Playing the Piano: 5-Finger Hand Positions

The notes and corresponding keys in this line of music are Middle C, D, E, F, and G.
These five notes are colored blue, purple, pink, green, and orange in the music chart at the top.
On the keyboard chart, each of the five corresponding keys are color-coded to match the note.
Play the Middle C with your thumb, D with your second finger, E with your third finger, F with your fourth finger, and G with your fifth finger.

The short piece of music above has four measures. All of the notes in the first three measures are black notes with stems.
Those are the quarter notes and each receive one count or beat.

The note in the last measure is a whole note. Whole notes are the only notes that do not have stems attached to the note head.
(The “head” of the note is the main part of the note. The oval-shaped head is drawn around the line or space on the staff it occupies.)

All of the notes in this piece are written in the treble clef and played with the right hand.
Now, look at the bass clef. Do you see those little rectangular-shaped blocks in each measure?

Those symbols are whole rests.

As a reminder from earlier, rests are basically the opposite of notes. A whole note means to play for four counts;
a whole rest means to rest – not play – for four counts.

At the beginning of every piece of music is the time signature. Those are the two numbers, one on top of the other.
(The numbers are always the same in treble clef and the bass clef.)

The top number tells you how many counts or beats are in each measure – in this case, four.

The hand position used to play this piece of music is F, G, A, B, and C (Middle C) in the left hand.
Middle C is played with your thumb, B with your second finger, A with your third finger, G with your fourth finger, and F with your fifth finger.

Reminder: All of the black notes with the stems are quarter notes and each receive one count or beat.
The note that is simply an oval head with no stem is a whole note. It receives one count.

Just like the previous page, the notes on the chart and corresponding keys on the piano diagram are color-coded to match.

Use these color-coded charts as a learning tool, and a way to double-check your accuracy in naming notes and playing the keys.

The music that you play, on the line below the keyboard chart, has nothing drawn in color.
That's an important point! Learning to play the correct way doesn't involve relying on anything but knowing how to read music
and understanding which key each note corresponds to the piano keyboard.

So, use the color-coded diagrams to help you as you learn, and to double-check a note or key at any time.
When you play, however, it's important not to rely on music that is written in any coded manner – numbers, colors, or letters.
Otherwise, you will be lost when you want to play music in the thousands of books and sheet music that have only the notes!

The lowest note in this hand position begins with your little finger on the lower C (seven notes lower than Middle C).
So, fifth finger on C, fourth finger on D, third finger on E, fourth finger on F, and fifth finger on G.

Remember the line and space patterns: From one line on the staff to the next, you skip one note.
From one space to the next, you skip one note.

Let's look at the notes in these four measures of music: Do you see how they move up and then down, then up again at the end?

Now, let's start from the beginning of the piece and look at the first five notes:
The notes go up one at a time from a space to the nearest line, then to the nearest space, nearest line, and then the nearest space.
So, it's space, line, space, line, space.

Now, let's take those same five notes starting with the first one and look at every other note – in other words,
the first, third, and fifth notes of the piece.

The first note is C which is on the second space in the bass clef. The third note is E which is on the third space.
The fifth note is G which is on the fourth space. Going from one space to the nearest space means we skip a note.
That's C (skip D) to E (skip F) to G – all space notes.

Now, look at the notes between those space notes. Between the C (space note) and the E (space note) is D which is a line note.
Between the E and G (both space notes) is F which is a line note.

In these four measures of music, you will be playing F, G, A, B, and C in your treble clef.
Look at the chart to remind yourself, and you will see that F is three notes higher than Middle C.

Your hand position is: Thumb on F, second finger on G, third finger on A, fourth finger on B, and fifth finger on C.
That C that you play with your fifth finger is seven notes higher than Middle C.

Let's look at the first five notes in this piece of music: See how the notes go up one at a time?
F is on the first space. Next, you have G which is on the line right above that space. The pattern continues.
Starting from the first note: space, line, space, line, space – moving up one at a time.

Next, let's look just the first, third, and fifth notes. Do you see how each one is a space note?

The first note is F which is on the first space in the treble clef. The third note is on the second space.
When we go from the first space to the second space, we move up two notes. That's because the line note is between those two spaces.

The first note is F which is on the first space. The third note is two notes higher than F because it is exactly one space higher.
Two notes higher than F is A. (F to G is one note. Then, the music alphabet starts over with A.) The G is between the F and A.
The G is the line note between the F (space note) and A (space note).

The pattern continues: A is on the second space and C is on the third space. One space to the next is two notes – A to C.
The B is between the A and C. That B is a line note between the A and the C.

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