This series of Piano Basics is intended for parents to help their beginning piano students practice.  For parents who do not have know background in music, these posts will help you understand what your child is working on at the piano.  Check out all of the posts in this series to learn the basics.

A scale is a series of consecutive notes ranging 1 octave, for example from C to C.  When you hear someone singing the syllables do-re-mi-fa-sol-la-ti-do, that is a scale.  For beginners on the piano, we usually start with the first 5 notes (do-re-mi-fa-sol) going up and down.  Here it is starting on C in each hand, then together:

Notice, C is the bottom key.  In the right hand, finger 1 begins and in the left hand, finger 5 begins.

As the video shows, students should have both hands ready.  Everyone can play the right hand and left hand alone and as students are ready, they can try to put hands together.  Depending on the student, hands together might happen on the first try, or after several weeks or months.

After students have played only on the black keys for a couple of weeks, we usually move on to learning the 5 finger scale. However, I usually don’t *tell* the student that it’s a scale. Instead we treat it as a song to make it more approachable.

This “song” on the white keys is just a five-finger scale, sung to the words “Mickey Mouse is marching through the house”.  Usually kids are excited to play a song about Mickey Mouse and to use all five fingers, so they’re not too intimidated by the thought of playing a mysterious or boring scale.


With young kids, we just call it “Mickey Mouse”, rather than a scale.  When learning new songs, we often speak of hand positions in terms of which Mickey Mouse position it is like.  “Mickey Mouse” can start on any key, but when you move to other keys, it often involves adding black keys.  (Stay tuned for another post on how to move “Mickey Mouse” to other keys!)

Down the road, we will start calling it a scale, instead of “Mickey Mouse”.  Eventually, we will also move onto a full octave.  For now, though, it’s just a song about Mickey Mouse!

Read more about piano basics here:

Finding your way around the keyboard

Learning finger numbers

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3 Comments

  1. Love the simplicity, the fun lyrics to engage young learners, and the great video sample for those needing a visual aid. I might start singing “Mickey Mouse is marching through the house” whenever I play a C major five-finger position from now on! 😂

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