Looking at the Piano
Before you begin to play the piano, you need to become familiar with what the instrument is. Some pianos are upright pianos, which are usually large, heavy, tall vertical boxes. These are anywhere from 36 to 51 inches tall. Spinets are the shortest upright pianos, at 36 to 39 inches. A studio vertical is 44 inches or taller.
If you have the opportunity to play on a grand piano, you will usually get a better sound and a more responsive touch. Grand pianos are the more horizontal pianos, ranging from 5 to 9 feet in length. In a grand piano, the strings are horizontal. In a vertical piano, the strings are, well, vertical.
The piano will have a music rack of some kind where you can put your sheet music. It may fold down or slide into a slot. When you are ready to play, put it into position. There should also be a bench for you to sit on. Adjust the position of the bench so that you can reach all the keys from one end of the keyboard to the other. Do not sit either too far or away or too close.
There will be pedals at the bottom of the piano where your feet are. These need not be used by beginners. Once you become more proficient at playing the piano, you can learn how to use these pedals to sustain sounds or cut them short.
The part of the piano that will be most important to your learning is the keyboard. It is made up of white and black keys which run from the left to the right of the piano face. These keys do not alternate white-black-white for the entire length of the keyboard.
If you look closely, you will see that the black and white keys form a pattern that repeats from one end of the keyboard to the other. The pattern consists of 7 white keys and 5 black keys in a particular order. From the beginning of one such set of keys and ending on the beginning of the next set, an interval is formed. Intervals are just the musical distances between two sounds. This particular interval is called an octave.
The keys are lined up on the keyboard in order from the lowest on the left to the highest on the right. Starting at the left and moving to the right, each black or white key is a half step higher in pitch than the key before it. For a full step, it is necessary to go up (or down) two half steps. Try some half steps and some full steps. With a little practice, you should be able to learn the sound of those intervals easily.
Try other intervals to hear their sounds. Always pay attention to how many half or full steps you are taking. Do the same intervals at several different places along the keyboard. Try octaves. You can do this by picking out a key and playing the next key up that is in the same position in the next pattern group. Soon, you will be playing octaves with ease. This is very important to all kinds of piano playing.
Now that you have familiarized yourself with the instrument called the piano, you can begin to learn how to use it to make music. There is much to learn, but you can begin playing simple songs very quickly. All it takes is a little time and some effort, and soon you will be happily playing songs you enjoy. What starts with a few notes can end in a lifelong pursuit of musical accomplishment.