Piano Theory Lessons

Music theory is the knowledge about how music is constructed. Piano theory is music theory learned while referring to a piano keyboard.

Why Piano Theory?

The piano keyboard is a great tool to use when learning basic music theory.

Piano Theory Lessons

Because of the layout of the piano keys, patterns of notes, scales, chords and intervals are a lot easier to actually see, compared to other instruments.

Make sure to print out some free printable staff paper before you begin.

Sharpen your pencil, and make sure to practice to write the notes, clefs etc. as you learn about them, this will make all you learn easier to remember.

Tip: A graded series of books I recommend for older piano players who'd like to learn theory is: Fundamentals of Piano Theory by Keith Snell.

Elements of Music

Music is built from several elements, with the main ones being: melody, harmony, rhythm, dynamics, timbre and texture. 

Within each element, or "building block", there are more concepts:

  • Melody: How tones are organized in patterns of high and low pitch. In this group we find music scales and music intervals.
  • Harmony: Is as Melody based on pitch, but in this group tones are played together. Music chords and harmonic intervals belong here for example.
  • Rhythm: Is the arrangement of long and short note values and rests. In this group we study beat, time signature, meter and many, many more elements dealing with rhythm.
  • Dynamics: How loud or soft the music is. There are plenty of words describing dynamics and other music terms - so it is worth getting a handy music dictionary for that. 
  • Timbre or Tone Color: The specific sound of the tone. In other words what instrument/s is/are playing (or voice, or anything else with sound!). In this group you learn about different instrument groups, individual instrument sounds etc.
  • Texture: Is how the musical melodies and harmonies- are “woven” together. For example: Monophony (single voice or melody), Homophony (a main melody together with harmony or chords), Polyphony (many single voices or melodies played (or sung) together, neither being “the leader” (Like in a a Fugue).

Free Piano Theory Lessons for Beginners

How to Read Piano Notes

Learn the basic stuff of piano theory, like note names, the staff, note values etc.

Note Values and Rests

Learn more about different note values and rests, their names and how to count.

The Music Scale

What is it that gives a musical scale its special "sound color"? This introduction to scales will take a look at what scales are made from and some of the types that can be found in different parts of the world.

Music Scales

Find out how to combine the notes to create different scales; major scales, minor scales, blues, modal and more!

Music Intervals

Intervals are the distances between notes. Learning how to identify intervals, helps you to quickly read notes, among other things!

Circle of Fifths

This is a super tool for understanding key signatures and more, invented by Pythagoras in the 6th Century B.C!!

The Key Signature

All those symbols in the beginning of a staff, what are they? The sharps # or flats b, clustered in the first measure are called the Key Signature. Learn more here.

Printable Staff Paper

Print your favorite. 8 or 10 staff, wide staff or grand staff paper as PDF's.

Piano Keyboard Diagram

Helpful tool for beginner pianists. Print out a keyboard, with or without note names. Use for keyboard orientation, games etc.

Layout of the  Piano Keys

Why are the keys in the order they are, and why are they in the particular layout of black and white keys? Read more here.

Printable Key Notes and Basic Chord Finder

Here is a handy-dandy tool for beginner pianists. Print out this free Pdf, fold and place behind the keys to remember the note names on the keys. On the back is a simple chart to help you find the most basic chords on the piano.

Recommended Resources


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