piano lessons online



Welcome to Musicarta, a collection of piano lessons online and creative keyboard tips and techniques! Where young keyboard players and adult re-starters, songwriters, budding composers and students will find FREE piano lessons online, creative ideas for home study, music theory work-outs and a wealth of starting points for keyboard improvisation. Welcome to Musicarta’s piano lessons online!

What's Musicarta about?

Musicarta offers a structured and creative home-study approach to popular music performance styles and harmony. 

For many people – adults with busy lives, young or semi-pro musicians wanting to up their game and anybody living far away from possible teachers, organising your own learning is the only alternative.

Musicarta is here to help you succeed – and have a great time doing so!

Site content and navigation

“Just wanted to thank you for this rich and beautiful website! It’s so hard to find good, accessible online help and your site is perfect for me. Thank you!”
Norbert, Warsaw, Poland

Musicarta has more than one hundred web pages packed with learning material and creative ideas. To help you navigate the site and find the material you need to progress as a musician, the contents are grouped on the main left hand navigation bar (navbar) as follows.

First come the sample-and-sales home pages for the three major Musicarta digital home study downloads (Pyramids, Canon, Key Chords).

Next come the other extended study series – the Modes, Pentatonic Scales, Blues and 12-bar and Beat and Rhythm material.

Below these come the home pages for the Chords and Scales material, then some featured theory pages (Suspensions, Transposing).

(Note that all series and category home pages have further navigation in the right hand column.)

Then come the performance material pages for ‘Mariaan’ and the other Musicarta solos (tab/page to make – ‘Mariaan’, Southern Comfort et al), and looks at some other popular and easy keyboard styles.

Below these are the various Musicarta ‘assets’ pages, and finally the admin tabs.

The Musicarta home-study digital downloads

Musicarta’s first-choice recommendation for getting your programme underway would be one of the three major Musicarta digital home-study downloads: The Pyramids Variations, the Canon Project, and Musicarta Key Chords Vol. 1.

These easy-to-use study packs contain:

  • An illustration and music-rich PDF work-book;
  • The audio and MIDI files for the musical examples;
  • The MidiPiano virtual keyboard application (Windows OS); and
  • Play-along backing and drum tracks, coaching videos and other useful resources (see download home pages for exact specs).

Here are snapshots of the three downloads, with ‘Learn more’ links through to the try-before-you-buy sales and sample content pages.

 The Pyramids Variations

“I started an internet piano course about a year ago, but playing ‘Rain, Rain, Go Away’ is no fun for a man of 65. Your Pyramids Variations is different. I can practice until I’m tired and still enjoy it, and I hum it all day instead of old folk tunes. So, thanks!”
Gideon, Netanya, Israel

The Musicarta Pyramids Variations aims to exceed expectations by coaching beginners and re-starters to an impressive ‘Concert Performance’ (watch the YouTube video) in just eight lessons, with key aspects of music theory explained along the way.

The performances are all based on a simple hand position and the Pyramids Variations work-book is packed with illustrations, so you don’t have to read music to make swift progress. The digital download also has audio and MIDI performances to copy.

After that, you learn a set of variations which show how a creative contemporary keyboard player can play a chord sequence in any number of ways. The Pyramids Variations offers a great entry-level introduction to the pleasures of “messing around with chords!”

Watch a sample Pyramids variation on YouTube.

Pyramids Variations cover
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 'Build' - a new way to learn

Traditional piano teaching usually works through pieces from the start to the finish – so you can really only ‘play’ a piece when you’ve got to the end. The Musicarta home-study material is structured differently, and builds from simple ‘stepping-stone’ performances to advanced final versions.

Listen to these three Pyramids Variations performances to hear how they develop the same basic music from simple to advanced.

Practising can easily become a rod for your own back, but with Musicarta’s ‘build’ architecture, you always have the satisfaction of a performance you can be proud of – and encouragement to press on further.

