Learning to play a keyboard

Someone decided to buy a keyboard for me as an early Christmas present, and I’m hoping to teach myself to play it…but sadly, I have no prior experience with trying to play a musical instrument, so I’m not sure where to begin.
Does anyone have any general advice, common pitfalls to avoid, or other stuff I should be aware of if I’m going to try to teach myself? I can’t spare the time for formal lessons since I have a pretty full load of classes as it is.

This is the keyboard in question (I hope that link works). Since I have NO prior experience, I’m wondering, does it seem like this instrument will be sufficient for me to learn to play well enough so that (eventually) I won’t embarrass myself if I play in front of my musician friends? :stuck_out_tongue: I’m not going to just go by the lighted keys…I am planning to read up on the topic and learn how to play seriously hopefully. I am a little wary about if this is going to be right for my intentions since it’s from HSN, but since this is a gift obviously I’m grateful just to be getting anything at all. :slight_smile:
Thanks for any advice!

I have a very similar keyboard. It’s great for a beginning player (like me) to learn on, but I can already tell its limitations - it’s hard to get an expressive sound out of it. There’s no key weighting, and the velocity sensitivity doesn’t seem right. I find I usually play it with the velocity sensitivity turned off, because it just doesn’t work that well (I have a slightly older model than the one you’re getting, though. Maybe they are better now.

But at the beginner level, you’ll want to learn things like finger positioning, scales, finding notes on the keyboard, basic chords, and how to get both hands working independently (the hardest part for me). For all of those things, the keyboard is fine. I just wish mine had 88 keys, because some songs are played higher or lower on the keyboard and I have to use the ‘transpose’ key all the time to shift the entire keyboard up and down the register for the song I’m playing.

I’ll probably continue playing my keyboard as-is for another year or two, then spring for either a real piano or a nice keyboard with real weighted keys with grand piano action. But to get that, you need to spend at least a couple of thousand bucks, I believe.

I can’t actually play the piano/keyboard very well (yet) but I have been playing guitar for quite a while and have given lessons.

I highly suggest that you take lessons if you can afford the time/money. The reason is that there are techniques on how to play that, if learned early, make playing easier. If you teach yourself and your technique is wrong trying to go back and re-learn how to play is a very big pain. It is way better to do it right the first time. Also you, if you want to play with others you should learn to read and know at least a little music theory. The lighted keys sounds like a good idea but you really ought to know the notes. On the theory side you should understand key and basic chord structure. A teacher ought to be able to show you the correct technique and basic theory in a small number of lessons. It will make your life easier.

I also suggest breaking practice time up into two sections. During the first section work on reading, scales. chords and theory. Duing the second part play for fun. Do a little work but also have a littel fun.


PBS has been running a series on learning how to play the piano. I don’t play, but even watching just a few episodes gave me hope that I could.

I recently bought my brother a “folding keyboard” from Sharper Image for his birthday and he is doing that course. He said it has been very helpful and he can already play enough chords to play some songs.

What kind of music would you like to play? There are so many distinct idioms in which keyboards play a role, and there are different techniques which are required for many of these styles. Learning music theory will help you with any sort of music – not necessarily practicing scales (not a prerequisite for playing any kind of music), but learning the way that harmony works in the major/minor system of tonality. If you have any sort of analytic mind, you’ll be able to deduce the main principles simply by beginning to play along with records you enjoy, including classical records.

Just dive in. There are no prerequisites to playing music, and a “ready for anything” approach will mean, in the short term, “ready for nothing.” You can worry about sight-reading, which notes belong in a major or minor tonality, technique, etc., after your ear decides what type of music you’ll be playing, which pieces, etc.

Begin here:

Look at your keyboard. You will notice that the keys are arranged in patterns of white and black keys. The black keys are the sharps (#). The white keys are just normal notes. You will notice that the black keys are arranged in sets of two and sets of three. Look at the set of two black keys. The white key immediately to the left of the left of these is a C. From here, the white keys go, in order, CDEFGAB, and then back to C again. The black keys, starting at the left key in the two-set go C#, D#, F#, G#, A# and then back to C#.

Hold down the notes for C, E and G. Use your thumb, middle finger and pinky. This is a C major chord. If you move each finger one key to the left or right of the keyboard you will create a new major chord, named for the key your thumb is holding down (if you are pressing the keys with your right hand). i.e. if you hold down the C#, F, and G# notes, you are playing a C# chord. You can play any major chord by shifting the notes you press down by the same amount each time.

Play lots of chords. Mess around. Have a listen, and work out what chords sound good together. Sometimes play notes. See what notes sound good with the chords. Have fun.

This won’t turn you into Beethoven, but you should learn what sounds good. But essentially, all you need to start is to know what the notes are and how to make that C major.

Here is one of many virtual pianos on google.