Learn Cocktail Piano: Open Piano Chord Voicings

The concept of open piano chord voicings is certainly familiar to you if you have spent any significant amount of time having fun with ProProach. If you have yet to experience this popular piano chord voicings program, let’s just take a brief sample of how open piano chord voicings can add that “special something” to your piano playing:

Let’s take a look at a basic 7th chord… Fmaj7 (“F major seven”)

Learn to play cocktail piano with all the wonderful tools available at Piano Amore!

Learn to play cocktail piano with all the wonderful tools available at Piano Amore!

The Fmaj7 chord, in its most basic form is as follows:

F A C E

When you play this chord on the piano in this particular formation, you are actually playing a chord in “closed” position. This makes sense when you consider that the chord tones in this chord are as close to together as they can be, which means that there are no chord tones in between the ones we see here (there is no F in between the chord tones we are playing… there is no F in between F and A, between A and C, or between C and E. Likewise, there is no A in between any of the other chord tones; nor is there a C or a E in between any of the other chord tones. They are all close together.

Now if we play a little game with this chord structure by taking one of the chord tones and repositioning it, we will have something a bit different (yet still the same chord)… Play this formation, starting with the F that is one octave below middle C:

F C E A

You will notice that we have moved the A to the top of the structure. Sooooo… even though there is an A in between the F and C, we are not playing it. Instead, we are playing the A one octave higher. This chord is now said to be in “open” position. Play the first Fmaj7 in its basic position and then play this open chord voicing for Fmaj7 and listen to each. Wow! This is a real eye-opener (and ear-opener!) for many who experience this for the first time.

Can you see (and hear) how playing this chord in open position might lend itself to a more tasteful sound when playing that chord in some of your favorite standard songs? Here is one example: If we are playing a ballad and the chord is Fmaj7 with a melody note of A. Taking a look at our open piano chord voicing above, can you see that the melody note is actually the same note as the top note of the chord voicing? Therefore, would you say that this piano chord voicing might be a tasteful choice when beginning this song? Absolutely!

Actually, as a cocktail pianist, you’ll want to immerse yourself in more and more of these open chord voicings. They are sure to add dimension to your playing. This is a sure way to enhance your personal piano playing style!

The more you “open” yourself up to playing more open voicings (pun intended), the more doors you will open when it comes to getting a more tasteful, professional sound at those keys. It’s a great way to turn heads in a room! You see, even though those listening may not know theoretically how you are playing those voicings, they can certainly hear that the player (you) has a handle on what he or she is doing musically.

Have fun as you “open your world” to more and more possibilities when it comes to the art of mastering those piano chord voicings!

Piano Improvisation Techniques For Beginners

When it comes to learning our language, we initially started with “bits and pieces” – like small words, then larger ones – and eventually put them together to created longer, more complex, and often more effective statements in the form of phrases and sentences. Actually, it was a rather natural process in that we began with what felt natural to us and our further developments manifested in a rather natural way as well.
For our purpose here, it is rather important to recall that, at whatever stage of development we were at any point in time, we were perfectly okay with ourselves with that. We enjoyed our level of competency with our language and were fully accepting of it – even in our earliest stages.

For the beginning improviser, development can work in much the same way. This is good news, especially when you understand that even your earliest stages of growth can be quite satisfying and you can enjoy a fully accepting your particular level of competency. The more you can appreciate and accept the results you are realizing, the more successful you are likely to be when it comes to taking things to further levels.

Starting with simple musical ideas – or “motifs” – and implementing them can lead to longer, more complex improvisational phrases. It may be surprising just how quickly those more interesting lines can actually manifest once you take on the attitude of simply being playful with those little ideas you are learning as you watch and listen to your results from a perspective of acceptance.

I created a very easy-to-understand piano improvisation video session which puts this process in motion. The vehicle I used for this particular video is the blues scale. However, we reduce this scale to “bits and pieces” while observing how effective these little ideas really can be on their own. The “magic” begins when we start to “string” these ideas together to create longer interesting improvisational lines… and the possibilities are unlimited!

Exposure to this piano improvisation video and implementing its easy strategies will equip you with the potential to play hundreds of your own improve “licks”… and you just may surprise yourself before long!

How To Have Exceptional Fun At Those Keys Whatever Your Playing Level

Whether you consider yourself a beginner at those keys, advanced, or somewhere in between, there are always things you can have fun with to lose yourself in the moment and have tons of fun, WHILE INCREASING YOUR CONFIDENCE, TOO!Have fun at those keys!

