The traditional way would be to get an instructor, do lessons and learn to read music. Theory and terminology would be taught and years later an individual should be able to open a piece of music and just play. For classical music, usually learning notation is the answer. But how to play piano songs without all this is possible.
Years of lessons are not necessary if a person only wants to enjoy the beauty of music. Professionals use what they call lead sheets. However, for beginners we can start with some fundamentals. Using these basic tips you can save yourself the cost for learning piano (at least until you are ready for more advanced lessons).
Basics of the Musical Alphabet
The musical alphabet only ranges from A to G. The keyboard is based on octaves because there are only seven notes in a major scale. The eighth note is the same as the first note in the scale only higher or lower in tone.
The keyboard’s keys are set up in a pattern. A white key separates each black key. But the pattern is that there are two black keys, two white keys and three black keys and two more white. Then the pattern continues all along the keyboard.
All piano players like the key of C, because it only uses the white keys. The note C is just to the left of the two black sisters. To find middle C you can either count them or look just to the left of the decal that has the name of the instrument.
Piano Chord Basics
To form a C chord, place the little finger on the left hand on any C. Then let the rest of the fingers including the thumb, rest one digit each on the four keys to the right. Now all five fingers, beginning with the thumb are resting on the notes G, F, E, D, and C. If the thumb is number one, the middle finger is three and the little finger is number five, press down the keys under fingers one, three and five. These three notes make up a C Major chord.
By moving all three fingers to the right one note each, a D minor is formed. A D minor chord consists of the notes D, F, and A. If the whole Chord is moved again to the right the chord will be an E minor. This hand position can be moved up and down the keyboard to make seven different chords.
Tones and Scales
Since there are seven tones in a scale there are seven different chords in each major key. When the major scale is numbered, only the first, fourth and fifth tones in the scale will produce major chords. All others are minor chords with one exception, the seventh tone, which will be a diminished.
A major chord is usually just written by its name. C would designate a C Major chord. Minor chords are abbreviated by the lower case m and diminished chords use the abbreviation of dim. Once an individual masters the chords, all that is left is to pick out the melody with the right hand and find chords that create what a person hears. Practice and its done. How to play piano songs still requires practice but years of lessons are not necessary.