Easy Chord Substitutions-A Quick Tip to Make Your Playing Sound Hipper

Thursday, October 24th, 2013 - No Comments

If you want to make your playing sound jazzier or hipper, simply substitute a Major 7th chord for any Major chords. For example if in the song you are supposed to play a C chord, substitute a C Maj 7 instead. It will sound like this. So if you were supposed to play an F chord, substitute a F Maj 7 chord instead. It makes things sound a little more modern or jazzy. There are a few times that this substitution won’t work, but you will be able to tell right away. It will sound very wrong or dissonant. Again, this is an easy way to quickly make your playing sound more jazzy or hip—simply substitute a Major 7th chord for any Major chords.

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Best practice regimen for chords …

Thursday, August 29th, 2013 - 13 Comments

Do you ever wonder what is the best way to practice chords? I get that question a lot. No matter how you slice it, at its simplest you just need to play the chord enough that it becomes familiar to your hands.

The way I typically tackle that, and it’s also the way I suggest doing it in all the lessons, is to first simply identify the notes in a chord. Then, immediately “burn it in” by jumping back and forth between whatever chords are in the song that you’re currently working on.

For example, say a song that you’re working on has three chords in it. Assuming you didn’t know any of the three chords yet, we first would simply learn the notes in the chord, usually by looking at chord charts that are given to you in the exercise portion of the online environment as well as in the books.

Once you had a chance to actually get your fingers over the correct notes and try to visually learn them, we would then immediately start moving back and forth between the chords to solve the problem of needing to be able to jump from one to another to accomplish getting the tune played.

That might take four or five minutes or might take ten or fifteen minutes depending on your level of proficiency. However, once you are comfortable jumping between the chords, in any order, and moderately smoothly, you should pretty well have those chords “burned into” your memory and have the associated muscle memory needed to play the chords smoothly as well.

One thing to note here: Don’t think that you need to stop everything and learn every version of some new chord and practice moving from that new chord to hundreds of other chords until you know every possible combination you may ever run into for the rest of your life. Aarrggghhhh!!!!!!

Instead, just work on only those chords that are in the tune you are currently trying to play, and get comfortable moving smoothly from chord-to-chord in only the combinations you will need to actually play the chord changes as they come down the pike in that tune.

It’s SO important to not lose sight of the forest for all the trees … Your goal is to be able to play the tune, not necessarily drill your chords. Learning your chords is a means to an end – not the end in itself. The endgame is playing the tune well and sounding good at your piano!

If you keep things in that perspective, when it’s all said and done you’ll still learn your chords, but you’ll be doing it in the context of a tune, which is a much better way to cement that skill into your longer term memory versus just drilling incessently and having it go in one ear and right out the other …

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A Little “Day In The Life” Vid from a Recent Shoot Trip

Wednesday, August 28th, 2013 - No Comments

Just for fun I thought it might be interesting for you to see a little “behind the scenes” of a recent trip for a shoot. I’m in Seattle at Microsoft Productions. I’m going to give you an inside scoop to what it is really like on a shoot. We are filming a new show.  See what the green room looks like as well as the set we are using.

Later we are off to give a Play Piano in a Flash Workshop.

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