Play Piano With Your Left Hand

Beginner Piano Lesson 2

In Beginner Piano Lesson 1 we had an introduction to the piano, looked at how to find Middle C (2 black notes, etc..), learned how to read some basic music in Treble Clef and you played your first piece using your right hand.

In this lesson we are going to:

  • Play a piece with your left hand
  • Learn to Read Bass Clef

Introducing the Left Hand

One of the great things about the piano is that you can play lots of notes at the same time because you can play the keys with both hands. This enables you to get a really full and large sound from the piano.
So, in this piano lesson we are going to have a look at how to play the piano with your left hand.

The first stage is to just get used to positioning your left hand on the piano keyboard.
It should have the same relaxed “feel” and position as your right hand. Your arm should be relaxed and the hand itself should be level with your fingers slightly curved.
So, place your left hand on the piano keyboard with your thumb on Middle C as shown below:

Left Hand piano playing position

Try pressing down each of the keys in turn.
You may find this more difficult than your right hand (or not, it depends on how much you use your left hand) – that’s fine. Just try to relax and press down each of the keys in turn.
Remember to try and press down with your fingers rather than your whole arm.

Try taking your left hand away from the piano and then putting it back on to see if you can find that position again.
Once you have had a few goes at this you are ready to learn your first left hand piece!

Learning Your First Left Hand Piece

To play this piece we are going to start with the left hand in the position we have just been trying.
So, your hand should be on the keyboard with your thumb on Middle C.
Once again, we are going to read the sheet music (score) for this piece. However, this time there is going to be one big difference in the sheet music. We are going to be following the Bass Clef.
Changing from Treble Clef to Bass Clef is simply like changing the code for the stave. The reason we change to Bass Clef is because it enables us to write lots of notes below Middle C without having to add large numbers of ledger lines.
Let’s have a look at the music:

Bass Clef with Middle C

Can you see that the sheet music setup is exactly the same as it was in lesson 1 – the only difference is that there is a Bass Clef at the start instead of a Treble Clef?
The Bass Clef changes the notes as follows:

Bass Clef Notes from C to F

In the Bass Clef, Middle C has its own extra line (called a ledger line) added above the stave.
There is a number “1” above the Middle C note – remember, this is a fingering mark. It tells you what finger to use to play the note. Have a look at the diagram below to see which number corresponds to each finger on the left hand.

Piano Left Hand Fingering

Similarly to the right hand, the number “1” corresponds to your thumb. So, in this piece you are going to start with your left hand thumb playing Middle C.
Let’s have a look at the rest of the sheet music for this piece:

Piano Lesson 2 Chillout piece sheet music score

There are 3 things to take notice of:

  1. We can see from the time signature that there are 4 Quarter (or crotchet) beats in every bar so we will be counting in fours to set our beat.
  2. We can also see that the rhythm follows a repeated pattern of 2 quarter notes (crotchets) followed by a half note (minim). The quarter notes (crotchets) will be held for one beat each and the half notes (minims) should be held for 2 beats.
  3. The pitch of the piece goes down by step from Middle C to B and then back up to C for the first 2 bars. The melody changes in the 3rd and 4th bars to start on B, move down by a step to A and then back up to B.

We are now ready to have a go at playing the piece.

Here is what the piece should sound like:

      Play Piano Lesson 2 Piece Demo

Now it is your turn.

Try playing the first 2 bars to start with.
Remember, keep your arm relaxed and curl your fingers. Count yourself in “1-2-3-4” and try playing it slowly.
When you feel comfortable playing the first 2 bars then try bars 3 and 4.
When you can play bars 1-2 and bars 3-4 then try playing the rest of the piece.

How did you get on?

I have put together another backing track for you to try this left hand piece with. It has got a bit of a “Chill Out” feel to it – hope you enjoy playing it!
Remember, playing with a backing track forces you to play in time with a beat which is great skill to learn right from the start of your piano playing journey. You will hear 4 clicks to count you in and then you can start to play.
This may take you a few goes to get it right, but just keep trying. You can keep playing the 8 bars over and over again – it will still fit with the backing track.

Here is what the piece should sound like with the backing track:

      Play Chillout Piece with Backing Demo

Now, it is your turn again:

Piano Lesson 2 Chillout piece sheet music score

      Play Chillout Piece Backing Track

Anyway, I hope this lesson helped.
Click Here for Beginner Piano Lesson 3

Also, you might want to check out my theory lesson on Bass Clef.