 The Canon Project

“Thanks for a great site! I’ve been working through the Canon Project at my own pace. The material is superb and I appreciate the obvious time and skill you’ve brought to it.”
David, Ardross, Australia.

Pachelbel’s Canon in D is perhaps the most famous chord sequence of all time, and its regular chord sequence makes it the ideal place to start learning about harmony, how to play a chord sequence, melody writing and improvisation.

Orchestral backing tracks are included in the download to support your performance and improvisations and make your sessions at the keyboard a real pleasure. The first two audio samples below are of a learner practising musical elements over the backing tracks, and a fuller performance.

The Canon chord sequence forms the basis of numerous other pieces of popular music too, and you’ll be able to apply what you learn in the Canon Project modules to lots of other chord sequences going forward. In fact, if you can play and understand the Canon chord sequence, there isn’t much in popular music harmony you won’t be able to figure out! The third audio sample above shows a possible modern treatment of the Canon chord sequence.

The Canon Project also provides an excellent opportunity to develop your musical ear. With practice – and the Canon Project coaching material – you’ll find yourself being able to tell just by listening what chords are being used in lots of mainstream popular music.

Watch an improvisation on the Canon chord sequence.

Canon Project cover
Get the download
for only $14.95
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 Musicarta Key Chords Vol.1

Most of the music we hear is built on just four of the chords in that particular piece’s own key. Guitarists regularly learn these chord families as a matter of course, and seem to be strumming along with the pop classics in no time at all. Musicarta Key Chords Vol.1 aims to make it just as easy for keyboard players.

“Thank-you for your excellent website. I found your website good for me and other people who don’t like music theory. It has increased my self-confidence and now I play from sheet music, which always used to scare me.”
Mohammad, Tehran, Iran

Key Chords builds your chord vocabulary by progressively introducing these chords – the tonic, subdominant, dominant and relative minor (I, IV, V and vi) – and practising changing between them in contemporary riffs, with easy step-by-step rhythmic build-up of impressive keyboard syncopation. Drum backing tracks are included to help keep the notes coming.

Here are the exercises for the first two pairs of chords and the first three chords combined. Only a methodical approach like this will give you true creative skill, way beyond copying this riff or that one!

Musicarta Key Chords will show you which chords go together – and how to learn them. As you build real hands-on familiarity with the key chord families, you’ll find you start hearing which chords are being used in pop hits, and able to play by ear with increasing confidence.

Watch a sample of the Key Chords material.

Key Chords Vol.1
Get the download
for only $14.95
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These three projects all have extensive free-to-view sample content on Musicarta. Click through to the title home pages using the ‘Learn more’ links to decide which project is best for you to start with.


“Thanks for ‘Mariaan’. I'm on page 12 already - sounds lovely. My Missus agrees - says it's a lot better than listening to me plonking out ‘Michael Row The Boat Ashore’ and ‘That's Amazing, Grace’ ;-)”
Bobby, South Africa

The three major Musicarta study downloads have recently been joined by ‘Mariaan’, a beautiful teach-yourself piano solo.

Playing a melody plus its own full, satisfying chord accompaniment is THE benchmark achievement for the modern-styles keyboard player. ‘Mariaan’ builds just such a performance, step by step, and provides a great foundation for mastering solo chord-plus-melody contemporary keyboard technique.

Here's a typical 'stepping stone' performance - just one chorus of the chord accompaniment only, with the tune whistled over it. ('Mariaan' comes complete with lead sheets for your soloist!)

This home-study download is designed to fast-track a lovely piano solo into your repertoire, and with its many ‘stepping stone’ performances, it’s guaranteed to expand your creative horizons every time you sit down to play!

Watch the final ‘Mariaan’ performance on YouTube.

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for only $9.95
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Musicarta - with MIDI support

“I’m a beginner of one year and at 56 I’d rather play Pink Floyd than Bach. I’d been looking for some scale fingering information for pentatonic scales for ages and found your site this morning. From what I've seen so far, I think I've found a treasure. Thank-you for making this music education accessible – and free!”
John, Montreal, Canada

MIDI files are computer-coded music files. They can be played in many computer music applications. (Your computer media player will probably play them as very basic audio files.)

