IN­TRO

Ev­ery month, Justin Sandercoe of justin­gui­tar.com lends GT his in­sight as one of the world’s most suc­cess­ful gui­tar teach­ers. This month: Play pi­ano in 15 min­utes!

Guitar Techniques - - CONTENT - Get more info and links to re­lated lessons on all Justin’s GT ar­ti­cles at www.justin­gui­tar.com/gt­mag

Food For Thought, Ses­sion Shenani­gans, 60 Sec­onds, Jam Tracks, Phil’s OML and more.

Play pi­ano in 15 min­utes! I love those mis­lead­ing ads one sees all over the in­ter­net. But for strum­mers out there with even a rudi­men­tary mu­sic the­ory knowl­edge, it is a very easy step to trans­fer ba­sic con­cepts to the pi­ano - and with many ben­e­fits. If you can get your­self in front of a pi­ano or key­board this mi­cro course will get you up and run­ning, and play­ing a load of songs in just a few min­utes.

The white notes on the pi­ano are C-D-E-F-G-A-B-C and the black notes are the sharps and flats. Re­mem­ber that E-F and B-C are just a semi­tone apart so they are the ones that are with­out a sharp be­tween them. You’ll no­tice that the sharps are grouped in twos and threes – well, B and C are lo­cated to the left of the groups of two. If we only use the white notes we are play­ing in the key of C Ma­jor, which is all we’ll be work­ing in to­day.

One of the cool things about the­ory ap­plied to pi­ano is that it’s a lot more ob­vi­ous than on gui­tar. Ba­sic triad chords for ex­am­ple are R, 3rd and 5th, and this on pi­ano is sim­ply, play a note (Root), miss a note (2), play a note (3rd), miss a note (4), play a note (5th) - it’s right there in front of you! There are many fin­ger­ing op­tions but to start use your right hand, thumb on the root, mid­dle fin­ger on the 3rd and pinky on the 5th. This will help you to ‘miss’ the notes that would have been un­der your in­dex and ring fin­gers (note that I’m avoid­ing fin­ger num­bers here be­cause they’re dif­fer­ent from gui­tar!).

So start that triad shape with your thumb on the note C, do the ‘play a note, miss a note, play a note miss a note’ thing and you have a C Ma­jor chord (C-E-G). Keep the same shape but move it all up one note so thumb is on the D and you have a D Mi­nor chord (D-F-A). This fol­lows the di­a­tonic chord se­quence for the key of C which is: C Ma­jor, D Mi­nor, E Mi­nor, F Ma­jor, G Ma­jor, A mi­nor, B Di­min­ished and then back to C. We num­ber th­ese chords us­ing Ro­man nu­mer­als for con­ve­nience.

The rhythm I rec­om­mend you start with is play­ing a root note of the chord (just the one note) in the left hand some­where to the left of where you plan to play the chord, and then the triad with the right hand, do that all twice and you have the bass on beats 1 and 3 and the chord on 2 and 4. How much quicker was that to learn than the same thing on gui­tar?

A chord pat­tern that works for gazil­lions of songs is the good ol’ I-V-VI-IV (1-5-6-4) so do­ing each of those for a bar and you got your­self the abil­ity to play hun­dreds of songs at par­ties and show off your new awe­some pi­ano skills. Some (sim­pli­fied) songs you might like to sing over this would be: I’m Yours (Ja­son Mraz), Let It Be (The Bea­tles), When I Come Around (Green Day), Wher­ever You Will Go (The Call­ing).

If you fancy try­ing some­thing a bit more old-school, try us­ing the I-VI-II-V (1-6-2-5) chord se­quence which is the foun­da­tion of many more songs like: I Got Rhythm (Ge­orge Gersh­win) or The Rain­bow Con­nec­tion (Mup­pets).

The so-called ’50s pro­gres­sion - I-VI-IV-V (1-6-4-5) - is used in Stand By Me (Ben E King), All I Have To Do Is Dream (Everly Brothers) and tons of oth­ers. Th­ese are sim­pli­fied some­what and I had to leave bits out, but the idea is to get you started and give you some food for thought. Next month we’ll see how you can use th­ese ideas to help your gui­tar play­ing, and get a lit­tle more cre­ative. For now, tin­kle those ivories and have some fun!

next month we’ll use th­ese ideas to help your gui­tar play­ing, and get a lit­tle more cre­ative

Justin shows how easy it is to get started play­ing pi­ano

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