7 Piano Shortcuts You Can Take To Make You Sound MUCH Better On The Piano!
Good morning. This is Duane, and if you play the piano but want to play it in a more exciting way, then this is the video for you to watch because I’m going to outline seven piano shortcuts to more exciting piano playing.
Let’s say you learned to read music and you can play written music, but you don’t know chords. The first step then to be be a more exciting piano player is to learn chords. Make sure you learn chords because music is made out of chords. If I play a song like that, those are all chords, aren’t they? Those were broken chords and I was playing the C major 7th chord. All of music is like that. It’s made out of chords, or broken chords, or chord fragments. Learn chords; that’s the first step.
You want to start with major chords. I’m not going to teach that today but find a video. There’s a lot of free videos on the net, including mine, that teach major chords and then minor chords and diminished chords and augmented chords. Those are the four basic kinds of chords. Let me just quickly review it. A major chord is made out of a major scale. A major scale goes like that. If I take the 1st, 3rd, and 5th of the scale, that’s a major chord for that scale. Then to make it minor I simply lowered the 3rd a half step. To make it diminished I lower the 3rd and the 5th a half step. To make it augmented I raise the 5th a half step, and that’s really all there is to it. Step number one is learn chords and master those chords.
The second step is to learn chord color magic. What do I mean by chord color? I mean adding color tones to the basic chords. I just outlined the four basic chords: major, minor, diminished and augmented. But they’re a little bit vanilla, aren’t they? You can make them a lot more interesting if you add, say, a 6th or a major 7th, or a dominant 7th. There’s a minor chord. If I add a 7th that sounds a lot more interesting. That has a 7th and a 9th in it. That’s how you get those close harmonies by adding chord color magic to your piano playing. That’s a matter of just learning the basic chords and then adding 6th, 7th, major 7th, 9ths, flatted 9ths, 11ths, 13ths, that sort of thing. You can learn that, again, from lots of free videos on the net that will teach you that.
The next thing you can do is to learn inversions. You learn chords but you got to learn to turn chords upside down. You need to know the C chord not just like that, but also like that, and like that, and like that. That’s the same chord, just turned upside down. Now why is that? Because that happens in music all the time. Besides, music is often made out of broken chords, chords turned upside down like that. I just played three chords there: the C chord, the F chord, and the G chord, and I just broke up the notes. You run into that in music a lot.
Learn to invert chords. Turn them upside down. There’s a root position, there’s a first inversion, and there’s a second inversion. I’m just standing the chords on their head. See that? I take the bottom note, put it up an octave higher, and that’s first inversion. Take the bottom note, put it up an octave higher, and that’s second inversion. In a four note chord, then you have three inversions, don’t you? You got root position, first inversion, second inversion, and third inversion. It depends how many notes are in a chord as to how many inversions there are.
The fourth thing you can do to make your piano playing a lot more exciting is to learn chord voicing. After you learn chords and after you learn chord color magic, then learn to voice chords. Voicing means to position them on the keyboard in a unique way. There’s lots of ways to do that. Let me just play that. I’m going to play the C chord but I’m going to voice it. I’m going to use two hands. In the right hand I’m going to play C and G, an octave C and a G in the middle. In the left hand I’m going to play a low C and G, and then I’m going to play E, A, and D. Those are color tones; that’s the 6th and the 9th. When I play all those together we have a much bigger sound. Learn to voice chords. You see, the way you voice chords gives that unique sound to it.
Let’s review so far. You learn chords, the basic chords: major, minor, diminished, augmented. Then you learn chord color magic: how to add 6ths, 7ths, 9ths, 11ths, 13ths, 7ths, and so on. Then you learn to turn chords upside down. You learn inversions, all kinds of inversions. Not just basic chords but chord color magic turned upside down. Then you learn chord voicing like that.
Then the next step is to break up those chords into runs and fills. Let me just give you an example. I think I did it earlier, but if I was playing “Misty,” I took that chord, C major 7th, and I ran it up the keyboard like this. We talked about inversions and voicing; well, that’s just the C major 7th chord in root position but I’m breaking it up like that, one note at a time. Now I could come down the same way. See that, I broke it up going up, and then coming down I broke it up in a different way.
There’s lots of ways to break up chords. There’s 2/1 breakups like this where you hit two notes and then one, 2/1, 2/1, 2/1. There’s 3/1 breakups where you play three notes and then 1, 3/1, 3/1, 3/1, 3/1, 3/1, 3/1, 3/1. There’s straddles where you leave the middle note out of the chord and then play the other two notes like so, so you get an open sound. You can do that with four note chords like that. You’ve heard that, that sort of thing.
Now you may be saying “Oh, you’re going way too fast. I can’t master that.” That’s right, you can’t. I’m just giving you the outlines of what you need to learn. You can search out other videos, other courses, that deal with these individual things. Just to review so far, we need to learn chords; we need to learn chord colors, adding color notes to the chords; we need to learn inversions, how to turn the chords upside down; we need to learn voicing; and we need to learn how to break up chords like so.
Oh yes, then we need to learn to improvise. We need to learn to improvise. improvise simply gives you some liberty with playing the melody. In other words, let’s say I’m playing … Well, I’ll play “Moon River” again. Instead of playing the melody like that, like you’d expect me to do, if I could learn to improvise I might go … See, I’m creating a different melody over the same chord progression. That’s a wonderful field that you’ll really enjoy once you get into it. Learn to improvise. Again, my purpose today is not to teach you to do that. I couldn’t do that anyway because that’s a big field. Each one of these is a big field. I’m outlining what you need to do to make yourself a more exciting piano player.
Then the last thing you need to do is to learn to read chord symbols out of a fakebook. Get a fakebook and then learn to read chord symbols like so. I hope you can see that. Here’s a fakebook. There’s lots and lots of fakebooks and they got a ton of songs, but they’re all unique in that all they have is the melody, the tune of the song. Then they have chord symbols above the line of music. It starts out with E flat 6th, A 9th, F minor 7th. All I’m reading is the chord symbols there and that tells me what to do. I play the chord and the melody is given to me like so. Then by knowing inversions and breakups, then pretty soon I have an arrangement like so.
There’s seven shortcuts to more exciting piano playing. It’s not easy but it’s very rewarding, so I urge you to get going and master all those steps. Some of you have already mastered steps one through three, say. Well just don’t stop there. Just keep mastering it until you have all those seven down. Okay, thanks for being with me and I hope you enjoy this little piano tip. We’ll see you next time. Bye bye for now.
***For lots more good stuff on piano playing come on over to my website at http://www.playpiano.com and sign up for our free piano tips – “Exciting Piano Chords & Sizzling Chord Progressions!”
Here’s a great little book on chords and chord progressions on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Piano-Chords-Chord-Progressions-Exciting-ebook/dp/B0076OUGDE/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1404158669&sr=1-1&keywords=piano+chords+duane+shinn
Here is the video on YouTube: