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How to play piano in 21 days: a challenge for adult learners in 2024

how-to-play-piano

Welcome to Skoove’s guided 21-day piano challenge!

This plan is meticulously crafted for absolute beginners, offering a clear path for those with little to no prior experience with the piano.

Over the next three weeks, you’ll immerse yourself in structured practice sessions, learning fundamental techniques while gradually expanding your repertoire. Starting from the very basics, by the end of this course, you will possess the skills and mindset necessary to make significant strides in your piano journey.

Through consistent practice and dedication, you’ll not only enhance your piano playing abilities but also develop a profound appreciation for music. Our curriculum integrates lessons from Skoove, providing comprehensive guidance in piano technique, diverse song selections spanning various genres and styles, essential music theory, and snippets of music history. 

Each day, we’ll allocate approximately 30 minutes to practice. With a structured routine outlined for every session, you can seamlessly follow along, allowing you to focus on your playing and progress confidently.

By the end of the course, you will have a solid grasp of piano fundamentals, learn a handful of melodies, songs, and chords, understand some basic concepts of music theory, and have a solid plan of how to continue your piano studies going forward.

Goals for the program

🔸Develop familiarity with the piano keyboard layout and basic hand positioning.

🔸Understand fundamental music theory concepts such as note names, rhythms, and basic terminology.

🔸Learn to play piano with simple melodies with both hands and separately.

🔸Develop proper posture, hand technique, and finger dexterity.

🔸Build confidence in reading basic sheet music notation.

🔸Gain an understanding of basic chords and their formations.

🔸Cultivate a practice routine and habits for consistent improvement.

🔸Develop listening skills to recognize musical patterns and dynamics.

🔸Explore different musical styles and genres to expand musical appreciation.

🔸Lay down a solid foundation for further exploration and advancement in piano playing beyond the 3-week program.

 

Start your musical journey
  • Fall in love with the music: Learn your favourite songs, at a level suitable for you.
  • Enjoy interactive piano lessons: Explore courses covering music theory, technique, chords & more.
  • Get real-time feedback: Skoove's feedback tells you what went well and what needs practice.
Start your piano journey now!

No credit card details required

 

🗓️ Week 1: Laying the foundation: how to learn piano

 

how to play piano

✅ 1st week goals

 

Familiarization with the keyboard- Learn the layout of the piano keyboard, including black and white keys.
- Identify and memorize the names of the notes from C to G on the treble and bass clefs.
Basic hand positioning and posture- Practice placing hands on the keyboard with correct finger positioning.
- Focus on maintaining proper posture while sitting at the piano bench.
Introduction to rhythms and timing- Understand the concept of beats, measures, and rhythm.
- Practice tapping along with simple rhythms such as quarter notes, half notes, and whole notes.
Playing simple melodies- Learn to play a simple melody using the right hand only, focusing on accuracy and finger control.
- Practice playing short melodies with varying rhythms to develop coordination.
Introduction to basic music notation- Learn to read and interpret basic sheet music notation, including note symbols and rhythmic values.
- Practice identifying and playing notes on the staff corresponding to the keys on the piano.
Daily practice routine- Establish a daily practice routine, aiming for 30 minutes of focused practice each day.
- Set achievable practice goals for each session, focusing on specific skills and exercises incorporating Skoove lessons
Reflection and progress tracking- Reflect on the progress made during the week, noting areas of improvement and challenges faced.
- Keep a practice journal or log to track daily practice time and observations.

🎹 Day 1: Keyboard familiarization

Welcome to day 1 of our 21 day piano course. Each day will feature a practice session with clear goals so you can effectively mark your progress. If you have been wondering how to learn piano by yourself, this course provides a structured routine you can follow without a teacher.

Day 1 goals:

  • Spend 10-15 minutes familiarizing yourself with the layout of the piano keyboard.
  • Identify and memorize the names of the notes from C to G on both the treble and bass clefs.
  • Look through the Beginner 1 lessons on the Skoove app.
  • Practice saying the names of the notes as you locate them on the keyboard.

Welcome to the keyboard

The piano keyboard is a wonderful and fascinating instrument! Learning the piano will enrich your life in many ways. Learning to play piano and any other instrument is a fantastic way to express yourself and to have fun!

While you may feel a little overwhelmed looking at your keyboard, the layout is really quite easy to understand. There is a repeating pattern of white keys and black keys on the piano. You will notice that there are alternating groups of two black keys and three black keys. 

This alternating pattern is quite comfortable for our hands and will help provide us with useful landmarks as we progress along our journey.

 

21 day pioano challen

Learning the notes from C to G

Just like in written language, we have an alphabet in music. Each letter of the musical alphabet corresponds to a pitch and to key on the keyboard. There are 7 letters in the musical alphabet:

A B C D E F G

These seven letters repeat over and over. Depending on how many keys your piano has, the lowest one will be either A, C, or E. 

No matter what key is the lowest on your piano, we generally start learning the piano from a key called “Middle C.”

First, let’s begin with our right thumb on middle C. On both hands, the thumb is called the “first finger” or “finger number 1.” Find middle C with the first finger of your right hand and push the key down. Each white key ascending moves up one letter in the musical alphabet. So, play the next key, which is called D, with your index finger, also known as the 2nd finger or finger number 2.

Continuing on, we will find the next key is called E and we will play it with our middle finger or 3rd finger. The key after that is called F, which we will play with the fourth finger, or the ring finger. And finally, we come to G, which we will play with the pinky or 5th finger. Nice work!

 

This is a little exercise that we will play and develop as we go along. But, for now, just try and remember the names of the keys with your right hand.

Next, we will attempt a similar thing with the left hand. This time, let’s start with the left hand thumb on middle C. The thumb is also called the first finger on our left hand. However, if we move to the left on the keyboard, we will move backwards through the musical alphabet. This means that when we press the key to the left of middle C, we find B. We play this key with the index, or second finger, of the left hand. 

