Learn These Primary Chords First

An Introduction To The Primary Chords

Why will knowing how to play your primary chords boost your confidence quickly? My decades of experience as a piano coach have made it clear to me that the majority of piano beginners want the shortest path to immediate results possible. This is understandable since even small successes breed further enthusiasm and interest. So what’s the best way to go?

Well, there is more than one option, of course. That said, it is my perspective that if you can get a handle on just a few of the most often used chords, the fun you can have with them can have you enjoying many hours at that piano or keyboard of yours.

Here’s How To Know What They Are

So, what are the chords used most often? Well, quite simply they are the the chords that are built on the first, fourth, and fifth degrees of a given scale. Let’s look at the note names in the key of C Major:


The first, fourth, and fifth notes (or degrees) in this scale are C, F, and G. We use Roman numerals to refer to these scale degrees. Therefore, we can refer to these three degrees of the scale as I, IV, and V.

Once we build a chord on these degrees, we have the following:

C Major, F Major, and G Major (illustrated below)

Major chords

The key furthest to the left in each of these chords is the name of the chord. We call this the Root of the chord.

These three chords, the I chord, IV chord, and V chord, form the “backbone” of the key of C Major. You will notice that if you actually play all these chords at the same time (not practical), you are playing all the members of this scale.

The I, IV, and V chords are known as the primary chords, or primary triads, of the key (a triad is a chord that consists of three notes).

These Primary Chords Serve As Your Foundation

The great news? Once you can play these three chords, you can play a lot of songs! That’s right… countless tunes include just these three chords. Here’s even more good news: all the other chords you will learn have their basic foundation in these three chords. Once you have a handle on these three, you are actually in a much better position than you might currently imagine.

Okay, since you know that there certainly is value in knowing this chord “trio,” let’s not put it off any longer. It’s time to play them!

Free Video Shows You How To Play These Chords And More

Rather than getting into a “wordy” explanation of how, it makes a whole lot more sense to show you how to play them. You have the opportunity right now to learn how to play all your major chords (including these three, of course) in a way that is so simply, it’s almost silly. Simply click on this link and you will be taken to a page that will direct you toward instant access to this very special video.

Your Ticket To Playing Piano By Ear

Since these three chords are primary, they are more apt to be used in most songs. A person trained to play by ear automatically listens for the existence of these chords. So, by making it a priority to familiarize yourself with them, you’re doing a world of good for your musicianship.

Keep It Fun

You’re on your way, so have fun mastering these major triads! By the way, if you ever have a question, feel free to send it my way. I would love to hear from you.


How To Play Piano By Ear: A First Step

Learning How To Play Piano By Ear

Child is listening to musicThe process of learning how to play piano by ear is an ongoing journey that opens doors to a whole new dimension of musical understanding. Are you capable of it? You bet you are. Don’t believe it?

You don’t have to believe that it’s possible. Why? Because the proof is in the pudding and once you get a tiny glimpse of success with using your musical ears, your belief will manifest automatically. Have you ever been amazed by a youngster who can do this well? It’s because that little one hasn’t yet learned that it cannot be done!

The Myth Of Playing Music By Ear

There is one major obstacle that often prevents people from enjoying success with playing piano by ear( this applies to any instrument, by the way). At one time or another, a person witnesses another individual pulling off the major stunt of squeezing a song out of those piano keys without any music whatsoever. To the uninitiated, this can seem like magic.

It’s not magic. Rather, a person who can play by ear is simply in touch with hearing certain sound distinctions that others may not be – yet. Anyone can start recognizing these “distinctions” by simply being receptive to them.

Sound Distinctions? Huh?

Yes. You are capable of discerning the difference between certain types of sounds. For example, let’s say that someone was to put you to the test by telling you that, with your eyes closed, either a sports car or an 18-wheel dump truck was about to drive by your house, would you be able to tell which one it was just by listening? Of course you could. But why? Because you’ve had a past reference that taught you how noisy one of the trucks can be.

See? You familiarized yourself in the past with a sound that you can recognize today. You heard it enough times where that recognition is instant.

