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Oct 4 11

The Top Three Myths About Learning to Play the Piano

by Bruce Siegel


I keep this 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…

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…

Dec 11 13

Update: Where to Get Free Chord Sheets

by Bruce Siegel

For years, I’ve been telling my online students about It’s been a great place to get free chord sheets for your favorite songs.

Well, Wikifonia has been unavailable for weeks, so it may be discontinued.

The good news is that there’s now an even better source for free chord charts: It has everything Wikifonia did. (Except that melodies are not written out–but you don’t need that to play an accompaniment.) And Ultimate-Guitar has a much bigger selection of songs than Wikifonia did. Like Wikifonia, Ultimate-Guitar will also transpose (change keys) for you.

To the best of my understanding, Ultimate-Guitar is now fully legal, meaning it has some sort of arrangement with the publishers, and composers get paid for their efforts. So I now have no qualms whatsoever about recommending it.


Apr 22 13

New Tutorial: How to Use the Sustain Pedal on the Piano or Keyboard

by Bruce Siegel

If you haven’t begun to use the pedal yet, you’re in for a thrill when you hear what a huge difference it can make in your playing. And if you are using it but without really knowing what you’re doing, I’ll show you how to get the most out of this essential tool.

I’m talking about the sustain pedal, or damper pedal. On an acoustic piano, it’s the one on the right. On a keyboard, it’s a separate device that sits on the floor and attaches to the instrument via a cable. read more…

Jan 22 13

Two New Piano Tutorials

by Bruce Siegel

Just a brief note to let you know I just put up two new lessons. “A Quick-Start Guide to the Piano: Playing Your First Piece” fits near the beginning of the Play & Sing course, and a tutorial on John Lennon’s Imagine goes at the end. You can find out more about these lessons by going to the complete course list.