Allcanplay Piano!

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Hi, my name is A.C. Player, and I'll be your guide to making beautiful music on the piano! To get you playing songs more quickly, we'll use my AllcanplayTM play-by-picture system, which shows you exactly which keys to press without reading music! Then we'll cover chords, how to play by ear, and how to read music. You'll learn to play simpler songs from sheet music and convert harder songs to Allcanplay. After some practical music theory, I'll show you improvisation techniques that will enliven any song. We'll have loads of musical fun while keeping our fingers limber and our brains stretched!

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Welcome to Allcanplay!
I'm eager to introduce you to Allcanplay, how it compares to standard notation, and how it can help you make music with a variety of techniques. You'll also learn why I wear an athletic headband!

3 pages

7:42 min
Piano Basics
Pros and cons of acoustic vs. digital pianos, how to sit at the piano, hand and fingering tips and traps.

3 pages
Keyboard Navigation
Importance of black keys, up vs. down, names of keys including sharps and flats, finding Middle C, counting octaves, octave shading.

4 pages
Rainbow Keyboard
Since all octaves look alike, imagining each octave as a rainbow color can help you know where you’re at and make it much less likely you’ll play in the wrong octave. To “rainbowize” your keyboard, print out & attach the colored strips!

2 pages

3:30 min
Allcanplay Symbols
These special Allcanplay notation symbols will ease and speed your learning: Spans, Pinches, & Ties. Anchors, Parallels, & Backstops. Arpeggios, Pivots, & Crossings. Ghosts & Tips.

3 pages
Gain flexibility and coordination by playing a variety of basic patterns that you'll encounter in future songs. You'll start by playing individual fingers One Hand at a time then progress to the challenge of playing Both Hands together. Finally, you'll learn to play groups of keys together in Fixed Hand warmups, including keys an octave apart.

6 pages
One Hand
3:28 min

Both Hands
3:04 min

Fixed Hand
5:23 min
This catchy French-Canadian folk song has both hands in 5-finger position so you never have to move them. Played mostly with the right hand, both hands join in at the end for some "parallel motion."

1 page

Audio - 27 sec

4:58 min
Practice & The Piano Paradox
Practice and repetition are necessities, but there are smarter ways to practice that can reduce learning time. Learn about your two types of memory and the Piano Paradox: Slow Practice = Rapid Progress!

3 pages
Originally a slow funeral dirge, "The Saints" was transformed into a lively jazz number. It's said to be the tune most requested of Dixieland bands. 5-finger positioning throughout makes this version a snap to play.

1 page

Audio - 21 sec

6:58 min
Piano & Math
Research shows that piano training enhances math ability. An ideal learning combination would include both math and piano!

1 page
This famous song is from Beethoven's 9th Symphony, his last. If you don't know it by name, you'll likely know it when you hear it. A section that repeats 3 times and 5-finger position throughout make for quick learning.

1 page

Audio - 33 sec

11:39 min
Motivation & Performance Anxiety
What is it about music that makes you want to make it yourself? Whom should you play for? Why is it you play a song perfectly when you're alone yet make a mistake as soon as someone walks in the room? How to play more confidently.

4 pages
Sight Reading
The more you learn to play without looking at your hands, the better you can focus on the written music and not lose your place. Techniques include feeling keys, pinching fingers, and reaching intervals.

3 pages
This lively ditty is typically played by children using both pointer fingers. But as a fun way to practice, you'll play it with alternating hands.

1 page

Audio - 36 sec
Chords are groups of keys, usually played with the left hand to add harmony to the melody of a song. We'll start with the 12 major chords and ways to play them: blocked, broken, arpeggio, inverted, etc.

4 pages
Chord Variations
Using simple rules, each major chord can be converted into dozens of variations (minor, 7th, etc.) that set song moods (sadness, tension, etc.).

3 pages
Chord Constructor Chart
Print and laminate this chart for use with a dry-erase pen to build dozens of chord types using simple pattern rules.

1 page
This dynamic riff is played with the left hand repeating a basic 12-bar blues pattern over 3 major chords: C, F, & G. The rhythm is energizing when played in Block style or with a Grace-Note variation.

1 page

Block audio - 13 sec

Grace audio - 10 sec
The sustain pedal smoothes out the gaps in sound that occur when you move your hands from one set of keys to the next. Pedaling adds a professional touch that will set your playing apart.

3 pages
This well-known anthem has you using and moving both hands, which requires good finger coordination and lots of practice. But its stirring melody and rich chord harmonies are a joy to play and hear.

1 page

Audio - 47 sec
Arpeggios & Climbs
A great way to learn chords is to arpeggiate (like a harp) them up and down over several octaves. Crossing hands and "spotting" keys is great fun. Climbing Chords add grandeur and flair.

3 pages
Print this songsheet to use for the following lessons:
* Playing By Ear
* Fingering

1 page
Playing By Ear
Most people assume that playing by ear is an inborn skill. But if you can hear a wrong note in a song, you can play by ear. You'll pick out the Happy Birthday melody with the right hand, then add harmony using chords in the left hand.

5 pages
Since fingers develop muscle memory, it's important to use the same fingers each time you play a song. You'll learn various techniques then assign fingering to Happy Birthday (which you picked out in the Playing By Ear lesson) as well as one possible chord arrangement.

5 pages
Nearly everyone recognizes this famous Beethoven tune, even if not by name. In this abbreviated version, only one hand plays at a time, yet it sounds deceptively complex.

