The Note CHORDING SONG TUTORIALS TECHNIQUE THEORY VLOG ARTICLES

What Is An Arpeggio & How To Play It

Lisa Witt  /  Practice / Apr 13

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Like scales, arpeggios are a very important skill for piano players to master. I always had them in my mind as another technical skill, not entirely useful for the types of music I wanted to play, just another item on the list of technique to be practiced each day.

But arpeggios are SO useful!!! First of all, they will help you to master those chords- because they are basically chords that have gone for a jog! They will also help you to develop dexterity, hand independence, and get really comfortable with moving up and down the keys.

I am getting a little bit ahead of myself here. Let’s back up for a second and break down what an arpeggio actually is.

Be sure to practice your arpeggios in all of your keys!

An arpeggio uses 3 core notes. The root, 3rd and 5th of a chord, in broken form with the root note on top as the icing on the cake. For a 1 octave arpeggio you play (using G an an example) G-B-D-G using your 1-2-3-5 fingers in your RH or your 5-3-2-1 fingers in your LH.

The really cool thing is that you can extend these arpeggios and play them across the whole piano by using clever fingering. In the RH you can play 1-2-3 then tuck that thumb under and reset your hand to keep going! When you want to end your arpeggio pattern, just play the root note with your 5 to cap it off and head back down the way you went up! You can do this with you LH by using your 5-3-2-1 with a cross over to 3-2-1 to reset your hand.

Arpeggios are great for creating a sense of movement across the piano.

So where do we use arpeggio’s beyond our technical practices? Well, they show up in many classical and contemporary pieces of music and are a great tool for when we want to create rhythm and movement in our chording and ear playing as well!  Try using an arpeggio as a substitution in your left hand for where you would normally just play a 5th or an octave. Or, try a arpeggio in your right hand to create a sense of movement or intensity!

Enjoy!

Lisa


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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