That is the key to learning how to play piano by ear. You familiarize yourself with certain sounds to the point where this recognition is instant for you. If someone was to start playing “Jingle Bells” on the piano without telling you what song it is, what are your chances of recognizing it? Pretty darn good, right? That’s enough proof that you have the tools to play piano by ear. To get competent with playing music by ear, you just need to nurture the process.

Playing Piano By Ear Is Not Difficult

Here’s some good news. Playing music by ear is not a painstaking thing to learn to do. Rather, it’s a lot easier than that. The more fun you let it be for you, the easier it gets. It works the other way around, too… the easier it gets, the more fun it becomes!

Play “Jingle Bells” Right Now By Ear

Let’s just play a tiny segment of this song. Go to your piano or keyboard and choose one key to play. It doesn’t matter which one. Got it? Okay. Press that key down three times and hold it down the third time. Go ahead.

Did you hear “Jingle Bells?” Well, now… it seems that you have made a connection between a sound (part of the song) you’ve heard before and what you are playing. Chances are that you’ve heard that song so many times, it’s no effort to recognize it, right?

Okay, now you know that part of the song can be played simply by playing the same key three times. Do it… choose another key and repeat what you did a moment ago. Ahh! Success! Use another key… more success! (You are actually playing the song in different keys!)

You’re playing by ear! You might be inclined to not give yourself a whole lot of credit for what you just did but you would be underestimating an ability that you possess (really!).

A Secret To Playing Piano By Ear

Okay, this is something you just have to know. Ready? Playing music by ear well involves your being willing to have a lot of fun making lots and lots of mistakes.

Read that again a few times because 1) It’s true and 2) That truth is going to be a best friend of yours.

Here’s a little game I would like you to have some fun with. Go to your piano or keyboard and play a few keys arbitrarily. Do it again with different keys. Repeat the process dozens of times. As you do, just allow your ears to hear. As you do this, does anything you’re playing remind you of a tiny piece of something you’ve heard in the past? If not, keep at it because it will happen.

As you perform this exercise, have no concern about playing anything correctly. Just play and allow your ears to hear what you are playing. Don’t try hard at this. Have no concern about “being right” about anything. Just allow yourself the freedom to play and hear.

It Will Get More And More Interesting

There’s a whole lot more you will learn on this interesting journey and we’ll be covering more of it. Meanwhile, appreciate what you are doing now, keep a smile on your face, and allow your ears to do what they were designed to do… HEAR!


Inspiration Through Implementation

Use It, Don’t Lose It

Add color to your piano practice routineOne of the biggest compliments received by ProProach members of the program is that it emphasizes the utilization of what is learned. That program places a heavy focus on learning new piano chord voicings but it doesn’t stop there. You see, it actually provides genuine examples of the techniques and strategies discussed being incorporated into actual songs. There is no better way to reinforce newly learned concepts.

Do you make a regular habit of using what you practice?

If you happen to be working at perfecting a particular song segment, then it is clear that your practice time is being applied musically. But what about those exercises, including scales and patterns? Do you generally go through the motions of playing them or do you make efforts to incorporate them in musical scenarios?

For example, if you are a student of Hanon: The Virtuoso Pianist, it is understood that these exercises were created for certain specific technical benefits. At the same time, they can be put to music, too. Have you ever thought about using a little portion of Exercise #1, for instance, as a piano fill for the turnaround section of a standard song such as How High The Moon (by Nancy Hamilton & Morgan Lewis)?

What about those scales? A major (no pun intended) reason they  are often viewed as boring “have to’s” is because they are often not used beyond the context of those scale books. Jazz players make a habit of putting scales and patterns into practice with their improvisations. But you don’t have to be a jazz musician to learn to take your practice time into more creative realms.

Obsessed With Conformity?

“But I’m a classical player and putting fills into Beethoven’s Fur Elise isn’t something people do!”

It’s true that most people don’t. Along with that, you aren’t very likely to hear Beethoven’s music to be modified in such a fashion. Actually, that’s a topic for another writing but who is to prevent you from being creative with that music? It has been said by someone wise that the opposite of courage is conformity. Maybe “coloring outside the lines” is what you just might need to add “pizzazz” to your practice routine. Consider watching some video recordings of master entertainer Victor Borge and allow yourself to be inspired!

