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Oct 4 11

The Top Three Myths About Learning to Play the Piano

by Bruce Siegel


I keep this very old post up top because, as one of the commenters says, it looks at the BIG picture of how we learn to play. You’ll find practical tips here as well as exercises, resources, and the philosophy behind the DoctorKeys piano courses.

Whether you’ve been playing the piano for years or are just getting started, what you think you know may be holding you back.

Here are the common fallacies we’ll debunk:

• It all starts with learning to read music.
• It’s all about the fingers.
• Practicing means playing a piece over and over.

read more…

Sep 16 16

Four Secrets to Becoming a Better Reader

by Bruce Siegel

Now I know that music reading is the last thing you expect to see me write about. After all, my courses teach you to play by ear, through understanding chords and rhythmic patterns.

But I recently got an email from a subscriber with a problem I address constantly in my private teaching. And in thinking about how to help her, I realized I had the makings of a great change-of-pace post for this blog. So here goes.

Andrea Stramiello writes:

I am completely intrigued by your Play and Sing lessons. read more…

Jul 25 16

How To Love Your Practice Sessions

by Bruce Siegel

There’s obviously no getting better at the piano without practice. And the more you know about how to practice, the quicker you’ll learn, and the more fun you’ll have doing it. read more…

Jun 16 16

What’s That Tutorial Doing in Your Course?!

by Bruce Siegel

One of the great things about having two million YouTube views is that I receive a lot of useful feedback. I just got this from Tone Rose, in response to one of my videos:

Hello; I went to your website for “Piano Technique: A Whole-Body Approach Part 2″ and all I found was classes on pop accompaniment.

So I told her that the tutorial is, in fact, a cornerstone of one of my pop courses. I explained that I teach a relaxed, efficient technique that makes it easier to play all styles of music, from the funkiest to the most classical. read more…

May 4 16

How to Play a Simple Introduction

by Bruce Siegel

When accompanying a singer, you’ll almost always need to play an introduction of some sort. It can be extremely basic, as long as it:

• Tells the singer when to start (so you’re both in synch).
• Helps the singer know what pitch to sing.
• Sets the tempo.

Listen to Billy Joel’s introduction for She’s Got a Way About Her.
read more…

Dec 16 15

Buying a Piano or Keyboard: Advice for Beginners

by Bruce Siegel

People sometimes ask me: Can I (or my child) learn to play on a keyboard, or do I need a real piano?

You can learn to play using a keyboard. Many of my students have done so.

Still, at some point, depending on your interests, you may find yourself itching to get an acoustic. Here are some thoughts on both sides of the divide. read more…

Sep 22 15

How to Read the Chord Charts on

by Bruce Siegel

I just got an email from Cal, a recent DoctorKeys subscriber. He said:

In one of your lessons you show how to read a chord chart. But can you explain how to read a chord chart like Let It Be? [He's referring to the sort of chord chart you get on] It has the chords but no bar lines, so how do I know exactly when to play each chord? Please help for I enjoy both your courses very much.

What a great question! And since there may be others of you who are wondering the same thing, I’ll explain. read more…

Aug 21 15

Three New Tutorials!

by Bruce Siegel

I just added some great new lessons to Pop Piano Accompaniment. Here’s a little about each:

How to Play a Song in Any Key (Transposing Made Easy)
There’s a big difference between singing a song in a key that sort of works, and singing it in the key that brings out the best in your voice. If you’re currently singing and playing any of your songs in less than the ideal range simply because you don’t know how to transpose, this lesson can help. Read more.

Empowering Your Left Hand with Open Voicings
Now that you understand the magic of open voicings, a whole new world of possibilities is within your reach.

The left hand pattern you’ll learn in this lesson is so versatile, and so satisfying, I’ve gone through periods when I’ve thought: Bruce you’ve gotta stop using this so much in your music—people will get sick of it! Read more.

Intermediate Styles and Beyond
In this lesson, you’ll learn to make your accompaniments sound fuller and richer. As you add open voicings in the left hand, and a fourth note to the three your right hand is already playing, your arrangements will sound more and more like the recordings you love to listen to. Read more.

Jun 10 15

New Voicing Tutorial Teaches a Very Special Amazing Grace

by Bruce Siegel

Recently, several of my private students wanted to learn Nora Jones’ Don’t Know Why. It’s a song whose chord roots largely follow the circle of fifths, the sort of progression I’ve always found strangely irresistible. (We discussed this pattern in an earlier lesson.)

So that got me fooling around with Nora’s chords, and I discovered that with only a few alterations I could use them to play an accompaniment for Amazing Grace. You can hear it in the video above. read more…

May 8 15

Tired of Playing the Same Old Song in the Same Old Way?

by Bruce Siegel

Then play it differently! And one of the simplest, most effective, ways to do that is to change the voice leading.

Here’s what I mean. read more…

Mar 5 15

Three New Tutorials

by Bruce Siegel

Subscribers to Pop Piano Accompaniment will be pleased to know that I just uploaded three new lessons to the course — you can preview them here.

I’m particularly thrilled to be offering the one called “Voice Leading: How to Connect Chords Beautifully While Bringing Variety to Your Playing.” As I say in the video: read more…

Jan 27 15

Do you struggle with chord inversions?

by Bruce Siegel

A DoctorKeys subscriber just emailed me a question that’s so important, I’ve decided to post our exchange. Here’s the question:

It takes me too long to invert chords when I am trying to play songs. For example, if I was playing the root position of C chord and wanted to progress to the closest inversion of G chord, I have to think for a while to know that it is “B D G”. Also, once the chord is inverted, I get lost. (like, “what is this chord that I’m playing right now?”) Do I just have to practice the transition over and over or is there a better way?

And here’s my response:

Great question! Two things in particular can help. read more…

Dec 16 14

How to Play Adele’s Someone Like You and Other 4-Chord Songs

by Bruce Siegel

Here’s your chance to master one of the most beautiful progressions in all of music. In the key of C, that would be the C, G, A minor, and F chords, in that order.

The songs you’ll learn to play (at least in part) include Someone Like You, No One, She Will Be Loved, You’re Beautiful, With or Without You, read more…

Nov 10 14

What Do These Crazy Dudes Have To Do With My Latest Piano Course?

by Bruce Siegel

If you haven’t yet seen this highly entertaining video, do yourself a favor and watch it now. In it, Axis of Awesome shows how you can play big chunks of many of the greatest pop hits using the same four chords.

Now as it happens, my new course, Pop Piano Accompaniment, opens with two tutorials based on the same premise. read more…

Nov 10 14

Pop Piano Accompaniment Goes Live

by Bruce Siegel

Just a quick note to let you know that the first four lessons of my newest course are now online. They pick up from where Play & Sing leaves off.

Read more about the new course here.

Jul 21 14

“Should I be practicing exercises?”

by Bruce Siegel

That’s the question that Darshan, a new subscriber to Play & Sing, asked me recently. He’s a beginner who was particularly curious about the often-recommended exercises published in 1900 by Charles-Louis Hanon.

I thought my answer might be helpful to others, too, so here’s what I said. read more…