Piano With A Pro
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Piano With A Pro

Study the building blocks of music and learn the key practice techniques to master the piano.
4.3 (6 ratings)
Instead of using a simple lifetime average, Udemy calculates a course's star rating by considering a number of different factors such as the number of ratings, the age of ratings, and the likelihood of fraudulent ratings.
68 students enrolled
Created by Demand Media
Last updated 12/2013
Current price: $10 Original price: $25 Discount: 60% off
5 hours left at this price!
30-Day Money-Back Guarantee
  • 2.5 hours on-demand video
  • 1 Supplemental Resource
  • Full lifetime access
  • Access on mobile and TV
  • Certificate of Completion
What Will I Learn?
  • To teach you the basic theory and keys required to play the piano
View Curriculum
  • A piano

In this course you will learn the basics behind playing the piano. Through going through the basic theory behind playing the piano, we will then build to learning how to play the basic keys on a piano. This step by step course will leave you in a position where you can pull up a seat at the piano and play a tune!

Who is the target audience?
  • New piano players
  • Individuals who would like a refresher on how to play the piano
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Curriculum For This Course
38 Lectures
Piano Basics
3 Lectures 27:48

Meet your instructor: Kevin Doucette brings his 25 year's piano experience to this beginner's piano one-on-one course. Classically trained as a child, Kevin graduated from Berklee College of Music in Boston, where he studied jazz and majored in film scoring. After his studies, Doucette played in various countries, including South Africa and Singapore, on the Slumdog Millionaire World Tour, alongside A. R. Rahman, the composer for the film Slumdog Millionaire. From there, Doucette went on to work with Rahman on his film 127 Hours. Now living in LA, your instructor works with producing music for the film industry.

By the end of this course you will be able to identify any note on the piano, play any chord, and play any scale. You will learn some familiar melodies and learn to read music. The building blocks of music and the practice techniques to become a virtuoso piano player are presented step-by-step and requires one important thing – LOTS OF PRACTICE.

This course lesson begins with the history of the piano, introduces keys and pedals, and demonstrates proper posture, seat and hand positions.

Action Items
  • Practice proper sitting and hand position for playing the piano
  • Identify the pedals on your piano, listen to their effect
Key Points
  • Piano is short for Pianoforte

    Pianoforte translates to “soft-loud” in Italian. The piano was derived from the Harpsichord and offered musicians more control over the sounds they produced.

  • There are 3 pedals and 88 notes on a grand piano
  • Notes on a piano vibrates at a specific frequency

    Every note is the result of a string, or a set of 2 or 3 strings.

  • The Sustain Pedal (Right)

    Striking the sustain pedal will “sustain” all of the dampened strings by moving all of the dampers away from the strings. This allows each of the notes to vibrate freely. All of the notes played will continue to ring out until you release the pedal. You typically strike this pedal with the right foot.

  • The Soft Pedal (Left)

    Striking the soft pedal shifts the whole action to the right. So, the hammer that typically strikes 3 strings for a note, now only strikes 2. This pedal will enhance the tone quality of softly played notes and exaggerate low volumes. You will typically strike this pedal with the left foot.

  • The Sostenuto Pedal (Middle)

    Striking the Sostenuto pedal sustains only the notes that are being held down, allowing future notes to be played unaffected.

  • Proper posture is important

    Good posture is crucial when playing, or you run the risk of straining your back muscles. Sit at the edge of the seat. Your knees should be directly under the keyboard. Sitting up straight, your body should form a nice, right angle.

  • Correct hand placement is crucial

    Make sure that your seat and hands are high enough for you to maintain flat wrists. Create the appropriate shape by placing your hands on your knees. From here, lift your hands directly onto the keyboard.

Preview 10:45

Learn the seven letter names that make up the full 88 notes on the piano and the patterns to help you find them all. In this lesson, Kevin teaches you how to easily identify which note any key represents.

Action Items
  • Identify the White note/Black note pattern

    Study the keys until you can identify any note immediately without hesitating.

