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Learn piano online by reading our articles here on the website. The articles bring you information about learning to play this wonderful musical instrument, offering a rich source of knowledge for the passionate learner.

Offering tips and advice on how to improve your piano technique and the piano exercises that can accelerate your progress. all-piano-online.com introduces suitable classical and modern piano songs for you to play and exercises to practice with.

A treasure trove of resources about learning to play the piano that is sure to supplement your continuous improvement.

Explaining the basics of learning
to play the piano

Beginner's Piano Lessons - What You Need to Know

  by Andrea D. Vacchiano

Andrea D. Vacchiano is a pianist, piano teacher, and writer on all things related to piano education. He has contributed this article to all-piano-online.com so that students of the piano can benefit from the insights on piano technique, practicing piano exercises and knowledge it offers.

If you are thinking about starting piano lessons for the first time, you may be wondering what to expect in your lessons. The first few piano lessons, regardless if they are in a traditional private lesson, a group piano class, or even a method of self-study, usually focus on a few simple concepts and exercises to get the absolutely new piano player started.

You will first learn about some of the essential parts of the piano: the keyboard or manual, the strings, the soundboard, and the pedals, and how these parts work together.

The keyboard consists of eighty-eight keys that sound from left to right the instrument's lowest note to its highest one. When a key is pressed, a hammer strikes one or more strings that are strung tightly across a brass harp inside the piano's body.

A soundboard amplifies the sound of the vibrating string producing the tone that we hear. When a key is released, felt dampeners stop the strings from sounding. The piano's three foot-pedals affect the sound of the instrument in different ways.

The most frequently used pedal is the right-most one called the sustain pedal. The sustain pedal inhibits the dampeners from stopping the vibrating strings until the pedal is released.

Now that you have some basic understanding of the piano's workings, you will then probably spend some time learning how to sit at the piano, and how to place your hands on the keys.

These two lessons are extremely important, especially for adult students. Piano players need to learn a sitting position and hand position that efficiently allows them access to all the keys, as well as not put any undue strain on their body.

The acoustic piano, unlike an electronic keyboard, actually takes quite a bit of strength and flexibility to play. Professional classical pianists share much in common with athletes: fine motor skills, highly trained muscles, and the ability for a great deal of concentration. Like athletes, if pianists over practice or use incorrect technique, they risk injury.

Once you learn how to sit and place your hands, you usually learn the fingering system, and the middle C hand position. Middle C refers to the note and piano key that is literally in the middle of the keyboard.

The fingers of both hands are simply numbered from one through five starting with the thumb. You will also learn some rudimentary music theory in the first or second lesson, typically the musical alphabet and how it relates to the repeating pattern of black and white keys of the keyboard.

Students learn to play their first notes with an emphasis on producing a clear tone, while moving the fingers of the two hands in parallel and contrary motion.

You also begin learning to read music at this point, with an introduction to the piano staff, simple rhythms, and how they relate to the middle C hand position.

Once you understand these basics, you will learn about other hand positions, and will probably begin to play simple songs or pieces. It is at this point different methodologies, learning curves, and repertoire will be introduced.

Which direction your piano lessons will take will depend on your needs and desires, as well as those methods that the instructor favors.

If we are learning classical piano, your lessons will focus on learning pieces and studies from different style periods at a graduated level of difficulty. Lessons will be complimented with the study of technical exercises such as scales, and possibly even more music theory.

If you are studying popular musical styles, you will begin to learn some written out arrangements of familiar tunes, as well as how to build and play different chords, common chord progressions, and typical song forms. Jazz piano lessons will add in the dimension of improvisation techniques.

Featured articles...

The artistic image of a song

...To understand the said story the theory around which it revolves; as in the music theory has to be understood. Much like trying to uncover the mysteries of the universe the laws of physics has to be understood.

Here is an example taken from Turkish March, shown in Image 1.

