Here’s How To Play The Piano
In A Single Afternoon

Do you want to learn how to play the piano right now? Then forget all the tired, old advice you’ve probably heard about piano lessons, music theory, finger exercises, and tons of practice. Yes, if you want to become the best piano player you can possibly be, you’ll probably need to go down that road. But, if you just want to play the piano, here’s a list of somewhat non-traditional steps to follow so that you can play as soon as possible:

  1. Decide how you're going to learn. Will you teach yourself piano or find a teacher to guide you along the way?
  2. Erase – or at least ignore for now – all your fears about the size of the instrument, the number of keys, reading music, and whatever else you’re worrying about. Worrying won’t help you. Focusing on learning just a few simple concepts will have you playing in no time.
  3. Get used to the piano keyboard layout – realize that the entire keyboard is comprised of a repeated series of just 12 keys.
  4. Learn where middle C is.
  5. Ignore the black keys for now – just focus on the white keys. It’s a lot easier to start with white keys first. Starting on middle C, the white keys go up as C D E F G A B C. Click here for a free piano notes chart to use as a reference.
  6. Decide on a song you’d like to learn first – nothing too complicated, but hopefully one of your favorite tunes. Having a goal like this while learning how to play the piano will keep you focused and motivated through some of the inevitable challenges ahead.
  7. See if you can pluck out your first song, using only the white keys, without looking at any music. You might even try your hand at some other simple melodies. Try “Jingle Bells” starting on E, or “Happy Birthday” starting on G. Voila! You’re playing!
  8. Learn three chords – C major (C E G), F major (F A C) and G7 (F G B D). See if you can figure out which chords go where in your tune, or in “Jingle Bells” or “Happy Birthday.”
  9. Congratulate yourself for playing the piano!
OK, so maybe you’ve already done something like this before, but hopefully the simple steps above helped fill in a few gaps for you.

Now, just decide which direction you’d like to go first. Would you like to play by ear – which you’ve just done above, by the way? Maybe you’d like to be able to sight-read piano sheet music. Naturally, you’ll need to learn to read piano sheet music first. Or maybe you’d like to learn how to play the piano just like the professionals do – using lead sheets – written music containing just melody and chords, leaving room to fill in with your own creative impulses.

If you'd like to dig a little deeper right now, click here to learn about the piano scale.

To learn more about key signatures, click here for a free piano key chart. If you really want to dig more into music theory and history, the very best resource we've found is at Dolmetsch Online . This amazing resource covers everything you ever wanted to know about music theory and history, and includes a comprehensive music dictionary - and that's only the beginning.

Whatever direction you decide to go, always try to keep a goal in mind, whether it be a particular song, or just a complicated “lick” you heard somewhere. Reaching those milestones will work wonders for your confidence and future motivation.

One more thing...HAVE FUN! Sometimes just "playing around" on the piano or keyboard is all you need to do - don't be so hard on yourself while learning!

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