Playing The Piano Using Chord Symbols Instead of Being Tied To The Written Sheet Music

 

Piano improvising and arranging is an art but definitely not a science. There aren't any steadfast rules for creating an arrangement, nothing to dictate the limitless potential of your imagination. Musicians learn to arrange by simply arranging – and improvise by improvising -- over and over again. It's a big game of trial and error. But it’s also a scientific method: you keep the experiments that work, and abandon those that don’t work.

That being said, there are a few things that can help you in the knowledge of piano improvization. Don't think of these as rules, but rather points on a roadmap guiding you through the vast world of arrangement and improvisation possibilities.

- The first step, of course, is to learn as much as you can about chords and how they work. Once you get a handle on piano chords and the chord symbols that represent them, you can then learn how to break those chords up in various patterns.

- Learn several different chording patterns, such as open voicing, arpeggios, upward inversions, western bass, Alberti bass, swing bass or boogie bass. This course guides you through these techniques, in addition to others, and teaches you to understand when they're the most appropriate.

- Learn some right hand fillers, like octaves (and the multitude of harmonic possibilities associated with octaves), tremelos, grace notes, twangs, runs, and turnarounds. Again, this course teaches you these fills and several others.

- Study pre-arranged sheet music. Your local music shop will have tons of music books containing several arrangements; read and play through these in detail. Seeing what other people have done with various pieces of music will help you understand the art of arrangement and also introduce you to new techniques!

- Dig into different musical styles, like ragtime, blues or country-western. Pick up some compilation CDs focusing on a particular style of music or purchase some sheet music specializing in the style. Understanding the fundamental elements of various styles will help you learn to arrange any song in that particular style -- or just add a few stylized elements to any arrangement.

- Jump online and type in “chord piano” or “piano chords” into your search browser, and you will come up with a zillion choices where you can learn all you need to know about chords in a reasonably short time. It’s not rocket science, and once you learn a few piano chords, you probably will become addicted to chords and their application to your piano playing.

Duane Shinn is the author of over 500 music books and products such as DVD's, CD's, musical games for kids, chord charts, musical software, and piano lesson instructional courses for adults. He holds advanced degrees from Southern Oregon University and was the founder of Piano University in Southern Oregon. He can be reached at http://www.chordpiano.com. He is the author of the popular free 101-week e-mail newsletter titled "Amazing Secrets Of Exciting Piano Chords & Sizzling Piano Chord Progressions" with over 56,650 current subscribers. Those interested may obtain a free subscription by going to http://www.playpiano.com.

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Chord Symbols in Sheet Music 

     Duane is a graduate of Southern Oregon University in Ashland, Oregon with a BS & Masters Degree in Humanities (Music & English literature - a double major) and he is known as "the pianoman" -- the author of over 500 books, CD's and DVD's having to do with all aspects of piano playing. But degrees and education means nothing without the ability to teach so that the student can UNDERSTAND and then APPLY what he or she understands. Take one course and you'll immediately see for yourself why Duane's DVD and CD courses are "one of a kind" -- they actually get you UNDERSTANDING music and then show you -- clearly and plainly -- how to APPLY what you learn to your piano!

    

     He has worked with many doctors and professional people who otherwise wouldn't be able to attend a scheduled lesson in a studio, because they can do it on their own time. He also works with church pianists and music directors to help them hone their skills, as well as beginners that don't know Middle C from Tweedle Dee, and everyone in-between.