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How To Unwind At The Piano

Use The Piano To De-Stress

Lisa Witt - May 21, 2019

Playing the piano has scientifically proven, stress-reducing powers. I'm not even kidding. You could get lost for hours in all of the research that has been done in regards to music and the healing effects it has on our minds and bodies.


The Piano Is Extra Special


When you play the piano ALL the areas of your brain are in action. Not just the left or right side, the whole thing. On top of that, playing the piano grows and strengthens the corpus callosum which is the bridge between the two sides of the brain. This means that information will travel faster and more efficiently through your brain, making you smarter and faster!


What If You're Not In The Mood


So playing the piano is proven to be good for you, but if you have a bad day or are too exhausted to practice you likely won't feel as though playing scales and working on your sight reading will help you to feel better. It was from that state of mind that this lesson came about.


Jordan and I were discussing lessons for the Pianote members' area and found ourselves looking for a way that a total beginner could play the piano, make beautiful sounds, relax and enjoy the instrument without having to think very hard about it. Jordan ended up guiding me through an improv based on just the black keys of the piano with a few little bonuses added in and the result was AMAZING!


So that is what this lesson is about. You will be guided through a way of playing that will get you into the "flow state" where you aren't thinking about what you've played or should play, but rather simply enjoy the piano and allow it to help you unwind and relax.


Why This Works


There are theoretical reasons why this lesson works. We are essentially playing with the F# major scale. All of the black keys form the F# major pentatonic scale, which is why they all work. 


But in this case, I'd encourage you to forget about the theory and just allow yourself to enjoy the playing.


Watch the video and let me know what you think!

#Learn Piano

#Piano Lessons

#How To Play Piano

#Jordan Leibel


#Lisa Witt





7th Chords For Small Hands

How To Revoice Piano Chords

Lisa Witt - May 17, 2019

I have had so many people ask me, "How do you play a 7th chord if you don’t have big hands and it is uncomfortable to reach?"


I’ve got two solutions for you! One is a quick fix that will help you out right away, the other will show you how to bring 7ths into your daily routine so you can get comfortable playing them in any shape!


The Quick Fix


For this, we just play inverted 7ths rather than root position 7ths. So how do you play an inverted 7th?


All you need to do is take that 7th note and move it to the bottom of your chord shape. This will change the feeling of the chord entirely as it pertains to your fingers but it won’t change the notes of the chord. Suddenly you’ve got a smaller shape that feels a little better under the hands and in my opinion is really quick and easy to find/play.   


For example, If I'm going to play a Gmaj 7 I have the notes G-B-D-F#. Normally I’d play those notes using my 1-2-3-5 fingers. To modify this to make it smaller you can play the notes of your G chord without the 7 (G-B-D) using your 2-3-5 fingers. Then, your thumb is positioned to play that 7th note just below the root note. Now, you’ve got F#-G-B-D! This is the shape that I use for 7ths chords 99% of the time!


The Long Term Fix


This involves practice and patience, but it will help you get comfortable playing 7ths in several different positions.


There are a variety of inversions or shapes you can use when you play 7ths. Each of them feels a little different and each of them will highlight different notes within the chord. Mastering each shape will make you more versatile as a player and is a really great skill to develop in general.


You can practice inversions of 7th chords just like you would with normal triads. Begin in root position and shuffle the bottom note up to the top with each inversion. If you have small hands, you will want to practice these in broken form so that you play notes one at a time instead of all at once. This will enable you to use your wrist to rotate and lead you from the bottom to the top of the chord as it tilts gently in the direction you are moving.


The other really important thing to remember is to release a note as soon as you’ve played it so that your hand has a greater range of motion! This will prevent you from getting sore hands and set you up to be able to play faster too!


7th chords are for everyone. Even those of us with small hands!



#Learn Piano

#Piano Lessons

#How To Play Piano

#Lisa Witt


#7th chords

#Small Hands


Open Chord Voicings On The Piano

Make simple chords sound beautiful

Lisa Witt - May 14, 2019

I’m going to show you how to take simple piano chords, and turn them into something beautiful.


We’ll do this by using "Open Chord" voicings. This is something that I’ve been playing around with only recently, and I am absolutely loving it!


The concept is simple. You take a normal chord and re-shape it between the left and right hands. So all the notes are still the same, they are just being played in different positions than we normally play them.


Making Open Chords


The best way to understand this is to look a chord and see the difference between normal and open voicings.


We’ll use C because it’s the easiest!


Here is a regular C chord.



As you can see, I’m playing all the notes of the C chord with both hands. C-E-G in the left, and C-E-G in the right.


There’s nothing wrong with this. It sounds great. But I can use the same three notes, C-E-G to make a completely different sounding chord.


This is a C chord with open voicing:



I’m playing the same three notes, but I’ve re-ordered them between my hands. So I’m playing E and C in my left hand, and G and E in my right.


And I think this sounds incredible. It’s a completely different sound and feeling than the closed C chord.


How To Use Open Chords


So now we know how to make an open chord. What are we supposed to do with them? Well, we can simply substitute them in for normal chords to create a different sound. Here are three examples:


First, we could play the root and the 5th in our left hand (C and G), and simply play the 3rd in our right (E).


OR we can play the root and 5th in the left hand (C and G), and play the 3rd and 8th in the right (E and top C)


Finally, we are going to use the 3rd as our bottom note. So this might be new for some people, but by doing this we can create some really beautiful harmonies.


So for C, our left hand will play E and C (3 and 8). And our right hand will play G and top C (5 and 8)


It’s still a C chord! All the notes from the C chord are here, but it has such a different sound.


Time To Experiment


So now I’d encourage you to try some of these voicings out in different chord progressions, and in different keys.


If you play piano or keyboard as part of a band, like in church for example, then open chord voicings can really help to create a much ‘fuller’ sound because the notes are more spread out, and the other instruments can help fill in the gaps.


So try it out!


Happy practicing!

#Learn Piano

#Piano Lessons

#How To Play Piano

#Piano Chords

#Chord Progressions

#Lisa Witt

#Open Chords