Basic Piano 101 Part 1 (The Piano and Your Fingers)

In-Home Piano Lessons Victoria B.C

Are you thinking about learning how to play the piano? This series will give you an introduction of how the piano works, and what the piano can do.

Piano Basics:

On a full sized piano, there are 88 keys. Each key plays a unique note. When we play the keys going to the right, the notes get higher in pitch. When we play the keys going to the left, the notes get lower in pitch. Give them a try if you have a piano!

The lowest note is furthest to the left, and the highest note is the furthest to the right.


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Lower notes                                                                              Higher Notes

In an acoustic piano, each key is attached to a hammer inside the piano. When we press on a key, the hammer attached hits a string inside to create the note. By pressing a key softer, or harder, we can create different sounds using the same note.

Did you know the piano is considered a percussion instrument because of the hammer actions? The piano belongs in the same family as a drum!

By pressing a key softer, we create a quiet sound. By pressing a key harder, we create a louder sound. If we hold down on a key,we create a long sound. If we quickly press a key and release, we create a shorter sound.

The Musical Alphabet

In music, the alphabet only goes from A-G. After G, it simply loops back to A.


This can take some getting used to at first. Piano students will eventually learn this alphabet fluently and be able recite the letters forwards and backwards.

Can you say the musical alphabet backwards starting from A? This will be important as we learn to read notes. 

Your Fingers

One of the first questions piano students have is what finger they should use to play what note. Lucky for piano players, most music books will suggest which finger to use.

The thumb on either hand is finger # 1. The pinky on either hand is finger # 5.  Piano students will often struggle with the left hand fingers for a little bit. This is normal is the student is right-handed in writing.

Remember that the thumbs on both hands are finger # 1. Practice moving your fingers on command. Can you move finger # 4 smoothly? That is one of the trickier fingers for most students. The music will usually have a number on top of the first note to give guidance of what finger to use.


Fingerings are meant as guidelines. As my piano teacher once said, fingerings is like trying on a shoe. There are some universals truths on shoe sizes, but at the end of the day, your own foot has to fit in your own shoe.  There will be less fingerings written on the score as music gets more complex.

Now we know how the piano makes sounds, and the numbers of our fingers. Stay tuned for the next part of this series! We will be exploring how to read notes in the treble and bass clef.


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