This course was an experiment in which I tried guide beginning students to learn and practise some fundamental aspects of piano playing without the need to learn to read music notation. I can't say that I fully endorse this course any more. There are certain aspects of it that I think people have found confusing, and the progression of difficulty is probably not as well suited to a beginner as I would have liked. However, I have decided to keep it available for now on the off chance that someone finds it interesting of finds some value in it.
Welcome to the First Steps in Piano course, an introduction the world piano playing for those with no musical experience. If you are considering taking up the piano but want a taste of what it is going to be like before you make a commitment, this is a good place to start. Keep in mind, this is not your usual piano course. You will not learn to read music notation and you will not play any music for solo piano. Instead, you will learn some basic concepts and some simple yet increasingly difficult patterns on the piano which you will play from memory as part of a larger group of instruments. Sometimes you will play in an orchestra, sometimes as part of a jazz group, and other times as part of smaller ensemble like duets or trios. The goal is to get you involved in the act of music creation, get you comfortable moving around the keyboard, and to give you a taste of what it takes to learn a musical instrument. Start with the introduction below, then move through the lessons as little or as far, as slow or as fast as you like.
Best of luck,
Step 1: Keeping Time
- Lesson 1: Keeping a Steady Beat
- Lesson 2: Counting in Twos
- Lesson 3: Counting in Threes
- Lesson 4: Counting in Fours, No. 1
- Lesson 5: Counting in Fours, No. 2
Step 2: Keyboard Layout - I
- Lesson 1: Two Black Keys
- Lesson 2: Three Black Keys
- Lesson 3: All Black Keys
- Lesson 4: Three White Keys
- Lesson 5: Four White Keys
- Lesson 6: All White Keys
Step 3: Moving Around the Keyboard - I
- Lesson 1: Static Motion
- Lesson 2: Ascending by Step
- Lesson 3: Descending by Step
- Lesson 4: Ascending by Leap
- Lesson 5: Descending by Leap
Step 4: Keyboard Layout - II
The First Steps in Piano course is meant as an introduction to the world of piano playing for those who love music but who have no previous musical experience. It is designed to give those who are considering taking up the piano a taste of what to expect, an introduction to some fundamental concepts in music, and to help develop some comfort and familiarity playing and moving around the piano keyboard. It has also been designed to help beginners start to developing that all important skill of listening - a skill whose importance for musicians cannot be overstated.
It is my belief that the best way to learn about music is by playing music. And so, this course will not attempt to "teach" you anything. Instead it will guide you carefully through a series of very gradual steps so that you can learn what you need to know for yourself. What you learn throughout this course will become natural and intuitive because it was not given to you, but built by yourself. It may not always be easy, but having gone through this process you will possess an appreciation and intuitive knowledge of piano playing that will become invaluable in your future studies.
The use of music notation has been deliberately avoided in this course. I chose this approach in order to allow you to focus on the music and your own playing. Attempting to teach you how to read music would also defeat the purpose of this course as a preparatory course for more committed, longer term study of the piano.
Each lesson in this course has the same goal; to allow you to participate in music making with other instruments while helping you to develop an understanding of some fundamental concepts in music and to help you feel more at home on the keyboard. In each lesson there will be a piece of music with a part for you to play. Your part will initially be quite simple and often in the background, but as the lessons progress it will become more complex and take a more prominent role in the music.
The lesson structure will always be the same. First, you will listen to the lesson music. Then, you will listen to a short version of the pattern, or patterns, you will play in the music. Then you will practise that pattern with various accompaniments, working your way up to playing along with the complete lesson music.
Each lesson should be repeated until it can be played quite comfortably, from memory, and without mistakes. Before moving on from one lesson to the next you should feel that playing the lesson music is as natural as reciting a well known poem or singing along to a favourite song. I also recommend coming back to older lessons several times while you are working on other lessons.
Music exists in time. The ability to keep musical time is fundamental to playing any musical instrument. The first step in this course, therefore, will focus on just that: Keeping Time.