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Beginning Blues Piano Lessons Here

PostPosted: Mon Feb 07, 2005 8:16 pm
by doc williamson
[updated:LAST EDITED ON Feb-07-05 AT 03:19 PM (EST)]A few here on BRB have expressed interest in learning beginning blues piano. This will help anyone with their instrument of choice and if you have ANY kind of keyboard this is a start to play blues keyboards:

A Major chord is made up of the 1st (root) note, 3rd and 5th note in the scale. You can think Do-Ray-Me-Fa, etc., if that helps. Those three notes in ANY key will ALWAYS make up a MAJOR chord. Now let's play:

Key of C:

The C chord is made up of the notes C (the 1st or root note in the scale), the note E (3rd note in the scale) and G (5th note in the scale. Now, hit them all at one time. That's is a C major chord!

Now let's try an F chord all of the notes above explain the 1st, 3rd and 5th notes. So, F major is made up of the notes F - A - C played at the same time.

Next is the G major chord which is made up of G - B - D notes played at the same time.

What those three chords represent is 90% of the chords in ALL blues songs. They may be in different keys but we are just starting.

Please let me know how you do with those and I'll explain the minor chords and chord progressions. BTW ~ you just learned the first blues progression with those three chords. You just have to listen and figure out when each is played. If you can't figure it out NO PROBLEM. I'll write how to play those chords in beats or measures if you need them. Good luck!

RE: Beginning Blues Piano Lessons Here

PostPosted: Mon Feb 07, 2005 8:24 pm
by doc williamson
[updated:LAST EDITED ON Feb-07-05 AT 03:24 PM (EST)]Lesson 1.1:

>Doc: if everyone's OK with it, how 'bout supplyin' the 7ths,
>and maybe the first inversion on the C7th...? But, I'll shut
>up and let the others decide. AND, I think it'd be cool if
>we got a couple guys to submit keyboard pieces for the next
>BRB comp CD, even if they're beginner level. It'd be like
>our first recital....! BTW, learning a little bit about
>piano can only help a guitar player's understanding of the
>blues, and even more so for a harper, I believe.

Great ideas all around, Bubba.

The 7th as written in a C7 chord is essential in playing the blues on any instrument and is one of the notes in The Blues Scale. I hope this isn't too confusing but there is a difference between a chord written C7 and Cmaj.7 and what is played and here is why: In the musical scale (think Do-Ray-Me-Fa...etc., the C7 chord is made up of C (root) first note in the scale - E (3rd note in the scale) - G (5th note in the scale) and Bb (the FLATTED 7th note of the scale). The FLATTED 7th makes the C7. It gets a little confusing when you play the major scale or sing Do-Ray-etc., because the 7th note in the scale is B natural BUT YOU MUST play the FLATTED 7th to make the Blues Chord. It will ALWAYS be written as C7 and any 7th chord (i.e. F or G) will be written F7 or G7. The Cmaj.7 chord plays the regular 7th in the scale and is pretty but not used in the blues very much. So, in the three chord I-IV-V blues progression to add color to your chords try using the FLATTED 7th. Here are the notes and chords you play:

I - C7 chord (notes: C-E-G-Bb)
IV - F7 chord (notes: F-A-C-Eb)
V - G7 chord (notes: G-B-D-F)

Is that a little bit awkward or a stretch for your hand to play those notes in that order? NO PROBLEM! That is why God invented THE FIRST INVERSION. What you do is move the root note of the chord to the top of the chord so it is played:

FIRST INVERSION:

I - C7 chord (notes: E-G-Bb-C)
IV - F7 chord (notes: A-C-Eb-F)
V - G7 chord (notes: B-D-F-G)

Now, isn't that more comfy for your hand? You are playing the same chord but just in another note pattern. It is important to learn both the root note chord and the first inversion as this will add color to your music.

More later. But, is this a good start? Are you confused? Questions, anyone? We will go as fast or slow as it takes for all to learn and feel comfortable.

RE: Beginning Blues Piano Lessons Here

PostPosted: Mon Feb 07, 2005 8:32 pm
by doc williamson
Just a note: I don't have to be the only instructor on this thread. If anyone knows of an easier way to explain these lessons or ideas of what should be taught please post them here. Thank you.

RE: Beginning Blues Piano Lessons Here

PostPosted: Mon Feb 07, 2005 9:05 pm
by ricochet
Thanks, Doc, that is more comfy!

Usually don't think on the guitar what "inversion" of a chord's being played, just that the notes are all in there somewhere.

It seems melodically handy having the root note on top and the harmony "under" it!