Some things to have fun with:

* Open up those musical ears by taking a simple chord progression and playing it in different keys

* If you’re playing voicings, master it in a number of keys, too

* Develop the habit of looking at an obstacle you are faced with as an opportunity worth smiling about

* Learn to recognize melodic intervals so you can duplicate them on those keys whenever you like

* Learn different ways of playing those chords you may have never considered

* Learn to be musical even playing the simplest idea

* Adopt an attitude that you can do no wrong

* Learn to spice up a chord progression with the concept of chord substitution

* Use songs that you know as a resource of confidence for newer songs you are learning

* Appreciate concepts that seem to be “over your head” at the moment and welcome them rather than avoid them

* Adopt the perspective that each and every minute at that piano or keyboard of yours is an exciting opportunity for self exploration

We’re actually just touching the surface here when it comes to the benefits to be gained by continuous exposure to one of my newest video sessions, Piano Creativity “On Steroids”

My enthusiasm was “on steroids” during this entire session because ideas just kept coming to me as I continued to recall those questions I’ve been receiving via email on a regular basis. Truly, your messages to me inspire me. Thank You for all of them : )

Remember,

Always…

ALWAYS…

PLAY WITH PASSION!

Musically,

Dave

www.PianoAmore.net
www.ProProach.com

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Piano Creativity “On Steroids” – Voicings, Improvisation, Fills, & More!

Thanks so much to those of you with questions  regarding my latest video session, Piano Creativity “On Steroids”

To clarify, a reason why this video will benefit beginners as well as more advanced players is that the content of this session actually consists of a nice “mix” of piano playing ideas that will be helpful to all levels. I did this purposefully with the intention of providing a tool for beginners to become inspired by as well as one those with experience could use to take their own level up a notch or two (or ten!). So, yes,some of the material we cover will be ideas that you can aspire to taking advantage of, so this is one you can grow with. Also,
it’s not meant as a replacement for anything you are doing; rather, an enhancement :) It serves as a great supplement, especially if you could use some encouragement in creative areas such as easy ways to come up with piano fills, improvising, and right hand chord playing.

More advanced players will take advantage of the various voicings being used and more. We also get into aspects of playing piano by ear, easy ways to come up with an improvisation for a favorite melody, and more.

This session was an “unpredictable one” in that it was my intention to create an informal “off the cuff” scenario similar to the type of experiences that led to much of my creative development. So, as the session progressed, I was inspired by your emails I’ve received over the months as well as my passion for helping people to overcome obstacles, including the very thinking that gets in the way of playing creatively.

This is not a video that you need to view from beginning to end each and every time. Actually, I suggest that you do this the first time and you’ll soon realize that, depending on what your focus is on at any given time, different segments will mean more to you at various points in your development.

It is my belief that whether you’ve never played piano or before or you’re a pro player open to new ideas, there’s content here you will benefit from. Exposure to this session over and over again is sure to lead to multiple rewards as well.

Consider following the suggestions included in the formula provided on the promo page and you’ll be on your way to discovering your potential for musical creativity like you never did before : o )

Please have fun with this one. I sure did!

Remember,

Always…

ALWAYS…

PLAY WITH PASSION!

Musically,

Dave
www.PianoAmore.net
www.ProProach.com

Piano Playing Creativity:
You Have What It Takes

From Piano Fills To Improvisation To Walking Bass, It’s All Here…

How To Predict The Next Chord In A Song And More…

Some people find this interesting:

A competent classical pianist who has been trained for decades to the degree of being able to pull off a performance of “Grade 6″ compositions (or higher) in an amazing fashion can have an excruciating time trying to play a beautiful rendition of a standard song like “Misty” or “Skylark” or “Till There Was You,” etc… even with the simple melody propped up on that piano stand….

Yet, another individual who had no clue how to read the piano staff up until about a few months ago can do so with amazing confidence.

What’s that “secret element” that distinguishes the two?

Well, it’s no “secret,” per se… though, to the classical playing maestro with no background in personal creativity at those keys, it can certainly seem like that.

Did you know that allowing yourself a few weeks of exposure to learning how to play simple melodies and a few chords (and how to play them tastefully) can put you in a position of being able to pull off playing arrangements of such standards to the point of spinning the head of pro classical player who has even perhaps  endured 6 years of college study in the area of performing traditionally? If you have the desire to have fun, it’s possible.

It’s not magic. It’s a matter of what turn in the road one chooses to take. (If you’re a classical player who can relate to this, by the way, your potential is certainly there to expand your scope, of course, if you haven’t yet done so, but maybe you have!)

