Black Notes Songs for Beginners

Reading 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.  

These songs are from my book,
Just the Black Keys

Several of the songs on this page, you can download FREE - please scroll to the bottom of the page to find the links for those ones.

Then, check out this page which features my new book, "JUST THE BLACK KEYS", with 30 songs plus TEACHER ACCOMPANIMENTS!

A song for the black keys, Hot Cross Buns for piano

Please scroll down the page for the download links.

Hot Cross Buns and Pizza Please, unlike all the other songs, use just one hand:

Please scroll down the page for the download links.

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

No parallel fingerings

Be aware that these songs do not have "parallel" fingerings; except for Hot Cross Buns and Pizza Please, all of them place one hand on 3 black keys, and the other on 2 black keys. 

Mary Had a Little Lamb is a good next step, after Hot Cross Buns and Pizza Please:

Please scroll down the page for the download links.

As I stated above, be aware that 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.

The secret of hand placement

Below, see what the Dog House and Grandma's House look like.

Here is a pretty two-page song which uses both hands at the same time - not impossible for your little ones!

A closeup of a black notes song, showing the 2 black notes and 3 black notes graphics at the top of the page; what I call the Dog House and Grandma's House.

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!

Ogden Nash poem set to music for beginning piano on the black keys

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


Now, a song for Christmas!

A simple song for piano on the black keys - Christmas Time is Almost Here

"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. ; )

When the notes are stacked over each other as in the last line of "Christmas Time", you know that it's "hands together."

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
Christmas song for beginners on the piano black keys

Please scroll down the page for the download links.

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.

In my "Just the Black Keys" book, there is a boogie pattern going on in the accompaniment part (the paperback version of this book is at Amazon):

Go Tell It On the Mountain piano duet sheet music for the black keys

Because this is a "folk" tune, every region or country where this 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.

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."

Singing the lyrics is the best

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 as we sing, alternating hands as the song calls for one hand or the other.

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!

Update: "Halloween Monsters" has been HUGELY popular!

Children quickly learn the lyrics and sing along as they play.

Drumming with pencils 

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...

The note stems point "up" for the "up" hand, and "down" for the "downward" hand. This will stand them in good stead even as they begin reading notes on the staff around Middle C.

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

A very pretty piece

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, Morning Sun Upon the Mountain
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.

A song about a whale is EASY

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 about pirates, though initially counting the changing rhythm is a challenge.

Pirate song for beginning piano players, on the black keys
Pirate song for beginning piano players, on the black keys

The lyrics will help with that problem, as the natural emphasis or stress of each word lends itself well to the rhythm.  I like to sing, "Pi-rate!, 2-3-, Pi-rate!-2, a Pi-rate, 2, Be-ware -2-3-4."  That is using UNIT counting, of course.  A glimpse at the teacher accompaniment would show you the true rhythm.

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

In addition, the octava symbol shows up!  There is something new to learn here, along with hand coordination.

The teacher accompaniment:


Pizza Night 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!

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

Just for young kids? NO!

Initially, I suspected that the lyrics of these short pieces would only seem interesting to children 4 - 7 years old, but I was so wrong.  

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

And children OLDER than my target group like the songs as well, when they are beginners.  They pick up the songs so quickly that they enjoy having a new one every lesson.

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...

Don't forget to check out the list of songs & accompaniments - just the thing to get little ones involved in recitals - in my new book, JUST THE BLACK KEYS!

Below, you can view the list of songs in the Table of Contents.



The links to a few of the black key songs:



Download Hot Cross Buns for black notes for the Left Hand



Download Pizza Please! for the right hand



Download Mary Had a Little Lamb for the black keys


To see more of the Black Key songs, please visit this page, or...

Get "JUST THE BLACK KEYS" DIGITAL DOWNLOAD BOOK, $12.50

 

Just the Black Keys, a book for beginning piano students just learning to read music, and how to use their fingers on the keyboard

GET THE PAPERBACK AT AMAZON...




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 - songs set to lyrics and poems, all on black keys!


C&B  & C&D - Left hand, then right hand, each 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 arrangements!


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 bass clef before you give them 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 (also called "Crickets Go Hopping") - 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.


When the Saints Go Marching In - just 5 notes, with no stretches or replacements, make up this familiar song!


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.







Interested in songs from the Bible for your students or church?  Check out my other website, SingTheBibleStory.com!

SingTheBibleStory.com clickable logo link

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Just the Black Keys, a piano song book for young beginners.

Just the Black Keys

This book is available as a digital download  from this site.  Visit this page to see some free examples from the book.

It is also available from Amazon as a paperback!

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About the Author

Dana Thynes

Hi, I'm Dana!  (Say that like "Anna".)  I'm the owner of Music-for-Music-Teachers.com, and a newer site, SingTheBibleStory.com.

Like some of you, I've been playing the piano since early childhood, and have added a few other instruments along the way, plus an interest in arranging and composing music.

You can find out more about me and the reason for this website at my About Me page.