I'm a guitarist and know a good lot about music theory (don't know sheet reading tho, 'cause I'm lazy lol). I don't have THAT much free time and I know that learning a new instrument requires a lot of practice and study, and for the same reasons I didn't try piano classes (even tho I know a piano teacher), but I have a passion for piano and just a month ago I bought a MIDI controller from a friend and I use it to have fun with different instruments on Reaper/Reason. Soooo, can you guys give me some tips? Maybe online courses I could do on my own time? I'm the kinda person who needs some incentive to try something new, I tried to learn on my own in the past and got frustrated and just gave up. I can actually understand the theory behind piano chords, improvisation and everything but I can't develop the skills, mainly when we're talking about doing different things on each hand lol

  • any new music endeavor should start with music you like. find some songs you like, buy a book of those songs, or find videos on line teaching them, or figure them out by ear. varies depending on your strengths and ultimate goals. but you will have a better time over all if you are doing with music you like
    – b3ko
    Commented Nov 7, 2018 at 20:15
  • 4
    Find a teacher. That’s always the best answer to questions about how to learn. Commented Nov 7, 2018 at 20:20

3 Answers 3


I recently took a Keyboard class from Berklee Online. I am a guitarist and the class was required for a degree program, and going into it, like you, I didn't know how I was going to translate what I know on guitar to keyboard/piano.

So here are my thoughts/tips, and I suspect thousands of free lesson on youtube would have you doing these sorts of things:

  1. First, understand that the entire piano from left to right is one long chromatic scale, where black keys are sharps/flats, with white keys being key of C. Sort of like one long guitar string with up to 88 frets :-)
  2. Learn the C Major Scale and the triad chords that go along with it. On Piano this is easy. Just play the white keys! And playing triad chords amounts to understanding root position, 1st and 2nd inversion. So for a C Major Triad, just see the various ways you can play the notes C E and G within one octave, with one hand, and notice the patterns on the piano that come about. This will force you to also learn about shifting on the piano, since playing a 7 note scale will have you running out of fingers! So its not like guitar where you can stay in a position and readily play a scale. On piano, there are standard recommended fingerings for each scale, so just do a google search.
  3. Once you are getting used to C Major, add a key with one sharp or flat. So then try G Major or F Major so that you get the black keys into the game :-)
  4. Now understand that left hand is often playing bass (for beginners anyway!). So get used to playing a chord's root note with left hand while playing chords with right.
  5. Ok, you talked about playing with both hands at same time. This is just a matter of practice... After you go through the basics like I mention above, it is time to start playing some very basic music in key of C that has you using both hands. At first you'll want to play very basic stuff where left and right hand are playing similar rhythms.

Above is just meant to get you started...

Anyway, as far as exercises, etc, the book used in our class was the instructor's book, and it is called Piano Essentials: Scales, Chords, Arpeggios, and Cadences for the Contemporary Pianist. But he had us playing numerous short pieces of music which you won't find in his book. So you really need to combine exercises with actual music otherwise you will be insanely bored...

You'll find playing in different keys on keyboard is far trickier compared to guitar. We guitarists are lucky in that C Major, D Major, etc, all look the same physically on the fretboard. So we have same fingerings for a Major Triad barre chord regardless of root note. On piano, if you want to play in key of G, then you play the black key after F to get F# and that alone will change the fingering for the triads in G, compared to C... Yeah, I know - nuts!

  • Ok, thanks for the answer. I actually found a teacher which charges per class and I already did a class with him. As I probably won't take classes frequently (maybe 2 per month), I'm practically learning by myself anyways, so thanks for the tips. And yeah, I remember when I studied guitar without learning actual songs, it was hella boring, so I won't make this mistake again. Commented Nov 22, 2018 at 16:29
  • Direct, correctly structured and well explained, resuming main points to consider and remarking the important facts. Very good answer! I started with piano a few weeks ago, not deeply but just for fun, and found out that is far more accesible than guitar at the beginning, specially once you have some theory knowledge, as it becames intuitive for simple scales and chords. The 88 frets metaphor it's very accurate, just what I had in mind too :D Commented Mar 3, 2022 at 12:54

I'm a guitarist who plays more piano now. One big difference is the concepts of music theory layout nicely and intuitively on the piano. You really need to know what notes are in a chord and which should be sharp or flat.

A lot of times with guitar you can just memorize a pattern like bar chord or pentatonic scale and move it around, but piano this doesn't really apply.

Reading music makes much more sense on piano than guitar. Tabs on the piano are pretty pointless.

Ultimately the two instruments are similar in that they can play chords and melodies.

If you find yourself in doubt on the piano, just play every other key, it's probably some kind of chord.


I'm at the same situation. Some tips that helped me a lot on reading Music Sheet:

*Play games with Vivace app everyday: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.dreamhoundstudios.musicreadingtrainer

*Use the book 1600 Exercices gradués Vol.1, by Jules Arnoud

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