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The Many Incredible Benefits Of Learning Chording Techniques On The Piano

Aug 17, 2007
Do you know the incredible benefits that come to you by learning chording techniques on the piano?

There are many -- way more than just 10. But due to space limitations, I'll just list 10 out of hundreds:

1. By learning chording techniques, you are at least quadrupling your chances of creating exciting new sounds on the piano -- sounds that most other piano players have no idea how to create. That's because arranging using chord techniques is open-ended -- there's no end to the styles and applications you can eventually learn and apply.

2. Learning chording techniques in NO WAY interferes with your ability to sight-read music. Some ill-informed people think it does, but not so! Ask any great jazz musician from Dave Brubeck to Andre Previn to Oscar Peterson to Chuck Corea to.... They ALL read music prolifically, yet choose to apply chording techniques to song after song, creating many of the great classic tunes we all know, like "Take Five", etc, etc.

Knowing chords and being able to apply techniques to those chords actually HELPS YOU TO SIGHT-READ FASTER, because instead of just seeing groups of random notes on the sheet music, you can see chord patterns forming and dissolving into yet another chord, another chord progression!

3. Knowing chords and applying chording techniques allows you to become a first-rate accompanist for singers and other musicians, should you want to do that. You will be able to "wrap the chords" around the singer to support them, rather than be in competition by playing the melody from the sheet music. You'll be able to create fills and counter-melodies and a host of other devices that can make you the most desired accompanist in your area.

4. By knowing chords and chording patterns you will automatically open the door to opportunities to play at places you never could if you only "play music as written". When people hear you play, they will immediately sense that "this person knows what they are doing", which can very well bring invitations to play in fraternal clubs, churches, community centers, and even weddings and funerals. I have had students of retirement age who have fulfilled their lifelong dream to play in public, even if in a small venue. I recall a CPA in Washington State who took lessons from me by cassette for a couple years and got good enough to play at a local restaurant-pub on weekends. He didn't need the money, but just LOVED the opportunity to play for folks and have them sing along.

5. Being able to apply chords to song after song means you NEVER HAVE TO PLAY A SONG THE SAME WAY TWICE! When people see me play, they often ask me to play the song again -- but are often surprised when I play it again, since I create new chord progressions and fills and improvisations each time -- so it never sounds the same.

There's a classic story about Erroll Garner, the great pianist and composer of the classic song "Misty". A lady came up to him after a concert and raved about how he played "Misty", and asked him to play it again the same way. His reply was "I can't remember how I played it last time -- but I'll play it again anyway", which greatly surprised the lady.

6. Knowing chords and chord progressions will give you a confidence you've never known before. It's exhilarating to know that you're no longer "tied to the written music", but are free to soar through the musicphere unhindered by traditional limitations! If you've never known such a feeling you are in for the musical treat of your life.

7. Knowing chords and chording techniques is "self-feeding". That is, the more you apply the techniques you know, the more new techniques will gradually become apparent. For example, once you master left-hand chords in a "hand-over arpeggio" form, if will some day occur to you that you can do the same in the right-hand. That will not just double your potential in that area, but multiply it exponentially, because you will come to see opportunity after opportunity to apply those arpeggios in many different ways -- from "music box" sounds to "waterfalls" to "flowing river of sounds" techniques and so on.

8. As you become more and more proficient with chord applications, you may discover that other musicians want to play along with you. Many a combo, band, worship team, etc. has been formed simply because one musician heard another playing, and liked what they heard. That not only leads to friendship and opportunities to play in some public forum, but also is a wonderful way to learn even more new techniques from the other members of the group!

9. Music theory, which once looked like a giant puzzle to you, now gradually becomes self-evident as you understand more and more about music and how it all works. I recall taking a music theory course in college after playing in a small group for a few years, and it was so easy I challenged the course after a couple weeks, and easily passed it. Years later many of my young private students (I used to operate a teaching school for years names "Piano University") challenged the course too, as they started their college work.
And the more you master chords and their implications, the easier music theory will become for you as well.

10. You'll just plain-old have FUN once you get the hang of it. Many of my students have no intention of ever playing in public, but want to play for their own relaxation after work, or just for fun with the family.

That's great and as it should be. Each of us has different needs and different goals, so what we do with our piano playing is entirely up to us.
Piano playing is one of the most satisfying hobbies you could possibly have, and the more you "do your own thing" on the piano in the way of arranging songs using chording techniques, the more fun it becomes!

So what are you waiting for? Jump in and enjoy it!
About the Author
Duane Shinn is the author of the popular free 101-week online e-mail newsletter titled "Amazing Secrets Of Exciting Piano Chords & Sizzling Chord Progressions" with over 84,400 current subscribers.
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