The right and left hands are a mirror for one another. The index finger is always finger number 2, the middle finger is always finger number 3, the ring finger is always finger number 4, and the pinky is always finger number 5.

Continuing on, we will next play the note A with the left hand third finger, followed by G with the fourth finger, and finally F with the pinky or fifth finger. Great work!

 

Now you can play five notes ascending from middle C with your right hand and 5 notes descending from middle C with your left hand. Work on memorizing the names of these notes as quickly as possible. You may find it advantageous to label the names of the notes on your piano

Learning with Skoove

Now that we have spent some time playing around with the keyboard, let’s check out the Skoove app. We will be using lessons from the Skoove app as well as Skoove’s extensive collection of songs while we learn how to play piano.

So, download the app if you haven’t already, and open it and start checking it out.

 

We will be incorporating material from the Beginner 1 course this week, so open that course and take a glance at the lesson topics and material. Each lesson features multiple steps. Open the first lesson, “Ode to Joy and Finger Numbers” for a review of the material we covered today. 

Good work on day 1!

🎹 Day 2: Basic hand positioning and posture

You made it to day 2! Today we will focus on hand positioning and posture and dive into a lesson in the Skoove app working with note identification.

Day 2 goals:

  • Review proper hand positioning on the keyboard, focusing on placing your thumbs on middle C.
  • Spend time adjusting your posture at the piano bench to ensure proper alignment.
  • Practice placing your hands on the keyboard in the correct position, with relaxed fingers and wrists.
  • Work more with Beginner 1 course materials

Review

Before we began our day 2 piano practice, let’s take a quick moment to review what we covered on day 1.

Make sure you feel comfortable finding middle C on your piano and playing up from middle C to G with the five fingers of your right hand and playing down from middle C to F with the five fingers of your left hand. Understanding this basic foundation is necessary for the next steps.

We also took some time to explore the layout of the Skoove app and to check out the Beginner 1 course. We will work more with the Beginner 1 course today, so be sure to spend a little extra time with the app if you were unable to look it over yesterday.

Take some time to review this material, walk through it again yourself, and make sure you understand it as best as you can right now.

Proper hand positioning

One of the foundational aspects of piano playing is proper hand positioning. It is important to develop proper hand positioning and technique at the beginning of your piano studies so that your hands remain comfortable and relaxed. Having strong technique at the beginning will also help you progress faster and will ensure that you minimize any pain in your hands, wrists, or shoulders that might occur from sitting in a particular position. If you work at a desk, then you know what we are talking about.

What is proper piano technique?

Proper piano hand technique and position is quite simple and elegant. In general, you want your hands to be suspended comfortably above the keyboard. You want your wrists to feel loose and relaxed. You want your fingers to be slightly curved, like you are holding a tennis ball or an orange in your hands, but you do not want them to feel overly tense.

Your elbows should be bent and parallel to the keyboard and you should be sitting comfortably on your piano bench with straight and relaxed posture. Try to not hold any tension in your arms, elbows, shoulders, neck, or back as you sit and play. All this relaxing might feel a little ridiculous, but trust it. If you learn to relax and feel comfortable with solid technique, you will always feel better on the piano.

For further reference, you can read this piece on the Skoove blog about proper piano posture.

More note identification

Now, let’s practice some more note identification! We will use Lesson 2 from the Beginner 1 course in the Skoove app, Key Jam & Note Names to practice. You will also see in this lesson, some reminders about piano posture and relaxation as well.

In the next part of the lesson, we focus on starting from middle C with the first finger of your right hand, and playing first up to F, and then in the next part, up to G. After that, we have an exercise where we are asked to play all the notes in a pattern. Playing piano along with the Skoove app will help ensure you are doing the exercise correctly. 

Next, we have the opportunity to play the exercise with a metronome and then with a backing track, which is always fun! Having some context like this to practice musical exercises helps them stick in our memory better and is always more enjoyable.

Finally, you can take some time to view the whole score. You will likely see some things on this score that you don’t understand, such as a series of lines, a weird curly “G” type symbol, and some dots and lines. Hopefully, by now you understand the numbers above the notes are the finger numbers you should use and the letters underneath the notes are the pitch names. If that is still confusing for you, you might need to take a little extra time today to review the day 1 lesson and today’s material.

Good work on day 2! See you tomorrow!

🎹 Day 3: Introduction to rhythms and timing

Onwards to day 3! Today we will learn about a few different rhythm concepts. Music is full of rhythms and this is a crucial piece to the puzzle!

Day 3 goals:

  • Learn basic rhythm concepts of half note, quarter notes
  • Use lessons Rock Hard & Note Values and American Pie & Rest to reinforce understanding.

It’s all about the rhythm

Rhythm is the name of the game in music. In general, music is based on three concepts: rhythm, harmony, and melody. You can think of melody as the lines that give a drawing its outline, harmony as the color that gives music is gradient and shade, and rhythm as the lifeforce that animates the other two, giving them life, movement, and energy. Without rhythm, music could not exist.

In our music system, we use a few different tools to organize rhythm. We use different types of “notes” and “rests” to symbolize various lengths of sound and silence, we use a tool called “measures” to organize rhythms into digestible grouping, and we use something called a “time signature” to organize the entire piece of music.

Let’s dive into Lesson 3 in our Beginner 1 course, Rock Hard & Note Values to learn more about all these different tools of rhythm.

Rock hard & note values

First, check out the “Get to know the song” section to get a feel for the material we will be looking at. There are a few things you should notice here, mainly that there are some new looking note symbols we haven’t seen before. We will learn all about those as we go on.

Next, jump into the section called “Note lengths.” There you will learn that some notes are longer and some notes are shorter. You will then have the chance to practice some long notes in the next section, on the key D with your second finger and after that, you will get to play the original example.

