How many keys on a piano ? In most cases the piano keys are almost always 88: 52 white and 36 black. The layout of the keys is seven octaves plus two initial notes (an interval of three, from si to primo do). In practice, from the left, the white keys indicate: la, si, do, re, mi, fa, sol, la, si, followed by another 6 times the major scale, plus the final do. The black keys are alterations, i.e. flat or sharp, and produce a sound higher or lower than half a tone compared to the white keys nearby. Some piano models, such as the Boesendorfer 290 Imperial, have 9 more keys (i.e. a total of 97 keys) on the bass side, i.e. on the left. They arrive, then, at eight complete octaves. Electronic keyboards, synths, on the contrary, can also have fewer keys than the acoustic piano. For example, there are electronic pianos with 76 keys, and keyboards with 61 keys (five octaves) or even 49 keys (four octaves).
5 common mistakes when learning to play the piano
One of the hardest things to do when playing the piano is to correct old mistakes. When I started playing, I wanted to get quick results, so I skipped everything I thought wasn’t important. As a result, I got into bad habits that I had to correct later, not with little difficulty. Try not to fall into my own trap! Below is my personal list of the 5 piano errors you make when you start learning, in the hope that you will do differently than I did:
Error 1: Wrong posture
When we start playing, We don’t give too much importance to the way we sat on the piano. But, we need to know that posture is one of the most important elements. Sitting too low or too high, too close or too far can lead to sore shoulders and tremendous back pain. Take a moment to pause and be careful how you sit down. Start by holding both feet firmly on the floor, parallel to each other. Sit upright and comfortable. Think you need to balance a book on your head (or a crown, your choice). Then drop your arms and elbows along your hips. Place your forearms parallel to the floor. This way you should reach the keyboard without leaning forward or lifting your shoulders.
If your belly touches the piano when you breathe in, you’re way too close. If you need to reach the keyboard with your arms extended as far as possible, you’re probably too far away! If a cat could sit comfortably on your legs while you’re playing, then the distance between your body and the keyboard is almost perfect. Now your position is correct! But before you start playing, position your hands correctly as follows: just place your fingertips on the keyboard. Try to arch your hands by slightly bending your fingers. Imagine holding a ball in your hand.
Error 2: sessions too long
When we start learning a song that we liked, always start with a lot of enthusiasm. We tried to learn as much as possible in one session. Unfortunately, it often ended with deep frustration and tremendous hand cramps. At the beginning it is enough to practice 10 minutes a day. Your muscles have to adapt to the new movements and this is not easy at all! It’s better to train your fingers with daily “jogs” than with “marathons” once a week. As you improve, you will also be able to practice for longer. However, remember that even professional musicians need breaks when practicing. In general, try not to practice more than 40 minutes at once. For adults, 30 minutes a day is a reasonable amount of time. For younger people or children, 2-3 sessions of 10-15 minutes each are recommended.
Error 3: not establishing a program
In other words: if you don’t get used to practicing, you’ll never become a good pianist. We often tend to start with great ambitions and invest a lot of time in them. After a few weeks, exercise sessions become less frequent, until you get to the point where you don’t touch the piano for weeks at a time. In order not to lose your training, make the exercise a constant part of your daily life (like brushing your teeth). After a couple of weeks, you will be looking forward to exercising at that particular time of day. It only takes 10 minutes a day. The time of two TV commercials! Why not invest this time in something more useful?
Error 4: Use the wrong fingering to get the best
Another thing we don’t pay much attention to when we start playing the piano is fingering. Basically, we want to learn the notes as quickly as possible, choosing the easiest way. So we plaiyng using the easiest and most obvious fingering. However, often the fingering that seems most obvious is not always the most sensible. Sometimes, we don’t realize it until we realize that the fingering we’ve adopted makes it difficult to play the song at the right time. Also, changing it later is quite difficult. Why? Because our muscles are used to playing the notes in a specific way. The only solution is to start all over again from the beginning with another fingering and repeat all the phases of the exercise again. This can take weeks and can be highly demotivating.
In general: find a fingering that involves as few “jumps” and changes of position as possible.
So, in summary, when you start playing a new piece, stop for a moment and consider which finger is playing that particular note. Exercising with tutorial videos, pay attention to the fingers that pianists use. They are professionals and have invested time trying to adopt the ideal fingering for each piece. If you’re a little more experienced, you can also quickly scroll through the song and annotate your own fingering.
Error 5: relegating the keyboard to a corner
You’ll probably know the saying, “Out of sight, out of mind.” This also applies to the piano. The more the keyboard is hidden in your room, the less you sit down to practice. Try not to relegate the keyboard to hidden corners or even into the closet. Put it somewhere where it’s clearly visible. If you feel like it, you could transform the space in which you practice into the flagship of your room so that you feel like practicing at the piano every time you pass by it. Alternatively, at least try to put the keyboard in a good, bright and comfortable position. Nobody likes to sit in a dark corner of the cellar, between old shelves and boxes.
The piano is a cordophone
That is an instrument that produces sound through the vibration of strings. The length and size of each string will determine the sound it produces. Guitars and violins, cellos and violas, as well as the ancestor of the piano, the harpsichord, are also cordophones. In all these instruments the vibration of the strings is obtained by pinch or rubbing. In the piano the strings are instead vibrated by means of percussion. We follow this mechanism step by step, starting from the key that is played: Each key is connected to a small wooden mechanism called a trestle, which comes into action when the key is pushed down with a certain pressure; the trestle, in turn, is connected to a lever called a riser which, once activated, moves from the bottom to the top. In its movement, the upright pushes up a small hammer, commonly called a hammer, with a slender wooden handle and a round head covered with felt. It is this soft but compact head that strikes the string, always from the bottom to the top, putting it into vibration: and here the piano finally plays.
Is it all over?
The answer is no. In fact, you probably wondered: how does the string vibrate if the hammer, with its soft felt, remains attached to it damping the sound? A mechanism called escapement comes into play here: the whole system described above is designed to bounce back instantly as soon as the hammer hits the string. The sound produced thus has plenty of time to expand and, amplified by the large resonance box of the piano, to spread into the surrounding space. At this point we can leave the button we played: another mechanism, called a damper, will come into action. The damper is another felt instrument, normally placed on the string to prevent its vibration. When a key is played, in addition to the whole mechanism seen above that comes into action, it also happens that the damper is raised, allowing the vibration of the string. But as soon as the key is left, the damper returns to the string, suffocating its sound. If you do, try to peek inside a grand piano: between the sparkle of the strings, you will immediately see the white and tidy ranks of the dampers, lying waiting for the keys to be played. Immediately below, pay attention to the felt hammers, arranged in a perfect line. Play a button: you’ll notice the hammer bounce and the damper lift, and then return to its place. For you now, the piano may have a few less secrets to hide.