Minimum requirements to play the keys

Many people have asked the question, “Do you need piano lessons in order to learn to play the piano or keys?”

I believe the answer is “No” however there a number of things that you definitely need to cover.

Others have asked “Is learning theory important”?

I would say, Yes to some extent.

I recommend that you learn at least the following

The major scales of all the twelve keys. You will notice later on down the line that the minor scales are simply mirrored versions of the major scale but on different keys, therefore it is better to start off simply learning all the major scales only. Once you know scales it will be easier to predict the melody and chord changes in songs, and also help you improvise when you are playing in band. There is a very usefull chart called the circle of 5ths (or sometimes referred to as 4ths) which shows the relationship between the Major and Minor keys.

Learn the Major, Minor and Seventh chords for each key. This may sound like much but it is pretty straightforward on a piano, since all you are doing in counting in each scale. E.g. Major 1,3,5. Minor is 1,3b,5 and then the Seventh or dominant is 1,3,5,7b. There are other chords but knowing these three will help you a great deal with most songs.

Learn the seven chords in a major scale. There is a pattern to this as shown below.

  1. Major
  2. Minor
  3. Minor
  4. Major
  5. Seventh (Dom)
  6. Minor
  7. Diminished

Once you learn the above, you should be able to play along to a vast majority of commercial songs that are in the one key.

The genre of music I am mainly playing “Neo Soul” uses key changes however I still found that learning the above was invaluable for me.

There are people who can get by with no theory and play by ear which is how I used to play. However you will come to a plateau at some point and learning at least the minimum theory will help you get to the next level and improve your playing overall. I have heard the same from guitarists, baas players and players of other instruments too.

Click here to download my chord progressions, some with video to show you the finger placements.


2 thoughts on “Minimum requirements to play the keys”

  1. I believe it all depends on the individual. Some people will require formal tuition and others can learn themselves or just by ear. Knowing theory is NOT mandatory for learning an instrument as there are many famous musicians who can play without. However that is skill that some people are simply born with.

  2. I can confidently say that I play proficient piano and I am self taught with very little theory. However I do admit that, starting off with some theory would have made the journey easier.
    Also my problem is it is hard to play in band sometimes when they through the theory and chord at you.
    I often need my own time to review and practice. Any changes mid rehearsal can be problematic.

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