Moving on, we learn that the longer notes in this lesson are called “half notes” and the shorter notes are called “quarter notes.”

Half notes feature an open note head with a stem. Most of the time, half notes last for two counts or two beats. Musicians will use the words counts and beats interchangeably, and they basically mean the same thing. That is, you would basically count 1 – 2 for a half note.

Quarter notes feature a closed note head with a stem. Most of the time, quarter notes last for one count or one beat.

Moving on through the lesson, you have the chance to practice playing examples of quarter notes and half notes moving back and forth. If anything is unclear, take some time to review the lesson material once again.For further reference, check out this article from the Skoove blog about half notes and quarter notes.

Silence is golden

Just as we use symbols like the quarter note and half note to mark sound in music, we also use symbols called “rests” to mark silence in music. And, just as there are quarter notes and half notes, so too are there analogous symbols called quarter rests and half rests. 

Let’s check out Lesson 12 from the Beginner 1 course called “American Pie & Rests” to learn a little about the world of rests.

American Pie & Rests

If you open the lesson in your Skoove app and check out the song, you will see a bunch of things you already recognize. You see mostly a long string of quarter notes and half notes. You will also see a few new symbols that you probably don’t recognize. These are different types of rests.

In the next section, you will be introduced to rest symbols. We will learn about quarter note rests, which last for 1 beat, half note rests, which last for 2 beats, and whole note rests, which last for 4 beats.

Symbol

Name

# of Beats

Whole rest

4

Half rest

2

Quarter rest

1

Next, you will learn by clapping the rests. Clapping helps us internalize the material outside of the piano. Then, as we have done in other lessons, you will be able to play the actual material in time, with a band, and be able to view the full score.

For further reference on rests, you can read this article from Skoove on the different types of rest symbols.

Great work on day 3! So far, you have learned your way through some basic notes, understand a few basic rhythms and rest, and have even played a simple melody! Quite impressive for only three days with the piano! 

Tomorrow we will turn our focus to learning a simple melody. So, take some time to brush up on what you have learned, and we will see each other again tomorrow!

🎹 Day 4: Playing simple melodies

Day 4! Let’s check out some melodies! We will look at Lesson 7 from the Beginner 1 course today, “Oh, When the Saints 1 & Effective Practice.” Make sure you are up to speed on the last three days of material before diving into this!

Day 4 goals:

  • Learn a simple melody using the right hand only, focusing on accuracy and finger control.
  • Lesson 7: “Oh When the Saints 1 & Effective Practice”
  • Check out Beginner Songs and find one to start learning
  • Record yourself playing the melody to assess your progress and identify areas for improvement.

What is a melody?

As we learned in day 3, music is composed of three primary concepts: rhythm, harmony, and melody. We learned that rhythm is the animating force of music. It gives music motion and life. 

Melody is what gives music its shape and direction. A melody line is usually the part of a song that is sung. However, melodies can be instrumental or vocal. There are plenty of examples of exceptional instrumental melodies everyone we look, especially in classical music, but also in jazz, rock, pop, and more. 

Vocal melodies tend to be memorable because they have lyrics attached to them. Think about the verse or chorus section of your favorite songs and you have a melody. You have already played some simple piano melodies yourself and, in this lesson, we will dive into melody practice.

You can read more about melody in music on the Skoove blog.

Learning a simple melody

Open your Skoove app to Lesson 7 in the Beginner 1 course, “Oh, When the Saints 1 & Effective Practice.” The song “Oh, When the Saints Go Marchin’ In” is a great, iconic melody to learn and will blend many of the concepts we have covered over the last three days.

As we have done previously, take some time to check out the song. You will hopefully recognize all the symbols on the music, including some quarter notes and rests, half notes, and a whole note.

Next, we will learn some tips for effective practice. This is quite important to learn. You want to follow the tips in this video. They will certainly help you make better progress.

After that, we will learn the keys for the melody of “Oh, When the Saints” with the right hand. You may have noticed that we have been focusing quite heavily on the right hand the last few days. Don’t worry, we will get to the left hand soon enough!

After you have checked out all the notes, you have the chance to play the melody in time with the Skoove app and with the backing track. You will get some feedback on your performance from the Skoove app, which will help you perform the melody better.

Finally, you have the chance to check out the full score. Take a look at the finger numbers above the notes. Also, did you notice that the note names are not written under the notes anymore? Did you notice?

Nice work on this melody. Feel free to review it as much as you need and want.

Check out the beginner songs

Now let’s take some time to check out the Beginner Songs section of the Skoove app. One of the best parts about learning piano with Skoove is access to a wide catalog of popular, classical, folk, jazz, soul, blues, and rock songs to learn piano with. There are songs for every playing level.

Navigate to the “Songs” section on the left side of the app and select “Beginner” at the top of the screen. You will see a large number of songs from many genres are available in the “Beginner” section. Take some time to look through here and think about what songs you might like to learn.

Feel free to start looking through them, but take into consideration that some might have concepts you don’t yet know about. All the more reason to keep practicing!

Nice work on day 4! Tomorrow we will dive into some basic music notation. So, enjoy the rest of your day and make sure to spend some time reflecting on the material we have covered so far.

🎹 Day 5: Introduction to basic music notation part 1

Day 5! Let’s learn how to read music! It is not as hard as you might think.

Day 5 goals:

  • Learn basic music notation symbols such as the staff and the treble clef.
  • Practice identifying notes on the staff and matching them to the corresponding keys on the piano.
  • Light My Fire & Treble Clef lesson

Learning to read

Learning to read music is a fundamental skill that will allow you access deeper levels of music. As you develop your music reading skills, you will be able to identify particular aspects of written music and develop a strong overall understanding of the connections between notes, rhythms, pitches, and instruments. It truly is a wonderful skill to practice.

Learning how to read music is not difficult. Let’s check out the basics today.

