Learning the harp - how to take the first steps
Do you want to understand the keys and notes when playing the piano right from the start? A good understanding of the keyboard will help you learn to tickle the ivories more quickly. How do the different ranges differ? And what's the deal with the white and black keys? In our article on the keyboard, we explain in more detail how you can quickly find your way around the piano and what you need to pay attention to when playing.
With a classical piano and its keyboard, you will always find 88 keys. Although there are also electronic variants with fewer than 88 keys, these are more suitable as an entry-level instrument. If you want to have the full overview of all octaves and alignments, you should choose a piano with the classic number of 88 keys. These keys can be divided into groups of twelve. With every twelve keys, a new octave begins on the piano with notes of the same name.
Octaves are always the distance between two notes with the same name, but with a different pitch. In between there are eight tone steps and just twelve keys. While the keys and their sounds are usually the same on both the piano and the keyboard, there are differences on instruments with fewer keys. Although the heights of the tones are not different, the smaller number of keys means that the same tones occur less frequently.
A look at the individual octaves shows that the twelve keys per octave are made up of seven white and five black keys. Thus, the octave always begins with the note C, while the 6 other white keys are named D, E, F, G, A, and B. With the black keys, it is not so easy to find the right naming. Thus, these always have two names, since they are enharmonic equivalents. While the sound is identical, the names are different.
The decisive factor is always the position of the white key. The black key to the right of a white key is named with the name of the white key plus "sharp." For the black key to the left of a white key, it is usually the "flat." Thus, the black key between C and D is both a C sharp and a D flat. Which name is correct in the song can be determined by the key and its accidental. However, don't get too confused by such subtleties when learning the keyboard in the beginning. When playing on the piano, C sharp and D flat still remain the same note.
It is also worth knowing that there is always a semitone step between two keys. Thus it is a semitone step from C to C sharp, but also from E and F. Since there is not a black key between all white keys, an octave always comprises twelve semitone steps. Not only between E and F, but also between B and C there is no black key.
A look at the keyboard shows several areas with black keys. Thus, per octave there are one set of two black keys next to each other and one set of three black keys. The white key that is directly to the left of the two black keys is always the C. This makes it very easy for you to recognize where one octave ends and where a new one begins, even without any previous experience. The C is always the first note of the new octave and represents the same note at a different pitch. So remember that the easiest way to recognize the position of the C is to pay attention to the black keys.
Instruments for beginners are often equipped with indications on the keys. This allows you to learn with the help of the keys at the beginning, even if your eyes should no longer be directed at the keys when playing in the long term. If you already have a classical instrument without further markings, schemes will be the best support for you. The structure of the keys is always the same, so it's easy to memorize the spacing of the keyboard.
Alternatively, you can also use easily removable stickers. These can be used to mark all notes on the piano and can be removed later when you have gained the necessary knowledge about your instruments. However, the keyboard will also play a role in music school or classical school lessons. Therefore, there is usually no way around learning the keyboard correctly.
While the layout and structure of a keyboard is basically the same on a keyboard or digital piano, there are significant differences in the mechanics. Simple digital pianos in particular do not offer the option to determine the strength of the keystroke. This makes playing styles like "forte" and "piano" difficult to understand. The classical piano, on the other hand, allows for a much more flexible keystroke, which can also influence the volume.
In contrast, you will find a hammer action on higher-quality keyboards or digital pianos. This makes it much easier to play notes at different intensities and to benefit from good sensory feedback. If you are thinking about buying a digital piano or keyboard yourself, it is very important to check it out first. This way, you can quickly recognize the quality of the respective keyboard and how good the key behavior is. The purely electronic generation, which is practically done at the push of a button, is rather unsuitable for learning the keyboard properly.
Both the keyboard and the piano require a lot of practice to play. Therefore, you should always approach learning with the necessary motivation to be able to pick up important details and knowledge. The keyboard is usually the starting point at this stage to be able to play more complex pieces without having to learn the notes by heart. The following tips and hints we give you around the piano therefore should be great for increasing your ongoing learning successes:
It doesn't always have to be a classic and expensive instrument from the start. Simple models with stickers or learning aids around the keyboard are also a good option. This makes it easy to get to grips with the instruments in a playful way at first and work your way up to the normal instrument without additional aids. This option is especially suitable for children's and teenagers' learning.
If you need further support in addition to practical practice on the instrument, video courses and specific instructions are suitable. In these, you can have the keyboard displayed again in its context and recognize exactly where specific notes are located. Further details on semitone steps and easy-to-learn songs are also usually included in such courses.
Practical apps for the piano help you master the first steps from simple melodies to whole pieces. There are helpful piano apps both for providing sheet music and for helping you play the piano itself.
The best and most sustainable method for consistent learning is music lessons directly on the instrument. Both in the music school and in private lessons, the skills can be improved significantly. In connection with your own practice phases, having the keys underneath your fingertips will make for rapid progress and ideally help you to reach the advanced level with more efficiency.
If you want to play instruments like the piano or keyboard, you should learn the keyboard early. Without it, it will be difficult to recognize the notes on the piano and to be able to play them correctly. Should you want to learn more about the most important principles for playing the piano, then we have just the article for you. The same goes for the many facets of the piano. Right here at mukken, you can also find exciting personals for musicians, which you can use to expand your network at any time. We look forward to supporting you musically.
Originally published on February 9, 2023, updated on February 9, 2023