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Piano Lessons for Beginners: Let Our Classes Begin

By Gaili Schoen January 18, 2023 Lifestyle

If you have always wanted to learn how to play the piano, regretted quitting piano lessons, or have heard that playing a musical instrument keeps your brain sharp, today our Free Video Piano Classes are beginning, and I hope you will join the fun!

To watch my Introduction to this course, and read about my approach, see my first article.

Getting Started

It would be best if you could watch the following videos at your keyboard. If you get your Sixty and Me emails on a laptop, tablet or phone, bring your device with you to your keyboard (when I say “keyboard” I mean piano or keyboard).

If you haven’t yet purchased my book, Upper Hands Piano: A Method for Adults 50+ to Spark the Mind, Heart and Soul, BOOK 1, you can view and print the pages we will be using today, HERE.

My book uses a lot of color, so if you prefer to not print the pages, you can just click to view them on a laptop or tablet (phones are too small for viewing these pages). But you will definitely want to print the LETTER STRIP and the PENTASCALES CHART.

You will find instruction and activities on the pages that are not covered in my videos; try to do them all! You might want to watch the videos several times, stopping and starting them as you need to, to grasp a concept. Sometimes it takes many viewings/readings before we truly understand what is being presented. Be patient with yourself, and patient with the process of learning a new, difficult skill.

In our first month of piano lessons, I will be giving you a lot of musical information to get you started. I will post many videos with lots of instruction about music notation. After that we will be able to focus on the fun stuff: playing songs and pieces! So, bear with me as we learn the basics first.

Yay! Let’s Begin!

The Basics

First, just tinkle around on the keys a bit, using each of your fingers on each of your hands. Listen to the sound of the keys. Notice that when you move towards the right on the keyboard, the notes get higher. When you play the keys towards the left on the keyboard, the notes get lower.

So, when I say UP, I mean to the RIGHT. When I say DOWN, I mean, to the LEFT.


UP=RIGHT=higher notes

DOWN=LEFT=lower notes.

2.1 Piano Posture p.1

Posture is super important! You want to start your lessons by getting your body in the right position for good playing and good health. Watch this video at least twice in the next two weeks! Click on the white CC box at the bottom right of the video to watch the video with subtitles.

2.2 Seize the Keys p.2-4

Have you noticed that the piano keyboard has a repeating pattern of 2 black keys and 3 black keys? (Plus a stray black key at the bottom/left of the keyboard.) This video will demonstrate where to find C-D-E on the keyboard and will have you playing the beginnings to a few familiar songs.

Notice my hand position in my videos. My fingers are gently curved on the keys, and my thumbs (1-fingers) play on their sides. (Remember: To watch the video with subtitles, click the CC box at the bottom right of the video.)

2.3 Brainsharp p.5-6

The Brainsharp logo in the Upper Hands Piano pages indicates that the featured segment is difficult, or will require some intuitive thinking. In this video we review what you have learned so far, and we do a couple Brainsharp activities to help you begin to learn the key locations.

2.4 Pentascales / Flats and Sharps p. 7-8

“Pentascales” are the first 5 notes of what we call a “scale” in music. We form “Triads” or 3-note-chords from these Pentascales, and chords are beautiful and wonderful! You will also learn about half steps, whole steps, sharps and flats. Print or take a look at the page 2.4 How to Play Exercise #1 in the Sixty and Me Files in preparation for Lesson 2.5.

(By the way, the answers for page 8 and all fill-in pages are on my website.)

2.5 Exercises #1, Appendix i – ii

Print and refer to the PENTASCALES CHART while learning Exercise #1. For the next two weeks, practice the first two exercises: in C and G, with each of your hands, one at a time. Each two weeks you will learn Exercise #1 in one or two keys (D and A will be next) while you review the keys you have already learned (there are 12 keys in all).

2.6 Songs to Play!

After you have watched all the videos and played the exercises, try playing a couple songs! View or print the SONGS file. You probably know the tunes to both Mary Had a Little Lamb and Hot Cross Buns. Use your ear to guide your rhythm.

Closing Notes

Well, that’s it for your first lesson. If you feel a little overwhelmed, take it slowly and review whatever felt confusing. If you hear a voice in your head that says, “I will never get this” or “I am too old to start learning to play the piano,” reassure that voice that it will get easier with time and practice, and that you can move at whatever pace is comfortable for you.

If you are not ready to move on to the next lesson in two weeks, you can get to it later, whenever you are ready. This is YOUR TIME; enjoy the challenge, and enjoy the music!

Please note: after the next lesson, I will not be posting any more of the pages from the Upper Hands Piano, BOOK 1, and you will need to purchase the book HERE. Thank you!

If you have a question, leave it in the COMMENTS section below, because others might have your same question, and I would love to respond and help.

Let’s Have a Conversation:

How did your first lesson go? Did you enjoy playing a few keys, the Exercise #1 in a couple keys, and the songs? What was challenging for you? What felt easy? Have you played the piano before? What is different about taking lessons as an adult?

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Debbie Kimble

Thank you so much for the time you’ve invested in providing free lessons. It is truly a joy for the opportunity to learn beautiful piano music, even at this later stage in life. I loved your video lessons, and really enjoyed your easy and positive communication style. I’ve bought the first two books, and worked halfway through book one. Much of this is review, but I have not previously learned all 12 penta scales and triads. Also, the brain exercises are fun, and the colorful format inviting. The songs are enjoyable and a good review of various rhythms. I look forward to your lesson that includes Listen to the Mockingbird, as I’m having some difficulties playing that one in correct Rhythm, and cannot yet play along with my metronome. I’ve also bought your winter song book and look forward to trying some of the beautiful songs. Thanks again, so much, and I look forward to continuing this journey with you.

You’re so welcome! I am really enjoying putting together these lessons. Thanks so much for buying 3 of my books! Wow! I’m so glad you are enjoying them. I love color so it was important to me add color to each page.

Yes the pentascales are a great way to learn all the beginning triads, so we use them right away. Most books don’t teach them, they teach only the full scales. But I like to get students playing chords right away, and learning pentascales makes that possible.

Here is a link to the video for Listen to the Mockingbird. That song has a tricky rhythm!

Last edited 9 months ago by Gaili Schoen

The Author

Gaili Schoen is a passionate piano teacher and learning science researcher. She has written a piano instruction series called Upper Hands Piano: A Method for Adults 50+ to Spark the Mind, Heart and Soul. Learn more at UpperHandsPiano.com. Follow her blog for free monthly sheet music and practice tips: UpperHandsPiano.com/blog.

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