The staff

Music is notated on a collection of 5 lines and 4 spaces called “the staff.” The staff looks like this:

Treble clef

We use a few different tools to orient ourselves on the staff. The first tool we will learn is called the “treble clef.” The treble clef looks like this on the staff:

The treble clef is also known as ‘G’ clef because it tells us where the pitch G will be found on the staff. However, not just any G. The treble clef refers specifically to the G above middle C, the same G we have been practicing with our right hand, fifth finger.

Once we understand where the note ‘G’ is on the staff, we can figure out all the rest. Basically, when we move higher on the staff, the pitches and note names also move higher. When we move lower on the staff, the pitches and note names move lower as well. 

The lines and spaces of treble clef

We usually learn the notes in treble clef by breaking it down into the notes on the lines and the notes on the spaces. The notes on the lines of treble clef look like this:

The notes on the spaces of treble clef look like this:

Not too hard, right? Let’s dive into a Skoove lesson to help boost our understanding.

Light My Fire & Treble Clef

Check out the material in Lesson 4, “Light My Fire & Treble Clef”, to review the notes on the treble clef and to practice some reading.

For more information about the treble clef, check out this post on Skoove’s blog.

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Nice work today! We have covered quite a bit of ground so far in our piano journey. Make sure you take the time to review what we have covered and practice with the Skoove lessons to reinforce your understanding.

Tomorrow we will dive into another reading tool, the bass clef! See you then!

🎹 Day 6: Introduction to basic music notation part 2

Welcome to day 6! Today we are going to learn more about the basics of music notation. Yesterday we learned about a tool called the treble clef. Today, we will learn about a tool called the bass clef. When you are ready, dive in!

Day 6 goals:

  • Learn the basics of reading notes in bass clef.
  • Practice with the Skoove lesson “Good Vibrations & Bass Notes.”
  • Review reading in treble clef.

Learning to read the bass clef

Yesterday, we learned that the treble clef marks the note G on the staff, specifically the G above middle C. From there, we figured out all the notes in the treble clef on the lines and spaces of the staff.

Today, we will learn about the bass clef. The bass clef looks like this:

The bass clef is also known as ‘F’ clef because the bass clef tells us where the note F is on the staff, specifically the F key below middle C, the same F key we found with our left hand fifth finger on our first day of practice. Bass clef notes are generally played with the left hand, while treble clef notes are generally played with the right hand.

Just as we learned with the treble clef, as we move higher up on the staff, the pitches and note names also move higher, and as we move lower on the staff, the pitches and note names move lower. 

The lines and spaces of bass clef

Now that we know where F is, we can follow a similar logic as we did yesterday and figure out the notes on the lines and spaces of the bass clef.

Here are the notes on the lines of bass clef:

And here are the notes on the spaces of bass clef:

Good vibrations & bass notes

Now let’s check out Lesson 14 “Good Vibrations & Bass Notes” is the Skoove app. In this lesson, we review the basics of the bass clef and have the opportunity to practice reading and playing notes in the bass clef with a band along with the classic tune from the Beach Boys.

Have fun and enjoy! Nice work on day 6!

🎹 Day 7: Reflect & review

Day 7! Congratulations on completing week 1! Let’s take some time to reflect on all we have learned.

Day 7 goals:

  • Review material from the week.
  • Reflect on your accomplishments and challenges from the week, noting areas where you’ve improved and areas where you’d like to focus more attention in the coming week and beyond.
  • Take a look at our goals and objectives for the second week of our piano course.

❇️ Week 1 summary

We covered a lot of ground in the first seven days of our 21 day piano course. In this first week, you have learned:

  • The layout of the piano keyboard.
  • How to find the key “middle C.”
  • The finger numbers.
  • A few simple melodies in our lesson examples like “American Pie” and “Oh, When the Saints.”
  • The basics of reading musical notation including the staff and reading notes in treble clef and bass clef.
  • How to navigate through the Skoove app.
  • One or two songs from the Beginner Song section of the Skoove app.

This is quite a bit of material! So, take the day to practice everything, reflect, and absorb all that you have learned.

Next week, we will focus on expanding upon and developing all the skills we worked on this week. Have a fun day and spend lots of time playing around with the piano!

🗓️ Week 2: Expanding your skills

 

how to play piano

✅ 2nd week goals

  • Continue exploring Skoove’s beginner songs catalog
    Introduction to basic scales- Learn how to play the C major scale
    - Learn the basic theory behind the major scale
    Introduction to basic chords- Learn basic major and minor chords (e.g., C major, D minor) and their fingerings.
    - Practice playing chords in root position using both hands.
    Chord progressions and harmony- Explore simple chord progressions commonly used in music.
    - Practice transitioning smoothly between different chords within a progression.
    Introduction to dynamicsUnderstand the concept of dynamics in music.Experiment with playing simple melodies at different dynamic levels, focusing on expression.
    Daily practice routine and review- Explain how to build a consistent daily practice routine, incorporating exercises, scales, chords, and repertoire practice.
    - Review previously learned material to reinforce concepts and improve retention.

🎹 Day 8: Exploring beginner songs on Skoove

Welcome to week 2, day 8 of our 21 day piano course. This week, we will spend time reinforcing the concepts we explored last week, as well as adding some additional tips and tricks this week. We will try and focus on getting the most out of the Skoove app and hopefully you will start spending more time looking through and learning songs in the Beginner Songs catalog. Today’s practice will be all about that repertoire.

When you are ready, dive in!

Day 8 goals:

  • Spend time exploring Skoove’s Beginner Songs catalog.
  • Listen to previews of different songs to find ones that interest you.
  • Choose one or two songs to focus on for the week based on your preferences and skill level.
  • Familiarize yourself with the melody and chord progressions of the selected songs.

Beginner songs catalog

On day 3 last week, we opened up the Beginner Songs section of the Skoove app. You should have taken a glance at the choices and found something that looked fun and exciting to you. Hopefully, you were able to learn the song without too much difficulty.