  • Find Middle C on the piano
  • Find all the C notes on the piano

    Repeat with other notes: A, B, C, D, E, F, G

  • Find the sets of black keys

    Find F Sharp; find B Flat

Key Points
  • An acoustic piano has 88 keys (Black and White notes)
  • There are only seven letter names for notes
  • The lowest note on a full-size piano is an A
  • White notes are labeled alphabetically A -> G (then repeats)
  • The black keys are labeled as Sharps and Flats

    The black keys offer guidance in keeping track of where you are on the keyboard.

  • The note to the left of a group of two black notes is always C
  • The note to the left of a group of three black notes is always F
Learning the Notes

Homework time means you will attempt to play your first song. Played in the key of C, get ready to play "Heart and Soul," and put all you've learned so far into practice. First you will learn key finger numbers, which suggest which fingers should be used for which notes. This creates a pattern used with your fingers and establishes muscle memory. Next your instructor breaks the melody down into sections for you to watch and practice along.

Action Items
  • Pay attention to letter names and finger placement
  • Break it down into sections

    Section 1 starts with middle C using your middle finger. Section 2 starts on E using your middle finger. Note: Sections 1 and 2 use the same fingers and same rhythm but are just played in a different location on the piano. Try to copy the first two segments your instructor shows you, then add on the last section he demonstrates.

  • Practice combining sections 1 and 2 first and then add the third

    This could take hours or days, but stick with it. We recommend you master each lesson before moving on to the next. The more you practice, the better you'll get.

Key Points
  • Use the correct fingers

    Fingers are numbered. Thumbs start as number one. Then fingers are numbered 2, 3, 4, 5 respectively with pinky being last.

  • Break the song down into sections for easy memorization
  • Repetition is crucial to learning any new song

    Practicing a song over and over with the same fingers placed on the same keys will create muscle memory. Before you know it, playing the song will be second nature to you.

Learning to play
Scales and Chords Introduction
2 Lectures 21:48

C Major is the easiest scale to master. Kevin gets into detail about proper fingering and playing of the C major scale. He also teaches the Chromatic scale, and identifies tones and semi-tones or 1/2 steps or whole steps. He ends with a demonstration of playing in time with a metronome.

Materials List
  • 1 Metronome
Action Items
  • Master proper fingering for C Major

    Keep practicing until you can easily play the scale without error, forward and backward, and across multiple octaves.

  • Practice C Major on beat - 74 (BPM)

    Using a physical or electronic metronome, work on playing notes on the beat. Once you've mastered this rhythm, double your speed and practice.

  • Find whole steps and half steps on your piano

    Try with C and D Major scales.

  • Practice finding any note on the piano with a friend
  • Practice playing the melody of “Heart and Soul”
  • Be a C Major expert

    Don't move on to the next lesson until you have C Major down pat, forward and backward, and on rhythm.

Key Points
  • Half steps and whole steps

    A step is the relationship between two notes, also known as an interval. A half step results when you play two adjacent keys on the piano. A whole step is two half steps.

  • It is very important to master scales to become a good pianist
  • Finger placement is key to a flowing scale

    Have fingers prepared and in the correct position in order to play a flowing scale.

  • Locate the C by finding the pattern of 2 black keys

    The C is the white key to left of any set of 2 black keys.

  • C Major scale is all the white notes: C to next C
  • Fingering is key

    Start with thumb on C and play 1, 2, 3, then with thumb (already tucked under) start over with thumb - 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - then back 4 - 3 - 2 - 1, move 3rd finger over, then 3 - 2 - 1. Note: as soon as the thumb is lifted off the first note, it should be tucked under and ready to play the fourth note in the scale.

  • Going up note-by-note is called going up in half steps

    This is also called going up in semi-tones.

  • A major scale is defined this way:

    A combination of whole steps and half steps: tone (whole) - tone (whole) - semitone (half) - tone (whole) - tone (whole) - tone (whole) - semi-tone (half)

  • The Chromatic Scale plays all keys from note-to-note

    Playing all keys between one note (such as C) to the next same note (such as C) is called playing the chromatic scale.

