C Blues Piano Scale

Here’s a quick lesson on playing the C blues scale on the piano. It’s a simple little scale and, combined with the nifty chords I teach you in this quick lesson, you’ll be making some pretty cool, bluesy sounds on the piano in no time!

 

It helps me to think of the C blues piano scale in two groups of notes:

Group 1 is C-Eb-F-Gb

Group 2 is G-Bb (and C, if you’re going to be descending after playing the top C note).

This helps me not only remember the scale, but helps with my fingering also. I play Group 1 with fingers 1-2-3-4 and Group 2 with fingers 1-2. I can then cross my thumb under my 2nd finger to start all over again, or simply play the top C with my middle (3rd) finger if I’ll be descending.

Here’s a color-coded image of the grouping – I like to think of this as the “shape” of the scale:

C Piano Blues Scale

 

Now, just spend a few minutes each day playing around with the C blues scale and you’ll have it in your brain and fingers before you know it!

C Major and F Major Piano Scales

Here’s a quick video about how to learn scales super-fast by visualizing and feeling the “shape” of the scale on the piano keyboard.

 

To reinforce this pattern concept, here’s a color-coded image of the C Major Piano Scale. The red keys represent the first grouping of 3 keys – played by your thumb (finger 1), index finger (2) and middle finger (3). The green keys represent the second grouping of 4 keys – played by your thumb, index finger, middle finger and ring finger (1,2,3,4). The yellow key (C) means that you can start the 3-note pattern over again with your thumb, or simply play the yellow key with your pinky finger (5), if you’re going to be coming back down the keyboard.

C Major Piano Scale

And here’s a color-coded image of the F Major Piano Scale:

F Major Piano Scale

Scales may seem like one of the boring parts of learning to play piano, but, believe me, learning how to learn them fast – AND learning which chords to play them with – can dramatically improve your piano playing.

In fact, I’ve just put together a video piano course that shows you exactly how to do just that.

So, if you really want to take your piano playing to the next level by learning 19 unique scale structures (NOT just major and minor) in all 12 keys, check out my video piano course, Piano Scales… FAST! And right now, you can get it for almost 50% off the regular price, but only until Tuesday, March 28th, 2017 at midnight!

Click Here For Details

How To Play Piano Chords That Sound Good

You may have learned how to play piano chords from a piano teacher, a music book you picked up, or even a YouTube video, but you probably learned the simple mechanics of playing chords – basic fingering, which notes go to which chords, and so on.

how to play piano chords

Perhaps you’re one of the lucky ones, but I’m guessing that no one ever took the time to show you exactly how to play piano chords in a way that makes them sound REALLY GOOD.

If that’s the case, keep reading, because I’ve got some simple rules that will help you, along with a brand new chord resource I just finished putting together.

So, how to play piano chords so they sound “good”…

Although “beauty” in music – as in other art forms – is highly subjective, I believe there are some things you can do to make the piano chord you play sound really good, meaning better than the way most people usually play them.

Feel free to agree or disagree with me in the comments – I think there’s no right or wrong answer, but check out these suggestions and see if they don’t help your piano chord playing, at least a little bit.

1. Whenever possible, when playing “close position” chords – meaning the chord tones are consecutive and not spread widely apart, like they are in open chord voicings – try to play the chords as close to middle C as possible. Once you start getting too much higher, the chords start to “thin out” in their sound. They still work for certain songs, but they just don’t have the depth that most often sounds good. If you got too much lower than middle C, the chords really start to sound muddy and thick. Which brings us to suggestion #2…

2. As you play chords lower and lower on the piano, it’s best to move one or more of the chord tones apart from the others. For example, if you play a C major tried one – or even two – octaves below middle C, it really sounds kind of awful. But, if you play a very low C in the bass, and play just the C and E an octave or two above that, it sounds pretty good. You can also play an open C major voicing on the C (root), then G (fifth), then the E above the G (the 10th, technically). This open voicing sounds really good in the left hand, and helps to “un-muddy” a plain old major triad.

3. Create open voicings for chords, where you move the chord tones apart from each other – maybe an octave or less. You might even use two hands to help pull the chord tones apart from each other and allow the chord overtones to react in such a way as to create “virtual” sounds between the notes. Wow, that’s kind of heavy stuff.

4. Here’s a chord rhythm suggestion for you – DON’T OVERDO THE CHORD RHYTHMS! Sometimes just a simple bass pattern with the occasional chord interjected is just fine – less is more. Don’t feel like you need to play the entire chord on every beat of the song, or even every time the chords change. Take it easy. Leave some space. Enjoy the silence between the notes.

5. Try a different inversion, even for basic piano chord triads. Sometimes the 1st or 2nd inversion sounds much better than the other inversions, and darned if I could tell you why. Remember, an inversion is when you play the chord with something other than the chord root on the bottom.

