I have only just started to learn (on my own) to read music and play the piano at the grand old age of 64! Please can someone tell me how to play the same note on two staves? I keep being asked to play middle C with both the left hand and the right hand at exactly the same time. How?

Many thanks.

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    Congrats on starting to play music! You are doing a great thing. Is there any way you would be able to show us the excerpt? This would help create more helpful / accurate answers. Commented May 26, 2013 at 18:59
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    Yes, there are a variety of things this could mean depending on what the context is; without seeing the excerpt, I'm not sure a definitive answer is possible. (That said, you should really consider all fingering as optional; all that matters is the sounds you produce, regardless of which fingering you use. So do whatever is comfortable and allows you to produce a good sound.) Commented May 27, 2013 at 4:13
  • One way to show us would be to scan in the section of music and then add the image to your question using the image button above the editing area. It seems an odd thing. Are you sure it's simultaneously with each hand, not one hand after the other?
    – dumbledad
    Commented May 27, 2013 at 11:13
  • +1 on Luke's duplicate; Raskolnikov's answer even has video of a pianist's hands demonstrating this overlap in Satie's Gymnopédie. Note that it may not be a duplicate though, depending on what Mig mean's by "same note". If it's 'same pitch with different durations' then they are duplicates, if it's 'same pitch and same duration' then this question is different.
    – dumbledad
    Commented May 28, 2013 at 5:49
  • This question contains "How?" It should also contain "Why?" Looking at the answers so far, Mig, please post the example.
    – Tim
    Commented May 28, 2013 at 6:22

3 Answers 3


I wouldn't bother trying to play the same note with left and right hands,simultaneously, it will sound just as good played by just one or the other. Without seeing the music, it's difficult to understand why you're being asked to do this - and quite unusual.for beginners, the 'cross-over ' point for each hand is often middle C, with it being played either with left thumb if it's written in the bass clef, or with right thumb if it's written in treble clef. As jjmusicnotes asked, a sample would allow us to help better. I echo the congratulations - it's never too late, but have an occasional lesson, so's you don't develop bad habits on the way. You won't regret it, with a good tutor.
This may sound strange, but you are actually trying to learn two skills simultaneously - reading music, and finding your way round the keys. They are completely separate skills, only related by the music you make. Initially, just get to know the black and white bits on the piano, and how they relate to each other, sonically, not neccessarily thinking"this is an F and this is an A, and they sound good together, " but just geographically messing about with patterns. Sorry for the protracted answer, hope it helps.

  • I don't understand this answer. When you say that a piano note will sound "just as good played by just one [hand] or the other" as played with the "left and right hands simultaneously" it implies that you can play a piano note with both hands simultaneously. But as each note has only one key this makes no sense to me. Do you mean press the one key down with a digit from both hands at once?
    – dumbledad
    Commented May 27, 2013 at 11:21
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    dumbledad, that is what the question is about ! No, I don't see why one would need to do this, but that is what the OP posted, I think.
    – Tim
    Commented May 27, 2013 at 13:01
  • Indeed, though I was hoping that an answer might shed light on "why", but don't worry, @AsianSquirel's answer did just that :-)
    – dumbledad
    Commented May 27, 2013 at 17:20

When the score indicates the same note played twice simultaneously, and it's not a mistake, it means one of two things:

  • The doubling is intended to indicate something about the flow of the bass and melodic lines. Both hands may be progressing towards the same note, and the composer might have wanted to call that out explicitly. This might influence how you emphasize the note and the dynamics of the progression.

  • The score is not purely for piano, and two voices or instruments are intended to sing or play the same note. This it very similar to the first point — you have separate things that are reaching the same common point. On the piano, you are unifying these mutiple voices into one.

In both cases, Tim has it right; you do not play the note twice nor do you try to fit multiple fingers on the key. Besides being awkward, you can't accomplish anything with two fingers on the same key than you can't with just one. Playing it with one hand may be more obviously natural, so you should do so. If not, simply pick which hand you would prefer to play it.

  • I've encountered a few cases where a note which started when the right hand was busy, was sustained while the left hand would be busy, and found the best solution was to start the note with one hand and hold it with the other. In general, though, I'd agree that multiple fingers on a key would not be helpful.
    – supercat
    Commented Nov 26, 2016 at 21:22

I had to do this once, many many years ago when I was still taking lessons. I remember that was back when both hands were stationary (in the same position all the time) and middle c was like the "home keys" in typing, the key I anchored to. I'm guessing you're getting some kind of piano instruction so I suggest that, if you haven't already, you bring up your confusion with your teacher.

To use both thumbs to play middle c at once you should use one thumb to press half of the key and the other to press the other half (so they each scoot over to make room for the other, to "share" the key). As you've stated, this should be done simultaneously but as long as neither thumb is early it won't matter (if one thumb is slightly behind an on-time thumb, it won't affect the sound).

Hopefully this helps!

  • Do you mean you divided the key up laterally so that the thumbs were next to each other? This seems like an awkward solution at best and a literally impossible solution if your thumbs are too big. DON'T do this! Instead, one thumb should be further in on the key, i.e., further away from your body. Commented May 27, 2013 at 18:39
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    No, no form of playing the same key at the same time with two fingers should ever be done. It's purposeless. Pick one and use it.
    – user28
    Commented May 27, 2013 at 18:46
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    Matthew - even as a beginners technique to establish a home position for the thumbs?
    – dumbledad
    Commented May 28, 2013 at 5:50
  • @KyleStrand I don't know; it's honestly just what my teacher told me to do. Also, I was probably about seven. I didn't do it for long and I wouldn't consider doing it now, but for a few weeks it was what I did. (And if you have small hands, trying to reach up a key is awkward sometimes. And piano keys narrow down farther up the key so greater accuracy is necessary there...AND if your right hand was being used as the "contorted to reach higher" hand, you would be more likely to accidentally strike D#. [I'm right-handed --just controlling my left hand was enough of a challenge already!])
    – Stan
    Commented Jun 1, 2013 at 18:53
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    @dumbledad ESPECIALLY as a beginner's technique. There's no reason to learn bad habits. AsianSquirrel: Avoiding the upper parts of the keys is a terrible habit that I go to great lengths to break my students of. If it seems that your hands are too small (i.e. your fingers are too short) to reach further back on the key, then your hand should be further in. This shouldn't require contortion at all. Commented Jun 1, 2013 at 20:56

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