One of the most important aspects of teaching young beginners piano is commencing on the black keys. Bastien and Alfreds young beginner methods both begin on the black keys.
Greats such as Franz Liszt and Frederic Chopin also recommended small children starting out on the black keys.
Smaller hands sit much more comfortably on the black keys. It’s also easier to play many simple tunes as the black keys make up the omnipresent pentatonic scale. Improvising and making up tunes both come easily on the black notes.
Many teachers worry about the transition to the all important white notes, however in the very early stages technical facility is much more important than keys or theory, we have never had any difficulty with students moving onto white keys, in fact we teach the C major scale (first tetrachord only) from the very first lesson.
By learning tunes with black keys we have the advantage of our strong fingers (2 and 3) being in a relaxed rounded position. Technique is everything in our formative years. Technique is the great initiator from which all musical development follows, poor technique will hold even the most musical of students back whereas good technique will allow those with moderate to poor ability to soar.
Black keys are the easiest to distinguish because of their 3 and 2 grouping. A piano with only white keys would be unplayable as black keys give a tactile reference to ones fingers. “Ebony And Ivory Live Together In Perfect Harmony Side By Side On My Piano Keyboard, Oh Lord, Why Don't We?” (McCartney/Wonder).
By learning tunes on the black notes students can develop a good repertoire of pieces at a very young age. Most great musical geniuses such as Beethoven, Mozart and Chopin were playing well by the age of five.
The main books that we recommend for young beginners are Alfred’s Prep Course Level A or for the slightly older young beginner Alfred’s lesson book level 1A – as students are nearing the end of these books we recommend they purchase the ANZCA pianoforte Introductory exam book. All the most important piano and keyboard literature is always stocked at Caroline Springs School of Music store.