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Free piano lesson 6 - Notes and fingering PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 19 April 2009 18:24


Lesson 1 – Get to know the notes on a piano
Lesson 2 – Basic scale theory
Lesson 3 – Basic chord structures
Lesson 4 – Learn to play two songs
Lesson 5 – Practice your ear
>  Lesson 6 – Notes and fingering
Lesson 7 – Add melody to chords
Lesson 8 – Understanding and expanding chords
Lesson 9 – Harmonic principles and progressions


You might wonder why we haven’t introduced any notes yet. Well, the reason for that is that a lot of people get discouraged to play piano if they see all the notes they need to study. To us, learning the notes is not the right starting point. We would rather encourage the learner to develop a passion for music. That is why we also focus on the development of your ear and why we start so early with scales, chords and even songs. Eventually, we would like piano pupils to work out and play their own chords and melody for a song. In this way, they can develop the skill to play by ear and also to improvise. We would like to help develop musicians, not robots that play dots on sheets. There are many computer programs that can do that (e.g. Cakewalk, Sibelius, Q-Base).


But that doesn’t mean we are “against notes.” To be able to read notes can be handy even for people who mostly play from chords or by ear, especially when a new melody for a song needs to be learned. Then it helps if you can read the melody in notes together with the chords. We recon it will be handy to at least be able to read a single note line.


So let's introduce some note theory then.


Download this notes.tif file (you can print it out). It has two pages. This shows you where the notes lie on a piano relative to the right hand and left hand clefs. The right hand clef (top clef) is indicated by a special sign: it is called the G-clef. The left hand clef is indicated by another special sign: it is called the F-clef. See which notes lie where in the left and right hand clefs.


This is the C major scale (up and down):


Notes in C major




In the G-clef, the notes from bottom to top on the lines are E G B D F.
In the G-clef, the notes from bottom to top between the lines are F A C E.
In the F-clef, the notes from bottom to top on the lines are G B D F A.
In the F-clef, the notes from bottom to top between the lines are A C E G.


The sharps and flats indicate the key of a music piece.


1 Sharp (F#) indicates G major or its related minor: E Minor.
2 Sharps (F# and C#) indicates D major or its related minor: B Minor.

etc. (see how the different keys are indicated in the notes.tif document).


The accumulating sharps can be memorized by: " Father Charles Goes Down And Ends Battle."



1 Flat (Bb) indicates F major or its related minor: D minor.
2 Flats (Bb and Eb) indicates Bb major or its related minor: G minor.



The accumulating flats can be memorized by: "Battle Ends And Down Goes Charles' Father." (the reverse of the above).


See where these lie in both the G-clef and the F-clef. Try to memorize them.


The basic notes are indicated as follows:




The first note is a whole note (semibreve): four beats / counts (in 4/4 time [four counts in a measure / bar] it would take up a whole measure)
The second note is a half note (minim): two counts in 4/4 time
The third note is a quarter note (crotchet): one count in 4/4 time
The fourth note is a eighth note (quaver): an half-count in 4/4 time
The fifth note is a sixteenth note (semiquaver): a quarter-count in 4/4 time


When a dot is next to the note, the note is extended by half of the value of the note.





Dotted half note




This a dotted half note and indicates a half note plus half of that = a three quarter note (3 counts in 4/4 time). The same principle applies to all dotted notes.


Together with the notes, if no note is played, it is indicated with a rest. Here are the basic rest signs:








This is about all we want to teach you about notes within the scope of this course. If you understand these notes and rests, you would come quite far in helping yourself to read music.






Now lets talk about fingering.


When you play a scale or a melody, it makes logical sense to use your fingers in the most effective and sensible way. In the end you must work out what is most comfortable for you without compromising on the harmonic lines in the music.


Normally, a scale is played like this – the C major scale:



Fingering in C major



As discussed in an earlier lesson, fingering is indicated with the numbers 1 to 5 representing the fingers of the appropriate hand, with the thumb being counted as 1, counting outward toward the little finger of each hand. Note that the best fingering position occurs when you play your thumb (1) again after playing the third note (E). This is because your thumb can easily move in underneath the palm of your hand. This can be done in reverse as well, when you descend with the scale (see above example). In the descending notes, just after the F (finger 1 – thumb), you play your middle finger for E (finger 3). When you play two or more scales in a row, then you can stretch your thumb to play your fourth finger before you play your thumb again. This takes a little more practice though.


See this example:



Fingering in more than one C major scale



In the above example, there are two places of changing your fingers – between E and F (3 1) and between B and the next C (4 1). This can also be done in reverse order. This is done in order to keep the first finger on the tonic (C), otherwise you might get confused or get stuck with your fingers later on.


If you play a G major, you can keep the same fingering as in C:


G [1] A [2] B [3] C [1] D [2] E [3] F# [4] G [1] etc.

Play this example.


The same would apply for the key of D major, E major, A major and B major. When dealing with other keys, your fingering looks different to accommodate a logical fingering order. E.g. F major would look like this:

F [1] G [2] A [3] Bb [4] C [1] D [2] E [3] F [1] etc.


Play this example.



In some keys it makes more sense to start with the third finger, e.g.:

Eb [3] F [1] G [2] Ab [3] Bb [4] C [1] D [2] Eb [3] etc.


Play this example.




Bb [3] C [1] D [2] Eb [3] F [1] G [2] A [3] Bb [4] etc.


Play this example.



The same would apply for Ab major.


See if you can work out the fingering.


Hover Ab [3]   Bb [4]   C [1]   Db [2]   Eb [3]   F [1]   G [2]   Ab [3] etc. for the answer.



Play the key of Ab major.




The following keys start with the 2'nd finger:


C# Major and F# Major.


See if you can work out the fingering for C# Major.


Hover C# [2]   D# [3]   E# [1]   F# [2]   G# [3]   A# [4]   B# [1]   C#[2] etc. for the answer.


(note that E# is a white note – same note as F; as well as B# - same note as C – see also the notes.tif file)




Play this scale.




Now see if you can work out the fingering of F# Major


Hover F# [2]   G# [3]   A# [4]   B [1]   C#[2]   D# [3]   E# [1]   F# [2] etc. for the answer.


(note that E# is a white note – same note as F)



Play this scale.




Try to practice all these scales with your right hand. Try also to work out the fingering for left hand scales for all the keys (it is not that important for the purpose of this course however).


Try to practice to play all the keys – at least two in a row with both hands separately. You have to know all the scales by heart and be able to play all of them with at least with your right hand.




Advance to Lesson 7.