Beginner Piano Lessons

Learn the Keyboard

This is one of the beginner piano lessons on my site. Here, I’ll start you off with the most basic of all basics, namely, finding the locations of the different notes on the keyboard.

When you’re reading this, you should be seated at your piano or keyboard so that you can see what I am talking about. This is because studying something without that something being available so that you can see or touch it can be very hard on a student.

Almost all of these beginner piano lessons/drills will require that you be seated at the piano.


Beginner Piano Lessons Exercise 1 – Black Keys

Let’s start by locating the groups of black keys on the keyboard. There are seven groups of two keys each. Play these with your index and middle finger, going up and down the keyboard a few times.

beginner piano lessons page diagram with black keys on piano keyboard
Diagram 1. Play the two black keys with your index (1) and middle finger (2),
up and down the keyboard

On the black keys, there are also seven groups of three keys each. Play these with your index, middle and ring fingers, up and down the keyboard a few times.

Beginning Piano Lesson 1 Three Black Keys on Piano Keyboard Diagram
Diagram 2. Play the three black keys with your index (1), middle (2), and ring finger (3), up and down the keyboard

You’ll notice that there is one lone black key down at the bottom of the keyboard, this is the upper 1/3 of a group of three black keys.

Beginning Piano Lesson 1 Starting Black Key on Piano Keyboard Diagram
Diagram 3. This single black key is the upper third of a set of three black keys

Beginner Piano Lessons Exercise 2 – White Keys

Now, starting with the very bottom white key on the keyboard, play it and say “A”.

___ Go to the next white key, play it and say “B”.

___ Go to the next white key, play it and say “C”.

___ Go to the next white key, play it and say “D”.

___ Go to the next white key, play it and say “E”.

___ Go to the next white key, play it and say “F”.

___ Go to the next white key, play it and say “G”.

___ Go to the next white key, play it and say “A”.

Beginning Piano Lesson 1 White Keys on Piano Keyboard Diagram
Diagram 4. These are the note letters for the white keys. Say them aloud as you play them.

Beginner Piano Lessons Exercise 3 – Octaves

You will notice that when you’ve played eight keys, that the eighth key is referred to by the same note name as the first. This span of eight notes in music is referred to as an “octave.” (Octo = eight for those of you who are math-inclined).

About a thousand years ago, some music theorist decided that the human ear perceived two notes that are an octave apart as the same pitch. This is why the note names repeat up and down the keyboard.

Now repeat the above step and note where each of the notes are in relation to the black keys. Chopin once said something like this:

“The black keys are the islands, the white keys are the ocean.”

That’s just a poetic way of saying that the black keys are landmarks that one can use to find his/her way around the white keys.

Now, I’m going to give you an assignment.

Step 1. Start at the very first A (the lowest key on left side of the keyboard) and play the white keys up to the second A.

Step 2. Next, start at the second A and play the white keys up to the third A.

Step 3. Then, start at the third A and play the white keys up to the fourth A.

Step 4. Start at the fourth A and play the white keys up to the fifth A.

Step 5. Start at the fifth A and play the white keys up to the sixth A.

Step 6. Start at the sixth A and play the white keys up to the seventh A.

Step 7. Start at the seventh A and play the white keys up to the eighth A.

Step 8. Now play the last two keys which are a B and a C.

You will now see that the piano has a little more than seven “octaves” of notes. This is referred to as the “range” or “compass” of any instrument. Keep this up, saying each note name out loud, until you can do so easily and without any hesitation. You should feel certain about it when you’re done.


Beginning Piano Lesson Exercise 4

Using the black keys as guideposts, do the following:

Step 1. Find all the Cs on the keyboard. All the C keys are to the left of each group of two black keys.

Step 2. Find all the Ds on the keyboard. All the D keys are in the middle of each group of two black keys.

Step 3. Find all the Es on the keyboard. All the E keys are on the right side of each group of two black keys.

Step 4. Find all the Fs on the keyboard. All the F keys are on the left side of each group of three black keys.

Step 5. Find all the Gs on the keyboard. All the G keys are in the middle left of each group of three black keys.

Step 6. Find all the As on the keyboard. All the As are in the middle right of each group of three black keys.

Step 7. Find all the Bs on the keyboard. All the Bs are on the right of each group of three black keys.

Keep this up, saying each note name out loud, until you can do so easily and without any hesitation. Do this until you feel certain. If you have any trouble with this step, back up and repeat the earlier steps paying special attention to the relationship between the white and black keys.


Beginner Piano Lesson Exercise 5

Step 1. Start at the bottom A and play and say the note name of each white key simultaneously. Do this all the way up the end of the keyboard to last note, which is high C. If, by the time you hit the highest note, you are saying something other than C, you missed one or added one. Repeat the exercise until you are comfortable with it and can do it easily and fluently.  If you feel hesitant or unsure or make mistakes, keep going until you can do it fluently, without hesitation.

Step 2. Start at the top C, and repeat the above going down the keyboard. (Up means to your right. Down means to your left.)

Step 3. Now do both of the above with your eyes closed, until it is easy and fluent. If you feel hesitant, or make mistakes, keep repeating until you feel solid on it.


Congratulations, you’ve reached the end of one of the beginner piano lessons here on BeSharpPiano.com. Once you’ve mastered this lesson, you’re ready to move on to the next. You are doing great!

Check out more beginner piano lessons:

Basic Piano Lesson to Learn Finger Numbering

Beginning Piano Lesson to Learn the Names of the Keys