Most piano methods start out with students playing only the black keys of the piano. However, after a brief introduction to playing on the black keys, it’s common to head over to the white keys and spend the next several years playing only white keys.
This kind of makes sense since the key of C with no sharps or flats is the most common starting point on the piano. But, there are a lot of advantages to hanging around longer on the black keys for anyone just starting out on the piano, whether a young child, an adult or anyone in between.
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1. Black Keys Help You Develop Good Technique
Since black keys have dimension coming off of the white keys, most people find that their hands fit over the black keys nicely. This makes it easier for a young students hand to sit on the keys in a correct position. And, it makes playing with good technique much simpler.
On the other hand, the white keys are more flat and require students to develop technique that feels unnatural at first.
2. Black Keys Have More Obvious Visual Patterns
It’s really easy for piano students to spot the pattern of 2 and 3 black keys on the keyboard. It is easy to become oriented to this visual pattern. However, once students move to the white keys, it’s common to feel mixed up about about which key is which.
3. There Are Fewer Black Keys Than White Keys
There are only 5 different black keys to keep track of, versus 7 white keys. Learning songs that only use the collection of 5 black key notes makes it easier to follow and remember.
4. The Black Keys Produce Only Consonant Harmonies
There are no wrong notes on the black keys, kind of. The black keys only produce consonant, harmonious sounds when played together. This means that a wrong note on the black keys is less alarming that an wrong note on the white keys.
5. The Black Keys Make It Easy To Play By Rote
It’s easy to learn songs by rote or by ear on the black keys. With fewer notes to work with, strong visual patterns and a good sense of a home base on the black keys, many beginning students can hear and see how to play simple songs really easily.
Once you combine all of these reasons there’s a really strong argument to keep beginning piano students on the black keys longer: students can focus on playing music rather than reading music.
Many methods and approaches to learning the piano have a really heavy emphasis on learning how to read music. I’m 100% for teaching students to read music early on, but it’s also important to balance the reading with playing music.
When students can free up their mind of watching notes on the page, keeping track of all of the musical details such as rhythms and music symbols, they gain valuable musicianship skills that will make the reading process much easier. For example, when students aren’t so focused on the page, they can develop good listening skills and learn to follow their ear as they play. They can also focus more on playing with proper technique and good posture.
It’s definitely a good thing if students start out their piano journey progressing through their method, learning to read music and moving to white key songs. But, it’s also a good thing to supplement that progress with extra black key songs that will help students play familiar music that they enjoy with ease.
I noticed that most books that I use with my piano students only include 1 or 2 familiar songs on the black keys. I often find myself searching for more songs to bulk up the first few lessons, especially if a student hasn’t practiced or needs more time to let concepts sink in.
To fill in this gap, I compiled 2 collections of some of my favorite tunes that can be played on the black keys of the piano. I created some fun audio backing tracks to play along with to add another dimension to the music.
Click here to try a few songs for free.
Get both books now!
Eight Black Key Piano Tunes and Eight More Black Key Piano Tunes are an excellent supplement to both piano teachers and parents.
The songs in Eight Black Key Piano Tunes were selected with children in mind, while the songs in Eight MORE Black Key Piano Tunes might appeal more to adults. However, anyone can enjoy and use either book.
One of my favorite parts of these ebooks is that they come with play-along audio files. I’ve found these to be so important for helping students develop good continuity and musicianship skills. Plus, they make simple music sound so big and exciting.
The ebooks include MP3 files in both slow and fast tempos, plus MIDI files so that you can adjust the tempo on a digital piano.
To give you a flavor of what the audio files are like, here is Camptown Races from the first book (in the faster tempo):
And Acadian Lullaby from the second book (also in the faster tempo):
Here are the songs found in each book:
Eight Black Key Piano Tunes
- Hot Cross Buns
- Rain Rain Go Away
- Mary Had A Little Lamb
- Shake Them Simmons Down
- Camptown Races
- Old Mc Donald
- Jolly Old St Nicholas
Eight MORE Black Key Piano Tunes
- Come Thou Fount Of Every Blessing
- O Susanna
- Old Brass Wagon
- Jasmine Flower Song
- Rocky Mountain
- I’ve Got Peace Like A River
- Acadian Lullaby
- Amazing Grace
If you’re a teacher who feels like you’re always piecing together the best material from many different methods and sources, this collection of songs is a great one to add to your library. The studio license edition allows you to reproduce the pages as many times as you would like within your studio. This means that you can buy one copy and use these songs over and over with your students.
This e-book is also a great resource for parents. I often hear from parents who are hoping to teach their children some piano at home. Black keys are a great place to start with your own kids. You don’t need a lot of piano knowledge yourself to play black key tunes and your kids will quickly learn some familiar music that will give them a good foundation at the piano and help get them hooked on playing the piano.
Even if your kids have a piano teacher, a lot of kids crave more music after their piano lesson. Piano teachers have to juggle moving forward with playing more “easy” songs, so your child’s teacher may not always be able to fit in all of the fun, familiar songs your child loves. It’s definitely a good idea to have extra music at home that your child can learn and play independently. After all, that’s is a big goal of piano lessons – that your child can learn to become independent at the piano and try new music on their own. Why not start early on?
You can get each book for $9 or both for $14.
Teachers, if you wish to duplicate this book to share with your students, get the studio license. With the studio license, you can get each book for $19 or both for $29.