The Creative Piano Challenge

Lisa Witt  /  Improvisation / Apr 16

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Anyone can sound awesome on the piano.

Recently, we did a Creative Piano Challenge where we asked folks around the office to improvise using only four chords: C major, A minor, F major, and G major.

And what came out of it was simply breathtaking.

In this video, you’ll see what we mean that anyone—and I mean anyone—can sound good on the piano with the right ingredients and a little guidance.

We’ll watch creative piano performances from three different individuals:

  1. Jacquie, a beginner pianist
  2. Scott, a more advanced pianist
  3. Dave, an experienced drummer

Let’s see what they come up with!

Jacquie proves that beginners can make beautiful sounds

Our first challenger, Jacquie, is a beginner piano player.

First, Jacquie walks through each chord to get familiar with them. Then, watch her use a simple scale pattern as a motif. 

You can see that you don’t need to do anything too fancy to sound fantastic. Jacquie keeps to the notes right under her hand, yet she’s still playing with both hands. The pattern she uses also fits perfectly with the rhythm she’s chosen.

Scott shows what further experience can create

Our next challenger, Scott, has been playing piano since he was seven years old.

Scott mixes up the chord progression by starting on F major. Right off the bat, he creates a beautiful little motif based on a rhythm. Then, he moves through each chord and embellishes them with riffs and fills, moving all over the keyboard.

Scott’s performance may seem complex, but it can be boiled down to four basic chords, all on white keys. 

Pianists of all levels can play something great with these four chords, and once you gain more confidence and experience, you can really push the boundaries and make something truly amazing 🙂

Dave brings a drummer’s perspective to the piano

Dave is an experienced drummer from Drumeo. Let’s see what perspective he brings from the world of percussion.

Dave starts by playing different versions of the four chords, alternating rhythms and adding extra notes here and there.

Then, Dave starts thinking outwards and experiments with different melodies, bridges, and riffs.

While I like to tease Dave that he’s more heavy-handed (#drummers 😏 ) we pianists can definitely take inspiration from his rhythmic style.

There’s no wrong answer

As you saw, our pianists all used their first few rounds to explore what sounds they can make with the chords first.

Then, once they got more comfortable, they started branching out into other notes.

When it comes to getting creative on the piano, there’s no such thing as playing “wrong.”

Instead, free your mind of judgement, explore, and get lost in the music.

Anyone can sound good on the piano with the right ingredients and a little guidance.

And guess what? You don’t even need to know how to read music!

Show us your creative piano performances!

Now it’s your turn! Take these four chords, make something with them, and share them with us 🙂 Post a link to your video in a comment on our YouTube post, and we may share it with the world!

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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