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!

How To Play Cocktail Piano: Easy Techniques & Strategies

Those who have been with us at Piano Amore for even a short amount of time realize that much of what we offer here includes helping people who aspire to learn the very basics of the art form as well as helping even those who play professionally who wish to further explore their creative potential.

I have often been asked, “What is the least I should aspire to learn before I can start playing some decent cocktail piano?” Although there may not be a definitive answer for this, one reason being what you will consider as “decent cocktail piano” and what someone else will could be completely different. What is needed in order to start sounding good may be a lot less than you may be imagining. You see, it’s not necessarily what you play that matters as much as how you play it.

Another question I am regularly asked: “Of all the tools available in your store, which would be the most appropriate to learn the basics?” This could, naturally, vary according the individual. However… to put it simply: If you have a handle of some of your basic 7th chords, can play a melody, and have an open mind (and ear), you are equipped to begin. Actually, I created a Cocktail Piano Starter Package that includes a program that will assist with your learning the most common (and less common) 7th chords. You’ll also get a handle on reading those mysterious 7th chord symbols. Much more is included, however. You’ll gain access to a video session that focuses on the importance of learning the melody and how to start using what you know to begin sounding good (it’s not necessary to learn all those complex voicings yet in order to sound good). In addition, you’ll gain access to a couple of other video sessions that will open your mind up to start approaching the art of cocktail piano in a fashion that gets results fast.

If you would like to supplement your learning experience with a weekly program that will have you knowing how to play those chords like the pros do, then consider ProProach, currently being enjoyed worldwide!