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The Grand Staff and Ledger Lines of Piano Music

The grand staff of piano music is simply the treble clef and bass clef joined together with a brace at the far left side. This grand staff (and, yes, it’s really called that) makes it possible for you [more…]

Playing Octaves Above and Below the Grand Staff in Piano Music

As you read or write piano music, reading and writing ledger lines for more than four or five notes above or below the grand staff can get a little ridiculous. After all, if you were to keep using ledger [more…]

Musical Punctuation: Bar Lines and Measures

In addition to horizontal staff lines, music — including piano music — employs some vertical lines to help you keep track of where you are in the music, sort of like punctuation in a written sentence. [more…]

How to Keep the Beat in Music

The beat is what you tap your foot to; it’s the steady pulse that keeps your piano playing on track. In fact, to understand musical beats and how they’re measured, look at a clock and tap your foot once [more…]

Musical Note Values

When you listen to piano music, or music from any other instrument, you hear notes of different lengths. The melody of a song is defined as much by its rhythm — its combination of long-, short-, and medium-length [more…]

Common Music Time Signatures

In music, a time signature tells you the meter of the piece you’re playing. Composers decide the number of beats per measure early on and convey this information with a time signature. [more…]

Playing Triplets on the Piano

Most musical notes divide a beat neatly by some factor of two. But every now and then, a piano composer wants to divide a beat into more than two eighth notes but less than four sixteenth notes. That means [more…]

Syncopation and Piano Music

One of the most common forms of playing off the beat in piano music is a rhythmic concept called syncopation. To understand syncopation, you have to know about [more…]

Playing Musical Scales on the Piano

In piano, perhaps more than any other instrument, you can use scales to do some great things — like play entire songs. Although not all scales are songs, all songs are created from scales, be it an entire [more…]

Playing the Piano: The Major and Minor Musical Scales

The two scales you use most frequently when you play the piano — and the most famous scales in Western music — are the major and the minor scales. You can make a major and a minor scale starting with any [more…]

Playing the Blues Scale on a Piano

No matter what type of music you favor when you play the piano, you’re likely to play the blues scale at some point. You can hear it in rock, country, jazz, and of course . . . the blues. [more…]

Playing Piano with Your Left Hand, Too

Your left hand plays a supporting role when you’re at the piano. But even though it doesn’t often get to play the melody, your left hand adds some crucial bass notes and accompaniment. [more…]

Tips for Playing Both Hands Together on the Piano

Playing the piano with both hands together, is considerably more difficult than just right-hand playing. But no matter how much you enjoy playing melodies with the right and left hands separately, the [more…]

Playing the Piano: Musical Intervals and Harmony

On your piano, you can play more than one note at a time, giving it the coveted distinction of being an instrument capable of harmonizing. Sure, other instruments in a band or orchestra can play collectively [more…]

Combining Notes to Play Harmony on a Piano

To play harmony on a piano, you have to play two or more notes, some interval apart, at the same time. Try playing the notes of each interval — perfect, diminished, augmented, major, and minor — as shown [more…]

Playing the Piano: Understanding Musical Keys

In music, the key is a set of notes that corresponds to a certain scale — forget about the black and whites on your piano when you talk about musical key. Keys and scales offer a foundation of compatible [more…]

Playing the Piano: How to Read a Key Signature

The key signature of a piece of piano music tells you which notes to play and not to play. Placed just after the clef on every music staff, the key signature lets you know which notes are sharp and flat [more…]

Musical Keys and the Circle of Fifths

There’s a method to the madness of key signatures that makes your piano playing easier. The Circle of Fifths is an order that starts with no sharps and flats and cycles the ring of keys to all twelve keys [more…]

Creating a Chord on the Piano

If you’re at the piano and play three or more notes at the same time, you’re playing a chord. Chords, which you can play with one or both hands, have but one simple goal in life: to provide harmony. [more…]

How to Build Musical Chords on the Piano

You can build the chords you play on the piano yourself. You start with a root note, the lowest note of the chord, then stack notes on top in intervals to make the type of chord you want, whether that’s [more…]

Playing the Piano: How to Read Chord Symbols

When you encounter piano sheet music or songbooks containing just melodies and lyrics, you usually also get the little letters and symbols called chord symbols [more…]

How to Use Volume in Your Piano Playing

Volume is perhaps the most easily recognized and executed technique in bringing your piano playing to life. Varying degrees of volume give your piano music a different dynamic. And that’s exactly what [more…]

How to Articulate Your Piano Playing

The various ways to play a note on the piano are called articulations, often referred to as attacks.You use articulation to place an accent on certain notes or slur over other notes and generally add interest [more…]

How to Use Piano Pedals

The two or three pedals on your piano help make your playing dynamic and interesting. Using the pedals adds to the ways you can dress up your music. [more…]

Playing Grace Notes, Trills, and Glissandos on the Piano

Aside from the range of regular notes, composers occasionally enliven piano pieces with fancy note combinations that add a bit or interest and elegance to the music. Grace notes, trills, and glissandos [more…]


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