1 page

Audio - 13 sec
Reading Music
Standard notation is the universal language of music. Knowing how to read it opens a whole world of songs to you. We'll see why it's such a challenge to learn and explore ways to enhance your reading ability.

12 pages
Converting Songs to Allcanplay
If there's a song you're longing to play but the sheet music is beyond your current note-reading ability, use the included guides to convert it to Allcanplay pictures. You'll become a better note reader in the process.

11 pages
Traditionally played with a partner, this bouncy tune will challenge your left/right-hand coordination and timing. Duet fingering appears on page 2. This is the song that made me want to learn piano when I first heard two classmates play it in grade school!

2 pages

Audio - 16 sec
Practical Music Theory
Apply music theory to practical uses. Build scales, intervals, and chords. Find the Key of a song. Develop chord progressions. Apply the features of the Circle of Fifths.

18 pages
Transposer Chart
Print and laminate this chart for use with a dry-erase pen to aid in transposing chord progressions and notes.

2 pages
88 & 5th Chart
Print and laminate this chart for use with a dry-erase pen to build scales, intervals, and chords, develop chord progressions, and transpose songs.

2 pages
Improvisation Techniques
Enhance or modify the songs you already know by transposing keys and chords, shifting octaves, adding intervals, inserting grace notes, crushes, and mordents, styling and substituting chords, and experimenting with arpeggio patterns.

10 pages
This classic composed by Claude Debussy in 1890 is technically challenging, spanning 6 octaves over 72 measures and 2 Keys. It takes 5+ minutes to play, but if you love the song, it's worth the effort.

Use these blank keyboard sheets to mark keys as you pick out songs by ear or convert sheet music to Allcanplay. Use a song's Hi/Lo notes to determine the appropriate keyboard sheets to print.
Yellow C3 to Blue E5
3 columns / 68 keyboards
Orange C2 to Blue B5
2 columns / 45 keyboards
Low A0 to High C8
1 column / 22 keyboards

2½ octaves

4 octaves

For songs that occasionally exceed the octave span, use the "+/- Octaves" symbol notation (See Allcanplay Symbols).

88 keys

To minimize pages for wide-span songs, electronically snip or physically print, cut, and paste the needed octave spans together on a page (See Clair de Lune).
Vintage Allcanplay Songs

Here are over 50 of the originally published Allcanplay songs for your playing enjoyment.

Allcanplay notation has evolved since its introduction in 1983:

* Instead of Rainbow shading with numbered octaves, it used a single color (red, blue, or gray) on either side of the unshaded Middle C octave. Middle C itself (C4) was marked with a wedge.

* Instead of individual finger letters, it used X's for the left hand and Dots for the right hand. (If desired, see the Fingering lesson and pencil in your preferred fingering above the X's and Dots.)

* Mimicking Standard Notation, instead of Ties ending in a dash, they ended in another X or Dot. Only play the first X or Dot and let go on the second.

* Songs have been reduced from their original 9x12" Music Book size to standard 8.5x11" Letter size so they can be printed on a standard printer or viewed on a tablet computer at your piano.
* Row, Row, Row Your Boat
* Oh Dear, What Can The Matter Be?
* Did You Ever See A Lassie?
* For He's a Jolly Good Fellow!
* Auld Lang Syne


 * We Wish You A Merry Christmas
* Joy To The World
* O Christmas Tree
* Away In A Manger
* Silent Night
* The First Noel
* Jingle Bells
* Angels We Have Heard On High
* Oh Little Town Of Bethlehem
* O Come All Ye Faithful
* God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen
* Deck The Halls


* Swing Low Sweet Chariot
* The Sidewalks of New York
* When Johnny Comes Marching Home
* She'll Be Comin' 'Round The Mountain
* Greensleeves
* While Strolling Through The Park One Day
* He's Got The Whole World In His Hands
* My Country 'Tis Of Thee
* On Top Of Old Smoky
* Kum Ba Ya
* Home On The Range
* House Of The Rising Sun
* Amazing Grace
* Drink To Me Only With Thine Eyes
* Michael (Row The Boat Ashore)
* Oh My Darling, Clementine
* Battle Hymn Of The Republic


* Take Me Home, Country Roads
* Annie's Song
* Sunshine On My Shoulders
* Leaving On A Jet Plane
* Fly Away
* Rocky Mountain High

* Ticket To Ride
* Yesterday
* All My Loving
* Eleanor Rigby
* Let It Be
* The Long And Winding Road

* Lady
* Crazy
* Love Will Turn You Around
* Love Or Something Like It
* She Believes In Me
* What About Me?

User Contributions
If you convert a favorite song to Allcanplay and would like to share it with fellow players, please scan and email it to

Follow the steps in the "Converting Songs to Allcanplay" lesson using small x's for the left hand and tiny dots for the right hand as placeholders. Then if desired, follow the "Fingering" Lesson to pencil in finger letters. Trace over the left hand letters in black ink and the right hand letters in red ink.
Song - Converted By

* Song - Convertor Name

Song - Convertor Name
Evolution of Allcanplay
Learn how Allcanplay came to be and how it has evolved over nearly 40 years. Why are keyboard diagrams stacked in columns instead of left to right? Why is "and" included with each musical beat? Why are finger letters used instead of numbers? How do arpeggio arrows and rainbow shading improve accuracy while saving space? What is the future of Allcanplay?

7 pages

Allcanplay on TV!
September 1985 * San Diego, California

Channel 8 News

3.5 min

Channel 10 News
2 min


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                                                    MaxLearning.Net * San Diego, CA