Basic Music Theory

Learn to Play Somewhere in My Memory on Piano

I wanted to share with you a guide or booklet, if you will, of some basic music theory to help you learn the piano.

* Keyboard make-up

The keyboard uses the first 7 letters of the alphabet: A B C D E F G

A piano/keyboard is made up of black and white notes. The white notes are the regular letters. The black notes can mean 2 different things. As you move up the keyboard, from left to right, the black notes are indicated by #, which means sharp. So, the first black note after F going up the keyboard is F#, and the next black note is G#, etc. As you move down the keyboard, from right to left, the black notes are indicated by b, which means flat. So, the last black note before B going down the keyboard is Bb, and the next black note is Ab, etc. Make sure you know your notes.

* Hands and its members

When you sit down to play the keyboard, of course you are using 2 hands, Left Hand and Right Hand. On each hand there are 5 fingers. Each finger has a number (same for both hands):

Thumb = 1 Index = 2 Middle = 3 Ring = 4 Pinky = 5

* Movement on the keyboard

The first movement is a half step (HS). A half step is from one key to the very next key, regardless of color or direction. Here are some examples: F to F#, F# to F, B to C, C to B, D to Eb, Eb to D, etc.

The second movement is a whole step (WS). A whole step is from one key to the very next key w/one in between, regardless of color of direction. Here are some examples: F to G, G to F, B to C#, C# to B, Db to Eb, Eb to Db, etc.

All other movement on the keyboard is a combination of half and whole steps.

* Flats (b) and Sharps (#)

Whenever you flat (b) a note, it means to lower that note 1/2 step. No matter how many flats (b) you see, for each one you lower the note 1/2 step. Here are some examples:

Bb = B lowered 1/2 step
Bbb = B lowered two 1/2 steps
Bbbb = B lowered three 1/2 steps

Whenever you sharp (#) a note, it means to raise that note 1/2 step. No matter how many sharps (#) you see, for each one you raise the note 1/2 step. Here are some examples:

B# = B raised 1/2 step
B## = B raisedtwo 1/2 steps
B### = B raised three 1/2 steps

* Major scales

A scale is simply a group of notes that start and end on the same note. There are many, many types of scales involved in music, but the most basic scale is the major scale. The pattern for forming a major scale is:

First, pick a note. Then: _WS _ WS _ HS _ WS _ WS _ WS _ HS _

* Scale Degrees

After you have formed your major scale, each note in the major scale gets a number called a scale degree. The first note is 1, the second note is 2, etc. Here is an example in the key of C:

C = 1
D = 2
E = 3
F = 4
G = 5
A = 6
B = 7

Now, those are the scale degrees for the first octave. You can also keep going past an octave and scale degrees increase as well. Example:

C = 8
D = 9
E = 10
F = 11
G = 12
A = 13

As far as I know, this is as high as the scale degrees go in modern day practice. The purpose for these scale degrees is to help you with forming different types of chords and naming progressions.

* Chord Forming

Chords are built using the intervals of 3rds, i.e. every member of a chord is a 3rd apart. Here is an illustration of how it's done:

1. Lay out all the notes that are used on the keyboard or in a major scale:


2. Pick a note that you want to form a chord on and write it down. This note will be your root note: C

3. Once you got a root note, write down every other note after it:


The first 3 notes played together is your basic triad chord. (C-E-G)
The first 4 notes played together is your basic 7th chord. (C-E-G-B)
The first 5 notes played together is your basic 9th chord. (C-E-G-B-D)
The first 6 notes played together is your basic 11th chord. (C-E-G-B-D)
All 7 notes played together is your basic 13th chord. (C-E-G-B-D-F)

That's all there is to forming a chord. So, if you want to build a triad off A, you just say A-C-E. If you want to build a triad off B, you just say B-D-F.

* 4 basic types of chords

There are 4 basic types of chords that are the basis for all the chords used in music. They are major, minor, augmented, diminished. To add to the diminished chord, there is also the fully diminished chord. So really I guess you can say there are 5 basic types of chords. Forming each of these types of chords goes back to the principle of scale degrees. We use scale degrees so that forming these chords can be universal for any chord in any key.

major: 1 3 5
minor: 1 b3 5
diminished: 1 b3 b5
*fully diminished: 1 b3 b5 bb7 *just an extension of the regular diminished chord
augmented: 1 3 #5

For help on learning, practicing, and playing these basic chords, here are some links for you:

