Piano Playing Your Way: How To Have More Fun Playing The Piano Than You Ever Have Before

Piano playing doesn't have to be boring. There's no law that says you have to play a song the same way everyone else plays it. By learning some basic music theory and chord formations, you can have the time of your life playing music like you've always wanted to.

Every musician has a different method of arranging. Some start with the bass, some start with the melody, some just arrange everything all at once. You'll eventually discover the process that works best for you, but here's a basic guideline list to get you started.

- Play the song as written. Pay careful attention to the melody and harmonies so you understand how the song is supposed to sound before altering it. Make sure you can play the song very well before moving on to an arrangement.

- Analyze the song's chord structure and form. Know all the chord changes and any key changes. Separate the piece into parts using the letter system discussed in this course; often, you'll be able to add some spice to an arrangement by simply knowing where a verse switches into a chorus.

- Look at the song's context to determine the appropriate sort of arrangement. For instance, if you're working on a classical lullaby or wedding song, you probably won't want to add western bass or a march beat. Of course, there's no rule saying you can't do that if you're going for a comical effect. Just be aware of the effect every sort of arrangement technique will have on a song.

- Change the bass chording pattern based on the just-analyzed song's context. Working with "Git Alone Little Dogies"? Try a western bass. A classical romantic song? Give upward inversions or arpeggios a go. Just keep switching the bass pattern until you find something you like. After awhile, you'll acquire the ability to naturally know what to do. Until then, try it all.

- Add fillers to the melody. Again, be aware of what's appropriate. If you're playing a western bass, try grace notes and twangs. If the song is in Alberti bass, add some glissandos or delicate octave harmonies. Remember that certain fillers, like runs or straddle-downs, work best when you're holding a half note or higher in the melody.

- Add dynamic variation. This is where the form analysis comes in handy. If you know a key or part change is coming up, consider the ways in which you can take the dynamic up or down to create a textured, interesting effect. Try not to make the whole song extremely loud or extremely soft. Remember, variety is the spice of life!

The piano arrangement you create is bound only by the limits of your imagination. Try everything and don't get discouraged -- you'll get the hang of it eventually. Now pick a song and get to it!

Duane Shinn is the author of over 500 music books and products such as DVD's, CD's, musical games for kids, chord charts, musical software, and piano lesson instructional courses for adults. He holds advanced degrees from Southern Oregon University and was the founder of Piano University in Southern Oregon. He can be reached at http://www.chordpiano.com. He is the author of the popular free 101-week e-mail newsletter titled "Amazing Secrets Of Exciting Piano Chords & Sizzling Piano Chord Progressions" with over 56,650 current subscribers. Those interested may obtain a free subscription by going to http://www.playpiano.com.

In The News:


New York Times

Charles Bradley, a Late-in-Life Soul Music Star, Dies at 68
New York Times
Charles Bradley, the journeyman soul singer whose beleaguered rasp and passionate live performances turned him from an itinerant worker and small-time James Brown impersonator into a late-in-life headliner, died on Saturday in Brooklyn. He was 68.
Charles Bradley obituaryThe Guardian

all 16 news articles »

Billboard

Dave Matthews Invites Charlottesville Victim's Mother Onstage at 'Music and Unity' Concert
Billboard
In addition to Matthews' band at the benefit concert for "music and unity," Pharrell Williams, Justin Timberlake, Ariana Grande, The Roots, Cage the Elephant, Brittany Howard of Alabama Shakes and Chris Stapleton are billed to perform. Concertgoers ...

and more »

CBS News

The New Season: Music
CBS News
Contributor Bill Flanagan previews some of fall's most anticipated new releases, from pop to classical and jazz: The biggest date of the fall music season is November 10th. That's when Taylor Swift's sixth album, "Reputation," arrives. Swift has gone ...