Take a look again today and pick out a handful of songs that seem like fun to you. By the end of the week, we will have covered everything in the Beginner 1 course, so pretty much all the songs in the catalog will be possible for you to play. Some might take you more time than others, but practice makes perfect!

Quick review

Once you have checked out a few songs that seem like fun to you, take a moment to review all the material we covered last week. We covered quite a bit of ground, including the keyboard layout, the finger numbers, finding middle C, learning how to match the names of the keys with their pitches, and some basics about reading rhythms, notes, and rests. We also played two melodies, “American Pie” and “Oh, When the Saints.”

Nice work on day 8! We will take all that material a little bit further this week, so make sure you review the lessons if necessary.

🎹 Day 9: Introduction to the C major scale

On day 9, we will learn our first scale, the C major scale. 

Day 9 goals:

  • Learn how to play the C major scale on the piano.
  • Study the fingering pattern for the C major scale and practice playing it ascending and descending.
  • Understand the basic theory behind the major scale, including whole-step and half-step intervals.
  • Practice the scale slowly and evenly, focusing on finger placement and hand coordination.
  • Use “Playing Technique” Lesson 1 and Lesson 13 from the Skoove App.
  • Practice your song choice from the Beginner Songs catalog.

What is a scale?

A scale is simply a group of notes that is arranged in a particular sequence. There are many different scales in music. One of the most common scales used is called the “major scale.” In fact, you already know part of the major scale.

Check out Lesson 1 from “Playing Technique” and we will see what we are talking about. In this lesson, you practice a 5 note scale ascending and descending from middle C. This is very much like the first exercise we practiced on day 1. 

This 5 note scale is sometimes called a “penta scale” or, more commonly, “C Position.” As you progress through music, you will find that there are many names around the world for the same basic things.

The C major scale

The C major scale builds upon this 5 note “C Position” scale. It includes three additional notes and will require you to shift your hand slightly to play it. It is well within your grasp!

The notes of the C major scale are:

C D E F G A B C

The finger pattern in your right hand is:

1 2 3 1 2 3 4 5

To play the scale with your right hand, begin with your thumb on C. Play C, then D with your 2nd finger, followed by E with your third finger. At this point, cross your thumb under your third finger and play F with your thumb. 

Then, continue up playing G with your 2nd finger, A with your 3rd finger, B with your 4th finger, and finally C with your 5th finger. Not too hard, right? Descend the scale by following the opposite path.

Here is a diagram of the notes and finger numbers in your right hand:

Check out Lesson 13 in “Playing Technique” for a deep dive into practicing the C major scale. It is not necessary at this point to be able to play the scale together with both hands. You should also read this article on the C major scale from the Skoove blog to reinforce your understanding!

Day 9 was a good challenge, solid job!

🎹 Day 10: Introduction to basic chords

Today in day 10 we will explore an introduction to piano chords!

Day 10 goals:

  • Learn basic major and minor chords, starting with C major and D minor.
  • Study the fingerings for each chord and practice playing them in root position using both hands.
  • Review Lesson 1 from Pop Piano.
  • Practice your song choice from the Beginner Songs catalog.

What is a chord?

Chords are a foundational element of learning how to play piano and music making in general. You will hear chords everywhere. Chords and harmony give music its depth, shade, and gradient.

At its most basic level, a chord happens anytime you push down two or more keys at the same time on the piano. If you push down C and E together, that can be a chord. If you push down F and G together, that can be a chord. 

The most common type of chord is a three note chord called a “triad.” Think triangle or triceratops.

These triads can be major or minor depending on the relationships between the 1st note and the 3rd note. We will explore more of the theory of triads as we work further.

Playing a C major chord

For now, let’s work on playing some basic chords. With your right hand, find middle C with your first finger. Next, press down E with your third finger. Finally, push down G with your fifth finger. Make sure you are holding down all three keys at the same time. The chord should look like this:

This is a C major triad. We call it a C major triad, or C major chord, because the “root” note is C and the “quality” of the chord is major. Chord quality does not refer to the substance or usefulness of the chord. Rather, we use the word quality as an umbrella term for things like “major”, “minor”, “diminished” or “augmented.”

If you count the number of keys from C to E (starting from C), you will find there are four keys. This interval (the distance between the notes) is called a “major third.” This is why we call this chord a major chord.

You can play this chord with your left hand as well. With your left hand, begin with your fifth finger on C, followed by your third finger on E, and your first finger on G. Again, make sure you push down with all three fingers at the same time. Try playing the chord with both hands in as many places on the keyboard as you can find!

Playing a D minor chord

Now, let’s check out another chord, the D minor triad. This time, let’s start with the right hand first finger on D. Remember that D is the note in-between the group of two black keys. Then, play F with your third finger, and finally A with your fifth finger. Remember to push down all three notes together. What a nice sound!

This triad is a “minor” triad because of the distance between D and F. Count the number of keys between D and F (including D). You should find there are three keys between D and F. This interval is called a “minor third.” Therefore, the minor triad is called a minor triad because it opens with a minor third and the major triad is called a major triad because it opens with a major third. Pretty neat, right?

Now let’s check out the D minor chord with your left hand. We will use the same finger pattern here as we did with the left hand on the C major triad. Start with your fifth finger on D, followed by your third finger on F, and finally your first finger on A. Nice work!

Practice playing this chord as well with both hands in as many different positions as possible.

To learn more about chords, check out Lesson 1 from the Pop Piano course and review this article on piano chords from the Skoove blog.

Fantastic job with day 10!

🎹 Day 11: Exploring chord progressions

Day 11 goals:

  • Explore simple chord progressions commonly used in music.
  • Practice playing chord progressions in various keys, focusing on smooth transitions between chords.
  • Use lessons from the pop piano course in the Skoove app.
  • Practice your song choice from the beginner songs catalog.