  • A metronome will help you keep time while practicing scales

    A metronome is a device used by musicians that marks time at a specific pace by ticking at that pace. It provides a constant beat. There are free metronome apps available on both iPhone and Android devices.

  • Use 72 BPM (beats per minute) while practicing scales

    Use the metronome to keep time.

Intro to Scales

Kevin introduces you to the concept of playing multiple notes at the same time, otherwise known as chords or triads. Learn to add to the sound of your chords by doubling the C sound with lower octaves played with your left hand. Also learn to count whole steps and half steps with triads and get introduced to playing arpeggios.

Action Items
  • Master the C Major Triad

    Before you move on, practice the C Major triad and its inversions until you can identify each of them by ear.

  • Practice Arpeggios using a metronome

    Arpeggios are somewhat complex, but becoming proficient in playing them is integral to mastering the piano. An arpeggio is a type of broken chord whose notes are played quickly in order as opposed to simultaneously

Key Points
  • An octave is a musical interval

    It is the distance of 12 half steps in the chromatic scale

  • Chords are notes played together at the same time

    Unlike scales where each note is played individually, chords are sets of notes that are played simultaneously.

  • Triads consist of 3 notes played simultaneously

    When they’re struck together, this is called a “block chord”, and when they are not struck together, they’re referred to as a “broken chord”

  • Root

    Means the root of the triad being played is the lowest note of the scale.

  • First and second inversion triads

    First inversion triads move the root (such as in a C Major triad) from the bottom of the scale to the top of the scale (such as the higher C) while leaving the third (E) and fifth note (G) in original root triad placement. Second inversion then moves the E to the top of the scale.

  • Counting whole steps and half steps with triads

    You can count the whole steps and half steps with triads as you did for scales. The amount of half steps will just be more. With any major triad go up 4 half steps, or two whole tones, to find the first 3rd note of the chord, and go up 3 half steps to get the 5th of the chord.

  • Basic Arpeggios

    Notes of a given chord are played in sequence - not together.

Intro to Chords
Advanced Scales and Chords
4 Lectures 51:02

Now that you know what it takes to master a scale, Kevin teaches you even more scales. Don't forget to practice these until you can easily play them.

Action Items
  • Practice scales to G Major and D Major

    Apply whole steps and half steps.

  • Practice chords to G Major and D Major

    Find root position and first and second inversions of each.

  • Practice scales to A Natural and A Harmonic Minor
  • Practice scales to D and E Harmonic Minor
  • Practice proper fingering for the Chromatic Scale
    • Only use 3 fingers
    • Third finger plays all black notes
    • Semitone gaps are played by the first and second fingers
Key Points
  • Steps are played differently in minor scale

    In minor, whole steps and 1/2 steps occur at different points in the scale - Same finger pattern but different notes.

  • C Harmonic Minor Scale:

    C - D - E Flat - F - G - A Flat - B - C (Whole - Half - Whole - Whole - Half -- 1 whole plus a 1/2 step)

  • All that changes between the major and minor triad is the third

    The root and fifth never change in a triad.

  • The scales for A Natural Minor and A Harmonic Minor

    The scales for A Natural Minor uses all the white notes to the next A. The scales for A Harmonic Minor uses a G-Sharp with a raised seventh.

  • Whole tone scales, as implied by the name, only play whole tones
Advanced Scales

Now you've learned the A Minor, E Minor and D Minor scales. Now Kevin demonstrates the mechanics of the A, E and D Minor triads, first inversion, second inversion and root positions. Additionally Kevin introduces the Diminished Chord and the Augmented Chord.

Key Points
  • Diminished chords are similar to minor chords

    They are like a minor chord with a lowered fifth that has a slightly eerie, ominous sound. They consist of a root note, a flatted third, and a flatted fifth.