These are just a few quick pointers to help you improve the sound of your piano chords – try them out and let me know what you thing.

And, if you REALLY want to get your hands on what might be the last chord guide you’ll ever need, be sure to check out my super chord reference, Piano Chord Voicings… FAST!

I’m having a very special sale, but only until this Sunday, April 9th, 2017 at Midnight.

Click Here For All The Details About My 2-DVD/1-CD, PDF + Video piano course, Piano Chord Voicings… FAST!

Keep making beautiful music – preferably on the piano!

Famous Piano Players: Oscar Peterson

 

OK, first of all, I have to thank James for his comment on my earlier post – he got me to go check out Oscar Peterson playing with Andre Previn on YouTube, and it is phenomenal. Check out the duet, starting at about 2:45 into the video:

 

Andre Previn is definitely the topic of another post, but this one is about Oscar Peterson – at least just a little bit.

I had one chance to see Oscar play in Cincinnati, years ago. I had tickets for the concert, but he was unable to play that night, due to an illness.

I was crushed.

Especially since I never made an effort to go see him again.

Oscar Peterson is a soft-spoken, intelligent, super-disciplined piano genius. Although he was friends with and idolized the great Art Tatum, he made it a point never to copy him, but rather to chart his own course with his playing. His technical skills were just unbelievable.

But don’t think the music just flowed out of his fingers effortlessly. He practiced like you wouldn’t believe.

From an interview with Les Tomkins in 1962, courtesy of JazzProfessional.com (http://www.jazzprofessional.com/interviews/Oscar%20Peterson_Points.htm), here’s what Oscar had to say about practicing:

When I’m home, or even on a location job with the Trio, I practice on average two to four hours every day if I can. If not, every second day.

When he’s playing with a group:

That usually takes place at the end of each nightly performance, and in a night club we play until about 2 in the morning. Then we’ll probably rehearse from 2 until about 7 a.m.

Yes, it all seems so effortless when you see the end result, but no one pays much attention to the amount of dedication, discipline and work someone like Oscar pours into his profession.

And not many other people are willing to put in that level of work themselves, which is what put Oscar at the top of his field.

You can read all about Oscar’s life at Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oscar_Peterson) or other sources, but I really wanted to just draw your attention to this amazing television interview with Andre Previn (not sure about the year, but it was maybe 30-40 years ago, I’m guessing).

Oscar is so articulate and pleasant to listen to, and his playing is just phenomenal.

Here’s a link to the YouTube search results, which should list all 6 parts for you:

http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=oscar+peterson+interview+with+andre+previn

I can’t recommend these videos more highly.

I also recommend you listen to all the Oscar Peterson – solo or with a group – you can get your hands on.

Amazing.

Irish Piano

Well, I’m in Joplin, MO for St. Patrick’s Day, but I wanted to post a little Irish piano lesson on my blog, so I fired up my smart phone and put this together for you.

Not the highest production values in the world, and I hadn’t had my hair done yet, but hopefully you can use these couple of tips today or tomorrow, or whenever you want to make some Irish sounds on the piano.

If you’d like to learn a simple, but beautiful arrangement of Danny Boy, be sure to check out my Danny Boy Video Piano Lesson (with a very special price before midnight, Sunday, March 17th, 2013) here:

http://pianochordsfast.com/dannyboy.html

Enjoy.

Playing Piano In Joplin, Missouri

If you’re on my email list, you probably know that I went to Joplin, Missouri to play piano on May 28th, about 1 week after they experienced the deadliest single tornado in recorded history.
I did end up shooting some video on my way to the club where I played, so I wanted to share that with you.

It’s a little choppy, since I was concentrating more on driving than I was on the video, but it still gives you an idea of just how devastating this tornado was.

You may also know that I held a sale on three of my piano courses to help offset some of the expenses for the bar owner and donate the rest to charity.

As it turns out, I was able to cover my gasoline and hotel on that trip (which the bar owner normally pays), and that was a big help to him, since he had about 1/3 of his normal business that night.

I’m going back down to play again this Saturday night, and,thanks to everyone who took advantage of my special sale, I’ll be handing him an additional $422 (or getting it into the hands of people who can put it to good use).

So, thanks to everyone who helped out with this, and I hope this type of natural disaster never visits your part of the world.

Printable Free Piano Chord Chart

printable piano chord chartLooking for a free piano chord chart? Look no further! I’ve created a chart that shows you the proper piano keys to play to create all the basic major, minor, seventh, augmented, and diminished chords. And you DON’T have to read music to use it! This chart will be an invaluable tool for you to refer to while working your way through lead sheets, guitar books, or chord progressions you find on the internet.