Basic Chord Fingerings:,16403.0.html

Basic Chords Practice:,22023.0.html

Other chords:

major 7th: 1 3 5 7
dominant 7th (V7): 1 3 5 b7
minor 7th: 1 b3 5 b7
6th: 1 3 5 6
add9th: 1 2 3 5
9th: 1 3 5 b7 9
11th: 1 3 5 b7 9 11
13th: 1 3 5 b7 9 11 13
*Each of these chords can also be altered by sharping (#) or flatting (b) a note(s) to form even more chords

* Chords built off scale degrees (major mode)

This special group of chords will be your main arsenal of chords to use in your music. If you are struggling with what chord to play with a bass note, you start with these chords:

1 (I) = Major
2 (ii) = minor
3 (iii) = minor
4 (IV) = Major
5 (V) = Major
6 (vi) = minor
7 (vii) = diminished

Examples in the key of C:

1 (I) = C-E-G
2 (ii) = D-F-A
3 (iii) = E-G-B
4 (IV) = F-A-C
5 (V) = G-B-D
6 (vi) = A-C-E
7 (vii) = B-D-F

* Inversions

Look at those basic chords, what if we were to play those same chords, but switch up the order of the notes. This is where inversions come from. An inversion is just switching the order of the members of a chord. How do you invert a chord? You invert a chord by taking the first letter and moving it to the end. Depending on how many notes there are in the chord, there can be many inversions. Here they are:

3-note chords: 4-note chords: 5-note chords:
root position = x y z root position = w x y z root position = v w x y z
1st inversion = y z x 1st inversion = x y z w 1st inversion = w x y z v
2nd inversion = z x y 2nd inversion = y z w x 2nd inversion = x y z v w
3rd inversion = z w x y 3rd inversion = y z v w x
4th inversion = z v w x y

* Intervals

The term interval refers to the distance between 2 notes. Here is a little breakdown of intervals used in music:

Intervals of 1, 4, and 5

These three intervals are the only intervals that get the name perfect intervals. Here are examples of these:

C-C = perfect unison
C-F = perfect 4th
C-G = perfect 5th

Now, let's say for instance you decide to raise the last note by 1/2 step:


Do you still have a perfect 4th? No, now you have what is called an augmented 4th. Anytime you raise the last note of a perfect interval it becomes an augmented unison, 4th, or 5th:

C-C# = augmented unison
C-F# = augmented 4th (tritone)
C-G = augmented 5th

Now, let's say for instance you decided to lower the last note by 1/2 step:


Do you still have a perfect 4th? No, now you have what is called a diminished 4th. Anytime you lower the last note of a perfect interval it becomes a diminished unison, 4th, or 5th:

C-Cb = diminished unison
C-Fb = diminished 4th
C-Gb = diminished 5th (tritone)

Intervals of 2, 3, 6, 7

These intervals are different from the other 3 because they can be major, minor, augmented, or diminished intervals. First, I'll show the major intervals:

C-D = major 2nd
C-E = major 3rd
C-A = major 6th
C-B = major 7th

Now, to make these intervals minor, just lower the last note of the major interval 1/2 step:

C-Db = minor 2nd
C-Eb = minor 3rd
C-Ab = minor 6th
C-Bb = minor 7th

Now, to make these intervals augmented, just raise the last note or the major interval 1/2 step:

C-D# = augmented 2nd
C-E# = augmented 3rd
C-A# = augmented 6th
C-B# = augmented 7th

Now, to make these intervals diminished, just lower the last note or the major interval 1 whole step:

C-Dbb = diminished 2nd
C-Ebb = diminished 3rd
C-Abb = diminished 6th
C-Bbb = diminished 7th

After you have reached the diminished and augmented intervals, if the notes are raised or lowered again, it then becomes doubly augmented or diminished, triple augmented or diminished intervals, etc.

* Progressions

For help with progressions, here are some links for you:

Basic Progressions:,15720.0.html

More Advanced Progressions:,15731.0.html

Progressions Practice Routine:,18903.0.html

Progressions Practice Routine #2:,31384.0.html,

Explaining Progressions:,18550.0.html

Explaining Progressions part 2:,31163.0.html

Explaining Progressions part 3:,33036.0.html

Bookmark and Share

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Learn the Organ with Kevin Nickelson

Grandpa's OrganImage by Kevin Yezbick via Flickr

Awhile back I purchased The Gospel Organ Series, Gospel Keys 350 for Praise and Devotional Songs, then Gospel Keys 450 for Advanced Chords & Voicings. For those interested in learning everything you need to successfully play the organ for a church service, click here:

Gospel Keys Organ Series is the Key to taking your organ playing to the next level!

Learning the organ requires the ability to master the "third element." If you can seamlessly add this third element and shift your thinking slightly, then you can become a powerhouse on the organ in no time.