New York Times

Music Resists the Word: Being The Times's Classical Music Critic
New York Times
Some big issues — with implications for the prosperity of the performing arts in New York City and the overall health of classical music — hovered over the programs that the Dutch conductor Jaap van Zweden led recently to open the season of the New ...

and more »

Page Six

Tamar Braxton quitting music to save her marriage
Page Six
“There's a lot of things that are going on in my relationship and me being close to this music industry, and whatever I can do to eliminate all of the stress and problems off of my relationship, I would rather do that.” Braxton and Herbert, 44, have ...

and more »

Salon

During Vietnam, music spoke to both sides of a divided nation
Salon
Music is central to Ken Burns's new Vietnam War documentary, with an original score accompanied by samples of the era's most popular musicians, from the Rolling Stones to Bob Dylan. According to USA Today, the people interviewed for the film were even ...

and more »

Washington Post

New music director promises NSO a real new beginning
Washington Post
Sure, Gianandrea Noseda can conduct an orchestra. But does anybody want to hear him? You do. That's what the National Symphony has been trying to get across for weeks, plastering the picture of their incoming music director on buses and ad kiosks all ...


New York Times

Rising Star: The Week's 8 Best Classical Music Moments on YouTube
New York Times
Belmonte, a young nobleman, is anticipating reuniting with his beloved, who has been the captive of a Turkish pasha. Listen to Mr. Bliss's delivery of the music's most fretful passage: He manages to convey emotional distress while singing with elegant ...


USA TODAY

Justin Timberlake, Chris Stapleton reunite at Tennessee music festival
USA TODAY
Chris Stapleton joins Justin Timberlake onstage at Pilgrimage Music and Cultural Festival in Franklin, Tenn.
Justin Timberlake makes small Tennessee music festival bigABC News

all 38 news articles »

TechCrunch

Music and Muzak | TechCrunch
TechCrunch
We are facing a firehose. Data spews at us from all angles, inundating us with ideas, culture, and creativity. We produce terabytes of information a year,..

and more »
Google News

Origins of the Mathers Family

Eminem's roots can be found in Scandinavia through his mother... Read More

Celtic Music: The Japanese Connection

My friend, guitarist Brian Hughes, toured with the Chieftain's in... Read More

Common Thoughts That Kill Inspiration

Do you sit down at the piano and feel anxiety... Read More

Musical Improvisation Basics - 8 Vital Things To Remember

This article discusses 8 vital things to remember as improvisers... Read More

The King of the Delta Blues Singers - Robert Johnson Still Stands at the Crossroads

Probably the most enigmatic Singer and Guitarist of the twentieth... Read More

Karaoke Singing

This article is designed to help anyone to enjoy karaoke... Read More

Form - Giving Shape to Your Music

Do you ramble on endlessly with your improvisations? If so,... Read More

Closet Monsters London Spicoluk

Way back in November I found myself at the Casby... Read More

The Time Machine Exist!

We call it music, ever noticed how vividly music triggers... Read More

How to Create Backing Tracks If You Dont Play All the Instruments... or Any

Congratulations! Your singing has become amazing, and it's time the... Read More

Play Piano in the New Age Style

It's not what you play, it's how you play it.... Read More

Music Industry Secrets Revealed - How To Become Succesful The Music Industry Without A Record Deal

Before the internet, unsigned music artists couldnt make a living,... Read More

3 Secrets To Understanding What Makes Music Tick

It's no secret that virtually everyone loves music in some... Read More

Name That Tune - Tips For When You Can?t Remember The Song Title Or Artist

For years, you have been searching for a song lodged... Read More

Micheal Jackson

I bet your wondering all about the Micheal Jackson Trail.... Read More

Thomas Jefferson and the Chinese Gong

While Richard Nixon's diplomatic visit to China may have created... Read More

1959 Stratocaster Vintage Guitars

Mid 1959 Stratocaster vintage guitars have a slab rosewood fingerboard... Read More

How To Make Money On A Music Website Through Pay-Per-Click?

Interested in making money while you're asleep, or making money... Read More

Learning the Piano and Playing the Piano

Many piano students spend much time learning how to play... Read More

Trusting Your Inner Voice - Key to Success at the Piano

We all have so many critical voices in our heads.Telling... Read More

The Piano Parent Trap!

"My 6 year old daughter really loves the piano and... Read More

Piano Music - How to Begin and End a Piece

How do you begin a piece of music? That's a... Read More

Downloading MP3s Made Easy

The MP3 movement started out with a huge audience of... Read More

Dont Go Tubthumping

I have always had a big problem with my addiction... Read More

Beginner Guitar Tips: How to Get a Feel

"I don't like to go into the studio with all... Read More