The song is written in the key of A major, having that information we can expect to find combination of chords consisting of notes that make up the key of A major. The hassle of decoding each and every note on the music score and then locating them on the piano is simplified when the pianist knows this. For example, in Image 1 the tonic triad chord of A Major appears on numerous occasions as marked in red circles...learn more about playing the piano online, read the full article>>>

Touch and dynamics to
accomplish artistic imagery

...here is how I play staccato. Instead of using the arms to hit the keys, I use my wrists and they have to be flexible. My fingers are always already in position in contact with the keys before I attempt the staccato. Like a fulcrum, I let my wrists flex the fingers to press and spring off the keys. Picture a diver jumping off a springboard, it is a similar concept.

One mistake a beginner often makes, which I was also guilty of is to use the arms to play staccato. The arms are big and heavy, therefore do not have the speed to produce a crisp staccato. Ignoring this fact only creates tension in the muscles and it is painful. The wrist however is a lean, mean staccato machine. When unlocked and separate from the arm its nimbleness produces a firm and lively staccato...learn more about playing the piano online, read the full article>>>

Musical conception in piano songs

A musical phrase is built from several smaller, shorter conceptions of music. A line of musical phrase would probably be built from 2 or 3 conceptions. For example, let us take a look at this line from Rondo Alla Turca as shown in Image 1 below.

In my opinion it is made up of 3 musical concepts, not because there are three bars in it, but the pattern in the combination of the notes and their arrangements within each bar is distinct. The distinction is what I meant as musical conception...learn more about playing the piano online, read the full article>>>

Alternating between staccato
and legato phrases

One of the most famous piano songs ever composed, Turkish March’s rare legato phrases in a hectic environment occupied by staccatos offer the chance to create a contrasting sound that sparkles over the rest by joining the notes in a binding legato.

...the rare existence of legato phrases in Rondo Alla Turca is like an oasis in a hectic environment occupied by staccatos. Take advantage of the chance to create a contrasting sound that sparkles over the rest by joining the notes in a binding legato. It is done through the use of the hands by lifting the fingers at the last moment rhythmically before playing the next notes. 

Overcome sympathetic finger movement by building strength in the fingers through the practice of bouncing the 1st and 3rd fingers off the keys of the piano and then bringing them down. Repeat the movement with the 2nd and 4th fingers. It can be done with any 2 notes that are separated by at least 2 intervals...learn more about learning the piano online, read the full article>>>

Gaining speed

As the title suggests Turkish March is well…a march not a stroll. Therefore a faster pace in playing it is unavoidable. Gain speed through rhythmic practice in small cells, expanded incrementally evolving into groups of 2 bars. Forget not to forge the artistic image of the song by including dynamics in the execution

...Untrained and ill prepared, playing fast (as in short, short, short…or quick, quick, quick…) is like opening a can of worms. All the unpleasantness such as stumbling, hesitations and playing the wrongs keys are exposed. Not to mention the forced errors on the finer nuances of a composition such as tone, rhythm and expression.

Hence the necessity to practice slow at first in small sections, execute every requirement accurately before speeding up. Even then, speed up incrementally in small cells as explained earlier...learn more about playing the piano online, read the full article>>>

Upping the power of the 4th and 5th fingers

Acquire the strength needed in the fourth and fifth fingers to play piano songs with panache. The exercises explained build strength as well as flexibility and agility

...A lot like going to the gym to work out by lifting weights to build upper body strength, we do it by increasing the load we lift, for example from 10kg to 20kg to 30kg – compared to the earlier exercise explained in the above paragraphs, this next exercise is a heavier load practiced to build stronger 4th and 5th fingers.

With the fingers of the right hand place the thumb on C, index finger on D and the pinkie on G. Press and hold them down at the same time without ever lifting it while playing the rest of the keys one at a time. As in ; E (with the middle finger), F (with the 4th finger)...learn more about playing the piano online, read the full article>>>

Wrists need to be free and flexible

The wrists lateral movements and adjustments are the factors that determine the smooth connection of notes that bind a musical phrase, guiding the hands that control the fingers in music making.

...The wrists' job is to move between the positions on the keys of the piano. I do not mean keys located in the higher or lower octaves. What I mean is the location on a key, such as the upper location between black keys, middle and the near edge before falling off the keyboard.

