Create STUNNING Music On The Piano (Arpeggios)

Lisa Witt  /  Arpeggios / Feb 21

What comes to mind when you think of arpeggios?

Be honest.

When I was learning classical piano, arpeggios were part of my daily practice routine, and I HATED them. They were just the worst thing. I thought they were boring, they didn’t sound very exciting or musical and I didn’t see how they could help me learn songs.

I was wrong.

I was thinking about arpeggios the wrong way. As a chore and a technique to help me get somewhere else, rather than appreciated what I could do with them.

And you can do SO MUCH with arpeggios that will make your playing sound stunning and beautiful. And best of all, when most people hear you play arpeggios they’ll be impressed (even though they’re not that hard to play).

So what are arpeggios?

They’re pretty simple, really. Arpeggios are just broken chords played up or down the keyboard. They can span more than one octave, and they usually consist of the notes of the major or minor chords.

Let’s take the C major chord as an example. The notes of the C major chord are C-E-G and you would play them all at the same time.

To play a C major arpeggio, you use the same notes but play them one at a time going up or down. So going up you would play the C first, then the E, then the G and then the C on TOP of the G. And you could keep going.

Watch the lesson at 0:26 to see some more examples, including how to play minor arpeggios (it’s the same, but with the minor notes).

Create stunning music!

I really love using minor scales to create really emotional and beautiful music, and I’ll be using A minor today. It’s nice and easy because there are only white notes.

The arpeggio to play in your right hand is the A minor arpeggio, spanning two octaves.

So the notes you’ll play are A-C-E-A-C-E-A-E-C-A-E-C-A. I know that’s a lot of notes, but look at the pattern. 

That is all the right hand is going to do.  It will just repeat over the chord progression, which you’ll play with your left hand. 

That progression is Am, F, G. I like to use fifths in my left hand, but you can play whatever you’re comfortable with. It’s a simple chord progression (only 3 chords) but the repeating arpeggios in the right hand really make it sound beautiful.

Left Hand Arpeggios

Now we’re going to switch it around and play the arpeggios with the left hand. We’ll only need to play the arpeggio over one octave, so it should be a bit easier.

Again, we’ll start with A minor. Remember the notes will be A-C-E-A-E-C-A (because it’s only one octave). Play that repeating in the left hand on A, and try playing some single notes from the A minor chord with your right hand. I like to use the 1st, 3rd, and 5th notes of the chord in the right hand.

Once you’re comfortable on A, trying shifting down to F and playing the F arpeggio with your left hand. This time the notes will be F-A-C-F-C-A-F. Your right hand will once again play the chord tones from the F major chord.

And finally, we’ll add the G. In the left hand, you’ll play G-B-D-G-D-B-G while playing single chord tone notes with your right hand.

If you’re finding it difficult to play both at the same time (which is common), then keep the right hand even simpler. Most of the work is being done by the left hand, and it’s what sounds more impressive.

If you love the sound of this and want some more left-hand arpeggio patterns, we have a lesson on that here.

Why I Love Arpeggios

I hope by now you can see how beautiful and impressive arpeggios can sound. And they’re really not that hard to play once you get the hang of it. Building speed will take time, but just take it slow and make sure you’re accurate.

But arpeggios do a lot more than just sound beautiful. There’s a reason I was made to practice them every day when I was learning. They are a fantastic tool for building your speed around the keyboard, and they help you get comfortable and confident all over the keys.

Once you start playing four-octave arpeggios you’ll see 🙂

Have fun with arpeggios, and if you have any questions please let me know.

Lisa Witt has been teaching piano for 19 years and in that time has helped hundreds of students learn to play the songs they love. Lisa received classical piano training through the Royal Conservatory of Music, but she has since embraced popular music and playing by ear in order to accompany herself and others.

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