RE: Beginning Blues Piano Lessons Here

PostPosted: Mon Feb 07, 2005 9:49 pm
by jeffl
Rico, if you think it's more comfy playin' the inversion alone, wait 'til you slide it in with a chord on both sides of it. Depending on the key, it can make the difference between being able to play the progression at all, or taking a shortcut.

RE: Beginning Blues Piano Lessons Here

PostPosted: Mon Feb 07, 2005 10:04 pm
by ricochet
I'm just scratching the surface! :-)

RE: Beginning Blues Piano Lessons Here

PostPosted: Mon Feb 07, 2005 10:27 pm
by jeffl
>I'm just scratching the surface! :-)
I been scratchin' that surface for years; I gotta quit cuttin' my fingernails. Fun, ain't it!

RE: Beginning Blues Piano Lessons Here

PostPosted: Tue Feb 08, 2005 12:32 am
by ricochet
Yep!

RE: Beginning Blues Piano Lessons Here

PostPosted: Tue Feb 08, 2005 2:14 am
by littleboyblue
First round of questions :) As I look at the keys I see I can hit those notes by either keeping the same hand "shape" (for lack of any real terminology) and moving up or down the keyboard. Or I could keep my hand in approxiamelty the same place but alter the "shape" to hit the same notes (but not the same keys necessarily). Am I correct in assuming that I should be keeping the same hand "shape" and moving up and down the keys?

Next should I be practicing these chords mostly on my left hand, right hand, or both. My assumption here is that the left hand is the rythm and the right would be lead, so left needs to grounded in the chords while right maybe not so much. If I'm correct that the right hand needs to break out from this structure are there any simple riffs to run my fingers through just to get the right hand used to working? Or to start should I really just be hitting chords with both hands?

RE: Beginning Blues Piano Lessons Here

PostPosted: Tue Feb 08, 2005 2:59 am
by doc williamson
>First round of questions :) As I look at the keys I see I
>can hit those notes by either keeping the same hand "shape"
>(for lack of any real terminology) and moving up or down the
>keyboard. Or I could keep my hand in approxiamelty the same
>place but alter the "shape" to hit the same notes (but not
>the same keys necessarily). Am I correct in assuming that I
>should be keeping the same hand "shape" and moving up and
>down the keys?

GREAT QUESTIONS!!!

You can keep the shape of your hand in BASICALLY the same shape however it won't always work. If the hand is kept in EXACTLY the same shape and you start playing a C chord and move up the keyboard on the WHITE KEYS here is what you get:

C - Dm - Em - F - G (those are also the beginning of the verse chords for Bob Dylan's "Like A Rolling Stone."

Continuing: Am - Bdim. - C

If you alter the hand shape a little you are correct LBB you can play the basic chord C (notes C-E-F) but the 3rd finger or third of the chord will need to be changed a little.

>Next should I be practicing these chords mostly on my left
>hand, right hand, or both. My assumption here is that the
>left hand is the rythm and the right would be lead, so left
>needs to grounded in the chords while right maybe not so
>much. If I'm correct that the right hand needs to break out
>from this structure are there any simple riffs to run my
>fingers through just to get the right hand used to working?
>Or to start should I really just be hitting chords with both
>hands?

Start playing the chords with BOTH HANDS so that your fingers memorize the positions of the chords. We will get into some riffs very soon.

RE: Beginning Blues Piano Lessons Here

PostPosted: Tue Feb 08, 2005 3:16 am
by doc williamson
Here is what I am thinking on these piano lessons. I will continue with this lesson as:

1 - Basic chords and the blues progression.
1.1 - 7th chords and inversions.
1.2 - LBB made me think of this - the correct fingering of a chord. I should have covered it earlier.
1.3 - The Blues Scale
1.4 - Using The Blues Scale in a song.
1.5 - First Song - "Good Morning Little School Girl" by Sonny Boy Williamson I and covered by so many like Sonny Boy II, Ten Years After, Johnny Winter, etc. I remember the original as an 8 bar blues BUT we will rearrange it into a 12 bar blues song. That song will cover EVERYTHING covered in this lesson.

I will always answer questions before moving on and would appreciate a quick response from each one following this like "I'm with you, so far."

After we finish Lesson 1 I will start a thread with lesson 2. That way anyone wanting to learn Beginning Piano Blues can see the lessons in the archives on BRB.

I see BBQBob (I think that is his screen name) is checking in on one of the other threads in this forum. I hope he will add comments or clarify points.

Does all of that make sense to you all and a good way to proceed?

RE: Beginning Blues Piano Lessons Here

PostPosted: Tue Feb 08, 2005 4:16 am
by littleboyblue
Thanks for the quick answers Doc. Boy am I excited about these online lessons. I'll keep working on the chords with both hands to get a feel for them. I eagerly await lesson 1.2 that covers the fingering methods. I remember when I first was learning to play guitar I looked up how to play chords online but it didn't say which finger to use. I ended up using the most oddball fingerings to pull off some of the chords. When I finally realized the right way to play the chords everything became so much easier. I still have some bad habits from having engrained myself with incorrect chord shapes though.