Most Musicarta learning material has accompanying MIDI files, and to make the quickest possible progress, Musicarta strongly recommends that you install and learn to use the FREE ‘MidiPiano’ virtual piano. (MidiPiano is included in all Musicarta Publications home-study downloads.)

MidiPiano is simple to use, and shows the music in the MIDI file being performed on a virtual piano keyboard and scrolling past in a ‘piano roll’ pane as it plays, turning every Musicarta MIDI file into a mini how-to video, so you can see-and-hear what to play. This helps learners who don’t read music well to make good progress – and helps note-bound classical musicians to start ‘seeing the music in the keyboard’!

Here’s a demo:

This text you don’t see

MIDI files are tiny so there’s no delay waiting for MIDI files to load or buffer. Musicarta strongly recommends you take the time to install and learn to use MidiPiano – it will quickly prove an invaluable addition to your learning resources.

Here’s a direct link to the preferred download site. (The download folder is only just over one megabyte.) Full instructions and alternative MidiPiano download locations can be found on the site MidiPiano page.

Musicarta offers free-to-download MIDI files for selected learning modules. Look out for on-page download links. Please note that MidiPiano is a Windows OS application –  Synthesia is a good Mac-compatible alternative.

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“Thanks for this material – it’s really easy to understand. I just wish I had a pdf file with all the material to print out to practice away from the large computer. Thanks again – please keep it free!”
Joan, Hjørring, Denmark

The modes offer the modern popular musician an interesting and productive alternative to conventional major/minor harmony. Many classic popular music chord sequences are drawn from the modal chord families, and the Musicarta Musical Modes series puts compelling modal chord changes under your fingertips in minutes.

Here are some typical modal sounds: Mixolydian two-chord set, Aeolian three-chord set and a minor-mode two-chord melodic improvisation.

Modal chord changes have traditionally provided great support for improvisers across many musical genres. An optional theoretical background module opens the series – but you can skip straight through to the riffs if you want.

Click through here to start getting to know your musical modes.

Pentatonic scales

The Pentatonics tab will take you through to Musicarta’s series of free lessons covering these wonderfully productive and easy-to-learn scales. Blues and heavy metal fiends and rock jammers will soon find that half their all-time favourite solos are built on the pentatonic scales, and find the knowledge and practice material they need to be playing right up there with their favourite musicians. Traditional folk music is almost all pentatonic, and New Age improvisers will find the music pouring out after a few sessions with the Musicarta pentatonic primer series.

Here are samples from the three E minor pentatonic riffs in Module Two of the series.

(The ‘mix’ is pretty tame – you could make a lot more noise!)

Click through here to sample the first pentatonic scales module.

Beat and Rhythm

Well-developed beat-and-rhythm skills are an essential ingredient of modern keyboard technique, and syncopated hand patterning can generate great riffs from the simplest material.

Don’t leave the development of your keyboard rhythm skills to trial and error – get started on Musicarta’s methodical Syncopation and Anticipation keyboard exercises, and put your inner drummer on a body-building diet with Musicarta’s series of graded tapping exercises.

Try the Musicarta YouTube
Snake Dance challenge!

Can you tap along to this two-
handed syncopation pattern?

Access these sessions via the Beat and Rhythm home page.

Blues and 12-bar

The 12-bar blues form, in its many guises, has practically universal appeal, and there’s hardly a pop/rock/jazz musician who can’t play along to some extent. With its simplicity of form and driving rhythm, the 12-bar is an ideal pop-rock musical training ground and a great warm-up for any combo music-making.

The Musicarta blues and 12-bar lesson series kicks off with a riff your sure to recognise straight away – play the first audio and see if you don’t!.

