Black Notes Songs for Beginners

Playing on the black notes is a great way to start for small hands.  

Playing up on the black keys helps shape beginners' hands, and songs that are fun to play will induce them to practice lots, hopefully, and strengthen those tiny muscles.  Well over a dozen songs are here that you can download FREE.

Black keys song

I've never created music for the black notes before, and now I'm wondering why - it's so fun!  Short little songs can create a mood or carry you into a setting quickly.  

Goodness knows my younger students can use more time just using fingers 2, 3, and 4.  I am seeing excitement and pleasure at the different kinds of lyrics and melodies.  

Some of my little ones who are starting to read the notes around Middle C still want to have a new "black key song" every week!

None of these songs have "parallel" fingerings; all of them place one hand on 3 black keys, and the other on 2 black keys.  

Not so hard once they get the hang of it... now my students, after choosing a song, quickly glance up at the top of the page to see if it's "Grandma's House" or "Dog House" on the right or left, and place their fingers with NO ASSISTANCE from me.  WOW.

If you are NEW to this kind of music, please remember:  ONLY FINGERS 2, 3, & 4 ("Grandma's House") will be used in one hand, and ONLY FINGERS 2 & 3 (the "Dog House") in the other hand!

Bad Dog black keys song for beginning piano

"Bad Dog" is a bit trickier to start than most of the others, as the first notes have no stems to indicate "right hand" or "left hand."  

I ask my students, "Do the stems point up?  Top hand!  Do they point down?  Bottom hand!"  

But here, you cannot tell.  So this is a good song for getting out the green and red markers or crayons, and circling the LEFT hand with LIME color, and the RIGHT hand parts with RED color.  

Let your student see if they can figure out where the red loops and the lime loops must go; in Bad Dog there are very few notes for the right hand.

Download Bad Dog black keys song

Ogden Nash poem set to music

A very simple song - but with such clever words.  Some of my students know the last line as "celery stewed is more QUIETLY chewed."

Download "Celery," a poem by Ogden Nash

Now, a song for Christmas!

Christmas song for young beginners

"Christmas-time" is pretty easy, and the lyrics - admittedly - pretty obvious!  Everything does not have to be a work of art to please young children. ; )

Download Christmas Time is Almost Here for beginners

See what one mother did to help her young son sort his hands out for this song; "lime" for Left Hand, and "red" for Right Hand:

Red and green coloring on piano key notes to tell the hands apart

Black notes songs for piano beginners

This piece lends itself to two possible harmony accompaniments for the teacher... when I wrote it, I was thinking Db minor, with Gb as an alternate chord.  Later the same day, I tried it with Db MAJOR, and Gb and Ab chords.  

Perhaps there are other chords that would also work.  It is rather pretty, and my husband says it is the kind of song he would have liked as a child. (A rare compliment.)  

I wrote it with slow notes so that little ones can count it carefully - although with this level, they are mostly pleased to just find the right finger!  

If there were bar lines, you would see that the first half note is actually a pick-up note.  There are 6 half notes per "measure", or a pulse of 3, in reality.

Download The Deer in the Woods

Go Tell It On the Mountain Christmas song

Just in time for the Christmas holidays, this song may be familiar already to your students.  I like to prepare students for folk or traditional songs by warning them that it might sound "different" from other versions.  

Every region where the song is known might use slightly different - or VERY different - notes!  This is only half of the piece, but it is probably enough to satisfy your little beginners.

By the way, a fingering error is evident in the graphic (#2 bottom Left) - I fixed the PDF, so it's fine!

Download Go Tell It On the Mountain for black keys

Now here is a song that one only needs to see the title to instantly desire (at least if you are an 8-year-old boy, as I discovered today!):

Piano song

Obviously, my students are doing UNIT COUNTING with these beginner songs.  Notice there are no measure lines.  

Sorry!  So when they count a quarter note, it is "Tah", or "One."  A line of quarter notes might be "One one one one..."  Half notes are "one - two," and sometimes "Tah-two."  If there is a word, then the word plus "two."

I prefer for them to sing the song lyrics, but also to be able to count the notes.  Usually, we will practice a new song with "drumsticks" (pencils) on the piano lid, alternating hands as the song calls for one hand or the other.