The wrists guide the hands to land the fingers firmly at these locations and more significantly they get the arms to be involved with the work. Bouncing off one chord, transitioning to next one and another are big movements that the arms carry out, piloted by the up down and side to side movements of the wrists. The combination opens a 3-dimensional, 180 degrees space for fingers to travel through, without which they would only be limited to a piston-like movement that causes strain...learn more about playing the piano online, read the full article>>>

'Pianissimo' played with the sustaining pedal

Articulation of phrases in piano songs, through the combination of good pedaling and softly played notes as in pianissimo could be made to sound magnificent. Learn how it is done in this article.

...One way to project the artistic image of piano songs is the proper use of the sustaining pedal. Its mechanism affects the vibration of the strings in the piano. Putting it under the control of your feet gives you dominance over the strings’ vibration, therefore holding the control over the sonorous quality of the sound being produced. It provides you with one apparatus to project the artistic image of the song. Great articulation can be achieved by blending the well-timed use of the sustaining pedal with softly played notes (pianissimo)...learn more about playing the piano online, read the full article>>>

  is accomplished by layering
the sounds

An elegant fortissimo phrase in piano songs can be accomplished by layering the sounds. It is done by identifying the strong base notes and them playing loud.

...By keeping the fingers in contact with the keys, I am able to keep a rounded sound without losing its tonal quality while also having control over the notes I am striking, be it chords or octaves.

The next thing to remember when playing fortissimo is, when pressing the keys go all the way to the bottom of the keys. Once I reach it, without lifting the fingers away from the keys I would release the effort. This way energy is conserved, it is like taking an ‘unauthorized rest’. It sustains me to continue playing with undiminishing strength throughout the rest of the song.

How the keys are pressed matters too. I use my energy from the upper body and push them backwards as if I was pushing the piano through the wall. I do not need to do this with every note. Recognize the strong base note. Usually it is the top note of a phrase, play them fortissimo and less so in the middle notes...learn more about playing the piano online, read the full article>>>

How I play Canon in D by Pacheibel

When playing piano songs develop a sharper sense for the music by focusing on the feel and sound to develop a better sense for when to press on sustaining pedal

To create a masterpiece an artist utilizes a set of tools available to him. Michaelangelo utilized the hammer to chisel the statue of David then utilized the brush to paint the ceiling of the Sistine chapel. The piano is of course one instrument/tool a musician utilizes to create sounds pleasant to hear. On a more miniscule scale, tools are available that make the music created on the piano that much more beautiful...learn more about playing the piano online, read the full article>>>

Get more tips on
learning the piano online...

Balancing melody and accompaniment

What does it take be become a pianist capable of balancing melody and accompaniment well? Witnessing Sylvia's play provided some hints, learn more about playing the piano online, read  'Balancing melody and accompaniment'

Chromatic scales

The importance of chromatic scales needed to play Bach’s ‘Well Tempered Clavier’ explained, and what it takes to execute them. Learn more about playing the piano online read 'Chromatic scales'. Inspired by the performance of the Actors Studio Chorus and Orchestra

Grasping rhythm

Combinations and arrangements of a set of musical notes result in a multitude patterns of rhythm, grasp rhythm in a piano song through understanding of music theory, learn piano online read 'Grasping rhythm'

Classical romantic

Finger agility and delicate touch combined with technical mastery developed over years of practice are required to make music as beautiful as these, read 'Learn piano online - Classical romantic'

Further reading...

Two piano exercises to strengthen your 5th finger

The little pinkie is the weakest finger when playing the piano. You can make it stronger by practising these 2 exercises.

How to stay motivated in learning the piano

Learning how to play the piano is without doubt a daunting task. Stay positive and overcome frustrations, learn how to improve your piano online with these methods. 

How to eliminate playing mistakes

One of the most gratifying emotions one can feel is when a piano song is played to perfection. Learn more about playing the piano online, find out how to get rid of playing mistakes with these technique building ideas.

New articles...

The harp - A piano's musical soulmate

Because of the sophisticated complexities in its design, I have always thought the piano is the most versatile musical instrument. It came as a shock to see how much more awesome it was the first time I watched a string quartet accompanying it. Imagine my astonishment when that experience was surpassed the moment I heard the harp accompanying the piano. 