The music in the second audio clip is generated from the same notes, but re-arranged. Can you hear how it’s been done? Click through and find out!


 Musicarta for teachers

Classically trained musicians frequently admire the pop musician’s ability to play by ear or from lead sheets and improvise chord sequences and melodic lines – and today’s piano pupils are increasingly demanding more contemporary content in their lessons.

Mainstream classroom and instrumental music teachers will find a ready-made creative lesson component in the three major Musicarta study projects, while many of the site’s other pages will suggest lesson material and ways of making learning more enjoyable and effective.

Next come the the theory-in-practice tabs...

The Chord Finder home page

“Thanks! I have made the three copies of your ‘Visual Glossary’ for our organist and piano player to play chords with me when I play my guitar for service in church.”
Keith, Owosso, USA

The ‘Chords’ navbar tab will take you to Musicarta’s table-of-contents page for all learning material concerning chords, from a simple explanation about the difference between major and minor chords to an explanation and a drill for mastering sophisticated seventh chords.

There are links to Musicarta’s popular Keyboard Chord Generator, which helps you find the inversions of all major and minor triads at the keyboard, simple but effective keyboard drills for learning inversions and practicing broken chord patterns and a selection of keyboard accompaniment patterns – the notes you actually use the ‘play’ a chord.

Click through here to the access these free piano lessons online.

The Scales home page

There are two good reasons for learning and practicing the musical scales. One is to develop finger dexterity; the other is to learn the keys.

All musicians should practice playing up and down the notes of their instruments quickly and evenly. Scales offer a perfect answer to the ‘Which notes?’ question and simultaneously teach you the ‘look and feel’ of the advanced keys you need to know if you want to be a ‘real’ musician.

The Musicarta Scales page has solutions to take the pain out of learning scales (and keys) – and maximise your scale practice benefits.


You can really only say you know a chord sequence when you can transpose it. Similarly, if you want to really know a chord sequence – learn to play it in another key.

It’s generally agreed that transposing easily is the mark of a true musician – so the sooner you get started, the better! Transposing needn’t be as intimidating as all that, however, and MidiPiano proves an almost made-to-measure learning aid.


Suspensions – the pulling-out-of-place and releasing of chord tones – make chords more interesting, and are a great way of getting more mileage out of any chord sequences. You'll recognise the technique as soon as you hear it - play the practice riff audio below.

This focus page explains briefly how suspension-release works and hosts the teaching notes for the various Musicarta YouTube videos with suspensions as their main focus – and hopefully offers a wild-card introduction to the joys of  ‘messing around at the keyboard’ generally.

Here's a basic suspension-release practice riff.

Watch the suspension-release technique applied to some
Musicarta Key Chords material.

Musicarta piano solos and other artistes

This home page – and the whole Musicarta site – is peppered with click-to-play audio samples of solo piano performances you can learn to play with Musicarta. If you like what you’re hearing, you will find all the ‘how-to’ coaching you need, either free on-site or in the downloads.

More importantly, these piano solos are all pure examples of ‘messing around with chords’ in practice, and have been improvised out of the chord sequences explained and worked through in the Musicarta teaching material.

So, if you want to compose your own piano music, Musicarta’s methodical approach to keyboard creativity – the most accessible on the web – is right here at hand!

Browse the Mister Musicarta YouTube Solos playlist.

Enya’s easy piano style and haunting Celtic melodies are a gift to the ‘New Age’ piano soloist. Enya’s standard keyboard texture is easily grasped and a great off-the-shelf way to play any chord sequence. It’s also a great springboard into keyboard improvisation – see the many ‘Enya Studies’ videos on Mister Musicarta YouTube.

Here are a couple of audio tracks of improvisations that use Enya's easy keyboard texture. Good interlude music for your school play or home video...!

Jann Tiersen’s ‘Comptine’ has become a much-loved classic of its type. It’s within most players’ reach and offers many opportunities for variation and improvisation. Musicarta’s ‘Comptine’ improvisation mini-series shows you how to practice and master this little gem, which should have a permanent place in your repertoire.

