The left hand can be a little tricky for most piano players. If you’re looking for a few easy, versatile patterns to use in your left hand that will really help fill out your playing, these three will help you out a lot.
The first to look at is really simple. First, think about your chord progression and what inversions you’re going to be using from chord to chord. In the case of this exercise, I used a I, V, vi, IV progression but you can use whatever you like. In the right hand, I’m just playing straight, even 8th notes of the progression while the left hand plays quarters notes moving back and forth between the two outside notes of the chord.
The next pattern that you can use is a sort of ‘half-arpeggio.’ I use this kind of pattern when I want to create something grandiose and romantic sounding in the left hand. I’ve demonstrated this pattern with that same progression again, only this time I’m voice every chord in its root position. That means that each pattern will start on the bottom ‘main’ note of the chord. For the first two counts of each bar, play a half note and the follow it up with 4 8th notes, comprised of the notes in that chord, plus the octave note. So for this pattern to work in C major, play a C half note, followed by an ascending pattern of C, E, G, and the octave C. You can then take this same motion and apply it to the different chords in the progress. Go ahead and play my progression, or make your own up!
The final pattern that I find super useful as accompaniment is an expansion of the previous example. This time you’ll be playing 8ths notes in the left hand all the way through as arpeggios moving up and down the keyboard. Patterns like this work great if you want to create a sense of continuous, flowing motion. It sounds super impressive too! So for each chord, you move up the arpeggio notes just like before, but this time you also go back down. So for a C chord, play the notes C, E, G, and the octave C, before descending back down with G, E, and C. If you’re playing straight 8th notes, then that leaves you with 1 note left over in every bar, so try finishing each bar up with the 5th interval. In this case that’s G.
So there you have it! Three simple patterns that work for multiple styles and uses. Practice them as I’ve demonstrated them to get a sense for what they’re all about. But as always, dissect and personalize them into something you can use to help express your own music. Have fun!
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