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How to Play Difficult Chords on Piano or Keyboards

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How to Deal with ‘Over-Crowding’ of Your Fingers when dealing with Awkward Chords

Today’s post is taken from an online exchange between a YouTube follower of mine, and myself, regarding a question he had posted on one of my YouTube tutorials.  The topic of discussion here is playing certain difficult chord-shapes on piano


Sometimes I can play the C7 Chord, lots of time I am hitting the G# because I have to move my hand higher on the keys to sound the chord. Any hints on fingering or practicing this? Thanks much!“


Hi Dale! Thanks so much for your question! I think many other students can relate to this, so it’s great to have this discussion posted here. I have two suggestions to start with: (1) To get used to not hitting any neighboring notes, for any chord, practice playing the notes of the chord as an ARPEGGIO a whole bunch of times. In this case try playing C, E, G, then Bb, one note at a time, starting on C, up to E, then G, then Bb, then back down. Increase the speed of this arpeggio as you get more comfortable.  (2) You can always leave out the G entirely (in a C7). This is not cheating, because the C7 chord sounds nice that way, a bit more powerful and open sounding. Theory note: The important thing in playing any “complete” chord is to include the THIRD and the SEVENTH (if there is a seventh). This produces the “full effect” of the type of chord being played; so, this C7 example works fine. (In this case, the third is E, and the seventh is Bb.) Please let me know if these suggestions help, or if you have any other questions, of course!  Thanks!


I’ve been doing the Arpeggio thingy (but not enough I guess) I did that trick with learning Triads and just moved it on to this.  Leaving the G out is something new and I will give that a shot, my music theory is not great so I had no ideer about the 3rd and 7th rule, I played guitar before but never paid a great amount of attention to theory, I think by trying to learn the Piano I’ve learn more about music in a few months than I did for years of playing the Guitar.  Thanks for excellent reply


Sure thing, Dale! One other suggestion, closely related to the arpeggio: With improvisation, like blues or jazz, feel free to play the root of the chord before or after the rest of the chord, or to occasionally play only the root and third, or to rhythmically outline the notes in a “walking bass .”  With improv, musicians can find interesting ways around technical hurdles without breaking any “rules.”




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