Download Growling Tiger

Halloween song for the piano black keys

This piece has some sophisticated techniques: the repeat dots at the end of line one, and the two hands playing together in the second line.  

I think this Halloween song will be a favorite - we'll see!

I'm having good luck rehearsing these songs with PIANO LID DOWN, using pencils for drumsticks, and just playing right and left, to focus students' attention on the note stem directions... pointing "up" for the "up" hand, and "down" for the "downward" hand. 

Usually just once through is enough - if it's a bit rough, then we do it again, FASTER.  Then to the keys themselves.

Download Halloween Monsters

Here is the song "Hot Cross Buns" - one version for right hand, and one for left hand.  Perhaps the easiest song in the world:

Hot Cross Buns on piano black keys

Download Hot Cross Buns for the left hand

Download Hot Cross Buns for right hand

Mary Had a Little Lamb should need no introduction... my students will also be playing this on the white keys soon!

Mary Had a Little Lamb on the black keys

Download Mary Had a Little Lamb on the black keys

This next piece, Morning Sun Upon the Mountains, has a bit of an old-timey hymn-like flavor.  The chords formed by using 2 notes at a time have a happy sound, just like the simple lyrics.  This song has two pages!

Black notes song for beginner piano, with chord tones

Pretty black keys song for beginning piano

"Morning Sun" is pretty tricky - but I have a little girl who can't leave it alone, and just keeps improving it every week, without much input from me.

Download Morning Sun Upon the Mountain

Humpback Whale song for beginning piano

Here in Alaska we really do see whales quite a bit.  Even so, people in my town may pull over to the side of the road and watch from their cars or trucks when whales are passing down the local waterways.  

When their tails come up, you know they are going down for a long dive!  Kids like to play this song.

Download Once There Was a Humpback Whale

Ooey Gooey sheet music for piano

"Ooey Gooey" was inspired by a list of poems my grandkids and some of my homeschool students have been learning.  

You might not think kids would like this song with the strange lyrics, but you would be wrong!

Download Ooey Gooey piano music for black notes

Pirate song for beginning piano players

There is a tricky rhythm going on in Pirate, but the lyrics will help with that problem, as the natural emphasis or stress of each word lends itself well to the rhythm.

Like "Morning Sun Upon the Mountains" and "Halloween Monsters," there is a bit of both hands playing at the same time.

Download "Pirate!" for beginning piano players

A song about pizza for beginning piano students, on the black keys.

This is a short and simple-looking song with two complications: the hands play simultaneously on the last line, and there is a tied note at the end. Good practice counting the basic notes which beginners are first exposed to!

Download Pizza Night

A song about rain for beginning piano students, on the black keys

Another thing we have a great deal of here in southeast Alaska - RAIN!  I guess that's why the Tongass National Forest is called a rain forest.  

 When the sun comes out for long periods of time, locals walk around with silly smiles on their faces.  Perhaps that's what John Denver meant in his lyrics "Colorado Rocky Mountain HIGH."

I endeavored to make the repeated black keys sound like drops of rain...

Download Rain Again

Sandhill Cranes, a black key song for piano students

This is a VERY easy song.

We only see the sandhill cranes as they pass in groups, far up in the sky. Their rattling calls to each other are unmistakable for any other bird, and we rush outside to watch their migrations.

There is a bit of the true "pentatonic scale" sound with this song - to me, it sounds a bit Oriental.

Download Sandhill Cranes

A song about snowflakes falling for beginning piano, on the black notes

How to read this song?  Point to the stems going up and the stems going down, and help your student interpret the notes.  

This song poses a bit of a challenge, because it moves up an octave (and stays there for the rest of the song) after just 8 beats.  

Then there is a repeat at the end, and to end the song, students should GO UP AN OCTAVE again.  Where to end?  I point to the "Fine", and tell students that means "finish" or "ending."

I haven't put any dynamic markings in this song (or any of the songs) but expressive playing, ritards, and pedalling will make a difference in how musical the pieces sound.

Download Snowflake in Your Eye

This next piece is a true "story" about a squirrel making a noise on the metal roof of a shed, busily dropping cones.  

Please notice that the final note requires crossing the right hand over the left hand to go down an octave, to the next "Grandma's House."