On a somewhat unrealated note messing around with my harps today I finally started to get the hang of tongue blocking and discovered the elusive tone I couldn't get while just using persed lips. Funny thing is at the time I was just really trying to compare harp sound to piano sound and make correlations. I seem to only be able to find things I'm not looking for :)

RE: Beginning Blues Piano Lessons Here

PostPosted: Tue Feb 08, 2005 3:30 pm
by doc williamson
Nate, isn't it interesting how learning another instrument brings new ideas and talent to you for your main instrument?

Lesson 1.2 - Correct Fingering of Chords

To start with let's label the fingers with numbers:

RIGHT HAND:
1=Thumb
2=Index Finger
3=Middle finger
4=Ring Finger
5=Little Finger

LEFT HAND:
1=Little Finger
2=Ring Finger
3=Middle Finger
4=Index Finger
5=Thumb

Notice these Number=Finger are mirror images for the LH and RH. It will be easier to explain for me and abbreviated like:

Example: RH 1,3,5. play a root, 3rd and 5th or C-E-G
Example: LH 1,3,5. play a root, 3rd and 5th or C-E-G

Again, notice the numbers are the same but you use different fingering for left and right hand.

There are several inexpensive books or sheet music chord charts showing the correct fingering of a chord and they have some value and use. Having said that I will show you "little tricks" for fingering that piano players have been using since the first keyboard was invented.

First, try stretching your fingering as far as possible. This will help you in so many ways. Using the finger chart above makes the numbers and the notes the same for both hands.

Example: C7 chord = C=1, E=2, G=3, Bb=4, C=5

You have just stretched all five fingers to make a 7th chord and the root note is doubled on the top and bottom for a strong C7 chord.

Now, try THE FIRST INVERSION fingering WITHOUT DOUBLING the E:

Example: E=1, G=2, Bb=3, C=4

Notice you have your RH little finger free and your LH thumb free to use. This will help when you go into playing leads with the RH and bass patterns on the LH.

VARIATION of fingering for THE FIRST INVERSION:

Example: E=1, G=3, Bb=4, C=5

I use this variation a lot because it is not only more comfortable to play but also frees up my RH2 and I start a lot of leads or fills with my thumb or index finger.

HOMEWORK:

Please try to get comfortable with both fingerings and inversions. Then use the lesson 1.0 and 1.1 to learn to play ALL the chords with those fingerings and inversions.

TIP:

When playing the BLACK KEY notes for the 3rd of the scale try using RH2 and when you play a chord with the root in a sharp or flat try using the RH2 for the 3rd.

Q: How do you get to Carnegie Hall?
A: Practice, practice, practice.

I hope this lesson is helpful and not too confusing.

Questions?

RE: Beginning Blues Piano Lessons Here

PostPosted: Tue Feb 08, 2005 5:21 pm
by jeffl
Doc: It wuz nice talking to you again last nite; I wish we would've had a little more time, cuz we didn't get to the part where we're both laughin' til our jaws hurt, but... next time. I hope you don't mind, but I'm printin' these lesson posts, and makin' a 3-ring binder, so I can keep 'em organized, and I'll have 'em to share with other aspiring pianists. I'm lookin' for places at this time where my old habits and your methods don't match, so I may need to tap you at those points. God bless ya'.

RE: Beginning Blues Piano Lessons Here

PostPosted: Tue Feb 08, 2005 5:25 pm
by papatex
Doc- a question: Would it be helpful to explain the pattern of
whole & half steps in the major scale? (2 whole steps, a half step,
3 whole steps, a half step) The clearest picture of this pattern is
of course in C -playing only the white notes from C to C...the C
major scale. Of course it gets trickier when you start transposing
it, but this concept is crucial at least in my thinking, since all
styles of music in the west relates to the major scale. I think this
pattern and the way a piano keyboard is laid out is why a guitar
player has to stop thinking like one when he approachs the piano.
The idea of holding the same hand shape to jump from the I to the
IV to the V often works on the guitar neck, but this all goes out
the window on the keys. And the reason for this in my thinking
boils down to that pattern of W & H steps (which remains the same
in ~all~ keys) but gives you an entirely new look (and hand shape/
fingering as you transpose). It's those *$%!# black keys man!!
I ain't trying to teach your class, Doc, it's just all my thinking
on theory sort of relates to this pattern. How can you find for
example a D major triad without a grasp of this pattern? The 5 note
in D ain't gonna be a white note! Mike