How to play piano online

So you want to learn how to play piano online? It’s actually very easy to get started.

The hard part is you will need to be able to count to 12. If you can do that, then we are all set.

Now I need you to remember these numbers:

1…5..and 8

Got it? Okay now the next step.

Now we can learn to play chords

Pick any key on the piano and call it 1.

Now go to the right using black and white notes counting up 2, 3, 4, 5,…6,7,8…9,10,11,12,1

Learn how to play piano online - Notes numbered counting up from C

Where you stop at 1, 5, and 8, then that’s the notes to play for any basic chord.

Now that you can find any basic chord let’s learn how to name chords.

As you look at the piano you will notice the black keys are grouped by 2s and 3s. Find a black key group of 2 in the middle of the piano and go to the left to the white key right next to it. That note is called C.

Learn how to play piano online - Letters for notes starting with C

Now play only white notes starting at C going to the right. C, D, E, F, G, A, B Then it starts over at C. Whatever note you use as number 1, the chord is named by the name of that note.

What about chords starting with black notes?

A chord starting with a black key is named by how you move to it from a white key. Say you are on a white key, C. Then you move up to the black key just to the right of it. So it’s like you are making the C higher or sharper, so we call the black note a C sharp. Say you are on a D and you go down to the black key to the left of it, so you are making the D note lower or flatter so we call it a D flat.  It is essentially the same note just named differently based on how you get to it.

Next we can learn to play notes that sound good when people hear them.

If you play the notes at 1, 5, and 8 together they will sound good together. If you play the notes at 1, 4, and 8, they will sound what they call, minor, which is great for adding tension where you want it in a song. Avoid playing 2 notes right next to each other together because they will sound bad, unless you have a special reason for doing so, like playing the theme to Jaws.

What about if I play notes from a chord separately?

When you play through patterns of notes that belong to a chord, you are playing arpeggios.   An example is if you play 1, 5 and 8 in order and not at the same time.   Here is a fun thing to do.  Play 1, 8 and 1 from the next group of 12 notes above that (Each group of 12 keys is called an octave)   So with one hand play 1,8 and 1 and with the other had play some notes the next octave up.  Does that sound familiar?  You have probably heard that pattern in the songs in children’s movies like Aladdin.  There is a very advanced article on wikipedia that goes into this in great detail here but beware it uses a lot of music technical language.

Now for the fun part. Let’s learn to play a song.

Turn on your favorite song you want to learn. Turn it low enough you can hear yourself play over it. Now listen for a note that is in your song. Try to find that note on the piano. Next use that note as your number 1. Starting there count up to 5. That’s the next note. Then count up to 8. Now play them together. Listen to the song while playing those notes. Do they sound good together? If they do, then you have just found one chord in that song. Now listen for another note and do the same thing. Eventually you will find several chords that work with that song.

What if it doesn’t match?

If none of the chords seem to match try using 1,4 and 8 instead. Feel free to stop the song, slow it down and rewind until you figure it out. If you get stumped you search online for what chords are in that song as a hint.

What are these triangle patterns?

When you start on a D and count up to 5 and then 8, notice something interesting is happening.  It kind of looks like a triangle if you draw an imaginary line from the D (that’s 1) to the F sharp (that’s 5) to the A (That’s 8) and back.  There is another triangle if you start on E, and another one if you start on B.  All of these triangle patterns make up part of a group called a key.  Notice this pattern comes up a lot as you play some of your favorite songs.

A triangle drawn over a D chord

Are there more triangle patterns?

Yes.  Find another set of triangles that are upside-down by starting at C sharp(C# as 2),  F(F as 6), and G Sharp(G# as 9).  These are part of a different key.

Triangle drawn over C# chord

Here are even more

Learn how to play piano online - Drawing of small triangles over notes

Big triangles

To find one of the big triangles, start at F (that’s 1) B flat (that’s 6), and D (that’s 10), and another one at F sharp (as 2),  B (as 7), and E flat (as 11).

How to play piano inline big triangles

Some of your favorite songs use a combination of big triangles along with the smaller triangles in a pattern.  You can also have a key with a mix of all white key chords, small triangles, and big triangles.

You will also see some inversions of these triangles as they cross over to the next octave.  Here are a few examples:

Learn how to play piano online - keyboard-C-numbers2-inversions

How do I find and use inversions?

While you are looking for an inversion, start with a normal chord like D(as 1) F sharp(as 5) and A (as 8) as seen in the red triangle.  Then find the inversion by changing the D(as 1) to the next available D(as 1) of the next group of 12(octave) up as seen in the blue triangle beliw.

Learn how to play piano online - Move D1 up to D1 in the next group of 12(octive)

Next you move  F sharp (as 5) up to the next available F Sharp(as 5) as seen in the green triangle and then move the A (as in 8) up to the next A to get our normal triangle and chord again as seen in the purple triangle below.

Learn how to play piano online - Move F sharp up one octave to find the next inversion.

Notice how the numbers can change but the distance, pattern, and relationship between the keys stays the same.

It is fun to learn how to play piano online, so have fun playing with this. When you come back, we can learn some more neat piano tips.

Click here for a virtual piano link and software discussion

Click here to learn how to listen to music videos

4 Thoughts to “How to play piano online

  1. I am totally unfamiliar about piano, I didn’t learn any instruments when I was young. off course I had thought about learning. we know as a beginer, the basic conception or understand about it is really difficult to build. I like your content, you ways will help childern to start, and it look like interesting. I appreicated your post very much, I will let me kid see it.

    best regards.

  2. What a neat site! I had piano when I was young; now play bass, but find theory always interesting to learn. Your 1,5,8 is such a wonderful teaching tool! Thanks for putting this lesson up here. It’s inspired me to consider taking my electric piano out from under the table and play it.

  3. Unclattered website that makes the instructions stand out. I like the instructions, they are very easy to follow. Never played piano but I was able to follow the notes and play a bit.
    Well done!

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