Learning to Play Ode to Joy on the Keyboard


You have never played the keyboard. Your task is to start learning the keyboard and to perform “Ode To Joy” at the mid-year concert.

You will have one term of learning and ten half hour private lessons with a teacher before the concert.

So what is a keyboard?

A keyboard is an electronic piano-like instrument which has many functions to create varying sounds and rhythms. The most popular keyboards have four or five octaves and the keys are the same size as the piano. Keyboards vary so it is best to follow the manual to work what does what.

Step By Step Learning Guide

You can follow this seven step guide, along with a teacher to show, play and guide you and a suitable tutor book which has information, exercises and pieces, including “Ode To Joy”.

Step 1: Introduction To Music

You will learn the following:

1. The musical alphabet: A B C D E F G

2. The white and black keys: The black notes are grouped in Twos and Threes in the same repeating pattern.

3. Your first note(s) C: ‘C’ is found to the left side of the Two Black Notes. Find all ‘C’s and play them.

4. Numbering your fingers: Start with the thumb as number 1, then work through the fingers 2, 3, 4 with the little finger as 5.

5. Basic Notation:

clef signs:

treble clef: use for right hand piano playing

bass clef:use for left hand piano playing

staff or stave

treble staff: the set of five horizontal lines used for music written in the treble clef.

bass staff: the set of five lines used for music written in the bass clef.

grand staff: the treble staff joined with a vertical line to the bass staff.

bar lines: the horizontal lines seen regularly on the grand staff

bar or measure: the music written between two bar lines

double bar lines:

two thin double bar lines indicate a change of theme in the music

one thin and one thick double bar line indicates the end of a piece

6. Time Signatures: The figure after the clef sign tells us how many counts there are in each bar. To begin with we only need to read the top figure.


4 ~ count 4 in each bar


3 ~ count 3 in each bar


7. Note lengths: You will learn 4, 3, 2, 1 count or beat notes with their given names of semibreve, dotted minim, minim, crotchet respectively.

8. The keyboard can play and sound like a piano or like a keyboard where there is a split point. This means that notes played to the right of that split point are melodic and played with the right hand. Notes played to the left of the split point are on the Accompaniment Section where chords with the left hand are played along with any rhythm which has been set

9. Your first tune: This will be ‘Mary Had A Little Lamb using any set of three black notes and your second, third and forth fingers.

Step 2: Playing Notes and Tunes With Your Right Hand by:

1. finding and playing all C’s, D’s, E’s, F’s, G’s separately on the keyboard. Each letter name has a specific place related to the black notes; therefore you can find eg all E’s on keyboard by playing the note to the right of the set of two black notes.

2. playing rows of one note using each of the four note lengths learnt in step 1 part 7. eg row of F’s on 3 beat notes

3. playing rows of one note using varying note lengths.

4. making up your own tunes using C D E F G and 4, 3, 2, 1 beat notes.

5. learning to read and play middle C D E F G

Middle C is the C closest to the middle of the keyboard.

Use the fingering 1 for C, 2 for D, 3 for E, 4 for F, 5 for G

Follow the guidance of your teacher and your tutor book to give you exercises and pieces to practise. Count out loud to help keep you in time. Numbers above the notes are the fingering numbers and means you play that particular note with the finger related to that number.

Please note that when learning a new exercise or piece you:

~ name each note

~ clap and count out loud the rhythm

~ play and say the notes

6. Read and play ‘ Mary Had A Little Lamb’ on the white notes using middle C D E F G

Step 3: Left Hand Notes In the Accompaniment Section:

You will start learning

1. six notes starting on G one and a half octaves below middle C; namely G A B C D E and using your left hand fingering 5 4 3 2 1 1 respectively.

You should have pictures of the keyboard and note positions plus relevant music to play and practise in the tutor book.

2. Chords: A chord is a group of notes played at the same time. A letter name eg C is placed above the melody to indicate which chord to play.

You will learn ~ C major chord – G C E

~ G major chord – G B D

~ F major chord – A C F or F A C

3. Tunes with right hand melody and the left hand chords.

There will be tunes just with C and G chords and then with F added.

Learn each hand separately first and when secure put the two hands together

4. Repeat Signs: these are signs to indicate repeating a section of music.

First and Second Time Bars: these are used when there is a section of music repeated but have two different endings.

Step 4: Introducing The Tie

A TIE is a curved line written above or below notes of the same pitch. The second note is not played but held for its full value.

You will practise exercise and pieces related to the TIE and what you have learnt previously.

Step 5: Introducing Quavers

You will learn what 1 quaver looks like, what 2 quavers look like and that each quaver gets half a count.

Follow your book for exercises and pieces.

Step 6: Introducing The Dotted Crotchet and Ode To Joy

1. Dotted Crotchet:

When you place a dot after a note it increases that note by half as much again.

A crotchet equals one beat and the dot after this beat equals half a beat. So a dotted crotchet equals one and a half beats.

A dotted crotchet is therefore followed by a quaver to complete the second beat.

dotted crotchet quaver

1 1/2 + 1/2 = 2 beats

counted 1 2 +

2. Ode To Joy

Learn this piece as you have learnt all the others.

Step 7: Introducing Keyboard Functions

When you can play this piece with two hands then it is time to use some functions on the keyboard to enhance the piece.

Some of the functions are:

a. Sounds: Experiment with the range of sounds your keyboard has by pushing the sound button followed by a number related to your chosen sound. Pick a suitable sound.

b. Dual Sound: This is where you can set two sounds together to get an effect. When you play a piece you can play a single sound, dual sound or mixture of both. Keyboards may or may not have this feature.

c. Metronome: Press this button and you can practise keeping in time.

d.Drum Beat: Play your piece with a background drum beat on the press of a button

e. Style: There are a wide range of background rhythms you can pick on the press of the style button followed by entry of a number given to the chosen style.

Ode To Joy has 4 beats in a bar so there will be a limitation of choice. Pick a suitable rhythm.

When you change the chord you play in the left hand the sound of the rhythm changes.

f. Introduction and ending: There may be a button you can push to give you an automatic introduction and ending to your piece.

Experiment with the above functions and add them to your piece. You may like to consider repeating the piece to show off the varying keyboard features. Sometimes putting a piece up an octave for a repeat works.

This is your seven step written guide to learning ‘Ode To Joy’. You will need music to read, as in a tutor book plus a keyboard teacher to guide you.

Good luck and Enjoy The Concert


Source by Hilary Daglish