What is a chord progression?

Yesterday, we learned that chords happen anytime we play two or more notes together on the piano. We learned that the most common chord is called a triad and consists of three notes. Then, we learned two basic triads, a C major triad and a D minor triad.

Today, we will practice linking major and minor triads into chord progressions. A chord progression is basically a series of chords connected in a sequence. A chord progression can extend for any length of time, but in most pop music chord progressions last anywhere from four to sixteen measures.

There are many common chord progressions between songs. Many songs you know and love probably share the same, or at least very similar, chord progressions. These chord progressions evoke a familiar feeling, which is why they are used so frequently.

Let’s dive into some common chord progressions using the Pop Piano course in the Skoove app.

Paparazzi & Super Hit Chords

First, let’s open Lesson 5, “Paparazzi & Super Hit Chords.” The chords in this lesson include C major, G major, A minor, and F major – all chords on white keys.

This chord progression is called: I – V – vi – IV and is common in many hit songs – hence the name of the lesson. In this lesson, you play all the chords with your right hand and bass notes on the root with your left hand. Each chord in the right hand is played with fingers 1, 3, and 5. The finger numbers are given in the lesson for the left hand.

If you are feeling like you want more work today, continue on with the next lesson, “Demon Chords & Pop Patterns” to see how you can vary the rhythm of this same chord progression. You can also check out this article on chord progressions from the Skoove blog for more learning. 

Otherwise, great work on day 11 and we will see each other again tomorrow!

🎹 Day 12: Introduction to dynamics

Day 12 goals:

  • Understand the concept of dynamics in music, including terms such as forte (loud) and piano (soft).
  • Experiment with playing simple melodies at different dynamic levels, focusing on expression and emotion.
  • Practice crescendos and decrescendos within melodies to understand how dynamics can enhance musical phrasing.
  • Use the lesson “Jaws & Articulation” from Skoove Beginner 1 course.
  • Practice your song choice from the Beginner Songs catalog.

What are dynamics?

Today, we will introduce the concept of dynamics and articulation. Basically, when you hear musicians talk about dynamics, what they are referring to is the volume and expression of music. Musicians have many different terms for volume, expression, and articulation to make the music as lively and multi-dimensional as possible. 

Dynamics add interest and depth to your playing and learning how to read and understand dynamic markings on music will enhance your understanding of piano music. 

Basic dynamic markings are often written in Italian, however you will see more advanced dynamic markings written in many different languages as well. Let’s dive into some specifics.

  • Basic dynamic markings

The most basic dynamic markings are those for volume. We use a few different terms and symbols for volume. Check out the table below:

WordSymbolMeaning
pianissimoppVery quiet, very soft
pianopQuiet, soft
Mezzo pianompMedium quiet
Mezzo fortemfMedium loud
fortefLoud, strong
fortissimoffVery loud, very strong

We also have terms and symbols for increasing or decreasing volume.

To increase volume, we use a symbol called crescendo. It looks like this:

To decrease volume, we use a symbol called diminuendo. It looks like this:

You may sometimes see crescendo abbreviated as cresc. You may also sometimes see a diminuendo called decrescendo

Jaws & Articulation

Now let’s put these dynamics into practice with Lesson 13 from the Beginner 1 course, “Jaws & Articulation.” This lesson is based on the theme from John William’s score for “Jaws” and you have probably heard it. It is a great theme to practice dynamics, since it just moves between two notes in a very iconic and well-known pattern.

Open up the lesson and check out the piece. You will see that we start at pianissimo and gradually move up through the dynamics until we have a quick crescendo from mezzo forte up to fortissimo. Practice along with the piece and read more about dynamic markings in music on the Skoove blog. That’s all for today! Great job with day 12!

🎹 Day 13: Learning about flats and sharps

Day 13 goals:

  • Learn about and understand flats.
  • Use Beginner 1, Lesson 9, “The Blues & The Flat,” and Intermediate 1, Lesson 1 “Moonlight Sonata & The Sharp.”
  • Practice your song choice from the Beginner Songs catalog.

What are flats?

A flat is a term often used in music. So far, we have only learned about the white keys on the piano. Today, we will use some black keys. Generally, the black keys are notated one of two ways:

  • With a symbol called a “flat”
  • Or, with a symbol called a “sharp”

The symbol for flat looks like this:

This symbol means the note is flat and you need to play it one key lower than normal. For example, if you have a G♭ written, that means you will play the black key directly to the left of G.

You can see that note here:

Practice finding the following flats:

  • D♭
  • A♭
  • E♭
  • B♭

The Blues & The Flat

Now let’s open up the Skoove lesson “The Blues & The Flat” from the Beginner 1 course to reinforce our understanding of flats. In this lesson, we learn more about flats and practice a little improvisation of the blues form. Have fun!

What is sharp?

A sharp is basically the opposite of a flat. Instead of lowering the note by one key, we raise the note by one key. The symbol for sharp looks like this:

So, if you see a note written like G♯ or F♯, then you play the black key directly to the right of G or F. G♯ is here on the piano:

And F♯ is found here on the piano:

Do you notice that F♯ and G♭ are the same key? We call keys like these enharmonic equivalents.

Practice finding the following sharps on your keyboard:

  • A♯
  • C♯
  • D♯

Moonlight Sonata and The Sharp

Now, let’s check out the lesson “Moonlight Sonata and The Sharp” from the Intermediate 1 course in the Skoove app. This piece might be a little beyond your ability level right now, but the lesson teaches us about the sharp and it will be useful for you to check out either way. Take your time with this lesson – and nice practicing on day 13!

🎹 Day 14: Reflect & review

Day 14! Congratulations on completing week 2! Let’s take some time to reflect on all we have learned.