One typically conjures up an image of a Greek goddess plucking away under a waterfall in a faraway mythical land when harp is mentioned. I was amazed and pleasantly surprised to discover it is actually a still popular musical instrument. 

Learning how to play the piano was what led me to discover its existence. I was in my second year of lessons and was struggling to play ‘Well Tempered Clavier’ by Bach, so I decided to look for a recording of the song so that I can listen and absorb the rhythm in the hopes of being able to play it well enough sooner. I found what I was looking for with an unexpected bonus – a recording of Well Tempered Clavier’ performed on the harp accompanied by the piano....learn more about playing the piano online, read the full article>>>

Rubato - A magnificent playing style

Classical music often offers the option to play in rubato. It is indicated as a playing instruction in the music score. When such opportunity presents itself, it would be a grave sin for a pianist not to take advantage by letting loose her musical creativity in articulating the melodies.

Jazz piano on the other hand is music in rubato overdrive. Tempo and articulation can be expressed with absolute freedom whenever. The only limitation is your own wealth of repertoire and energy level.

What is rubato?

The temporary disregarding of strict tempo to allow an expressive quickening or slackening, usually without altering the overall pace. [reference: Oxford Dictionary of English @ Oxford University Press 2010, 2017]

Or an alternative definition: A flexible tempo; not strictly on the beat.[reference: WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University]

....learn more about playing the piano online, read the full article >>>

Recommended article...

Consistency in pulse

Leading the Big Band of Penang on the eve of Labor Day weekend with passion, his control over the 20 musicians playing different instruments was so complete that they were able to maintain a consistent pulse throughout the performance.

Like a mad scientist engulfed in his experiments, oblivious to the world around him. Perhaps, too harsh of a way to describe him, I meant it as a compliment though, alright I’ll re-phrase it; Jerome is one passionate dude.

It is only natural that pulse is somehow a key component in music making. It is so for the simple reason that in the very universe we are occupying, some type of pulse is reverberating around us at all times. In the form of magnetic waves, light and sounds. My own beating heart generates a regular pulse, the neurons in my brain sparks billions of bursts of pulse in a second...learn more about playing the piano online, read the full article >>>

Piano songs...

The moon represents my heart

Most piano players are well acquainted with songs composed by Beethoven, Mozart, Bach, Liszt and many other great composers from the classical era.

Modern music be it jazz, hip hop or R & B are influenced by what they created hundreds of years prior. What we listen to now are evolved version of classical music.

Present day pop culture is dominated by western music just like in the world of classical music – there has been no Asian equivalent of a Mozart or Beethoven.

Every piano song I have learned so far were written by composers from Europe and America until one day when I was asked to play ‘The Moon Represents My Heart’... learn how to play the piano online, read the full article>>>

Fantasie in C Major by Schumann

...take ‘Fantasie in C Major’ for example, the second movement in Op.17 featured a series of leaps not only intended to highlight Elaine’s pianistic skills but more importantly the resulting music injected a dose of freshness into my soul lifting my spirits up and I dare say in others listening in the audience as well. The similar effect piano music had on me years ago was what drove me to take up lessons in the first place. Who could resist playing music so gorgeous and feeling the keys under my fingertips, what a sensation!....learn more about playing the piano online read the full article>>>

Fur Elise

Tips on playing piano songs, in this article suggestions on how to play Fur Elise is discussed and why the importance of acquiring agility and flexibility in the fingers is emphasized

...Notice the Italian term ‘poco moto’. It is a tempo direction literally translated as ‘with motion’. Music historians and scholars are of the divided opinion that since the song was not published during Beethoven’s lifetime it was not him who wrote the instruction, therefore it can be neglected.

However the instruction is meant for pianists to play the bar ‘not too fast but a bit slower’. When put together with the rest of the phrase, the subtle contrast in tempo infuse an extra layer of tone making it all the more attractive to listen to. Such seduction through piano music is made possible by she who plays with agile and flexible fingers...learn more about playing the piano online, read the full article>>>

Overpowering the sympathetic finger

With an untrained beginner performing piano songs, the non-deliberate action by the 4th finger known as sympathetic finger movement ruins the rendition. Explained in this article are ideas to overcome it. Learn more about playing the piano online, read the full article>>>