  • Augmented chords are similar to major triads

    An augmented chord is any chord that contains an augmented interval and a raised fifth. They consist of a root note, third note, and a sharped fifth.

  • The C Diminished Chord

    Change the C Major Chord to the C Minor Chord then start stacking minor thirds on top of each other until they start repeating.

  • The C Augmented Chord

    It consists of a root, a major third, and an augmented (raised) fifth.

Advanced Chords

Now that you're a pro at scales and chords with your right hand, let's add the left hand.

Action Items
  • Practice scales and chords with your left hand

    You should feel confident playing scales and chords with your left hand as well as your right hand before you proceed.

Key Points
  • Left hand is mirror image of right hand - begin with pinky


  • Expect growing pains - The left hand is typically harder
  • Try to synchronize the notes played by both hands
The Left Hand

Kevin shows you the best practice methods for developing coordination while playing.

Materials List
  • 1 Metronome
Action Items
  • Play scale with right hand, then left

    Learn to play the minor scales described with each hand separately and then both hands together.

  • Practice with metronome

    Practice with the right hand, then the left hand.

  • Practice playing with both hands (no metronome)

    Focus on hitting notes together. Focus on different transitions for each hand.

  • Practice Heart and Soul with Left Hand

    Understand the harmony: With the left hand play C Major and it's fifth - A Minor and it's fifth - F Major and it's fifth - G Major and it's fifth.

  • Introduce the Metronome to perfect timing with the song

    Start with melody on right hand - practice till perfect. Next - Play left hand at half time.

  • Practice introducing pedals

    Change the sustain pedal on the harmony change.

Key Points
  • Scales are the key to getting left and right to play together
  • Typically one hand leads the other
  • Break it down: simply C to G and back
  • Practice until hands are smoothly in unison
Coordinating the Hands
Music Fundamentals
5 Lectures 39:13

Kevin walks you through reading notes on sheet music, and other important music notation. Get introduced to the Treble Clef and Bass Clef, and learn to read tempo markings and beats.

Action Items
  • Practice finding and playing notes by reading sheet music
Key Points
  • Notes are located on the lines and spaces of the treble clef
  • The Treble Clef (Right Hand)

    Treble Clef Notes: E, G, B, D, F (all located on the lines) and F, A, C, E (all located on the spaces)

  • The Bass Clef (Left Hand)

    Bass Clef Notes: G, B, D, F, A (all located on the lines) and A, C, E, G (all located on the spaces)

  • The staff

    A set of five horizontal lines and four spaces that each represent a different musical pitch.

  • Mnemonics for memorization
    • Remember the phrase (E)very (G)ood (B)oy (D)eserves (F)ootball to help you memorize the line notes on the treble clef. And FACE for the notes on the spaces.
    • Remember the phrase (G)reat (B)ig (D)ogs (F)ight (A)nimals to help you memorize the line notes on the bass clef. And (A)ll (C)ows (E)at (G)rass to remember the notes on the spaces.
  • Reading sharps and flats in sheet music
    • A sharp symbol ( # ) is located right before the note in sheet music and raises a note a half-step.
    • A flat symbol ( b ) is also located right before the note in sheet music and lowers a note a half-step.
Reading Written Music

In this lesson, Kevin explains and demonstrates note duration and time signatures, which combine to form the rhythm of a song. Examine how to play whole notes, half notes, quarter notes, eighth notes, sixteenth notes, and learn to recognize various tempos and types of songs commonly associated with them.

Materials List
  • 1 Metronome
Action Items
  • Practice playing notes to certain beats

    Whole notes, half notes, quarter notes, eighth notes, sixteenth notes

Key Points
  • Time signature is written as a fraction at the staff beginning
    • The top number indicates how many beats are in a bar (measure)
    • The bottom number indicates the length of a beat (2 = half note, 4 = quarter note, 8 = eighth note, and so on)
  • There are typically 4 quarter notes per bar
  • Beat and tempo tell you how long to hold notes

    Whole notes, half notes, quarter notes, eighth notes, sixteenth notes or breves, semi-breves, crotchets, quavers and semi-quavers.