Musicarta's Comptine improvisation mini-series is one of the many modules with accompanying free MIDI files to download, so you can see-and-hear the musical examples and improvisations playing on MidiPiano or your favourite MIDI application, and double your progress.

Why not watch one of the many YouTube ‘Comptine’ videos, download MidiPiano, download the Comptine mini-series MIDI files, open the Musicarta ‘Comptine’ improvisation page and get started right away?

Styles is a wildcard creativity challenge page - a score or so of begged and borrowed generic pop styles recordings. This is what pop-rock keyboard players do - how far can you get copying them? Musicarta wants you to be able to say “All the way!” and, with your 100% commitment, Musicarta can show you how!

Keeping it alive

Musicarta knows that keeping your musical development powered up and on track is a mission – and is organised to help you.

The site has an RSS feed (sign up here) which automatically delivers bulletins about site updates and occasional blog pieces. (Find out more about RSS.)

If you prefer, you can bookmark the Musicarta blog page and read the posts at your leisure.

The Musicarta News offers an occasional round-up of developments – plus discounts codes for the home study downloads. Sign up now!

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There are a few other ways of making sure you get the most out of your visits to Musicarta. You can search the site from any page using the Search tab. There’s an index facility on the Search page as well.

Mister Musicarta YouTube (see next section) also premieres new material regularly – subscribe to the channel to receive news of new postings.

Mister Musicarta YouTube

The Musicarta YouTube channel hosts over a hundred short teaching and performance videos, and is an important part of Musicarta’s educational material. Some of the videos are trailers for Musicarta home study downloads (arranged conveniently in playlists), and there are ‘Diary’ entries also – ongoing explorations of Pyramids and Canon Project material, for example, or the Enya Studies.

There are pure theory videos covering inversions and so on, pure performance videos like ‘Mariaan’ and ‘Southern Comfort’, and videos which illustrate certain chord sequences like 'I and vi in Three Places' or harmonic techniques like suspensions.

Spend a little time browsing the channel and ‘Subscribe’ to the channel to get automatic notice of new uploads. There’s a Musicarta YouTube links table in the web page right hand column site-wide, too, featuring recently uploaded videos and the playlists.

Musicarta assets pages

What’s New
  … is Musicarta’s blog page. This is where you can read the posts the site RSS feed tells you about;

 … is a list of compelling reasons to sign up for this occasional round-up of Musicarta news. Sign up now if you haven’t already!

  … talks you through downloading and installing this indispensable learning tool.

  … is the place to buy Musicarta digital home study downloads if you have complimentary discount code from the Musicarta newsletter. Sign up now!

  … hosts links to Musicarta’s free collection of how-to-read-music flashcards (also bundled with the home-study downloads);

  … is the HTML version of the live-linked PDF site-map you can download using this link or the one in the left hand column.

 … is a site-map navigation option for Mister Musicarta YouTube, and also conveniently shows you the full channel content at a glance;

 … is the tab for anything you’ve lost – and there’s an instant index-maker as well, if you want to look something up;

  … is Musicarta’s ultra-selective links page – musical glossaries, online music publications, sources of piano sheet music and a small selection of digital music resources;

  … is for you if you want to get famous and show off an arrangement of Musicarta material; and

  … is a collection of Musicarta’s musings on musical education.

So, welcome to Musicarta! Please stay and browse the pages via the links in the explanation paragraphs or using the navbar tabs on the left. Bookmark us and come back regularly to see what’s new – you’re sure to find something to get your creative juices flowing!

Thanks for studying with MUSICARTA!
- Come again soon! -




exciting keyboard
creativity study


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All the Musicarta
YouTube playlists
Canon Project
Key Chords
Easy Piano
Blues & 12-bar
Beat & Rhythm
Chords for Carl
Basic Music-
making Position
Enya Solos
Technical Exercises
Triads and Inversions