Category: Piano Chords
Sarasota Piano Lessons
Jazz Piano Lessons Available In Sarasota
Jazz piano lessons? You bet! That’s one of our specialties here at Pianocadabra! That’s right… in addition to traditional lessons, you can look forward to enjoying a more well-rounded piano education than you’ll find anywhere around here. We help aspiring players in important areas such as sight reading, interpretation, ear training, practice strategies, and more… and we focus on the genres you prefer. In addition, if improvisation is an interest of yours, you are at the right place!
We offer jazz piano lessons that focus on reading and interpreting lead sheets, modern chord theory, chord voicings, improvisation, and more! Some reader may be asking, “What is a lead sheet?” Well, traditionally, people are taught to read and play from a grand staff (treble and bass clef combined). We certainly help with that! However, a lead sheet is a piece of music that consists of only one staff that includes the melody of a song, with chord symbols above which represent the harmony to be played. A classical player who has been trained only to play from a grand staff might look at a lead sheet with confusion, not knowing what to do with it. However, a professional jazz/pop player who knows how to interpret a lead sheet considers it to be a luxury because it offers the musician “poetic license” to play a tune with his or her own personal playing style (yes, we help you develop that, too!).
Reading chord symbols and learning how to play chords in different ways is a huge part of making the most of your experience with lead sheets. Here, at Pianocadabra, you can learn about all of this. If you truly want to enjoy a well-rounded experience, learning how to read traditional music as well as lead sheets is highly recommended.
Here is an example of music written on the traditional piano staff (or grand staff):
Here is an example of music written on a lead sheet:
Looking at that lead sheet, the melody, in most cases, would be played with the right hand. What is the role of the left hand? Well, actually, it has lots of freedom as long as the performer has a handle on those chord symbols above. This is a topic that warrants more in-depth discussion, of course. But you can have the confidence that we can help you along this avenue!
People of all levels join us, including beginners who have never played before, more advanced classical players who would like to enhance their playing experience with more improvisational flair, and pop and jazz enthusiasts looking to take their skills to higher levels. Whatever your reason, we welcome you and look forward to helping you realize your personal musical goals!
Sarasota Piano Lessons
Playing Piano By Ear: Some First Steps
To the uninitiated, the idea of playing piano by ear may seem a bit bizarre. However, it’s like almost anything else… when you are not familiar with what it takes, the mystery remains yet to be unveiled. Learning to play piano by ear is a process. It’s a specialty here at Pianocadabra and this process is not a painstaking one. Actually, learning to play music by ear is a natural experience and you can have a lot of fun with it. In addition, progress can actually be expedited with the right guidance and one is made aware of where the focus needs to be.
As a beginning, you can place your focus on learning to allow your ears to explore sound within a given key. For the earliest beginner, by “key” we are referring to a tonal center… or more easily understood as a group of notes on which a song is based. Specifically, let’s consider the key of C Major. If song is said to be “in the key of C Major,” that basically means that the melody and harmony of that song were created using the notes of the C Major scale. Let’s look at the notes of this C Major scale. They are:
C D E F G A B C
On the piano keyboard, that looks like this:
Used with permission from www.Free-Easy-Piano-Lessons.com
A melody (the part of the song we hear most prominently) that uses notes from this scale is said to be in the key of C Major. Now, let’s take three of those notes from this scale, specifically C, E, and G. Play those three notes together and you’re play a chord, namely the C Major chord. Please feel free to click here for a free lesson on playing major chords.
That was one chord in the key of C Major that we played. There are more. For example, the notes F, A, and C played together comprise another chord in the key of C Major, namely the F Major chord. Yes, even though we call it an “F” Major chord, the notes that make up that chord are in the scale of C Major, right? Right!
Let’s do it again… Play G, B, and D. Whalah! You’ve got the G Major chord at your fingertips! Is this chord in the key of C Major? You bet it is. The notes that comprise this chord are also members of the scale of C Major.
