LESSON 3 Piano Posture & Engine, Engine

What you'll learn

Correct posture for playing the piano
Correct hand, arm and finger shape
How to play Engine, Engine


Engine, Engine number nine,
Going down Chicago line.
If the train falls off the track,
will I get my money back?
Yes, no, maybe so.
Ch, ch, ch, ch.

Casio Privia

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

View on Amazon


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103 Responses

  1. his video doesn’t work on my computer, the operating system is windows 10 and I have tried it on Youtube as well, I am using Google’s browser ‘Chrome’

    • I’m sorry to hear you’re having trouble viewing our videos! You mentioned trying them on YouTube as well – did they work there? Are you able to view YouTube videos from other channels? Our videos are served through YouTube, so if their service is blocked, then I’m afraid you will need to find a network that allows their video streaming through to watch our lessons. If you continue to have difficulties, please feel free to send a message through our contact form!

    I have been looking for free online piano lessons for forever, and I finally found them!!! I love your lessons and I find them very helpfull and good paced for my learning.

    • You are very welcome! I’m delighted to hear that you are enjoying our lessons so much. Good luck and happy playing!

  3. I homeschool my 5 year old daughter and we started doing your piano lessons today. I wish you could have seen the look on her face when she played Hot Cross Buns. :) Thank you so much for doing this, it is invaluable to us. And she thinks your jokes at the end are hilarious!

  4. Hi, I’m a teen just starting to learn to play the piano. I have a 61 key standing up keyboard, and I was wondering what the correct posture would be for it? Because I’m standing, my arms and wrists may not be positioned exactly as mentioned in the video, so I’d appreciate knowing the correct posture. Thanks.

    • Great question! I’m actually not sure what the implications would be for standing up while you play, as that is something I’ve not really tried much. I guess I would say that it’s important that you feel relaxed and that you’re not introducing tension because of how you’re standing or holding your arms and wrists. When sitting at a piano, your forearm should be as close to level as possible, parallel to the floor, but I suppose when you’re standing that may not quite work. I would say you’ll just need to experiment to figure out what feels good. Also, you may consider trying to adjust your keyboard to a height where you could play sitting down. I’m not sure if that’s possible or not. I wish I could help you out more! Good luck! – Mr. Hoffman

        • It can be tricky to get the hang of correct finger shape in piano posture, so here are two tips for you:
          1. Be patient: It takes some time for it to come naturally, so don’t worry if it takes a lot of attention for a while. Just keep reminding yourself and trying again.
          2. Relax: In our effort to get our finger posture just right, there’s also a temptation to get nervous and tense. Instead, your fingers and hands should be relaxed and flexible.
          I hope that helps! – Mr. Hoffman

    • Thank you, too! I’m delighted to hear that you are using my method with your students. Good luck to you! – Mr. Hoffman

  5. My dad has played the piano since he was little. He has lost his touch just a little bit and I want to show him up. MAHAHAHA

  6. I love your lessons. They are a great way for a beginner to get a nice start. First I thought there was so little to piano. (I only knew the c major scale on piano and how to read off of a music sheet.) I now know there is so much more to learn. Thank you.

  7. Thank you Joseph Hoffman! I thought posture was just a useless thing to learn in the music curriculum but actually it was very important because you convinced me so that I would practice posture to help me become a good musician. Bye!

  8. Dear Joseph,
    Your lessons are divine, they are helping my 7 year old develop a passion for piano in the comfort of our home and I am learning with him after 40 years of having it on my to do list. THANK YOU. As an ESL teacher I have found your ability to simply break down the steps and make it entertaining and fun for all ages across the globe brilliant. Please keep them up. Our budget doesn’t allow for us to pay for lessons at the moment but as soon as we have any spare we are wanting to further develop our piano skills and give further life to the stunning and well loved 110 year old piano we recently acquired.
    You are an inspiration to many.

    Connie & Jonte

  9. Hi MR.Hoffman I want to know that every time we play the piano we are not suppose to feel tension at all.Even when we play different piano styles.

    • Avoiding tension does help your body stay healthy when you spend time at the piano every day. Also, practicing good piano posture and staying relaxed as you play will make it easier for you to move comfortably as you play up and down the keyboard no matter what genre of music you are playing. Good luck! – Mr. Hoffman

  10. Hi Mr.Hoffman.I’ve been curious about lesson one.In lesson one you said the three black keys for Hot,Cross,Buns in sofagio is do re me.i thought it was fi,si,li.

    • That’s a great question. What you are referring to is a system called Fixed Do, where the solfege names always refer to one specific tone. My method uses a version of solfege called Movable Do, which allows Do to be the tonic of the key signature you are using at any given time. – Mr. Hoffman

    • Starting with a keyboard is just fine, but since you don’t have a bench you may need to do some adjusting to sit up to your keyboard with good piano posture. You’ll want to boost yourself high enough that your arms can relax parallel to the floor when your fingers are on the keys. Good luck! – Mr. Hoffman

  11. You are great at what you do. I used to play when I was 9 or 10. Since then I haven’t played the piano and now I am 12. I hope that this would help me get back on my feet and make me better at the piano.

  12. Dear Mr. Hoffman, you are a genius. There are very few like you in the world who share their knowledge for free. Your lessons are wonderful and your method of teaching is awesome. I thank you so much for making them available to us freely. Your piano looks awesome!!!

