Monday Mail: How Do I Teach Myself Piano?

piano photo by xandert

There have been so many times when I read an email addressed to me that asks pretty much the same question... "How do I teach myself the piano?" Many of my former high school students learn so much from watching YouTube videos and I think that's a wonderful arena to sharpen your skills and learn from one another.

Yes, there's oodles of information on the internet, as well as tons of piano blogs like mine here. You can purchase very valuable music resources which you have noticed that I place in my posts, since I am an affiliate with Hear and Play, plus Piano Tips and Amazon. If you have been benefitted from dvd courses, I hope you'll share with us here what sources you use.

For many of you, the big question is one that addresses the issue, "I can't afford piano lessons. Will you help me?" "Yes," is my answer and I'd like to list a few basic steps here, so if you're an advanced player... well, you'll recognize the information here is not for you at this time.

Maybe you'll begin with an approach to teaching yourself and probably find it quite interesting and exciting. Making good results will probably move you in the direction to continue your progress with a music teacher. So, let's get started.

MIDDLE C and how to find it

The piano keyboard has 88 black and white keys. The black keys are in groups of twos and threes. C is located at the immediate left of two black keys. Middle C is above the piano pedals and below the usual location of the piano name.

the piano PEDALS

The pedal on the right is the damper pedal, sometimes called the "loud pedal." This pedal raises the dampers and allows the strings to vibrate until the pedal is raised. The left pedal (soft pedal) allows fewer strings to be struck by the hammers. The middle pedal raises the dampers from individual keys when they are depressed. This means a single tone can be sustained while the hand is free to play other notes.


1. Learn chords in their basic positions near the middle of the piano. All chords may be played one octave or two octaves higher with the right with the right hand and one octave or two octaves lower with the left hand. The same fingering should be used when the chords are moved an octave or more.

2. Four and five note chords (7ths and 9ths). Very often the fingering may change and sometimes one note is omitted to simplify the fingering and the omitted note may be played with the left hand to complete the full harmony desired.

3. Augmented seventh chords are formed by raising the fifth of the dominant seventh by one half step. C, E, G, Bb... would become C, E, G#, Bb. This chord may be indicated by C7+5 or C7#5.

4. The fifth of the dominant seventh may be lowered by one half step. This would become C, E, Gb, Bb. This chord may be indicated by C7-5 or C7b5


It's crucial to know the chord names, note names, intervals of the scale and how they're written and played. It would take awhile for me to write out all the Major, Minor, Augmented, Dominant Seventh, Major Seventh, Diminished Seventh, Major Ninth, Dominant Ninth, Sixth, Minor Sixth and Augmented Seventh..., etc. This subject can be covered in many future posts, as well as purchasing a chord book for your musical studies.

Yes, I am an affiliate of Hear and Play and recommend products that I highly believe in. Jermaine Griggs offers 2 listening CDs on chords and their structure. You can learn so much from his teaching.
Check out the sales page,  Chords 101 and 102

To continue in learning the piano by yourself,  you'll definitely want to know:

Musical Notation
The Staff
The Grand Staff
Leger Lines
Incomplete Measures
Time Signatures
Beginning Hand Position and Extensions
Double Notes
Key and Time Signature
Tied Notes
Bar Line, Double Bar Lines
Repeat sign
Dynamic Signs
Enharmonic Tones
Bass Patterns

You might want to do a search on my site to see if I've covered some of these topics and if you have the time, do stop by and see if you're interested in this music resource.

All the best,

"The beautiful thing about learning is that no one can take it away from you." B.B.King
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