Just click the link below to get your free piano chord chart – AND free video piano chord lessons – no strings attached.

Click here to download your free chord chart.

I hope you enjoy your free chord chart – no one should be without one!

 

Beatles Piano Chords: Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da

The Beatles’ “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da” is a great little song to learn on the piano, and it’s one I often play for my very first song of the evening at a piano bar. It gets everyone clapping and singing, and it’s an easy, fun little song.

iTunes & App Store

The piano chords for “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da” are very simple, so to celebrate the release of all The Beatles’ music on iTunes this week, I decided to post this little video lesson and show you how to play this classic Beatles song on the piano for yourself.

Yes, this blog post has been a long time coming, since I’ve been busy with my Improvise Piano… FAST! online video course lately (among other things), so I wanted to make it up to you with this free lesson.

Be sure to check out The Beatles on iTunes, if you haven’t already, and enjoy this free video piano lesson on “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da”!

Easy Rock And Roll Piano Lesson Video

Well, it took me long enough, but in response to some comments and emails about my last blog post on rock and roll piano, I decided to put together a video showing the basics of good ol’ rock and roll piano.

This lesson covers some simple left-hand bass and right-hand chord patterns that will fit with such classic tunes as “Johnny B. Goode,” “Great Balls of Fire,” and “Old Time Rock and Roll,” to name just a few.

If you like this rock and roll piano lesson, or if you have any questions or other input, please leave your comments below and, if you like it, please use the ReTweet button or the share link to share with your friends.

Without further adieu, let’s rock and roll on the piano…

If you’d like to get this lesson on DVD AND see it applied to 3 GREAT classic rock and roll songs – Johnny B. Goode, Great Balls of Fire, and Old Time Rock and Roll, CLICK HERE TO CHECK IT OUT.

Rock And Roll Piano Lesson – Classic, Fast, And Easy!

In this lesson, we’re going to talk about rock and roll piano – well, I guess I should say rock ‘n’ roll, to be official.

This will hopefully be a very simple lesson for you, because rock and roll piano uses some very simple structures.

Before we do anything, here’s a picture of the piano keys and note names for your reference. This pattern repeats up and down the piano, so the note names remain the same – they just make higher or lower sounds.

Piano Note Names

First, let’s talk about the chord progression.

The most standard progression is based on the “12-bar blues” progression:

(4 bars of I) + (2 bars of IV) + (2 bars of I) + (1 bar of V7) + (1 bar of IV) + (2 bars of I)

If you’ll recall from some of my other lessons, the roman numerals correspond to chords based on scale tones. Capital numbers are major chords, and the number corresponds to the scale tone of the chord root.

For example, in the key of C:

I = C major = C-E-G
IV = F major = F-A-C
V7 = G7 = G-B-D-F

Now, let’s talk about each hand separately, then we’ll put them together for the finale, OK?

For the left hand, I suggest starting with one of the following two bass lines:

1-6-5-6

or

1-3-5-6

OK, so what does THAT mean?!

Well, those numbers represent notes in the major scale in whatever key you’re playing.

For example, in the key of C, a C major scale is:

C D E F G A B C
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

So, those two bass lines become:

C A G A (moving DOWN from C to A and A to G, then back up to C)

or

C E G A (moving UP the entire time)

For a song that’s “in 4” (4/4 tempo – 4 beats to a measure), simply play this pattern over and over in your left hand.

Got it?

Now, for the right hand…

The easiest thing to play would be the following pattern, depending on the chord being played:

Alternate these two chords over and over for the “C major” portion of the progression:

C-E-G
C-F-A

Each chord should be played at the same time as the left hand. In other words, both hands press the piano keys at the same time:

LH RH
— —
C C-E-G
E C-F-A
G C-E-G
A C-F-A

(This is actually a nice little 2-hand practice pattern)

For the “IV” part of the progression – let’s stick with the key of C for this – play the following 2 chords:

F-A-C
F-Bb-D

while the left hand plays the same pattern as before, but beginning on F:

F-D-C-D

or

F-A-C-D

Finally, for the “V7” portion of the progression, the left hand portion is:

G-E-D-E

or

G-B-D-E

and the right-hand chords are:

G-B-D
G-C-E

The rhythmic pattern is the same throughout this entire progression – simply apply the appropriate chord and bass pattern to each section to build the following chord progression for each measure of 4 beats:

C – C – C – C – F – F – C – C – G7 – F – C – C

It’s kind of like putting together the pieces of a puzzle. In fact, that’s exactly how I think of it when I learn a new tune.

And if you’d like to dive in a little deeper, you might want to check out my Rock and Roll Piano… FAST online/DVD video piano course.

Hope that helps you rock a little harder, or at least easier 😉