Day 14 goals:

  • Review material from the week.
  • Reflect on your accomplishments and challenges from the week, noting areas where you’ve improved and areas where you’d like to focus more attention in the coming week and beyond.
  • Take a look at our goals and objectives for the third and final week of our piano course.

❇️ Week 2 summary

Nice work with week 2. We made a lot of progress this week. Let’s summarize everything we covered so you can review it all today.

  • You should have picked one or two songs from the Beginner Songs catalog in the Skoove app to practice. 
  • We learned the C major scale.
  • We learned about chords and chord progressions.
  • We learned about dynamic markings.
  • We learned about flats and sharps and how to read them in music.
  • We had a great time playing the piano!

Take all the time you need today and review this material and your choice of song or songs. Starting tomorrow, we begin the third and final week of our piano course and we set ourselves up for future success with the piano!

🗓️ Week 3: Trying it all together

 

how to play piano

✅ 3rd week goals

Expand repertoire with Skoove Beginner Songs catalog.
Review and reinforce rhythm, note recognition, and reading concepts.
Introduce improvisation with Lesson 11 “Twin Peaks & Improvisation.”
Introduce chord symbols with Pop Piano Lesson 2 “Heal the World II & Chord Symbols.”
Build left-hand skills in preparation for playing with both hands. Use Lesson 4 from Beginner 2 course, “Musette & Left Hand Training.”
Play with both hands and practice Lesson 15 from Beginner 1 Course, “Sonata & Both Hands.”

🎹 Day 15: Time for more songs!

Welcome to day 15, the first day of the third week of our 21 day piano course. Hopefully you feel fully reviewed and caught up on the information we have explored so far! If you still need a little time, no worries. All we will do today is spend some time reviewing previous concepts and looking through the Skoove Beginner Songs catalog for some new material to check out this week.

Day 15 goals:

  • Review and practice all course material, especially any parts you are confused about.
  • Look through Skoove Beginner Songs catalog and find one or two songs you would like to work on this week.
  • Practice your chosen song or songs from the Beginner Songs catalog.

Have fun and nice job with day 15!

🎹 Day 16: Reading practice

On day 16, we will spend some time practicing our reading skills and reinforce all the knowledge we have gained over the last two weeks. 

Day 16 goals:

  • Practice sight reading in the right and left hands using Lessons 13 and 14 from the Beginner 2 course.
  • Practice your chosen song or songs from the Beginner Songs catalog.

Sight reading is fun!

Reading music is not terribly difficult to learn, but it is a skill that needs to practiced with some regularity, otherwise you will lose speed. Let’s practice some reading with Lessons 13 and 14 from the Beginner 2 course, “Mrs. Robinson & Sight Reading.” This lesson uses the iconic Simon & Garfunkel song, “Mrs. Robinson.”

Mrs. Robinson & Sight Reading

In this lesson, we practice some sight reading skills using the notes from C to G. First, get to know the song. There are some skips and leaps in the melody, so be ready for that. Additionally, there is one tricky note at the end.

Of course, once you practice it more than a few times, it is no longer sight reading, it is just practice. So, your next task will be to check out Lesson 14, “Mrs. Robinson & Sight Reading II”, where we practice some sight reading with the left hand. 

Nice work today! For more review, check out this article on remembering piano notes from the Skoove blog.

🎹 Day 17: Time for improvisation!

On day 17, we will try out some simple improvisation as well as continue practicing on the chosen song or songs for this week.

Day 17 goals:

  • Understand what improvisation is.
  • Explore Lesson 11 from the Beginner 1 course, “Twin Peaks & Improvisation.”
  • Continue practicing on your chosen song or songs from the Skoove catalog.

What is improvisation?

Improvisation is one of the most fun things you can do with music. Basically, improvisation at the piano means you will spontaneously create music. You can spontaneously create music based on a chord progression, rhythmic idea, scale or arpeggio pattern, or you can just play whatever comes to mind. There are no hard and fast rules with improvisation. 

Some particular genres of music have more rigid rules regarding improvisation, but we are not going to focus on those here. For now, stretch out, let go, and let your fingers travel where they will.

Spend about 5 or 10 minutes just playing freely on the piano. Experiment with dynamics, with high or low notes, and with speed (fast or slow). Let your imagination guide you, don’t worry about what it sounds like, and don’t judge yourself. Let it flow.

Twin Peaks & Improvisation

Now, let’s check out Lesson 11, “Twin Peaks & Improvisation” from the Beginner 1 Course. In this course, we get a quick review of the finger numbers and the “twin keys.” Then, we practice improvising with the band using these keys. Have fun and enjoy the themes!

🎹 Day 18: Chord symbols

On day 18, we will deepen our understanding of chords and learn about chord symbols! 

Day 18 goals:

  • Learn to read and understand chord symbols.
  • Practice with Pop Piano Lesson 2 “Heal the World II & Chord Symbols.”
  • Practice your chosen repertoire from the Skoove Beginner Songs catalog.

What are chord symbols?

On day 10, we learned the basics of chords. We learned that a chord happens any time you play two or more notes together. The most common type of chord is called a triad and a triad has three notes. 

However, you may be wondering how we notate chords? The simplest way for us to notate chords is with “chord symbols.” Chord symbols give us all the basic information we need to know which type of chord to play and when to play it.

Here is an example of a chord symbol for C major:

C  

Yep. That’s it. For a major chord, all we need to write is the root name. 

Here is an example of chord symbol for D minor:

D min

For a minor chord, all we write is the root name + min. Easy, right?

Heal the World II & Chord Symbols

Now, let’s check out some chord symbols in action. Open Lesson 2 in the Pop Piano course, “Heal the World II & Chord Symbols.” 

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In the first part of this lesson, you will see some chords notated on the staff and with chord symbols. The chords are C major, D minor, and E minor. You will play the triads in your right hand and play the root notes one octave lower in your left hand. First, you will practice hands separately, then together, then in time with the band.

By the end, you will be able to read some basic chord symbols!

Make sure to spend time reviewing your chosen songs as well – and great job with day 18!

🎹 Day 19: Preparing the left hand to play both hands together

On day 19, we will shift our focus to prepare to play with both hands together. On day 2, we will work on Lesson 5 from the Beginner 2 course, “Musette & Both Hand Training.” In preparation for that, we will spend today working on Lesson 4 from the Beginner 2 course, “Musette & Left Hand Training.”

Day 19 goals:

  • Prepare yourself for playing piano with both hands.
  • Practice Lesson 4 from the Beginner 2 course, “Musette & Left Hand Training.”
  • Work on your chosen Skoove songs.

Playing piano with both hands

The time has come! We will start trying to play the piano with both hands. Over the last 19 days, you have made a lot of progress in your piano journey! In fact, you have already played some material with both hands. 

However, our next goal will be to learn how to play piano with both hands independently. Of course, this is something that pianists practice their entire lives, so don’t stress about it. We will take it slow.

Musette & Left Hand Training

Let’s begin with Lesson 4 from the Beginner 2 course, “Musette & Left Hand Training.” This piece is based in the C position and features a mix of whole notes, half notes, and quarter notes. By now, you should have little difficulty mastering this material. Pay special attention to the finger numbers!

Tomorrow, we will begin working towards our culminating lesson! So, review your skills and sleep well!

🎹 Day 20: Playing with both hands

On day 20, we will practice playing piano with both hands!

Day 20 goals:

  • Practice “Musette” with both hands.
  • Use Lesson 5 from the Beginner 2 course, “Musette & Both Hand Training.”
  • Don’t forget about your chosen repertoire from the Skoove Beginner Songs catalog.

Two hand time

Wow! Nice work! Over the last 20 days you have made some great progress on the piano. Now, today we will try and culminate all the practice from the last 20 days into playing independently with both hands. We will use Lesson 5 from the Beginner 2 course, “Musette & Both Hand Training” for this, so when you are ready, get to your piano and let’s get to work!

Musette & both hand training

First, let’s get to know the song “Musette.” We can hear some independent melodic playing in the right hand with left hand bass notes and two examples of descending scale patterns where both hands play the same notes together. Shouldn’t be too hard, right?

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Next, hit the finger gym. Here we first listen to the piece in sections and play together slowly.

After that, learn the keys with both hands at your own pace. A short lesson on the metronome follows. The metronome helps you practice with steady time so you don’t accidentally speed up or slow down without you knowing. It is really helpful!

Next, we play the piece in time with both hands with the recorded track and video. After that, we play with the band!

Don’t worry if some of these steps take you a little longer. The piece is relatively short, but should give you a good challenge. If you completed the lesson quickly, then great for you! But, remember that developing your skills on the piano is a lifelong journey and everyone moves at their own pace. Don’t compare yourself to anyone else – only to yourself yesterday – and you will be happy and have fun!

Fantastic practice on day 20!

🎹 Day 21: Three weeks completed!

On day 21, we will take some time to review everything we have covered. You will have time to brush up on yesterday’s material and we will make some time to plan for future piano practice!

Day 21 goals:

  • Review material and concepts from the entire course.
  • Set Future Learning Goals
    • Reflect on your progress over the past three weeks and identify areas for continued growth.
    • Set specific, achievable goals for further improvement in your piano playing journey.
  • Continue practicing “Musette” with both hands as well as your chosen Skoove pieces.

Let’s review

We have covered so much material in these three weeks! You are well on your way now to advancing to an intermediate stage on the piano. You also have learned quite a bit about how to learn piano, which is an equally important skill.

You have learned all about the keyboard and its layout. You are familiar now with the pattern of black and white keys and you can find most any key within a reasonable amount of time. You understand the finger numbers and are starting to play independently with both hands.

You know some basics about reading music, know the basics of the C major scale, and understand some of the basics about triads. You have seen chord symbols and have practiced reading them, meaning you will be able to access a lot of music. 

Additionally, you have learned quite a few melodies. Besides the melodies in the Skoove lessons we have incorporated, you have learned 2 – 4 songs from the Skoove Beginner Song catalog. This is fantastic! Look at all the progress you have made over the last three weeks!

Take some time to reflect on your progress and plan your next steps. We highly encourage you to continue working with Skoove. Skoove will help you build your skills up through the late intermediate stages. With access to many songs of increasing difficulty, you will have a great selection of repertoire to choose from, no matter what styles you enjoy.

So, we wish you the best of luck with your piano journey and thanks for all the great work you have put in over the last 21 days!

Suggested beginner songs

#Name
1Always Look On the Bright Side
2American Pie
3Another One Bites the Dust
4Bach’s Minuet
5Candle In The Wind
6Dancing Queen
7Demons
8Fur Elise
9Gymnopedie 1
10Hallelujah
11House of the Rising Sun
12Jaws
13Korobeiniki
14Lean On Me
15Mamma Mia
16Moonlight Sonata
17Ode to Joy
18Our House
19Purple Rain
20Sound of Silence
21Stand By Me
22The Bare Necessities
23Viva La Vida
24We Will Rock You
25Winter

Suggested useful articles

Week 1

Piano notes
Quarter, half, and whole notes
Treble clef notes
Bass clef notes
Melody in music

Week 2

Piano chords
Piano scales
Dynamic markings in music
Essential elements of music
Chord progressions

Week 3

Improve improvisation skills
Make music spontaneously
Improvise blues music
Easy piano songs
Syncopation in music
Practicing piano with metronome

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Author 

Eddie Bond

Edward Bond

Eddie Bond is a multi-instrumentalist performer, composer, and music instructor currently based in Seattle, Washington USA. He has performed extensively in the US, Canada, Argentina, and China, released over 40 albums, and has over a decade experience working with music students of all ages and ability levels.

Published by Lydia Hovan from the Skoove team

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