Colorize Your Experience

Okay, a main point here – and it would be accurate to say this was my inspiration for creating 88 Keys To Learning – is this: be sensitive to those moments in your practice routine when your emotions/feelings leave the inspirational stage.

Sure, there can be technical value in performing exercises in a disciplined manner even if you’re not absolutely loving the experience… BUT there’s a whole lot MORE value in it if you ARE loving it!

Consider keeping an index card on your piano’s music stand that reads, “How can I turn this particular experience into something even more fun and rewarding?” What a powerful little reminder that can go a long way toward not only having a more enriching practice session… but also a greater day!


Practicing Piano: 88 Keys To Learning

Practicing Seem A Bore & A Chore?

Practicing piano just got better!There’s something about that word “practice” that creates a resistance within some individuals. Maybe it’s the implication of hard effort and even boredom.

Change It All

But it never should be like that. As a matter of fact, it ought to feel like a pleasure and privilege each and every time you sit at that piano or keyboard of yours.

I am not able to express in words the fun I had when creating 88 Keys To Learning. It made me recall several episodes of my early practice days which would have been a whole lot more fun if I had the help of the kind of encouragement offered in this collection of “Keys.”

Develop Awesome Habits

I find it interesting how we humans, as creatures of habit, make it really easy to fall into “ruts” of thinking that we never seem to be able to shed. This is especially true when it comes to our approach to practicing piano (or any instrument, for that matter).

There Is Hope

88 Keys To Learning was created to throw a curveball into the “mixing pot” of frustration, anxiety, and boredom that often accompanies practicing. Whether you are an adult who is attracted to the benefits of playing piano but can’t seem to establish a practice routine you can stick to or you are a parent of a youngster whose practice habits are erratic, you’ll find hope in 88 Keys To Learning.

Is practicing scales a thorn in your side? Do you find yourself faced with technical challenges that just seem to recur without being met with a resolution? Does sightreading scare you? What type of practice challenges do you encounter?

Energy Renewed

Use your imagination for a moment. What if all those “bumps in the road” became your source for adventure and a sense of inner accomplishment? As a parent, what if you could offer your child some encouragement that would turn his or her situation inside out for the better?

Piano Teacher’s Helper

Are you a piano teacher? Surely, you already know that each student has their own brand of discouragement or setbacks in some area of their practice routine. You’ll want to encourage each of them to own a copy of this collection of “Keys.” Things will change for them and you will be thanked for it.

Your Own Creativity Awaits You

A chief aim of mine is for you, the reader and practitioner, to use these “Keys” in a fashion that serves you best, including putting your own “spins” on them and coming up with your own insights as you let these ideas change the way you practice. As a teacher, you will undoubtedly incorporate many of these ideas into your own teaching approach to instill more enthusiasm into your students’ practice routines and help them reach greater heights of creativity.

88 Keys To Learning will not replace any piano method you may be involved with, as it was never intended to do that. However, it is sure to serve as the perfect compliment to any piano practice routine. When you incorporate these “Keys” into your routine, the sky’s the limit.

Play Piano With Confidence

Play Piano With ConfidenceI have been conducting piano lessons in a one-on-one environment for many years. Many of these clients have been adults who already had a fair to good amount of previous experience with reading and playing the piano. Their knowledge of and ability to play chords has also been significant enough in order that they might be competent enough to be able to perform a rendition of a favorite standard song in a decent fashion.

Yet it has always interested me that, despite their possession of such knowledge and skills, many of them have one significant characteristic in common:

Their playing lacks that “certain something” that lets a listener know they are in command of that piano keyboard in terms of producing genuine music.

Note that I said their playing lacks that “certain something” rather than saying they don’t possess such ability.

So, what’s responsible for this lack of confidence that is necessary for a performance to come across as convincing? Well, simply put, the music cannot come out of the instrument if it does not first reside in the performer. I see it time and time again where an individual will approach playing a song as if they are mechanically trying to make that piano do what they want. In other words, rather than hearing and feeling the song within and allowing that experience to be naturally conveyed to the instrument, they seem to view the piano as a “machine” to which they are giving instructions via “pushing buttons.”