  13. We are using this program in our homeschool and we are absolutey loving it! The lessons are short and easy and sequential, and the kids love the funny little puppets at the end. Thank you so much to Hoffman Academy.

  14. I am also a bit older (19) , and even though some lessons are more for a younger crowd, I want to thank you, so , so much for this website, Really, and how much you believe in your students is amazing.

  15. Thank you so much Mr Hoffman! Im in awe of what you do! My friend does piano at someones house buts its VERY expensive! Having this oppurtunity is amazing! Thanks again!

  16. Thanks Mr. Hoffman! The only thing is that I have long nails and my fingers keep slipping off the black notes. You’re a really great teacher, though!

    • Hi Alina, thanks for your question. I don’t mention this in the lesson, but I highly recommend short nails for piano playing. Long nails will make it harder to play with the correct finger shape, as they will end up tapping on the keys, and slipping around as you have noticed. The only way to avoid that is to play with flat fingers, which is not ideal posture, or to trim the nails. Sorry if you love your long nails! Thanks for watching and learning with me! ~Mr. Hoffman

  17. My 8 year old is so excited, she did the first 3 lessons and doesn’t want to stop! Thank you so much for this awesome opportunity and you are definitely a great teacher!!

    • It is never, ever too late to learn something you really want to learn. Please give it a try. With patience, persistence, and practice you will do great! Let me know how it goes! ~Mr. Hoffman

  18. I wanted some practice note’s and i think you would help me in that Mr Hoffman, also i want some tip’s that would allow me to read the sheet music more easier and as always thank you for your lesson’s. :)

  19. I am loving these lessons. I used to play piano when I was younger but I stopped and completely forgot how to play. These lessons make it so easy to learn.

  20. I have only just looked at the first lesson and it is great please try these lessons am using them on my 3year old and 6 year old, amazing pedagogy.

  21. Amazing, perfect teaching! Everything is clear and easy!
    I watch your lesson and teach my 5 year son. Your lessons are my inspiration.
    How do you do that?! :-)

    I really appreciate your lessons! Thank you Mr. Hoffman!
    Joanna, Poland

    • This is for all ages, so there is a chance that the viewer doesn’t quite know what posture is. I thus consider the cereal thing nearly necessary, and probably much appreciated by younger children.

    • I agree with Kai, Olivia. Also, even for those who know what posture means, it’s helpful to understand that correct piano playing posture isn’t just something that was arbitrarily agreed upon by an association of old music teachers back in the day. Like they decided on a certain standard to strictly impose on all future piano students–a rule they thought up to make life difficult for anyone taking piano lessons.

      No, good posture in piano playing makes sense–it enables the (budding) pianist to accomplish his/her goal most efficiently; that is make the most beautiful music possible in a way that is least physically taxing. And this point is best made by using a simple common activity we take for granted like eating cereal. Mr. Hoffman effectively makes the point by showing how trying to eat a bowl of cereal in awkward positions doesn’t make sense. (Not not only does it create discomfort for the one eating, but it makes a mess of a job–there is sure to be cereal spilling here and there, and I doubt the eater would digest that meal very well!) So why try playing piano in a sloppy manner and not care about proper hand and finger shape, arm and wrist position, etc.?

      Thus like any excellent teacher, Mr. Hoffman uses something familiar (eating cereal) to teach the unfamiliar (necessity of good posture in playing). I’ve watched a couple of videos already and he doesn’t waste words!

  22. Hello Mr. Hoffman! Thanx a lot for these online classes. They are gr8. Its so easy to teach my 6yrs old daughter. Actually, I am learning too. Thankyou so much.

  23. I have a question about the wrist movement while playing. As you mentioned in class, the wrist should be like “V” and up and down when we are playing a note? I am not sure i understand this. Some of my friends told me the wrist should be relaxed. Some told me the wrist should be flat, not up and down. So i am confused at this moment and my wrists are getting hurts by this “V” posture. Could you explain it in more details? BTW, the lessons are great, thanks for offering these to us!

    • Hi Emmy, Great question! First of all, please don’t ever continue doing something that causes pain while playing. Pain during piano practice is a clear sign that something is not right. I don’t recall ever saying that your wrist should be in a “V” shape in my lessons. In general, the wrist should be flat/level and relaxed. To help the wrist remain relaxed while playing, I encourage students to allow the wrist to comfortably drop and float up while playing, but most of the time the wrist is level. And, as mentioned, the wrist should always feel relaxed, loose, and flexible. I hope this helps! -Mr. Hoffman

      • Thanks for your reply! “I encourage students to allow the wrist to comfortably drop and float up while playing” you mean the wrist drop naturally and rather than push it down right? i thought i made mistake and push my wrist up and down intentionally. Thanks

  24. We really appreciate these excellent lessons! Thanks for a great (free!) homeschool music resource! The quality of the videos is amazing and your style of teaching is perfect for my kiddos!

  25. At nearly 66 and after retiring I decided to learn to play the piano. I am just starting out on your very well laid out course of lessons. Thank you very much.

  26. Hello,

    I really like and appreciate your idea of teaching piano online. It’s awesome and very helpful. I want to get all the songs that you have taught. Can you tell me how and where can I find them all together?

  27. This was very helpful!! I really did need help on my posture. By the way, When I was typing this comment, a question came to mind, If I’m able to play piano, does that mean I can type fast like adults and some kids?

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