Having Fun With Creativity From Day One
To the beginner with little or no experience or even the classical player whose experience is limited to reading and interpreting the written page, I offer the same suggestions when it comes to being able to play piano creatively.
If you have subscribed to the mindset that playing creatively is reserved for the advanced player, I would like to encourage you to have an open mind about this. I promote creativity right from the start. It’s fun, boosts confidence, and serves as incentive to want to take future steps on your musical journey.
A Most Chordial Visit
Upon entering my piano studio for the first time, a beginner usually learns enough to be able to explore creativity on those keys, at least to a point. I believe – more accurately – I know that a person has the ability to speak music before completely understanding the language.
To help clarify this, let me ask you: At what age did you start expressing yourself verbally? Did you utter your first words after you learned how to read or write the letters of the alphabet?
On the contrary. You were speaking long before you were able to spell those words and phrases that came from your mouth. Before you could read or write, you spoke the language.
To take that a bit further, you had no concern about how to read or write what you were saying. You spoke with confidence. When you were thirsty, you asked for a drink. When you were hungry, you asked to eat. When an adult handed you a phone, you said hello.
In other to do this, you had acquired the ability to use phonetics by hearing them from others and repeating them. By the way, there are people who can play music by ear quite well in this fashion without even knowing how to read or write music. How? The same way we just mentioned. They heard and repeated.
It’s true that knowing how to read a language, whether it’s English, French, Italian, or Music will expand your musical experience. You are encouraged to want to do that. Right now, I’m saying that you can take the first steps of speaking some music before that just like you were speaking your language prior to reading or writing it.
You can think of the “phonetics” that you need to know as the keys on your piano keyboard. Press a key and hear the sound. Go ahead and do that now.
See? You can speak.
Perhaps that was equivalent to “goo-goo” or “gaa-gaa” as a baby but, hey, you have to start somewhere, right?
Once we know that you can press a key, we take things a step further. We ask you to play two keys at the same time… then three.
Now, the good news. You only need to play three keys to play a chord.
See all those white keys on the keyboard? Pick any three that are not exactly each to other, but separated by one key, like this:
You don’t have to be concerned with which particular keys you are playing. Just play three keys… you’re just making sure you’re playing “every other key.”
What fingers do you use? We’ll eventually get to that but simply play them. What you are playing is a chord! You might be playing one of these keys with your left hand and the other two with your right (or vice versa). It’s a chord no matter how you play it.
This can be the beginning of playing music for you if you are a beginner. If you are an experienced player, you likely know this is a chord but we’ll get more creative with chords in subsequent posts.
If you play any two of those notes, you are playing harmony. A chord is harmony that consists of three or more notes.
The next step is to start being comfortable playing these three keys with the fingers of just one hand. It may take some time for this to feel natural but that’s normal. The fingers you would use for either hand would be your thumb, middle, and pinkie.
To make the most of this session of ours, have some fun playing chords on the piano with your left hand and your right hand (not necessarily at the same time), using the fingers mentioned in the preceding paragraph. Remember, you can play any three keys as long as they are separated by a key in between so your chord looks a bit like our image above. Again, you don’t have to be concerned where on the piano you play these. That said, you will notice for yourself that they tend to sound a bit better when you don’t go too far to the left of the keyboard. However, don’t be afraid to play them there, too. It’s all an adventure!
Play a chord… listen…. move your hand and play another chord… listen… repeat… repeat… repeat.
Okay… ready to make more sense of this? Would you like to be playing chords with more confidence within a matter of minutes? Great! Click on the Free Chord Lesson in the menu above to download a free video. You’ll be learning how to play major chords on the piano. As a matter of fact, by the time you finish following the suggestions in that video, you’ll be able to play ALL 12 major triads on the piano with both hands… now that’s AWESOME!
[Sidebar] I realize that each person’s experience is different from another. I’ll ask that you simply bear with me through any of these sessions by understanding that my intention is to assume that the reader may have no experience at all. If you would like clarification of anything you’ve been exposed to hear, why not send me an email? I’ll be happy to try to help.