If you’d like to know how to learn keyboard playing fast, it really comes to down to a matter of focus. So many beginning and aspiring keyboard players have been conditioned to believe that learning to play keyboard – or piano – requires months of formal lessons, either from a dedicated teacher or from a method book. While these can certainly help you learn, they may not be the fastest methods for all students.
If focus is the key to learning keyboard playing, exactly what should you focus on? The answer to that question depends on your keyboard playing goals.
Do you want to someday play professionally – by yourself or with a band – or do you just want to play around at home a little bit, learning to play a few of your favorite songs?
If you do want to play professionally or semi-professionally, it’s probably a good idea to learn some music theory first, just so you can communicate with other musicians and read at least parts of sheet music and pick out key melodies, chords, and rhythms. It’s like learning a new language – you’re just going to have to jump in a learn a few things in order to communicate with other people of the same culture.
If you’re playing purely for your own enjoyment, in the privacy of your own home, as much as I hate to say this, the theory is probably not all that important to know.
Don’t get me wrong – it is a good idea to know the basics of rhythm, and harmony, chords, and note names, if only just for yourself, so you can write down ideas or songs you’re learning, and so you can more easily remember song passages.
One of the first things you should learn is to feel the rhythm of a song – does it move along in repeating patterns of 4 beats (rock music, usually), or 3 (waltz, for example), or 2 (country 2-step music)? Practice this skill every chance you get – while listening to the radio, while singing to yourself, or even when you’re just tapping your fingers on a desk or table.
Emphasize the downbeat of each “measure” – ONE, two, three, four, ONE, two, three, four – to give you a good feel for how to count and just “feel” the beat. Then, when you hear a song, tap or count along with it and see if you can feel that repeating pattern, along with the downbeat.
Next, without question, learn the notes on the keyboard. C is the white key immediately to the left of the group of 2 black keys. Moving up the white keys, the notes go C D E F G A B C, then start all over again.
A black key immediately to the right of a white key (nearly touching it) can be called sharp or flat. If the black key is to the right of C, for example, it’s C# (“C sharp”). It can also be called Db (“D flat”), since it’s immediately to the left of D. Note that there is no black key between B and C and E and F, so that B# is C, Cb is B, E# is F, and Fb is E, although you rarely see notes written that way.
It’s beyond the scope of this article, but next thing to learn would be chords. Some good ones to start with are C, played C-E-G; F, played F-A-C; and G, played G-B-D.
When in doubt, simply play the root (the name) of the chord low in the left hand, possibly followed by the chord, also in the left hand, while the right hand plays a melody line. You might also try holding down chords in the left hand, while the right hand plays or makes up a melody.
By putting these basic pieces together, you can learn keyboard playing fast and begin feeling comfortable on the keyboard before you know it.