There are many songs that use 5 fingers at the piano. This is great news for beginners because it means that we can learn some of these songs quite easily. In this article we’ll look at a few of these songs and discuss how to play them. Have you ever heard musicians use the expression “play by ear”? Do you know what that means? It does not mean that we play the piano with our ears (haha), but it does mean that we rely on our listening skills. So we’ll also talk about some of the differences between reading music and playing by ear. Let’s get started!

Songs That Use 5 Fingers: Mary Had a Little Lamb

“Mary Had a Little Lamb” is a very popular nursery rhyme that is often sung. The melody of the song actually uses only 4 notes (but we’ll talk about where to place all 5 of our fingers). We are going to learn this song in the key of C major, which means that we’re going to use only white notes. Let’s start by placing our 5 right hand fingers on the notes C, D, E, F, and G beginning with our thumb on C.

Songs That Use 5 Fingers 1

Now we’ll play the following fingers:

3 – 2 – 1 – 2 – 3 – 3 – 3 – rest

2 – 2 – 2 – rest

3 – 5 – 5 – rest

3 – 2 – 1 – 2 – 3 – 3 – 3 – 3 – 2 – 2 – 3 – 2 – 1 – rest – rest – rest

Now play the song with your left hand. The left hand begins with the 5th finger (pinky) on C (which means that your thumb will end up on G). Although the left hand finger numbers will be different than your right hand, try to use your ear to hear which notes sound correct as you play. Using your ear to hear when notes sound right or wrong is what we mean when we say that we are “playing by ear.” We rely on our listening skills, not sheet music.

Songs That Use 5 Fingers: Jingle Bells

“Jingle Bells” is a popular Christmas song. Again, we’ll play this song with our right hand in C major using the same fingering that we used for “Mary Had a Little Lamb.”

Songs That Use 5 Fingers 1

Now we’ll play the following fingers:

3 – 3 – 3 – (rest), 3 – 3 – 3 – (rest), 3 – 5 – 1 – 2 – 3 – rest – rest – rest

4 – 4 – 4 – 4 – 4 – 3 – 3 – 3 – 3 – 2 – 2 – 3 – 2 – rest – 5 – rest

3 – 3 – 3 – (rest), 3 – 3 – 3 – (rest), 3 – 5 – 1 – 2 – 3 – rest – rest – rest

4 – 4 – 4 – 4 – 4 – 3 – 3 – 3 – 5 – 5 – 4 – 2 – 1 – rest – rest – rest

Using your left hand, try to play “Jingle Bells” using your ear to hear the proper notes, beginning with your 3rd finger on E.

Songs That Use 5 Fingers: Ode to Joy theme (Beethoven’s 9th Symphony)

“Ode to Joy” is a name given to Beethoven’s famous 9th Symphony. Using only 5 notes we can play the first part of this well-known melody. Again we will begin with our right hand only, and again we will use the same fingering as the songs above.

Songs That Use 5 Fingers 1

Now we’ll play the following fingers:

3 – 3 – 4 – 5 – 5 – 4 – 3 – 2 – 1 – 1 – 2 – 3 – 3 – 2 – 2 – rest

3 – 3 – 4 – 5 – 5 – 4 – 3 – 2 – 1 – 1 – 2 – 3 – 2 – 1 – 1 – rest

Using your left hand, practice playing “Ode to Joy” with your 3rd finger as the starting note on E.

Songs That Use 5 Fingers: Training Your Ear

Here’s a great way to practice training your ear to hear right notes and wrong notes without needing to read music. Now that you are familiar with the 3 songs presented above, go back and select a random starting note on the piano. Then, try to play each song beginning on the random note that you selected. Use your ear to help you find the right notes.