Learning the organ is not as simple as transferring the same chords and concepts that you know on the piano. While the concepts of chords and progressions remain the same, how to play and connect between chords and progressions is totally different on the organ.

From the Gospel Keys 500 you will learn:

How to play uptempo praise songs using my award-winning 5-step process and tons of bass lines, right-hand chordal movements, "runs," "licks," and more!

Discover the secrets to playing hundreds of "call-and-response" hand-clapping praise songs in all 12 keys just by knowing a few well-known organ patterns!

Learn how to play common progressions and turnarounds like the "1-4," "7-3-6," "6-2-5-1," and how to apply them to your favorite congregational songs like "Bless that Wonderful Name of Jesus," "God is a Good God," and more!

An "over-the-shoulder" and "behind-the-foot" look at how to combine the power of the foot pedal, left hand, and right hand and what it takes to play all three of these components in sync.

Over 40 bass runs, chords, progressions, and fill-ins to apply to your organ playing right away! After learning these things in all 12 keys, you'll instantly have over 480 chords to add to your gospel playing toolbox.

The use of tritones and how they are the heart & soul of organ praise song mastery! I've never met a professional organist who could play a full song without utilizing tritones --- they're that important and you'll get several examples of how to use them.

How to include 7ths, 9ths, 11ths, 13ths, and several altered chords to spice up the sound of your praise songs!

* From Gospel Keys 450 you will learn:

How to play monster chords and how to voice and invert them in non-conventional ways!

Explore major, minor, dominant, diminished, sevenths, ninths, elevenths, thirteenths, and altered voicings from every scale degree, even tones that are not a part of the scale (transitional chords).

How to pick the best inversion of a chord based on your melody and how to use your left hand and bass pedal to support what your right hand is playing.

The power of polychords: How two separate smaller chords can creatively come together to form larger "fancy" chords.

Tons of "opening" and "closing" chords to pull out of your treasure chest at the right time! With your increased chordal vocabulary, you'll never begin and end a song on the organ the same way twice because you'll have dozens of options to choose from.

How to provide instant "phatness" to common chords by using basic triads on the right hand. What most musicians don't understand is that "triads" (3-fingered chords) aren't basic unless you use them by themselves! But if you know the secrets to embellishing your chords, you'll never sound dull again!

Learn to use quartal chords in key areas to enhance the sound of your voicings!

The key to building up your left hand independence! Hint: One major hindrance to getting to the next level is the underdevelopment of the left hand! Once you can successfully mimic exactly what your right hand is doing (...but all on your left hand), you've arrived!

How to mix "churchy" dominant chords into your worship chord progressions to instantly change up the mood!

How to apply my famous "couples" principle to the organ, using dozens of chords from all seven unique tones of the major scale.

Enjoy studying over 50 worship chords (which translates into hundreds of voicings and inversions) , and how to apply them in real-life situations!

Put it all together by spicing up old favorites like "What a Friend We Have in Jesus," "Jesus Loves Me," "As the Deer," and more!

An up-close look at how to approach chord progressions differently and how to think creatively when it comes to combining different chords from various scale tones. Songs are built on recurring patterns within the scale tones --- so if you can master this concept, you can learn any worship song out there!

Learn how to apply my "3-4" principle to the organ and how to predict what chords will come next by using my simple mathematical model to count up and down the scale.

I do have these two music resources in my music library and view them often to apply music principles. I highly recommend these music resources. Kevin Nickelson is an organist-extraordinaire on the west coast. He has been a Minister of Music for over 25 years and has played for the "Who's Who" in gospel music. From Kurt Carr, Judith McAllister, and Beverly Crawford to Douglas Miller, Juanita Bynum, and others, he's had the privilege to travel around the world accompanying various gospel artists and groups.

Gospel Keys Organ Series is the Key to taking your organ playing to the next level!

Bookmark and Share

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

How To Become A Better Musician

An w:arpeggioImage via Wikipedia

Have you thought about becoming a better musician but are wondering where to begin? Have you thought about the years you've invested in your piano playing but now want to take your piano playing to another level?

I wanted to share a practice plan with you that involves a pretty elementary approach to the piano. First you need to have either an ear for music, some theory or note reading background.


This is the ability to execute chords, runs and licks with little or no thought. It is automatic because of all the time spent developing the skill. You can only develop this by lots and lots of practice. Practice scales and progressions, arpeggios and runs so it becomes automatic. You develop technique by doing the things over and over.
Everything that you utilize in your playing can be broken down into technique. Practice technique for 15-20 minutes!


