How to Play a Musical Keyboard

“Life is like a piano… what you get out of it depends on how you play it.” ~ Tom Lehrer

As a kid, I was always attracted towards music and musical instruments. Though my first crush happened to be a guitar, the first musical instrument that I actually managed to lay my hands on was, a keyboard. It was a Casio SA-1, a small and basic model that I was gifted when I was 8 years old. And even after all these years, I still remember quite vividly just how overjoyed I was, upon seeing an actual, real-life musical instrument in front of me. I was over the moon, and was bubbling with excitement about learning to play this oh-so-fancy keyboard of mine. So when I see people expressing a desire to learn musical keyboards, it instantly lights up my face as I go back in time to those lovely days, when I, as a young boy, was trying to learn to play a keyboard.

If you are a beginner, it is advisable that you begin with a keyboard and then move on to an actual piano at a later stage. Let us begin with the basic musical notes. There are twelve musical notes or semi-tones which form one musical octave. Starting with the ‘C’ note, the sequence of musical notes that make up one octave is as follows:

C, C#, D, D#, E, F, F#, G, G#, A, A# and B.
‘#’ is a symbol used to denote the word ‘sharp’. If you have noticed, a keyboard has white and black-colored keys. If you observe carefully, you will notice that the black keys are arranged in groups of twos and threes. The first black key in the group of two denotes the note C#. Using the sequence of musical notes listed above, you can match each key with its corresponding note. Press each key starting from the ‘C’ note, and move upwards till you reach ‘B’. Once you have completed this octave, repeat this process but in the reverse direction, i.e. from ‘B’ to ‘C’. This is called ‘playing an octave’. Do this a few times so that you get a hang of the ‘sound’ of each note. There are basically two ways of learning any musical instrument:

  1. By referring to a music sheet, i.e. through notations.
  2. Learning it by ear.

It is recommended that all beginners should follow the 2nd method as it helps to develop a good music sense and a ‘musical ear’. Pick a simple song like “Doe, a deer” or “Happy birthday to you”. Try to play it on your keyboard. Adopt a trial and error method to figure out what musical notes make up the song melody. Take your time, and don’t be in a rush to learn. You won’t get it at first, nobody does. Not even Elton John did. But practice and keep working at it. Practice, and I say this with utmost seriousness, is the one and only way of becoming a good keyboardist. Nobody becomes a Mozart or a Beethoven overnight; everyone has to work hard with lots of passion and devotion.

Take Keyboard Lessons
Becoming a self-taught keyboardist is fine, but if you want to learn the trade properly and progress at a faster rate, you should seriously consider taking up keyboard lessons. The best way would be to locate an experienced music instructor in your locality and start with formal lessons. Catch hold of a fellow newbie in your neighborhood and practice together. In this case, two heads can certainly be better than one! And how can you forget your good old friend, the Internet? Google around for a few minutes and you’ll be amazed at the amount of online music lessons that you will get.

Follow the above tips religiously and you will be able to master the keyboard sooner than you think. Regardless of how you choose to learn to play the keyboard, always keep this principle in mind – how much you practice will decide how good a musician you eventually become. Enjoy your new musical journey! It can be a very rewarding experience, I promise you that.