LESSON 5 Black Key Smashes

What you'll learn

How to play your first "Finger Power" exercise
Proper motion for wrist
Review correct finger shape

Casio Privia

Mr. Hoffman's Top Pick for Digital Piano: Casio Privia PX-150

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81 Responses

    • It’s pretty common to need more practice in your non-dominant hand (the hand that you do not write with), but if you consistently give both hands regular practice, they usually balance out over time.

  1. It’s a little hard for me to remember the musical alphabet so could you help me Mr.Hoffman and I am enjoying your lessons. Thanks for your help because now I am getting better at the piano!

    • I’m glad you feel like you’re getting better at piano. It’s very exciting when you can recognize the progress you have made! Learning the musical alphabet does take some practice, but if you review Lesson 2, you’ll find some fun games you can play to help you memorize it. I hope that helps!

  2. I”m 77 years young. I enjoy learning your piano lessons for kids. My grand daughters/children will join me soon. They are 10, 15 and 17. you are a very great piano teacher. Thank you may God bless you and family.

  3. Hello Mr. Hoffman, we enjoy your lessons very much, my son especially excited for little puppets at the end of each lesson, he is looking forward to them as a special treat!!!
    Question, we are a little confused about abscdefg scale, and do re mi fa sol la si scale, what is the difference and which should we learn exactly? I have a Russian heritage and i remember learning do re mi… , never heard about note letter names. Thank you!

    • The musical alphabet (the abcdefg scale) is associated with specific keys on the piano, which you learn about in our Piano Street lessons. Those keys will always have the same letter names, and when you identify the letter names of notes on written music, it will always point to a particular note on the piano. Solfege, on the other hand, is a pattern that can be transposed into any key signature. It’s about the intervals (or distance) between each note, rather than the particular tone. This makes Solfege a great tool for transposing a series of notes from one pentascale (or key signature) into another. For instance, we can describe Hot Cross Buns we learned in Lesson 1 using Solfege (Mi, Re, Do) OR the musical alphabet (B-flat, A-flat, G-flat). But, if you wanted to transpose the same melody into the C major pentascale, the Solfege would stay the same (Mi, Re, Do) while the musical alphabet changes (E, D, C). These two ways of identifying the keys are very useful, but the concepts take some time and experience to sink in. We’ll use both and talk more about them in many future lessons, so don’t worry if it doesn’t click yet. Good luck and happy playing!

  4. My piano doesn’t have a ‘lonely’ black key is that a problem?
    and I love these piano lessons. They are so much better than books of live teachers!!

    • No problem! If your keyboard has fewer than 88 keys, you may need to make slight adjustments to certain finger power exercises and songs, but you’ll be able to work through the lessons just fine.

  5. I was wondering: Is a 52 key piano keyboard with weighted keys sufficient enough to complete all 4 units?

    Thanks in advance, Christine

    • A keyboard that size may require a few adjustments, particularly when it comes to hand-over-hand exercises, but it should still work quite well for our beginning units. Good luck and happy playing!

  6. Isn’t it ironic that when you sign up you need to be above or the age of 13, but Mr. Hoffman
    speaks to the viewer like he/she is a three year old. I came here to learn, not to cringe as I am treated like a idiotic child that came out of rehab.

    Steven Dominguez

    • That’s a great observation, Steven. Our lessons are certainly geared toward children; however, there is a law called the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule (or “COPPA”) that imposes restrictions on websites or services geared to children. Sites are not allowed to knowingly collect personal information of children under the age of 13; instead, their parent or guardian should be the one signing up for them. We strive to be compliant to COPPA and therefore require an account holder to be 13 years or older. I hope that makes sense. Feel free to let us know if you have any further questions!

    • No, it shouldn’t be a problem. 61 is the minimum number of keys necessary to successfully work through all the songs and exercises in our beginning lessons. Happy playing!

  7. Hi mr.hoffman, I just wanted to say I love your website! Better than the ones I’ve been on. I will try to recommend my friends :D

  8. Hi Mr Hoffman,
    I’m having some trouble with the wrist motion. is it a problem to move my whole arm as i strike the keys? in the video it looks like your moving exclusively your wrist but I’m having trouble with that. Any tips?
    Thank You!

    • When you play the piano, your whole arm is involved. Your arm may move – that’s ok – but it’s best when your arm offers more “weight” than movement. My arms are helping, but most of the movement is in my wrists. I would recommend practicing that movement on a hard surface first, as I explained in the lesson. Then when that starts to feel comfortable, practice on the piano keys. I hope that helps! – Mr. Hoffman

  9. Hello; There are two songs that I would like to learn for motivation. One is “House of The Rising Sun”, and the other is by Paul Revere and The Raiders called “Like Long Hair” which is a jazzed up Rachmaninov piece. What Rachmaninov song is that? Thank you.

