano lessons.



Black Note Songs

(written with fingerings)

-you may be able to figure these tunes out by ear, but make sure you use the fingerings suggested below, with the correct starting position.

"Mary Had a Little Lamb" (helping you with your piano key layout)

Use a set of three blacks & one from *set of 2- play near middle of keyboard for best sound - play 3x with rh, 3x with lh, 3x with both hands

Right hand (rh): (start with #3 on the top note of the 3 blacks)

3 2 1 2 3 3 3, 2 2 2, 3 *5 *5,

3 2 1 2 3 3 3, 3 2 2 3 2 1

Left hand (lh): (start with #3 on the top note of the 3 blacks)

3 4 5 4 3 3 3, 4 4 4, 3 *1 *1,

3 4 5 4 3 3 3, 3 4 4 3 4 5


“Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”(more help with piano key layout)

Use a set of 3 blacks, with a set of 2 blacks (* & ^) , & one “w” white note in between:- “w”: the white note is a half-step up from the set of 3 blacks- play near middle of keyboard for best sound - play 3x with rh, 3x with lh, 3x with both hands

rh: (#1 on the bottom note of the 3 blacks, #5 on the 2 blacks)

1 1 *5 *5 ^5 ^5 *5, w4 w4 3 3 2 2 1

*5 *5 w4 w4 3 3 2, *5 *5 w4 w4 3 3 2,

1 1 *5 *5 ^5 ^5 *5, w4 w4 3 3 2 2 1

lh: (#5 on the bottom note of the 3 blacks, #1 on the 2 blacks)

5 5 *1 *1 ^1 ^1 *1, w2 w2 3 3 4 4 5

*1 *1 w2 w2 3 3 4, *1 *1 w2 w2 3 3 4,

5 5 *1 *1 ^1 ^1 *1, w2 w2 3 3 4 4 5

An editorial comment: Once you’ve learned to read music, this type of arcane fingering notation will be unnecessary. This was my attempt to notate these two songs without writing out the music. It was a bit difficult.


You may want to peruse a thorough music theory discussion, to get an idea what more is involved:

-click here for a trip to Wikipedia's music theory page-



If you want to see a blueprint for a successful piano journey...
read 
"Piano Player... You"

A guide to building a solid and complete piano-playing foundation.

-Click here to learn more about this e-book-


If you would like a step-by-step guide to help you on your piano journey...

start working through

"The Piano Skills Foundation" piano lessons

-Click here to learn more about this piano course-



Return from "Piano Key Layout" to "Free Piano Lessons"


Looking for some piano music?

I have found Sheet Music Plus to be a fantastic resource for piano books & other materials.  And they have instant digital downloads for thousands of individual pieces.



Need A Metronome?

Here's the metronome I prefer to use for practicing the piano:

Seiko Sq50-V Quartz Metronome

(Clicking on the picture will take you to the "Musician's Friend" website. A new window will open.)


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