Steps to Memorizing Chords: Half-Steps, Whole-Steps, and Thirds

Today's video lesson was created especially for my new course, "Piano Chords 108." In this lecture, students will learn how to visualize and play half-steps, whole-steps, minor thirds, and major thirds on the piano.

What's in the video lesson below?

Intervals...

Half-steps and whole-steps are the two intervals that we use here to define minor and major thirds (which are also intervals).  It's the all-important thirds that we are especially focused on here, and we will construct them easily today, using just half-steps and whole-steps.

...Leading to Chords

In our chord speed-learning class called Piano Chords 108, you will achieve impressive memorization skills for chords by using the music theory concept of "stacking thirds."

As prerequisite knowledge for that class, this lecture is basically the stuff you gotta know.

After this Lesson:

Before moving on from this lesson, please be sure you can play (or visualize) both a minor and a major third on piano, starting on any given note, without stopping to think.  Even in the middle of a car chase, or a toddler's birthday party at that pizza-and-games place, this should be something you can do without thinking.

Assuming maybe you're not there yet, no worries! Today can be the day. It probably won't take more than one solid practice session after this video, for you to OWN what's covered in the lesson!

VIDEO LESSON (MEMBERS ONLY CONTENT):

The remaining content of this post is for supporting members. Your monthly membership is extremely affordable, and makes it possible for us to work full-time on the task of creating  FREE educational content, plus additional premium content, for members like you. This is a fast-growing site, and we really need your support as an "All Access" premium member   to keep this site alive.  (After signing up, you may need to refresh this page to open all the content.)

How to Riff on Van Morrison’s “Moondance” – Part 3

Welcome back!

This is Lesson Three of a 3-lesson collection on the topic of "jazzy-rock" improvisation.

Jump to:      Lesson One       Lesson Two 

Lesson Three video

The remaining content of this post is for supporting members. Your monthly membership is extremely affordable, and makes it possible for us to work full-time on the task of creating  FREE educational content, plus additional premium content, for members like you. This is a fast-growing site, and we really need your support as an "All Access" premium member   to keep this site alive.  (After signing up, you may need to refresh this page to open all the content.)

How to Riff on Van Morrison’s “Moondance” – Part 2

Hello!

This is Lesson Two of a three-part video series on "jazzy-rock" improvisation.

(Lesson One is here.)

(Lesson Three is here.)

///

These three tutorials would fit somewhere near the center of the jazzy-rock genre spectrum, if there was one.

I guess there could possibly be a jazzy-rock genre officially defined somewhere, like in a big canvas binder at the Genres Office, or like that. Regardless of the possibility of this being regulated, I'm using the term freely here, maybe even whimsically, maybe even having some devil-may-care attitude going.

If I had a managing editor you would not have seen the previous paragraph. Don't worry, with your continued support, we will hire a managing editor.

Van Morrison's Moondance is the "jamming vehicle" we're using in this trio of lessons. Moondance is a catchy tune, and it serves really well as a straightforward case study in jazzish-rockish piano improvisation.

 

VIDEO LESSON:

The remaining content of this post is for supporting members. Your monthly membership is extremely affordable, and makes it possible for us to work full-time on the task of creating  FREE educational content, plus additional premium content, for members like you. This is a fast-growing site, and we really need your support as an "All Access" premium member   to keep this site alive.  (After signing up, you may need to refresh this page to open all the content.)

Jazz improv practice: A nice drill using “approach tones”

Here's a nice jazzy drill, to give you practice on:

(1) Adding interest to your melody lines,  by sometimes preceding the "target tone(s)" of a chord with "approach tones;" and,

(2) increased mastery of any given scale, especially as it relates to the underlying chords.

As a result, the repeated act of mindfully (and not mindlessly) practicing this drill can increase your general facility with approach tones, as well as give you (possibly new) theoretical insights regarding chord-scale relationships. Dig? You'll see.

The remaining content of this post is for supporting members. Your monthly membership is extremely affordable, and makes it possible for us to work full-time on the task of creating  FREE educational content, plus additional premium content, for members like you. This is a fast-growing site, and we really need your support as an "All Access" premium member   to keep this site alive.  (After signing up, you may need to refresh this page to open all the content.)

Blues Piano Crash Course #10: Turn-arounds and endings

from The Blues Piano Crash Course

Lesson #10  (video)

Turn-arounds and endings for the 12-bar blues.

The remaining content of this post is for supporting members. Your monthly membership is extremely affordable, and makes it possible for us to work full-time on the task of creating  FREE educational content, plus additional premium content, for members like you. This is a fast-growing site, and we really need your support as an "All Access" premium member   to keep this site alive.  (After signing up, you may need to refresh this page to open all the content.)

