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!
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.
Pianoforte translates to “soft-loud” in Italian. The piano was derived from the Harpsichord and offered musicians more control over the sounds they produced.
Every note is the result of a string, or a set of 2 or 3 strings.
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.
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.
Striking the Sostenuto pedal sustains only the notes that are being held down, allowing future notes to be played unaffected.
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.
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.
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.
Study the keys until you can identify any note immediately without hesitating.
Repeat with other notes: A, B, C, D, E, F, G
Find F Sharp; find B Flat
The black keys offer guidance in keeping track of where you are on the keyboard.
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.
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.
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.
Fingers are numbered. Thumbs start as number one. Then fingers are numbered 2, 3, 4, 5 respectively with pinky being last.
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.
Pay attention to the segments that Kevin breaks the song into. Breaking this tune down in to chunks will help to ease the learning curve.
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.
Keep practicing until you can easily play the scale without error, forward and backward, and across multiple octaves.
Using a physical or electronic metronome, work on playing notes on the beat. Once you've mastered this rhythm, double your speed and practice.
Try with C and D Major scales.
Don't move on to the next lesson until you have C Major down pat, forward and backward, and on rhythm.
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.
Have fingers prepared and in the correct position in order to play a flowing scale.
The C is the white key to left of any set of 2 black keys.
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.
This is also called going up in semi-tones.
A combination of whole steps and half steps: tone (whole) - tone (whole) - semitone (half) - tone (whole) - tone (whole) - tone (whole) - semi-tone (half)
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 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 the metronome to keep time.
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.
Before you move on, practice the C Major triad and its inversions until you can identify each of them by ear.
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
It is the distance of 12 half steps in the chromatic scale
Unlike scales where each note is played individually, chords are sets of notes that are 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”
Means the root of the triad being played is the lowest note of the scale.
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.
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.
Notes of a given chord are played in sequence - not together.
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.
Apply whole steps and half steps.
Find root position and first and second inversions of each.
In minor, whole steps and 1/2 steps occur at different points in the scale - Same finger pattern but different notes.
C - D - E Flat - F - G - A Flat - B - C (Whole - Half - Whole - Whole - Half -- 1 whole plus a 1/2 step)
The root and fifth never change in a triad.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Change the C Major Chord to the C Minor Chord then start stacking minor thirds on top of each other until they start repeating.
It consists of a root, a major third, and an augmented (raised) fifth.
Now that you're a pro at scales and chords with your right hand, let's add the left hand.
You should feel confident playing scales and chords with your left hand as well as your right hand before you proceed.
Kevin shows you the best practice methods for developing coordination while playing.
Learn to play the minor scales described with each hand separately and then both hands together.
Practice with the right hand, then the left hand.
Focus on hitting notes together. Focus on different transitions for each 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.
Start with melody on right hand - practice till perfect. Next - Play left hand at half time.
Change the sustain pedal on the harmony change.
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.
Treble Clef Notes: E, G, B, D, F (all located on the lines) and F, A, C, E (all located on the spaces)
Bass Clef Notes: G, B, D, F, A (all located on the lines) and A, C, E, G (all located on the spaces)
A set of five horizontal lines and four spaces that each represent a different musical pitch.
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.
Whole notes, half notes, quarter notes, eighth notes, sixteenth notes
Whole notes, half notes, quarter notes, eighth notes, sixteenth notes or breves, semi-breves, crotchets, quavers and semi-quavers.
Each of those beats is a quarter note.
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.
Visit the Sheet Music Database to find examples of expression markings in sheet music.
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.
This refers to the volume of a note.
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.
See download material at bottom of page
First note starts on an A
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.
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
Essentially this is your interpretation of a piece of sheet music.
More sheet music, an online metronome, suggested apps, and other useful links.
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