This is an issue that is much easier conveyed one-on-one than it is via writing about, of course. However, it is so important to the musician who aspires to play authentically that it needs to be addressed. I created two specific video sessions that are aimed at helping a pianist to get that “flow” happening in his or her playing as well as providing suggestions for how to approach playing those left-hand chords in a way that makes musical sense. You can access How To Play Standard Songs With Confidence #1 and #2 by clicking here.

Remember, if you are not able to fluently sing a song – at least hearing and feeling it within – then your potential for performing that song in a fashion that “sings” is rather limited. Therefore, a preliminary suggestion is to familiarize yourself with that song so well internally that what your “singing on the inside” must inevitably be projected through your instrument and, ultimately, to your listeners’ ears. Once you master this relationship between yourself and your instrument, your music will always be taken seriously.

Easy Way To Make Music At The Piano

No Reading Necessary!

Piano Chords Video & GuidebookI want to put it on the table right away so there is no misunderstanding. It is not my intention to minimize the benefits of reading music. The ability to read music opens you to an entire world of wonderful possibilities.

That said, let’s be real. Based on my over four decades of teaching people, I know for a fact that there are lots of people out there who never even gave themselves permission to enjoy themselves tickling those ivories because they saw “the need to read” as an obstacle to overcome. They let that stop them from having fun getting involved with what could be an absolutely terrific, fulfilling hobby. I also think it’s accurate to say that most of these people are not aware that some of the most outstanding musicians of our time never learned to read music.

When an adult with absolutely no experience enters my studio, getting them to learn how to read music is the least of my concerns for the time being. The main goal is to get that individual to express himself or herself in a musical way as soon as reasonably possible. Most of the time, within about 20 minutes, these people become intrigued by the possibilities in front of them.

Expressing Yourself Is Natural

Remember this: you expressed yourself verbally before you could read or write your language. When you were hungry, you learned quickly how to cry for food. When you were thirsty, your instincts made it easy to get your message across.

Making music can be the same way… and it ought to be.

A most delightful way to enjoy quick results at the piano or keyboard is to explore your harmonic possibilities. Harmony can be simply defined as two or more notes played together that sound good. A chord can be easily defined as harmony that consists of three or more notes played together that sound good.

So, friend, if you want to start enjoying yourself at the piano without knowing how to read a note of music, start having fun learning chords. Chords are where it’s at!

A Quick Way To Have Fun With Chords At The Piano

I put together a very informal, easy-to-understand video and guidebook that makes learning your basic chords so easy, it’s almost funny. It doesn’t require shipping. As with everything in our online store, you can gain instant access to it. It’s called Piano Chords 101 and you can click here to start having fun with playing chords right away. Yes, I mean within minutes, not hours.

You see, there is something about even just playing chords on the piano that is satisfying. I believe that we were put on this planet to live in harmony. So it makes sense that producing harmony is a very natural, rewarding experience.

Sure, once you learn those chords, you’ll soon be in touch with creative things you can do with them. Actually, that video described above will get you started playing chords in a creative way. There is no time like the present to begin making music… let that time be now.

Beginners Blues Piano: Non-Theory Lesson #4

Blues Piano Lesson For BeginnersOur Blues Piano Journey Continues

If you have followed this mini-series in sequence, you used Lessons #1 and #2 to become acquainted with three specific chord structures referred to as voicings. You are playing these voicings with your left hand.

In addition, you are playing these blues piano chord voicings in the context of a very specific chord progression. This chord progression consists of 12 measures. Throughout time, this 12-measure chord progression has been commonly referred to as the basic 12-bar blues form.

The terms we have assigned to the various elements of the blues might be called a kind of “theory” in itself. However, we haven’t really talked about any particular aspect of music theory that you need to make an effort to remember. The real value is in the doing rather than remembering. From the beginning, it has been our intention to focus on getting you in the act of playing without getting bombarded with theoretical stuff to remember.

You Are Playing “Pro” Chord Voicings

In Lesson #3, we took a good look and listen to how these chord voicings are used in actual playing situations. These two “musical giants” made terrific music as they engaged in a wonderful dual performance of the blues. A key point here is that much of what each performer was playing with the fingers of his left hand is exactly what we have been focusing on.