Black note song about a noisy squirrel

Black keys song about a funny squirrel

Download Thump & Thump & Thump

I suspect that the lyrics of these short pieces will only seem interesting to children 4 - 7 years old, but we will see...

I welcome your feedback as well!

UPDATE: I AM STILL SEEING EXCITEMENT and expectation from my students.  Almost every week they say, "I want a new song!" and we leaf through the stack again. 

I think they like that these songs have a VERY SHORT learning curve!  In fact, once they understand hand placement, some of the songs can be played instantly.  Then they can pay more attention to counting...

More songs especially for new beginners:

ABC & CDE - Two little 3-note songs focused on the Middle C area, one for left hand and one for right

Black Keys songs - a whole page of songs set to lyrics and poems, all on black keys!

C&B  & C&D - Left hand, then right hand, play little songs with lyrics that make them fool-proof.

Dueling C's - a short song with 3 notes: B, Middle C, & D.  The thumbs of each hand are "fighting" for the Middle C - but the music makes it plain which hand really owns it.

Fuzzy Wuzzy - this song is about a bear that WASN'T fuzzy.  Quarter rests form part of the action! One-handed & two-handed arrangements.

Indian Dance - Though it sounds powerful (and even difficult with an added repetitive chord in left hand), it is very intuitive and repetitious, easily conquered in several lessons.

Jingle Bells - Is there a child who doesn't know this happy tune?  Its repeated notes make up for the "tricky" skips in the melody - plus there are lettered notes in some of the arrangments!

Lavender's Blue - this pretty song forms part of the drama of Cinderella's rescue by the prince in the newest Cinderella movie with Lily James...  little girls love to play this song!

Mary Had a Little Lamb on the white keys - even adults benefit from having this tune "in hand" - later they will learn much about using chords from simple little songs like this.

Music Alphabet Song - from A,B, & C in the left hand, through C, D, E, F, & G in the right hand, this song travels scale-wise through all the notes, to help a logical thinker conquer this concept.

Ode to Joy - like Mary Had a Little Lamb and Jingle Bells, this melody is well-known, and starts with finger 3 on E.

Peck! Peck! Peck! - a "shared-hands" melody, this cute song about chickens pecking on the ground to find their breakfast only moves by steps.

Pizza Please - Using just 3 notes, this song for left hand or right hand is actually Hot Cross Buns in disguise.

Sharks - Wait until kids have started working on the treble and bass clef with this dramatic 3-note song.

Snakes - the next step after students have conquered Wormies, this more intricate set of exercises is longer, with smaller note heads, but still moving just one step at a time in either direction

Snakes Go for a Walk - More exercises like Wormies and Snakes, but with "skips" hiding amongst the steps in each line.  Line 1 has one hidden skip; line 2 has 2 hidden skips - you get the idea!

Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star - this song is so familiar that children will conquer it easily, especially because it moves by repeated steps.  Excellent for memorizing and transposing.

Wormies - This little set of exercises asks beginners to choose ANY white key, and then decide whether to move up, down, or stay there, by looking at the next note.  EASY.

The Adventures of Tonsta, Volume 1, is a book about a young boy travelling over mountains and fjords from village to village, encountering trolls and helping folk in distress.

The Adventures of Tonsta

A perfect read aloud storybook for Christmas for little boys or girls. 

The Adventures of Tonsta highlight the travels of a very young boy with a good heart, who goes about helping folk in trouble.  

With a red cap on his head and a sack of tools slung over his shoulder, Tonsta seems to meet people in distress wherever he goes.

Lots of trolls in this book.

Available at Amazon!

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Hi! I'm teaching my little brother to play the piano and this is really helpful. 

Patriotic songs for beginning piano

Kim in Washington:
My son is hooked...I've been introducing piano to my son on and off for a year or so, but he's not had much interest. Then I gave him "Monsters Everywhere". He loved playing it with the organ sound on our piano. He memorized it that week and I'm printing off the other Halloween songs to keep him going. I love the detailed instructions on teaching since he is my first student! Thanks so much.
That is so neat that your son has experienced the magic and mystery of music through this little song. That is so exciting to me. Thanks for writing, Kim!

Sports songs for piano music book

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