Use Your Piano To Reduce Stress

Lisa Witt  /  Improvisation  /  UPDATED Jan 13, 2023

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We all experience stress and anxiety, and sometimes there’s nothing better than spending a day at the spa.

But that’s not possible for all of us. So I have some good news. You can use your piano to reduce stress and turn your music room into your own mini-spa.

It’s cheaper, and you can do it whenever you want.

Plus when we play the piano, amazing stuff happens in our brains. It’s like a full-body workout for our brain that leaves us smarter, more creative, and in this case, more relaxed.

You really can use the piano to reduce stress and escape the daily grind.

We’ll be using arpeggio patterns to create sounds and melodies you might expect to hear in a day-spa. Knowing your arpeggios will definitely help, but this lesson will be suitable for most skill levels.

The Arpeggio Pattern

We’ll be using one arpeggio pattern in our left hand, and the pattern will not change.

Here it is played slowly starting on C:

That cross-over moment at the top of the pattern is the most difficult part. Take a few moments and make sure you’re getting it right.

Accuracy is more important than speed. This is about reducing stress, not playing fast.

The Chord Progression

Once we’re comfortable with the pattern, it’s time to play it over some other chords.

This exercise is in the key of C major, so we’re using all white keys (yay!) and we’ll be following a very simple chord progression.

There are only 4 chords: C-Am-F-G

And each chord uses the same arpeggio pattern that we’ve just played on C.

The progression itself goes in this order: C-Am-C-Am-F-G

We repeat those first two chords, which I think adds to the drama when we finally do move down to the F chord.

And that’s all for the left-hand. It may take a few minutes to feel comfortable. Don’t rush, you’re at the spa remember?

The Right Hand

We’ll keep things very simple, and only use the chord tones in the right hand.

This means that for whatever chord we’re playing, we’ll use those 3 notes to form our right-hand melody.

For the C chord, the notes will be C-E-G.

For the Am chord, the notes will be A-C-E.

For the F chord, the notes will be F-A-C.

And for the G chord, the notes will be G-B-D.

Try it and see how it sounds! It’s simple, but with the pattern in the left-hand the whole thing sounds beautiful.

A More Advanced Version

Getting bored with the chord tones?

Then you can use what I like to call the “safe notes”. That is the first 5 notes of the chord we’re playing.

For C, those notes are C-D-E-F-G:

So if you’re playing a G chord, use the first 5 white notes up from G. It gives you a lot more options to express your feelings and get creative.

Finally, please remember this.

You do not have to work to improve your playing every time you sit at the piano. Sometimes it’s much more valuable to play, relax, and use your piano to reduce stress.

I hope it provides you with an escape and helps you relax.

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Lisa Witt has been teaching piano for more than 20 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. Learn more about Lisa.

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