These three voicings that you have been familiarizing yourself with are often referred to as “stock” voicings, meaning they are commonly used by the pros time and time again. Like stock, they are always available to be “pulled off the shelf” when needed. In other words, you will use these voicings so many times that you’ll be able to immediately play them without thinking about them!

Repetition Breeds Familiarity

Yes, again, you want to be able to play them without thinking about them. This is a good reason that we have not been in any great hurry to go beyond getting quite used to having fun with playing these three left-hand voicings again and again. In addition, playing them in the context of the 12-bar blues will also become second nature to you.

It will serve you well to embrace the truth that it’s not how much you know but what you do with what you know that leads to wonderful results.

A Tiny Little Adjustment

We are still going to take things slowly at this point. However, we can “get our feet wet” with taking things one step further. I would like you to consider exercising that imagination of yours.

You see, rather than dictate what your next steps are (as in telling you what to play), I would like you to make some fun choices of your own. It’s really very important that you don’t judge your performance at all. Just allow yourself to explore, okay?

We will get to that in a few moments. Below, I have provided a short keyboard animation. The animation demonstrates my playing of this 12-bar blues form utilizing the three blues chord voicings that we have been playing with my left hand. While I am doing this, I am also playing a right-hand improvisation.

For the first few times viewing and listening to this, place your focus again on what is being played with the left hand. Of course, the three lowest keys being played are these voicings. See them and hear them in the context of the 12-bar blues form.

I would like to point out one tiny little difference in this 12-bar blues chord progression that I am playing. As you watch and listen, do you notice that I interrupted the first four measures of the C9 chord by playing the F13 once in measure #2?

Compare this with the 12-bar blues form we played in Lesson #2:

|| C9 | F13 | C9 | C9|

| F13 | F13 | C9 | C9 |

| G13 | F13 | C9 | C9 ||

This isn’t anything intimidating at all since we are not playing anything new. We are just inserting the F13 that we already know in measure two to replace the C9.

What do we accomplish by doing this?

Up to now, as you played through the first four measures of the blues form, perhaps you have already felt as though playing that C9 chord voicing for four measures in a row seemed a little more repetitious than you would have liked.
If so, your feelings have been shared with many blues professionals throughout the decades.

This four-measure phrase really invites this temporary interruption. It really keeps the momentum going. Please take this opportunity to listen once again to Oscar Peterson and Count Basie playing the blues and you will notice that they are indeed playing that F13 in measure #2 also!

You’ll hear this particular version of 12-bar blues form played often as you listen to more and more blues players. Is this always the case? No. It’s a choice and dependent on the choice of the composer or performer.

The Right-Hand Dance

Okay, let’s get back to your having fun with making some choices. I want you to approach this with an accepting attitude. Make it fun…Blues Piano Improvisation

Let’s take a look at what’s going on with that right hand in the video animation above. You’ve noticed that, as the left hand plays those voicings you have familiarized yourself with, the right hand is playing something a little “bluesy.”

Go ahead and take specific notice to just a tiny segment of that… any little part of it. Just choose a few notes that appeal to you… maybe two, three, or four. While at your piano or keyboard, play those few notes with your right hand as you play through the 12-bar blues chord progression. Even as you change the voicings with your left hand, it’s okay to keep playing those few notes with your right.

Take your time with this. Remember, having fun applying yourself to what’s being described is where the value exists for you.

What are you noticing? There is no wrong answer to this. Your perception is correct and just fine. Just play and listen. The idea is to play, listen, and have fun with this. Perhaps you are noticing that when you play the right-hand notes while changing chord voicings with the left hand, you experience something quite interesting. You are putting yourself in touch with some different sound textures. This is a significant part of playing the blues!

Keep playing. Don’t think. Just do.

The video above is actually the beginning excerpt of a special half-hour session that I created. If you would like to experience the entire video, you can gain instant access to it by visiting here. I think you’ll experience something positive as you follow along with it.

Keep on playing through the 12-bar blues form with those left-hand voicings as you allow your right hand to explore a little. Don’t judge. Just play… listen… smile… play… listen… smile… enjoy… soak it up… love it… appreciate every sound that your fingertips produce. You’re doing great!

