Don't Think Like A Pianist (ft. Jay Oliver)

How expanding your thinking will make you a better player

It sounds counter-intuitive, right? How can NOT thinking like a pianist make me a better pianist?


I know that's what I though.


Then I saw this lesson from Jay Oliver, and it all made sense.


Get out of the rut


As piano players, we're often guilty of getting stuck in comfortable ruts and patterns.


I know I am.


Think about it -- chords and melody in the right hand. Bass in the left. Sometimes we'll play fifths, sometimes octaves.


If we're CRAZY we might even play arpeggios :)


But it's usually the same.


Which leads me to a controversial point...


Guitarists have something to offer!


It's hard for me to admit, but it's true. In Jay's lesson, he shows how using guitar-style chord voicings can radically change the sound and feel of your playing -- for the better.


You do this by switching things up -- and playing the rhythm in the right hand with an open shape. In this lesson we're in the key of G and Jay just plays the 1-5-1 (G-D-D) in his right hand, rocking back and forth.


It's a beautiful and sparse, open sound that leaves room for the left hand.


And this is where we use the guitar voicings.


You don't need a bass note


A lot of guitar chords don't have the root note as their bass note. They often use inversions to create unique sounds.


We have a lot of lessons on inversions for your right hand, but what's different about this lesson is that you'll be using inversions in your left to create the feel and movement of the chord progression.


That way you can take common chord progressions and completely change the way they sound. In the lesson, Jay uses the 1-4-1-5 chords (G-C-G-D). Simple chords, but it sounds amazing and fresh.


Because he's not thinking like a pianist.


If you want to get more advanced


The possibilities are endless. In the second half of the lesson, Jay introduces some chords that are OUTSIDE the key of G major. These are called non-diatonic chords. We have a lesson on diatonic chords here.


In this example, Jay introduces an F major chord, and then an Eb Maj 7. There are very good theoretical reasons why these chords work, but that's not the point of this lesson.


The point here is to show you how new and different the STYLE sounds when you start borrowing techniques from other instruments.


The chord voicings are common guitar voicings, and we can even add some drum technique with rhythm and syncopation. 


And the result...


Is that you've created something on the piano that most piano players won't ever try.


You've stopped thinking like a pianist, and by doing so ...


You've become a better one.

#Piano Chords

#Chord Progressions

#Lisa Witt

#Jay Oliver

#Beautiful Chords

#Beautiful Chord Progression

#Piano Rhythms


Create Emotion Using Simple Rhythms

Open up a world of possibilities with basic rhythms

Using rhythms can open SO MANY possibilities in music.


Learning different rhythms can give you a lot to work with when you're trying to add more tension or emotion to any chord progression.


And it doesn't have to be hard.


Even something as simple as experimenting with slow whole notes or faster eighth notes can give your music more character and emotion.


How does it work? Let me show you.


You need a chord progression


This works best when we use it over a chord progression, so you can see the difference. 


We'll use the 1-5-6-4 progression in the key of F. That means the chords will be F-C-Dm-Bb.


If you're not sure what this progression is, check out this lesson.


In the right hand, we'll just play a very basic melody. Like the chords, this will repeat over and over. The ONLY thing we are going to change is the rhythm.


Start slow


To begin with, we'll use whole notes in the left hand. This is our first rhythm.


Play through the chord progression using ONLY whole notes. That means each chord will be held for 4 counts. 


For more on note values, you can find a lesson here.


For the left hand, I often find it better to play the root and 5th note of the chord and leave our the 3rd. You can also just play single notes if that's easier for you.


Then, get faster 


Once you have the whole notes mastered, it's time to change the rhythm. We're going to speed things up a little bit by changing the whole notes to half notes.


Now, it's important to realize that the chord changes don't speed up. Every chord is still used for an entire measure. The only thing we're changing is how often we play those chords in our left hand. When we used whole notes that meant we only played them once per measure.


With half notes, we'll be playing each chord twice per measure.


This progression already sounds different! It has more movement, and it's more interesting.