You will need a Hanon Exercise book or a good scales book. You can play major scales, minor scales, Arabic scales, blues scales, whole tone, chromatic, diminished. The idea is to get familiar with scales, move those fingers and listen to the sounds of each scale. Play scales in octaves, thirds and sixths. Bass lines are scales and runs done in your left hand. Practice scales for 15-20 minutes.


The understanding of how music is made. How to create the sound you are looking for by using principles such as understanding progressions and the chords that make up the progressions and to be able to alter the sound by altering your chords. Understanding scale theory, chordal theory, improvisation, ear training and rhythm can only help you grow at a faster rate. Study theory books for 15-20 minutes.


Learn to harmonize the melody. Understand how to put together chords in their various scales. Learn to play melodies at first. If you don’t know how to solo, learn how to play the melody very well to every song you are learning and use this melody as a guide to assist your soloing.
Practice improvisation for 15-20 minutes.

Listen and Copy Your Favorite Artist:

Good musicians listen to their favorite artists because the artist does the same sort of thing over and over. So your growth will be faster if you study a particular artist at first. Also because you like him or her, you will be motivated to learn from that artist. Practice listening to other artists and playing along with the song for 15-20 minutes.

Getting better doesn't come over night but if you apply a disciplined practice time to your schedule, you will see new breakthroughs that you are becoming a better musician each and every day!

Bookmark and Share

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Slow Practice Makes Perfect

(de) Klavier, Tastatur; (en) piano, keys.Image via Wikipedia

Have you heard the expression, "Slow practice makes perfect"? I have enjoyed teaching piano for man years to all ages. I have found that the number one question often asked is "how do I get both of my hands to move well and to play together?"

If you are finding it a bit difficult to coordinate both hands on the keys, then let me share a few tips and tricks that might help with your piano practice time. The method is quite simple really and it's called slow practice!

1. Slow practice is surprisingly beneficial for good
technique, especially for practicing relaxation. Try
moving one hand separately, slowly at first. Add both
hands together and play through the song slowly.

2. Slow practice reinforces your memory because there is
time for the playing signals to travel from your
fingers to the brain and back several times before
succeeding notes are played. If you practice at the
regular rate of speed, you could be reinforcing hand
memory and losing true memory.

3. Slow practice allows you to practice getting mentally
ahead of the music you are playing, which gives you
control over the piece. This is the time to work on
your chords and chord progressions. Always play at least
a split second ahead of the music and practice feeling
the keys before playing to guarantee 100% accuracy. As a
general rule, think about the next measure of music
ahead. Ask yourself, "Where am I going?", "What's next?"

4. Slow practice is one of the best ways to clean up
bad habits, especially those that you might have
unconsciously picked up during fast practice, like
wrong fingering. Fast practice is mostly reflex hand
memory that bypasses the brain. This is why you are
usually unaware of it.

5. With slow practice you now have time to analyze the
details of the structure of the music as you play, and
pay attention to all the expression markings called
dynamics. Above all, concentrate on making music. Play
the piano for your own pleasure and enjoyment. Your
accuracy on technique is good because you have practiced
slow at first, then pushed you speed later.

6. One of the primary causes of your mind going blank
at a recital or performance is that the brain is racing
much faster than usual and you can "think" many more
thoughts in the same amount of time between notes than
during practice. This extra thinking introduces new
variables that confuse the brain and can disrupt your
rhythm. Practice inserting extra thoughts between notes
during slow practice. What are the preceding and
following notes? Are there any sharps or flats?
Think of typical thoughts you might encounter
during a performance. You can cultivate the ability to
detach yourself from those particular notes you are
playing, and be able to mentally wander around elsewhere
in the music, as you play a given section. Yet you are
still playing slowly, focused with much determination in
your piano playing. Now you can hear the difference.

If you combine all the above objectives, the time spent playing slowly will be truly rewarding. Happy slow practice!

~ LadyD

Bookmark and Share

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Complimentary Sheet Music Offer

Elijah Bossenbroek was born and raised in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He started playing the piano at age six, but wasn't a typical piano player. He often hated the dull repetition behind learning notes and playing to metronomes. Frustrated, Elijah began writing his own piano compositions at age fourteen. At the age of eighteen, he enlisted in the United States Marine Corps, where he spent the better part of 5 years traveling to places such as Mississippi, Japan, California, and Kuwait.
Upon his return from the deserts of Kuwait, Elijah purchased a home recording studio and began working on his first album, "Harmony In Disarray,". In 2007 after gaining a lot of popularity and momentum in the music industry, he was noticed by an A&R at "A Matter of Substance Records" which signed him to a record deal and produced his anticipated second album “Carpe Lumen”.