As you continue, you will be inspired to make some different choices for those right-hand fingers to play. Follow through as we have described. Enjoy the choices you make. Make some more! You are beginning to improvise!






Beginners Blues Piano: Non-Theory Lesson #3

Blues Piano Lesson For BeginnersIf you have taken yourself through lessons #1 and 2 of this little series, you are playing the 12 Bar Blues progression with your left hand much like a pro player might approach it. By the way, if you ever hear anyone use the term “12 Bar Blues Form,” that person is referring to this progression that you now know how to play.  This 12 measure progression is the basic 12 measure blues form played again and again by so many of the greats.

I would like to devote this particular message to encouraging you to appreciate what you have accomplished up to this point. Please practice playing those chord voicings with your left hand as you become more and more confident with doing do.

In the meantime, I feel that it might serve you well to listen to two master pianists playing the blues. I’m referring to the excellence of Oscar Peterson and Count Basie as they both play a fantastic rendition of blues piano that anyone can look up to..

As a matter of fact, this video footage shows, when the camera was at just the right angle, that some of the chord voicings that each of them is playing with his left hand coincide with the exact same chord voicings that you using at this point:

You’ll notice that both Oscar and The Count are enjoying themselves tremendously as they exchange looks of mutual appreciation. You’ll benefit by allowing some of that to “rub off” on you… learn to fully appreciate yourself and your musical journey!

Yes, each of these accomplished pianists are putting their right hand fingers to great melodic and improvisationand use, too. You’ll be doing that also. However, let this be a time to enhance your appreciation of blues music. Really put yourself “in synch” with the feel of it. Notice how both Oscar Peterson and Count Basie “soak up” every beat as they live in the moment.

How you feel about yourself and what you play is far more important than how many notes you play. Please remember that. Learn to apply this truth during your early stages of playing. In short, make it a habit of feeling good about yourself.

As you watch this performance over and  over again, see if you can pinpoint when the chord voicings that you are playing are exactly what either Oscar or The Count is playing.

We will be having some fun with that right hand, too. Just remember the priority: feel your music and appreciate YOU.


Beginners Blues Piano: Non-Theory Lesson #2

Let’s Do Some Name Calling

Blues Piano Lesson For BeginnersYou are reading  this because use either you “stumbled” on this page OR you have taken yourself through Part 1 of this lesson. Welcome!

Okay, you have that left hand playing those chord voicings shared earlier. In addition, you have become somewhat comfortable with playing them in the sequence suggested:

  1. Position #1
  2. Position #2
  3. Position #1
  4. Position #3
  5. Position #2
  6. Position #1

Instead of referring to these structures as “Positions,” let’s be a little more specific by calling them what they actually are. Again, “why’s” of all this can be cleared up at another time. you are even welcome to email me if you would like an explanation.

Again, we’re not getting hung up with the theory behind this. All you need to do is associate the symbol with the position. In a similar way, if you know a person by their name like “John Smith,” you recognize that individual by what he looks like and you call him by name. You can treat these chord voicings in the same manner.

Position #1 is a chord voicing for a C9 chord voicing :


C9 chord voicing




Position #2 is a chord voicing for an F13 chord voicing:

F13 chord voicing




Position #3 is a chord voicing for a G13 chord voicing:

G13 chord voicing

Take a few moments to play each of these voicings. As you play each one, call “him” by his name: C9 (say “C nine”), F13 (say “F thirteen”), G13 (say “G thirteen”).

You are doing Awwwwwesome!

Welcome To The World Of Chord Progressions

Next, simply play these chord voicings in the order suggested earlier:

  1. C9
  2. F13
  3. C9
  4. G13
  5. F13
  6. C9

Here’s a brief clip of my demonstrating them, referring to them by their corresponding names:

There is a good reason why you have been asked to play these three chord voicings in that certain order. When we progress from one chord to another, we call that a chord progression (makes sense, right?). That’s not a theoretical term you need to be concerned with memorizing because you’re going to hear it so often during your musical journey, it will be a household word with you!

Okay, so when you played those three chord voicings in that order (1 through 6), you played a specific chord progression.