Up to this point, we have played three chords: C Major, F Major, and G Major.
Those are the three most important chords in the key of C Major! Do you know how many songs have been composed just using those three chords? Answer: Way to many to mention!
We have touched upon something pretty important here. If you take a look at these chords and associate them with the scale of C Major, you’ll notice that the first note of the C Major chord is the first note of the C Major scale. The first note of the F Major chord is the fourth note of the C Major scale. The first note of the G Major chord is the fifth note of the C Major scale. In terms of music theory, we can refer to these as the 1, 2, and 5 chords of the key of C Major. Roman numerals are usually used to designate these: I, IV, and V.
Play the I chord (C Major)… then the IV chord (F Major), and then the V chord (G Major)…
You have just played the I – IV – V chord progression in the key of C Major! Although you may not realize it right now, you have just taken a first major step (pun intended:)) toward playing piano by ear. You see, the I, IV, and V chords are the most important chords in a given key. For this reason, hey are often referred to as the primary chords.
Would you like to explore this concept a little more? Here is a very inexpensive guidebook that will help you to become familiar with the primary chords in any major key. It’s a huge step toward learning to play piano by ear so it’s worth becoming acquainted with it.
The next time you are sitting at your piano or keyboard, have some fun with those I, IV, and V chords in the key of C Major. Play each chord and hold it down for a bit and listen. Allow your ears to appreciate the sound of each. Don’t think much while you are doing this… don’t strain to listen… just listen.
By doing this, you have already started playing piano by ear. You may not realize it yet but you’ve just introduced your ears to one of the most important aspects of playing music by ear. As you familiarize yourself with the truth that these are the most important chords in so many songs you’ve been listening to for years, you’ll start to understand the connection!
Sarasota Piano Lessons
Does Your Piano Education Include A Comprehensive Study Of Chords?
Are you able to recognize your basic chords that exist in the music that you are playing? Whether you are a beginner learning out of the first book of John Thompson, the fourth book of Alfred’s, or whatever method you happen to be using, when it comes to that particular song you are working on for the week, how much of that music would you say you actually understand? Let’s face it… the composer of that song had a handle on how to put it together. Thus, the question: Are you simply learning to read and play what you see? Does your piano teacher promote the idea of you looking a bit more deeply into the music so that you can understand its construction at least to a degree?
For example, when playing Fur Elise by Beethoven (whether the original or a simplified arrangement), do you recognize the “A” section of the song as being in the key of in the key of A minor, the two chords played being the I chord and the V chord, namely A minor and E7? Have you taken notice that the B section modulates to the relative major key, namely C Major? What chord members of C Major are played in that section?
Does any of that sound confusing or make no sense at all? If so, have no worries, as you have that in common with so many who have already “mastered” the piece technically. However, if you really want to develop a full appreciation for the music you are playing, a familiarity with the chords and chord progressions will certainly lead you down the path of greater understanding. Whether you are playing Beethoven, Mozart, Bach, or Billy Joel, the basic fundamentals of music exist in the music that you are playing and it makes perfect sense to approach them, at least to a degree, from the perspective of the composer.
In addition, as you gain more and more familiarity with chords and progressions, you are likely to become inspired to create some music of your own. Don’t underestimate your ability. You see, once you have a handle on how the concepts of music come together, you’ll find yourself to be in the driver’s seat and your creative juices will start to flow!
If the study of chords is very new to you, you’ll want to start out by becoming familiar with your basic triads (three-note chords) and 7th chords. In addition, start to appreciate how these chords are used together. For example a C major chord is often followed by an F major chord. Two or more chords played in succession can be referred to as a chord progression. Recognition of chords on the piano, along with how they work together, will open you to greater discoveries. Your curiosity and enthusiasm for learning more will serve as encouragement and inspiration for you to continue your adventure with a greater sense of confidence and appreciation!