Beginner Piano Lessons for Adults

If you’ve always wanted to learn how to play the piano, now is a perfect time! Here’s everything you need to know about beginner piano lessons for adults.

Learning the piano isn’t just for kids! Adults have all the skills they need at their fingertips to become skilled piano players. While kids may have an advantage because they have no fear of failure, adults have life experiences to help them stay the (piano) course. 

Skills like time management, problem-solving, organization, and perseverance are essential for practicing and perfecting your musical art. And, as an adult, you’ve already spent a lifetime building these skills.

It’s never too late to learn a new piano, and we’ve got a few pointers for you as you start your musical journey. We’ll share some basics of the piano’s layout, proper posture, correct hand position, and note names.

The layout of piano keys.

In the beginning, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with the layout of piano keys. Luckily for you, the piano is one of the most straightforward instruments! Just as the music staff has a linear arrangement of notes, a piano has a linear layout of pitches. 

The black and white keys become successively higher in pitch as you go up and lower as you go down. The white keys repeat the A, B, C, D, E, F, G note pattern, while the black keys are the sharps and flats. In all, you only have twelve different tones that repeat on a full-size 88-key piano. That’s not so bad, right?

Have a seat at the piano and see if you can find a few of those matching tones in the lower and higher registers.

How to sit while playing the piano.

As you sit down at the piano to play, you want to make sure to release any muscle tension. To do this, warm your hands and arms with a few simple stretches and exercises before starting.

After stretching and relaxing your muscles, sit on the piano bench. You’ll want to sit toward the bench’s front edge, center your weight, and place your feet flat on the floor. Your knees should be barely under the piano. (Like those diner booths where the table is too far from your seat.) This will give you a good position when using the foot pedals.

Take a deep breath to relax your shoulders and keep your back straight. Your elbows should be slightly above the keyboard. Stay a comfortable distance from the keys to avoid slouching or straining your arms to reach them.

A piano bench will allow you to comfortably adjust the height to play the keys. Or, if you have a keyboard with an adjustable stand, you can raise or lower your keys as needed.

Keeping a good posture at the piano will allow you to practice longer and keep those muscles limber. Your neck, back, and arms will thank you later!  

The correct hand position.

After getting comfortable with the keys, you want to practice using the correct hand position. 

Your forearms, wrists, and fingers will work together to play the right notes. Stiff arms and wrists can lead to music that sounds stilted and can also lead to injuries! Keep your arms and wrists relaxed to allow the music to flow from your fingers. 

Imagine holding a baseball ball in each hand. Raise your palms just a little bit and curve your fingers. While the fingertips are in direct contact with the keys, the thumbs touch using their sides.  

As you play the keys, think about letting your fingers “drop” on the keys rather than hitting the keys. Allow your wrist to dip and rise as you play your notes.

Keeping your fingers in a curved hand position may feel unnatural, but you will build up strength over time. Some ways to train your fingers and increase strength are squeezing a stress ball and practicing five-finger scales.

Musical alphabet.

You have the correct body and hand posture – looking good! Now, where are those notes? 

While we have 26 notes in the English alphabet, you’ll only need seven of those letters to play music. 

A full-size, 88-key piano starts on the note “A.” If you continue to play, only the white keys, B, C, D, E, F, and G, follow behind. These seven letters repeat the white notes until you reach the piano’s last high “C.” However, when you get a piece of music, you don’t want to count up keys from the lowest note. Also, if you have a 61-key keyboard, your lowest note may be different.

So here are a few directions for matching the note names with the correct key on any piano or keyboard. 

Applying the musical alphabet.

The most basic scale is the major C scale. The major C key signature doesn’t have sharps or flats, so it’s easiest to learn. Beginners will start playing songs in C with their hands in the basic hand position in middle C. So, where is the C key on the piano?

To find any C note, you will want to look at the position of the black keys. You’ll see that there are two black keys and three black keys. A C-key will be the white key just to the left of the first black key in a group of two black keys. To the left of C is another white key. 

To find middle C, look for the C key closest to the middle of your piano or keyboard. On a complete piano, middle C will be C4 (or the 4th C up from the piano’s left). On a 61-key keyboard, middle C will be C3 (or the third C up from the left).

To find other notes, follow the C up, and you will have D, E, F, G, A, B on the white notes. You’ll find B, A, G, F, E, and D if you head down from C toward the lower notes.

As you learn to find the notes on the piano, put your hands in the beginning hand position with both thumbs on the middle C. Play the right hand going up, then play the left hand going down. Say each note name as you play to lock the key position into your memory. It may also be helpful to add temporary labels to your keyboard keys until the notes become second nature. 

The more you play, the more you learn!

So, we’ve covered the layout of the piano keys, good posture, the correct hand position, and the musical alphabet in today’s Piano Lesson 101. You can continue trying out your skills at home and tickle those keys while committing the note names to memory. 

Want a little structure while you learn? Download our Simply Piano app to get feedback in real-time as you play. We’ll help you find the right notes. And don’t worry, you’ll be the only one who knows if you hit the wrong one!

The more you practice your skills at the piano, the better your tunes will sound!