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.
The songs on this page, you can download FREE.
Please check out my new book, "JUST THE BLACK KEYS", which has 20 additional songs and TEACHER ACCOMPANIMENTS!
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!
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.
Below, see what the Dog House and Grandma's House look like.
These black key symbols are at the top of most of the downloads farther down this page, but the graphics DON'T SHOW THEM.
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!
Please scroll down the page to find the links to the free PDF printouts.
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!
"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:
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 (finger 2 bottom Left of the first large graphic of Go Tell It On the Mountain above) - I fixed the PDF, so it's fine!
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!):
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.
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...
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.
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!
"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.
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.
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.
In addition, the octava symbol shows up! There is something new to learn here, along with hand coordination.
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!
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.
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!
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!
The links to the black key songs:
Hi! I'm teaching my little brother to play the piano and this is really helpful.
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!