The Way A Pro Sees It

Let’s look at it in a different kind of visual way:

|| C9 | C9 | C9 | C9|

| F13 | F13 | C9 | C9 |

| G13 | F13 | C9 | C9 ||

Let’s slow down and take another look at the above illustration…

Have we changed the order at all? Not at all. However, we are showing each of these chord voicing symbols more than once before we progress to the next chord.

Let’s have you do something. Put this illustration up on your piano or keyboard stand and play each chord every time you see it. Let’s do this a very special way. Since music is divided into beats (like a minute is divided into seconds), let play and hold each chord every time we see it for FOUR counts (as you say “1-2-3-4”).

Let me show you this once in the following video clip. Then it’s your turn:

Notice that we play with a steady count in groups of four (“1-2-3-4 | 1-2-3-4 | etc.)

So, each chord in between those lines (“bar lines”) is played for 4 beats. Each of these groups of 4 beats is called a measure.

How many measures do we have total in our little song above?

Did you say 12?

If so, you are right!

You’re Playing The 12 Bar Blues!

What you are playing is commonly referred to by professional musicians as the 12 Bar Blues! The word “bar” is often used in place of the word “measure.

Having gotten this far, you’ve done better than superb. Reward yourself!

Have fun playing the 12 Bar Blues chord progression so that you are comfortable keeping a steady pulse or beat as you change chords. Play it slowwwwwly and steadily.

We’ll continue this journey in an upcoming post… (I’m honored that you’ve followed me to this point:))


Beginners Blues Piano: Non-Theory Lesson #1

Let’s Do, Not Think

Blues Piano Lesson For BeginnersAre you a piano beginner who likes the blues? Listening to blues music is undoubtedly a wonderful thing. Actually playing blues music is even more fun!

If you have little or no experience at those keys, my guess is that your reaction to just the idea of playing the blues is one of doubt. Am I right? Sometimes I’m wrong.

Well, okay, whether you believe you’re capable of it or not, suspend those doubts for just a little while and grab hold of these simple concepts.

There are three basic chords to the blues and they are all 7th chords. If we’re playing a C Blues, then those chords are:




That’s it!

Alright, I admit it. That was theory. So you don’t have to pay attention to it right now.

Again, my intention here isn’t to get you to understand what you will be doing… just to DO IT! There’s plenty of time for you to learn about the “why’s” but the fun of it all is in the playing of it. Remember, you were able to speak before you could spell any of those words. You just know how to produce the sounds and you did it (from “goo-goo-gaa-gaa” to “I’m hungry!”)

Let’s Play Some Chord Voicings

So that’s what we’re doing here. The chords mentioned above don’t sound all that fantastic if played in a very basic so, as a beginner, you’re being introduced to the “pro” way of playing them. These are called “chord voicings” but don’t concern yourself with that now. JUST DO.

Simply look at the three images below and place the pinkie, index finger, and thumb of your left hand on the keys you see highlighted, okay?

Position #1

C9 chord voicing

Position #2

F13 chord voicing

Position #3

G13 chord voicing

All you need to do is get used to playing those three structures with your left hand. Play Position #1, then Position #2, then Position #3.

Once you are comfortable with this, practice these 3 chord structures in this order:

  1. Play Position #1
  2. Play Position #2
  3. Play Position #1 again
  4. Play Position #3
  5. Play Position #2
  6. Play Position #1 again

Do this over and over again. Just get used to doing this. That’s all you need to be getting out of this lesson. Copy what you see in those illustrations by playing them on your piano or keyboard. Here’s a quick flick of my playing them. In this video, I mention the names of the keys but that’s not important to you right now if you don’t know them (no theory necessary, remember?):


When you are comfortable playing these structures, you have already accomplished a lot! So, A +++++ to you.

I’m wondering if what you’re hearing is familiar to you. Is it? Would you do me a favor? Please use the information on the contact page to email me your experience with this. I want your input. Are you having a challenge with these positions? Did it come easy for you? Are you feeling comfortable playing them in the order shown above? When you email me, please include “Blues Piano Lesson” in the subject area.

I’m interested in knowing so do connect with me. The next part of this non-theory blues piano lesson will follow.

Have fun!