Chapter 6 – Play your first piano melody: Happy Birthday
We now come to the 5th chapter of this ultimate pianist’s guide, dedicated to the first real melody you’ll play on piano Happy Birthday! In this chapter, we will build on what we have seen in the previous chapters, especially Chapter 4 – Piano Basics and Chapter 5 – Basic piano chords.
We will work together on the notes you need to play, one hand after the other, so that you can play the Happy Birthday song quickly.
Happy Birthday: Play the notes of the right hand
Piano Keys Chart
Let’s start by recapitulating the names of the notes on a piano keyboard for those who didn’t follow Chapter 4 on piano basics. The following image shows the piano keys chart to help you find your way around:
Piano Keys Chart.
You can see that each sequence consists of 7 white keys, and once you reach the eighth, a new sequence is triggered. Use the black notes to help you find your way through the sequences. You can see, for example, that the note C returns each time you arrive just before the group of two black notes.
Now that you can identify the notes on the piano keyboard, let’s get to the heart of the matter and learn Happy Birthday.
Where to start?
Let’s start with the notes of the Happy Birthday song you have to play with your right hand. Start by positioning yourself on the note G in the center of the piano (on the fourth octave on an 88-key piano).
The G is the first note of the right hand in the Happy Birthday song.
Right hand notes
Once you have found the first note G of the song, you have to play the following notes one after the other:
G – A – G – C – B – G – G – A – G – D – C – G – G – G – E – C – C – B – A – F – F – E – C – D – C.
This sequence of notes corresponds to the whole of the piano song Happy Birthday in the right hand. If you play all these notes in a row, you will easily recognize the melody.
Piano Happy Birthday: the notes of the right hand.
To respect the beats of each note, you can use the following vidéo tutorial of the Happy Birthday song to play them correctly:
Piano Happy Birthday: video tutorial of the right hand.
To memorize and master the right hand quickly, we advise you to repeat it in a loop several times in a row. You will see that after a few minutes, your piano playing will become more and more fluid. You will then know the whole right hand. Now we’re going to look at the left hand!
Happy Birthday: Play the notes of the left hand
Where to start?
For the left hand, we will proceed in the same way. We will identify the first note of the song, then work on the sequence of notes that follows.
To play the left hand of Happy Birthday, start by positioning your finger on the C note of your piano keyboard (the one on the third octave of an 88-key piano).
The C is the first note of the left hand in the Happy Birthday song.
Left hand notes
Once you have found the first note with your left hand, just like the right hand, simply press each of the keys in the following sequence one after the other:
C – C – G – G – C – C – C – F – F – C – G – C.
Pressing each of the notes in this sequence will play the whole left hand of the song. The left hand giving the rhythm and serving more as an accompaniment to the piece, you won’t recognize Happy Birthday by playing it alone. But it’s indispensable on piano because without it you will not be able to give depth to your playing.
Piano Happy Birthday: the notes of the left hand.
As for the right hand, the notes of the left hand respect well-defined beats which must be taken into account to play in the rhythm of the song. You can practice by watching the following video tutorial:
Piano Happy Birthday: video tutorial of the left hand.
Congratulations! You now know how to play the right and left hand of the song Happy Birthday. But the hardest part is still to come… Now you have to play both hands at the same time!
Happy Birthday: Play the whole song with the both hands
Difficulty: the dissociation of the two hands
The greatest difficulty when you start learning piano is to play both hands at the same time. This is called hand dissociation.
This work is not easy because it requires our brain to disassociate to play two different melodies at the same time.
This is why we have made you play first the right hand and then the left hand. This is the technique most used by beginners to learn the song step by step.
This part will inevitably take time because it is a matter of work. Our brain being used to symmetry, dissociation is not something it’s used to process. You will therefore have to be patient and work rigorously. But don’t worry, it comes quickly! There are a number of techniques that will allow you to dissociate your hands faster.
Method and techniques
To learn faster your hands to dissociate, you can take a short sequence of a few seconds at the very beginning of the song and work it in a loop with both hands. Take your time and don’t try to go fast. When you feel more comfortable with the sequence, play it a little faster. Once you think you have mastered it, move on to the next sequence. Do the same for this one, and once you’ve mastered it, play the two sequences in a row.
Our advice: frequency of training is more effective than persistence. Rather than spending 5 hours a day playing this passage in a loop, prefer sessions of 20 minutes every day. After a week, you will already see progress, and that will encourage you!
When you play a song with both hands, it can be just as difficult to know when to play the notes: should I play this note with my left hand at the same time as this note with my right hand? The rhythm of the song and the coordination of your hands are difficult piano exercices. As a guide, you can watch the following video tutorial that shows you how to play Happy Birthday with both hands:
Piano Happy Birthday: video tutorial of the whole song with both hands.
Congratulations, you just played your first piano song! You see, it wasn’t that hard. Now you want to broaden your horizon of songs you can play on piano? Well, great! In the next chapter, we present 20 easy piano songs for you to practice.