At different times, I am prompted by people who only have a little experience reading and simply want to be able to play a simple standard song and make it sound good for a “fast track formula” for being able get themselves from “point A” to “point B”…

Here’s one that works:

1) Learn the melody… learn it well…

2) Hook yourself up with my two programs entitled: How To Play Standard Songs With Confidence #1 and How To Play Standard Songs With Confidence #2

From that point, things get easier…

We’re talking about getting you to FEEL CONFIDENT with setting yourself up with a basic platform to work from. The first program gets you to look at things in perspective and making that melody flow… The second provides you with the kind of left hand techniques necessary to put that melody “on steroids”…

Beyond this, is there more you can do? You bet there is. And there are lots of programs available here to help you take things to many different levels, but that is certainly a profound start to getting the ball rolling. (1-2-3 Cocktail Piano #1 and 1-2-3 Cocktail Piano #2 are a good way to continue)

Let’s face it, when we hook on to a program, we want it to lead us in a direction… we don’t want it to “handcuff” us into doing something we don’t want to. It’s about having FUN… and having that fun IMMEDIATELY… the entire learning process should be nothing short of that.

By the way, if the concept of “being creative” is intimidating for you, we can cure that beginning TODAY… that’s what my special video session Pro Piano Creativity: The Nitty Gritty is about. No, you don’t need to be a pro for that one! You can be at any level and elevate yourself to a different point with that one, whether you’re wanting to open yourself up to playing a walking bass and never tried, playing fills, being able to predict what chord comes next in a song, or you’re simply wanting to explore your piano creativity potential in general (I predicted that some people would like this one but the feedback I’ve received on it has spun my head… my personal thanks to all of you)

(Just a note: People who want to excel in the area of specific strategies, like playing a “walking bass” with confidence, and who have taken advantage of my online coaching KNOW that things can happen – and they can happen fast!)

The key is: Start with something. Take an action that you never have. Don’t wait. Whatever level you are at, make today the day that marks a new beginning for yourself.

( All the above and more is available in our store … ALL AVAILABLE VIA INSTANT ONLINE ACCESS!)

And, of course, remember,

Always…

ALWAYS…

PLAY WITH PASSION!

Musically,

Dave
www.PianoAmore.net
www.ProProach.com

Learning Piano: Method or Madness?

madpianistWhen it comes to learning piano, I’m pretty sure it goes without saying that you have lots of options. The truth is you don’t need someone else to teach you how to sit at that piano or keyboard of yours and start making music. Sure, there are basic musical fundamentals and technical aspects of playing on those keys that have been proven to work consistently, have been documented, and have been passed down through centuries in many forms. Virtually any “piano method,” per say that you discover, whether presented in book form, on CD of DVD, or online format will simply be a “spin” of what’s already been known to work to a degree for others.

So what came first… the music or the method? When you consider the likes of Bach’s The Two-Part Inventions and Sinfonias, which was published in 1753, here we have a compilation of material that was meant as a series of exercises and pieces written for the benefit of his son. Where the line is drawn as to that collection being viewed upon as a work or art or a method is subject to one’s interpretation. But one thing is certain: the musicality of this material is genuine.

So, when it comes to your experience, where is the line drawn between what you perceive as “methodical” and musical creativity as it applies to whatever you want to learn, whether it’s Bach, Beethoven, Billy Joel, or YOU? You don’t need permission to create. You don’t need a method to proceed. Does that mean to adopt a method is frowned upon? By no means is that the point here. But what really is key and worth understanding is that there doesn’t need to be a line drawn between learning and creating.

There is no shortage of material available out there when it comes to learning basics. If a step-by-step methodical approach is what you want to gaining some confidence with reading or playing songs by ear, then by all means adopt one. I’m cognizant of the fact that you will have no challenge finding anything of the sort. That’s why it has never been my intention to duplicate what’s been duplicated thousands of times. The material you will find at Piano Amore and in our store has been created (and continues to be) based on the premise that any individual, whatever her level of reading or playing competency, is capable of creating right from the very beginning. Any thought opposed to that is simply that: a thought.

I believe that if you’ve never played a chord on the piano before, then your experience learning your first chord should and can be a musical experience. And why not? A careful look at the first few measures of  Beethoven’s Fur Elise reveals that what we have here, for the most part, is two chords being approached in a creative fashion. Now, for those who enjoy classical music, that piece is one that many beginners aspire to play perhaps more than any other (or it’s at least one of them). It’s great to set a goal like this. That said, what’s wrong with simply taking that A minor triad and E major triad and approaching it in your own way right now? Go to your piano or keyboard and have fun playing those two chords right now and then playing them in an arpeggiated fashion (notes separately) with both hands in a way that comes naturally to you and appreciate the results that you get. Wahala! You’re improvising on piano! Your possibilities are endless so keep at it! As you proceed, the only thing getting in the way of what you hear as being considered something wonderful is your interpretation of it.

In short, the more you give yourself permission to create, the more you will come in touch with the creative musical genius that exists within you… and the more you will come to appreciate music… and the more you will come to enjoy, appreciate, and respect what you, as an individual, are capable of. So, head on over to those keys right now and create your very own masterpiece!