  • The suggested tempo is indicated at the top left on sheet music
    • Moderato (Moderately) - Roughly 100 BPM (beats per minute)
    • Andante (At a Walking Pace) - Roughly 60-70 BPM
    • Adagio (Slow and Stately) - Roughly 55-65 BPM
  • Most pop songs are in 4/4 time (4 beats in a bar)

    Each of those beats is a quarter note.

  • When you divide a quarter note in half, you get an eighth note
  • Dividing an eighth note in half, gets a sixteenth note
  • A half note represents two beats
  • A whole notes represent four beats
Rhythm and Duration

Playing the correct notes in the correct order doesn't always create a song that's good music. Here, Kevin explains how expression markings guide the pianist on how the composer desires the music to be played.

Action Items
  • Find expression markings on sheet music

    Visit the Sheet Music Database to find examples of expression markings in sheet music.

  • Practice playing notes with various expressions
Key Points
  • Expression Markings

    Expression markings are located above the notes that are notated, or in the middle of the staff. They show the tempo of the song to be played, whether it is adagio, moderato or andante.

  • Dynamics Level

    This refers to the volume of a note.

  • The two basic dynamic indicators
    • “Piano” meaning soft
    • “Forte” meaning loud
  • There are two increments within the above dynamic indicators
    • “Mezzo Piano” meaning medium soft
    • “Mezzo Forte” meaning medium loud
  • Expression markings that indicate changes in dynamics
    • “Legato” means to play the notes smoothly. Indicated with a bridge symbol above or below the staff, connecting a sequence of notes.
    • “Staccato” means to play the notes choppy. Indicated with a dot above or below the note.
    • “Crescendo” means a gradual increase in volume. Indicated by a “< “symbol located at the start of the volume increase.
    • “Decrescendo” means a gradual decrease in volume. Indicated by a “>” symbol located at the start of the volume decrease.
Expression Markings

Everything you've mastered in this course comes together as Kevin teaches you to play "Greensleeves" from scratch. Master the melody with your right hand, then add the left before combining both. Also learn the importance of not what you play but how you play.

Materials List
  • 1 Greensleeves Sheet Music

    See download material at bottom of page

  • 1 Metronome
Action Items
  • Take note of the 6/8 time signature
    • This means that each bar (measure) will have 6 beats.
    • Each beat is subdivided into eighth notes.
  • Focus on notes and rhythm

    First note starts on an A

  • Focus on learning the melody (right hand - treble clef) first

    Break the melody down in to small chunks. There are two phrases: the second phrase repeats the first with just a slightly different ending. Practice the first and the second. Then put the two phrases together. It should be automatic before adding the left hand.

  • Use the left hand to articulate the harmony of the song

    Go very slow - Start with A Minor on the downbeat of the first 8th note - Use the triads: A then G then F then E Chord

Key Points
  • Musicianship refers to how you perform a body of music

    Essentially this is your interpretation of a piece of sheet music.


More sheet music, an online metronome, suggested apps, and other useful links.

Resources and Further Reading
4 pages
Scale and Chord Encyclopedia: Major Keys
12 Lectures 07:28
C Major

G Major

D Major

A Major

E Major

B Major

F# Major

Db Major

Ab Major

Eb Major

Bb Major

F Major
Scale and Chord Encyclopedia: Harmonic Minor Keys
12 Lectures 07:27
A Minor

E Minor

B Minor

F# Minor

C# Minor

G# Minor

Eb Minor

Bb Minor

F Minor

C Minor

G Minor

D Minor
About the Instructor
Demand Media
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Demand Media, Inc. is a leading digital media and domain name services company that informs and entertains one of the internet’s largest audiences, helps advertisers find innovative ways to engage with their customers and enables publishers, individuals and businesses to expand their online presence. Headquartered in Santa Monica, CA, Demand Media has offices in North America, South America and Europe.