Archive for April, 2014


How To Improve Your Piano Playing Immediately!

Wednesday, April 30th, 2014
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Can you really improve your piano playing without practicing?

Here is a transcript of the video in case you might like to follow along:

Good morning. This is Duane and today I would like to talk about 3 ways that you can improve your piano playing right away without any practice. I know that sounds impossible, but stay with me here and I am going to show you 3 ways that you can really improve the results of your piano playing without doing any practice at all. These are techniques that you can use right now. This does not apply, by the way, to classical music. Some of it applied to classical, but not all. I am talking about playing pop music or jazz or gospel or whatever. Let’s say we are playing a song like “Fools Rush In.”

The first way is that you can play rubato. Rubato means free time. Robbed time, actually. You don’t have to keep a steady beat all the time, unless you are playing with a group, of course, but I assume that you are playing solo piano. No matter what song you are playing, you can speed up and slow down when it is appropriate. Let me illustrate that on “Fools Rush In.” You are going to keep a steady beat there. Did you hear me slow down there? I was playing a steady beat back here, but when I got to that center section, then I can go back to the steady beat. That doesn’t take any practice at all, it just takes a mind set to remind yourself that you are the captain of your ship. You can speed up and slow down. By doing that, you make it a lot more interesting.

The second way you can improve your piano right now is by using a contrast in dynamics. Most people play all one level. It’s like a speaker that talks at all one level. You don’t like speakers like that because they are very, very boring. You like speakers that get loud and get soft. They keep your interest better, so be sure and do that in your piano playing. For example, if you start out like this, you see, I played the first part loud, the second part I softened up quite a bit right away. You can do that throughout the song, as appropriate. Usually it is phrase by phrase, but it could be anywhere. Let me give you a little more example. That’s average. That was softer. That’s average. That’s a little louder. You hear a louder sound there, so you can get softer and louder. That makes your playing more interesting, too, doesn’t it? So far we have 2 ways. You can play rubato. You can speed up and slow down. You can play louder and you can play softer.

The third way to improve immediately is you can get higher and lower, can’t you? You don’t have to play everything in the center of the keyboard. I started out here. In the second phrase I might do this. In that last example, I combined all 3, didn’t I? I got higher, I got lower, I got louder, I got softer and I sped up and I slowed down.

3 simple ways that you can improve your piano playing right away. Just file those away in your memory bank and use them. That’s the key. You know how to do it, just use them. That will make your piano playing for interesting right away. It doesn’t take any practice at all. If you enjoy this kind of tips, come on over to play piano and sign up for our free piano tips. They are free. You’ll get something like this most every day, not every day, but most every day. It adds up over time when you have a few weeks or a few months or a year of tips, you have learned a lot of stuff, just random stuff, but it all mooshes together to make you a much better piano player. Thanks for being with me and we will see you soon. Bye bye for now.

Here is the YouTube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jeQKwCZv6Uw&feature=youtu.be
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Using Different Piano Arranging Techniques in “Satin Doll”

Tuesday, April 29th, 2014
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How many piano arranging techniques do you know?

Good morning. This is Duane. Today I’d like to talk about the variety of piano arranging techniques you can use in any given song. I’m going to take the old jazz standard, Satin Doll, and play it in a variety of ways, and we’ll talk about what we can do in both the right hand and the left hand. I think you’ll be surprise how many different styles we can use in the same song. You know the tune … That’s the whole theme of the song. That’s section A. It’s very easy, isn’t it. You could learn that melody in 3 minutes or maybe 4 you learn it. Okay. What I can do is I can play that in octaves … like that.

Or I can play it in thirds … Of course I could play the single finger … I could play it in chords, not just octaves and not just thirds but whole chords … In the bridge I could do a … Okay. So far we’ve used octaves, fill in, and notice when I fill in octave I fill in the names of the chord notes between … If a chord’s d minor 7th I fill in the notes of the d minor 7th chord. Often, just to get a … I don’t know. I kind of like the impetus of sliding off a black key now and then. Okay, in the left hand, right then I was playing the left hand in the rhythm of the right hand. You see the rhythm of the melody, but the first time I did this …

I’m playing steadily. Low note, chord, chord, chord. Low note, chord, chord, chord. Low note, chord, chord, chord. Low note, chord, chord, chord. Low note, chord, chord, chord. Low note, chord, chord, chord. Okay. All those are a viable way. We had 1, we had thirds, was 2. We had single finger. That’s 3. Chords, that’s 4, so at least 4 styles in the right hand that we could use.

In the left hand we’ve talked about playing in the rhythm of the melody. That’s better when you have a trio so that the bass keeps the beat for you and establishes that. Otherwise you don’t really have a steady beat in the left hand. That’s why most of the time people want to play a steady beat like so. Then when we come to the bride, if we’re playing the theme in octaves like that … Let’s say that we’re playing the key [inaudible 00:03:52]. I mean the theme … Then we come to the bridge we probably want to do something different …

Then back to whatever we were doing in the theme. In section A, I used the octaves [inaudible 00:04:30], but in section B I just used a single finger and little playful that. I left the melody for a minute, and I went like this … a blues scale in F. That’s what I did. That’s a possibility, too. Really I just wanted to illustrate how many different styles you can get into 1 song. Really I’ve just scratched the surface. I haven’t talked about any of the half step slides. Like it makes sense to do something like this. You set the table like that … or … When you have enough time you can come down and play the chord in both hands to set the table for the style that’s going to happen shortly.

That’s it for today. Just a few ideas on different styles you could plug into a song. I used satin doll, but that applies to any song. Thanks for being with me, and if you enjoy these kind of types come on over to playpiano and sign up for our free piano tips. See you there. Bye bye for now.