Blues Piano Crash Course #9: The Melody Machine

from The Blues Piano Crash Course

Lesson #9  (video) "The Melody Machine"

This thing I like to call the  "melody machine" is by no means a new technique for creating strong melodies. Singers, composers and improvisers have built melodies this way forever.  In a nutshell, it's a specific way of using the underlying chord progression as a "generator" of melodic material.

Sometimes this "melody generating" concept doesn't get enough of a spotlight. By spotlight, I mean pointing it out and teaching it, in places where students can fully appreciate the power of the results.

So here's a great place for that spotlight:  the art and science of creating powerful blues licks!

The remaining content of this post is for supporting members. Your monthly membership is extremely affordable, and makes it possible for us to work full-time on the task of creating  FREE educational content, plus additional premium content, for members like you. This is a fast-growing site, and we really need your support as an "All Access" premium member   to keep this site alive.  (After signing up, you may need to refresh this page to open all the content.)

Blues Piano Crash Course #8: Blue notes & pitch-bending

from The Blues Piano Crash Course

Lesson #8  (video)

In this lesson, we master a couple of specific blues piano tricks of the trade.  I'm using the word specific here, because we're going to use these devices with a goal in mind, a musical effect that is pretty specific.

The "tricks" in this video are focused on emulating those sounds of blues singers and other instruments who can "bend" their notes (slide or play between pitches).  You'll learn about "blue notes," and also pick up a blues-boogie playing technique called the slide-off.

The remaining content of this post is for supporting members. Your monthly membership is extremely affordable, and makes it possible for us to work full-time on the task of creating  FREE educational content, plus additional premium content, for members like you. This is a fast-growing site, and we really need your support as an "All Access" premium member   to keep this site alive.  (After signing up, you may need to refresh this page to open all the content.)

Blues Piano Crash Course, #7: Walking Bass Line & more coordination

from The Blues Piano Crash Course

Lesson #7  (video)

Rhythm is never to be neglected in the Blues, even in performances that are so slow and sultry that it feels like we're all just breathing, no real beat, just waves...oh sorry, I spaced! Ha. Thing is, even a very slow blues is going to rely heavily on rhythm to give us another undeniable take on real life. We all know how "slow" can sometimes be more alive than "fast" anyway. It all depends right?

I'm saying that about rhythm here because this is the third lesson in a row where we've been practicing two-handed coordination on the piano. And I think I'd better explain myself, before you get too bored or too frustrated or both.

First, the more fun work (fun work? yep) picks up again after this third lesson on coordination. I swear. Also, you will learn how to do a walking bass line in this one.

Finally, this maybe-less-than-fun stuff is truly important, this coordination work on piano, because if your hands aren't "of one mind" -- coordinated -- then the exalted Rhythm Itself will suffer. And we can't have that in the blues, not on my watch, dig? If you want to sound great, instead of just good or worse, then quite often it's just a matter of fixing up that rhythm. Something that can mystify us sometimes -- that frustrating sense of "it just doesn't sound right" -- can often be traced back to one thing: The Lack of a Solid Groove. Rhythm is King!

The remaining content of this post is for supporting members. Your monthly membership is extremely affordable, and makes it possible for us to work full-time on the task of creating  FREE educational content, plus additional premium content, for members like you. This is a fast-growing site, and we really need your support as an "All Access" premium member   to keep this site alive.  (After signing up, you may need to refresh this page to open all the content.)

The Blues Piano Crash Course – Lesson #6: More practice & help with two-handed coordination

From The Blues Piano Crash Course

Lesson Six (video) "Put Your Hands Together - Again..."

More tips and practice on two-handed coordination for piano, using notes from the blues.

The remaining content of this post is for supporting members. Your monthly membership is extremely affordable, and makes it possible for us to work full-time on the task of creating  FREE educational content, plus additional premium content, for members like you. This is a fast-growing site, and we really need your support as an "All Access" premium member   to keep this site alive.  (After signing up, you may need to refresh this page to open all the content.)

Chord Voicings for Jazz Piano (rootless, left-hand, Type B)

"Type B" Rootless Chord Voicings for Piano

"Rootless voicings" on piano (especially for left-hand support) are great for handling big jazz chords that normally can't be covered by one hand alone. This video tutorial  shows you how to play a rich sounding II-V-I in the left hand, while allowing the bass player (or you, on another beat) to cover the root.

This is Part Two of a pair of lessons, covering "Type B" voicings.  The first lesson,  covering "Type A"  shows another way of executing the same idea, only with the notes in a different arrangement.

VIDEO LESSON:

The remaining content of this post is for supporting members. Your monthly membership is extremely affordable, and makes it possible for us to work full-time on the task of creating  FREE educational content, plus additional premium content, for members like you. This is a fast-growing site, and we really need your support as an "All Access" premium member   to keep this site alive.  (After signing up, you may need to refresh this page to open all the content.)