Learn arpeggios to make your playing "sizzle"

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This free lesson on piano arpeggios will help you to add that professional styling to your piano technique.

In this lesson this stylistic technique is defined and some excellent exercises are suggested to help you get comfortable using them in all the right places.

Learning these exercises will also help you to reinforce you chord memory and finger dexterity.

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What are arpeggios?

They are really just chords in which the notes of the chord are played individually in succession either up or down the piano keyboard.

When the notes of the chord are all played together they are called "block chords".

When they are played separately the are called "broken chords" or arpeggios.

Before you continue with this lessons you may want to review the lesson on Piano Chords No matter what instrument you play generally broken chords are a required technical exercise along with scales.

String instruments are used to play them in classical music.

Bass guitarists often use them to play out chords, especially in a walking bass.

Guitarists use this technique extensively in certain styles and often while employing the sweep-picking technique.

Synthesizers are often called upon to play arpeggios, especially in new electronic music.

Most of the early synthesizers featured arpeggiators especially for this purpose.

How are they played?

I am going to give you the three techniques I use when playing broken chords.

The first is what I call "right hand only", and is shown in the example below with a simple three note C chord.

I use this technique when my left hand is other wise employed holding down harmony.

The trick is to get your thumb up to the next octave while keeping the timing of the notes steady.

The challenge is the same with 4 note chords as well.

I recommend playing the broken chords slowly and evenly at first and then increase speed as you become better at visually finding thumb placement for the next octave.

If you remember the hit wedding song "Color My World" by Chicago the keyboard part was simple one octave arpeggios for every chord from beginning to end. See example below.

Hand over Hand

Pick a chord for the arpeggios exercise and start with both hands at the lower end of you keyboard.

Play the left hand chord tones one at a time followed by the right hand chord tones.

While playing the right hand notes, the left hand crosses over the right and plays then chord tones in the next octave range while the right hands crosses under to repeat the notes another octave higher

Again go as slow as you need to in order to play smoothly and increase the speed as you gain muscle memory and finger dexterity.

Parallel Hands

Take the same chord and start in the same octave range at the lower end of your keyboard.

Play the left hand chord tones followed by the right hand chord tones.

While the right hand is playing place your left hand fifth finger where you right hand thumb was and repeat the process on up the keyboard. The left hand always repeats what the right hand played.

This one is my favorite as it extends the arpeggio by playing each octave twice.

Again go as slow as you need to in order to play smoothly and increase the speed as you gain muscle memory and finger dexterity.

A request from your Personal Piano Professor...

Learning to understand and use these lessons may require that you are able to ask questions and get answers as well as encouragement.

It is my desire that you you will feel free to ask questions as well as make suggestions about how to make these lessons better for yourself and others.

Contact me

If you have any questions, suggestions, or ideas for future lessons feel free to Contact Me.

Best Home Study for "Ear Players"

After checking out dozens of home study courses that teach you to play by ear and focus on chord progressions I am convinced that the folks at Hear and Play have the best, most well rounded program available for just about all styles of music from Gospel to Jazz. Read my review or visit Hear and Play for more information.

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