    • Thanks for the suggestions! I believe “Like Long Hair” gives a nod to Rachmaninoff’s “Prelude in C-Sharp Minor.” – Mr. Hoffman

    • No, not for now. 61 keys is the minimum number required to successfully complete all the exercises and songs in our current set of lessons. – Mr. Hoffman

        • I would expect a beginner to take 12-15 months to work through the first 6 Hoffman Academy Units, so if you’re just starting out you’ve got well over a year before it might become an issue. If you want to get a full-sized piano in the future, though, it’s never too loon to start saving! Good luck and happy playing. – Mr. Hoffman

    • By “classic” are you referring to what we call an “upright” or “vertical” piano? If so, which one you should choose depends on your preferences & circumstances. Simply based on resonance and tone quality, grand pianos are superior; however, they generally cost more and take up much more space in your home. For a beginning pianist, either one would be fine as long as it is in good condition and kept tuned. For more information and recommendations, you can check out my blog post on Choosing a Piano or Keyboard for the Beginning Student.

      I hope that helps! If I have misunderstood your question, please feel free to reply here or via email to Support@HoffmanAcademy.com. Good luck and happy playing! – Mr. Hoffman

      • Mister Hoffman,
        I am a 82 years old man and have had many teachers, instructors, and professors in my life. But I found you a unique teacher. Why???
        Because, being a teacher requires two kinds of tools. 1- Knowledge that I am sure you do have that but I am not in a position to judge you because I only knwo up to lesson #5.
        The second tool is something that you can’t learn, you have to be born with it. That tool I call it “Genetically acquired carachteristics.” That makes the person with knowledge to be able to transfer his knowledge to the student. Not every teacher has that bility. That takes interest, professional love, attention, and understanding the status of the student. YOU HAVE THEM ALL.
        I am so glad that I found you.

    • That size is just fine for a beginning pianist: 61 keys is enough to work through all the songs and finger power exercises we use in these lessons. However, if your keyboard has unweighted keys you will want to start saving for a full-sized digital or acoustic piano, so your finger muscles can be properly trained and strengthened. – Mr. Hoffman

  10. Mr. Hoffman,
    For the finger smashes, I have noticed that if the left hand goes under first and then over, it feels nore smooth and natural and the same goes for the reverse. So should I start practicing like that, or is this the better way that you have showed in the video?

    • This is hard to answer, because I’m not 100% clear what you mean. As a rule, you should never “cross under”, so it sounds like you may be doing something not recommended (“left hand under”). Unless you have guidance from a live teacher, I would recommend sticking with my prescribed technique. – Mr. Hoffman

  11. Thank you so much for the lessons! Our family is very thankful appreciative of your generosity and dedication.
    The Bassett Family

  12. Hi Mr. Hoffman:

    Thank you for your fun and effective teaching! You are a professional and have put much time and effort into this work. Please add a donate button to the website or other way for us to help support your endeavors, offset costs, and bless you. I have been spreading the word. Our 4 children from 10yo – 5yo enjoy your lessons and have taken interest in the piano. Thanks for making learning fun yet encouraging the students to persevere and practice.

    Dr. Gary Greve

  13. Hello. I have used your lessons to teach my beginner students, they love it and have so much fun with it. I am really pleased to see how nice is your website now!
    I just wanted to thank you for uploading these videos. Wish you all the best!

  14. Mr.Hoffman, your online piano lessons are helping me very much. These first few piano lessons are coming very easy to be because I am familiar with playing percussion in band for the last two years for 5th and 6th grade. I have not been playing for band anymore because my parents have decided to home-school. Though I have insisted to take all twenty lessons because there could have been something new I could have learned. Thank you very much for this website. It has been very helpful to be.

  15. im a new beginner but i have no piano yet but ive made notes and practiced on an app called music lite and real piano.btw thx so much your really helping!

  16. i have a question and that question is where did you get that piano and how much did it cost because my piano only has 22 white keys and 15 black keys please email me as soon as you read this comment BTW you are the best piano teacher ever im getting a guitar do you teach guitar

    • The best advice we can give is to stick with it, and not give up! You can always go back to the first lessons and practice on those a bit more before continuing on to the next lesson. We wish you the best of luck!

    • There is now a donate button! You can find it in the upper right, next to the lesson video view area. Thanks for your support! – Mr. Hoffman

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