But we won't stop there


We've tried whole and half notes, now it's time to use quarter notes.


Like before, this is the only thing we'll be changing. So now instead of playing those notes in our left hand twice per measure, we'll play them 4 times per measure.


Totally different feeling right?


By doing this we're building the intensity and musical 'tension' in the progression.


But wait, there's more


Let's take this one step further. Can you guess what rhythm we're going to use next?


That's right...


Quarter notes! Now things are getting crazy intense.


Compare the progression now to when we started. It's like it's a completely different feeling.


And that's the point. Rhythm is so useful in music, and I think it's often overlooked.


Rhythm in action


To see an example of using these simple types of rhythm, you don't have to look very far.


One of the biggest bands in the world does it.


In the song, "The Scientist", by Coldplay, they use quarter and eighth notes in the piano to create the driving rhythm and set the feeling of the song.


So try it out for yourself! Take a song you know well and experiment with different rhythms.


I also love using this when I practice my chord progressions because it makes it so much more fun to practice when you're feeling unmotivated and bored.


Rhythms can WAKE YOU UP! 


So try it today and have fun :)

#Learn Piano

#Piano Lessons

#How To Play Piano



#Piano Rhythms

#Note Values

#Lisa Witt

How To Achieve Your Piano Goals (Pianote VLOG)

Set S.M.A.R.T. goals to increase your chances of success



I love talking about goals.


I know a lot of us set goals in January, but often they're too big (and most of the time they fail).


Instead, I've developed the habit of setting goals every month.


The reason for this is that I've found long term goals can get really overwhelming. But when we break them down into smaller monthly (or even weekly) goals -- it can feel like you’re making progress, and it’s much less daunting.


So how do you make goals that you can actually achieve? 


By being S.M.A.R.T.




When you're setting a goal, it should be as specific as possible. For the piano that could mean playing a certain song or scale at a specific tempo.


Having specific goals will help you evaluate whether you have achieved them. Vague goals are hard to achieve if you don't know what success will look like.


And if your goal is specific, that means it will also be:




Having a measurable goal means that you will be able to tell if you are on the way towards achieving it. If your goal is not measurable, then how will you know if you're getting closer to it? How do you EVER achieve it?


For example, if your goal is to play the E major scale at 80bpm. You can track your progress towards achieving it.


You might start out at 60bpm, and after a couple of weeks be up to 70bpm.


That's measurable progress! You KNOW you're getting better and closer to the goal.


It's also a great way to stay motivated.


Speaking of motivation, this next point is super important, because it's probably the biggest reason why people fail:




Your goal has to be possible. It's as simple as that.


It can be challenging for sure, but it needs to be within reach.


I see too many people setting wildly unrealistic goals, which is just a recipe for disappointment, frustration, and ultimately failure.


And if you feel like a failure, you're not going to want to practice, which means you'll never achieve your goals.




This is a big one, and it's another thing I see people get wrong a lot of the time.


You should be making sure that everything you do on the piano is RELEVANT to your goals. Otherwise, it's just wasted time. Or worse -- it's time that actually pushes you further away.


I see this all the time with people's repertoire. If your goal is to play popular songs using chord charts and learn how to improvise and do fills, then spending days and weeks learning sight-reading and classical pieces is probably not the best use of your time.


I've heard so many people who quit the piano because they were forced to practice music they hated. Playing the piano should bring you joy, so what you practice should align with your end goals.




The final point. Your goals should have a time-limit attached to them. That means setting yearly, monthly, weekly and even daily goals.


It helps to break the daunting tasks down into manageable pieces, and it allows you to see progress much quicker.


These are not new concepts, but knowing something and doing it are different things.


Now is such a great time to take a step back, evaluate what your goals are, and then make a plan to achieve them.


And if you'd like help at any stage, just let me know.


Have fun!


#Learn Piano

#Piano Lessons


#Beginner Piano Lessons

#Lisa Witt

#Piano Motivation

#Piano Goals

#How To Set Goals