YouTube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Egz6O-XAKqA&feature=youtu.be
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What’s The Difference Between Dominant 9th Chords & Major 9th Chords?

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014
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All About Dominant 9th Chords

Here is a transcript of the video in case you would like to follow along: Good morning. This is Duane. I was just playing a dominant 9th chord. Dominant 9th chords are really pretty easy to form, because they’re made out of the root, the 3rd, the 5th, the dominant 7th, and the 9th note of the scale. Of course, you’ll need to know the scales in order to figure out what they are, okay? If you don’t know what a scale is, then you’ll have trouble. Or if you don’t know what a particular scale is. I know you know what a scale is, but let’s say you don’t know the Db scale. That’s a Db scale, so you’ve got to know where the root, 3rd, 5th, 7th, and 9th are in order to play that chord, obviously, okay?

Unless your hand is a lot bigger than mine, you’ll have to use two hands to play it. There’s lot’s of ways to voice it, of course. I usually play a root on my left hand, and the rest of the chord in my right hand. But you can split it up, you can play root, 5th, 3rd, 7th, 9th, it doesn’t matter. There’s lots of ways to voice it, as long as you get all those notes in there, okay?

It depends where the melody is though, if you’re playing a song, you know? In melody’s G, then you can’t have D up there. You’ve got to voice it like so, so you have all the notes of the chord under the right hand melody, okay? If the melody was E, you’d play it like that. If the melody was Bb, you’d play it like that. Of course, if the melody was D, you’d play it like that. If the melody was C, you’d probably play it like that, with your thumb across the 3rd and the 9th, okay?

So with that in mind, let’s go through the 12 major chords, and figure out what they are, what the dominant 9th chord is. By the way, the dominant 9th chord is different than the major 9th chord. The major 9th chord is like that, it uses a scale 7th. But the dominant 9th chord uses a lowered 7th. That’s a dominant 7th, and when you add the 9th to it, it’s called a dominant 9th. That’s a major 7th, and when you add a 9th to it, that’s called a major 9th, maj9. So when you see a symbol for maj9, that’s what it means. If you see just a C9, that’s what it means. You lower the 7th.

I will try to attach a Wikipedia article, if you want to see that illustrated and explained further. In any case, let’s go through the 12 major chords. That’s the C 9th, root, 3rd, 5th, 7th, and 9th. Here’s the F major chord, you add the 7th and add the 9th. Here’s the G major chord, 7, 9. D major chord, add the 7th, add the 9th. E major chord, add the 7th, add the 9th. A major chord, add the 7th, add the 9th. Db major chord, add the 7th, add the 9th. Eb major chord, add the 7th, add the 9th. Ab major chord, add the 7th, add the 9th. Gb major chord, add the 7th, add the 9th. B major chord, add the 7th, add the 9th.
You can see why it’s important to know the scale, right? Otherwise you won’t know where the 7th and 9th are. Bb major chord, 7, 9, okay? So that’s all there is to dominant 9th chords. They’re a nice bright sound. You get that feeling from them.

So if you enjoy that kind of thing, come on over to PlayPiano.com and sign up for our free piano tips like this one. They’re all free, and they come out most every day. So come on over and sign up for them there, free. So we’ll see you there. Bye bye for now.

Here is a Wikipedia article on 9th chords: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ninth_chord#Dominant_ninth

Here is the YouTube video on the subject: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zwlReOAa9KE&feature=youtu.be
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How Do Double Flats & Double Sharps Work?

Thursday, April 17th, 2014
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Double Flats & Double Sharps

Good morning. This is Duane. Today, I’d like to take a one small subject. That subject is double sharps and double flats. You know what flat is, of course, like if you’re playing G and you go down half a step, that’s G flat. A flat is always a half a step lower. That’s F. What’s that? Normally, it’s E, but if you had a flat in front of F, you would play what looks like E, but it would have to be called F flat.

The opposite is true with sharps. That’s G, so that’s G sharp. A half step higher than the given note is a sharp, right? Again, if you’re playing in E and there’s a sharp in front of it, you’ play what looks like F, but it’s got to be called E sharp. You’re going to have white note sharps and flats as well as black key sharps and flats.

The subject today, though, is double sharps and double flats. A double sharp is a whole step above the note that’s indicated. In other words, if there’s a double sharp … a double looks like a fat X, by the way. It’s like a X, but fat. That’s D, that’s D sharp. D double sharp would be right there, wouldn’t it? You’re up a whole step from D.

Going the other way, that’s D, that’s D flat. Where would D double flat be if … in other words, if there was a double flat in front of D, where would you play it? That’s right. You would go down to what looks like C. You couldn’t call it C, you’d have to call it D double flat for reasons of key consistency.

Let’s take a couple more. Here’s A. Where’s A flat? Where’s A double flat? That’s A. Where’s A sharp? Where’s A double sharp? One more. G, where’s G sharp? Where’s G double sharp? G, where’s G flat. Where’s G double flat? Very simple concept. I want you to understand that. It can be confusing if you’re just starting out in music and you see those symbols, you know what in the world it means to do.

Let me just apply that to a chord. Let’s say that you have the G flat minor chord printed. It’s going to look like this: G flat, B double flat, and D flat. That’s the G flat minor chord, G flat minor. Why? Because that’s G flat major, so to lower the third half step, you go … you’re on a flat, o you have to go to a double flat. See that?

Enough for today. Thanks very much for being with me. If you enjoy this kind of thing and you find it helpful, come on over to PlayPiano.com and sign up for our free piano tips. They are free. We’ll see you there. Bye-bye for now.

Here is the YouTube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BTVt8CktsHU
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How to Count Rhythm Using the Down-Up Foot Tap System

Thursday, April 10th, 2014
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foottap1foottap2

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