My back never hurts or gets tired while I play, but it wasn’t until recently that I understood why: since I play using arm weight, my hands rest on the keyboard, supporting me and helping me to stay upright. The result—my back does a lot less work.
Without question, back discomfort is a problem for many pianists. If you’re one of them, and you’d like to do something about it, this post’s for you.
When I was a music major in college, practicing many hours a day, my back would often become fatigued and begin to ache terribly. It was a real problem, one which I was never able to resolve. At least, not while I was in school. read more…
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:
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…
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…
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.
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…
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.
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…
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…
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…
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…
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…