Please visit Elijah N. Bossenbroek's site:

I would like to let you know about an offer for a free complimentary copy of the sheet music, "A Song of Simplicity". If you go to Elijah's web site and send him an email requesting it, trust me on this, you will definitely receive it! I personally went to visit Elijah's site because I wanted to hear music from new composers. I was very pleased with what I heard from Elijah's piano playing.

Elijah sent me a copy of his piece almost immediately and gave his permission to blog about it. It’s a lovely 5 page piece at about the late intermediate level with quick broken chords, lots of pedal, rubato, and much attention to dynamics. Listen to some of his other music and download several songs. Many of my students will love playing this particular song, A Song of Simplicity, filled with flowing, arpeggiated chords!

A You Tube fan wrote:
The pattern goes like this all the time: A, E, A, C, A, E x2 and then
F, C, F, A, F, C x2 then
C, G, C, D, C, G x2 and
G, D, G, B, G, D x2. It goes like this all the time and hits at the same time with every key in the right hand. There are minor changes later on in the melody, but I think you can figure it out.

All the best,
~ LadyD

Bookmark and Share

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Sting- Shape of My Heart

StingSting via

*Shape of My Heart is written by Sting & Dominic Miller

* Shape of My Heart Lyrics

He deals the cards as a meditation
And those he plays never suspect
He doesn't play for the money he wins
He doesn't play for the respect
He deals the cards to find the answer
The sacred geometry of chance
The hidden law of probable outcome
The numbers lead a dance

I know that the spades are the swords of a soldier
I know that the clubs are weapons of war
I know that diamonds mean money for this art
But that's not the shape of my heart

He may play the jack of diamonds
He may lay the queen of spades
He may conceal a king in his hand
While the memory of it fades

I know that the spades are the swords of a soldier
I know that the clubs are weapons of war
I know that diamonds mean money for this art
But that's not the shape of my heart
That's not the shape, the shape of my heart

And if I told you that I loved you
You'd maybe think there's something wrong
I'm not a man of too many faces
The mask I wear is one
Those who speak know nothing
And find out to their cost
Like those who curse their luck in too many places
And those who smile are lost

I know that the spades are the swords of a soldier
I know that the clubs are weapons of war
I know that diamonds mean money for this art
But that's not the shape of my heart
That's not the shape of my heart

* Sting - Shape of my Heart
This is the video to the album version of Shape of My Heart. It contains shots from "Ten Summoner's Tales" (The Video), but on the video it's quite different (with different harmonica solo and a little bit longer). RARE STUFF :)

* Chords

Shape of My Heart – Sting (4/4 time)


Em D6 A5 B7sus4 B7

C/E D6 A5 B7sus4 B7

C C Gsus4 G B7

C Am * Em Em


Em Em7 C/E Asus2/F#

Asus2/F# Asus2/F# Asus2/F#

Bm A6 Em F#7sus4 F#7

Gmaj7/B A6 Em F#7sus4 F#7

G G D/F# F#7

G F# G G/F#

Em F#7 G G

* Sting official webpage

Bookmark and Share

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Mighty To Save by Ben Fielding and Rueben Morgan

keysImage by Stitch via Flickr

Mighty To Save (Hillsongs Cover)

Whether you play the song with block or broken chords, it is very moving to play on the piano and worship. Here is the song played on the keyboard:

Here is Chris' tutorial and I like that he gives the chord break down with inversions:


Everyone needs compassion
Love that's never failing
Let mercy fall on me
Everyone needs forgiveness
The kindness of a Saviour
The hope of nations

He can move the mountains
My God is mighty to save
F#m E
He is mighty to save
Author of Salvation
He rose and conquered the grave
F#m E
Jesus Conquered the grave

So take me as you find me
All my fears and failures
Fill my life again
I give my life to follow
Everything I believe in
Now I surrender


D A E F#m
D A E F#m

Shine your light and
Let the whole world see
F#m D
We're singing for the glory
Of the risen King
F#m D A
Jesus Shine your light and
Let the whole world see
F#m D A
We're singing for the glory
Of the risen King


Here's a live performance:

Cool song to play over and over! Try these inversions:
D/ A D F#

E/ E G# B

F#/ A C# F#

E/ B E G#

Bookmark and Share

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Chord Over Chord Technnique

The C major triad consists of the notes C, E a...Image via Wikipedia

Many of my music note reading students have gone on to playing chord charts. They are
gaining more understanding of slash chords. When playing the piano by ear, the exciting part is that you can play a song different each time through. This way you're
breaking up the monotony, which makes the music more appealing to the listening ear.

One way to do this is using the chord over chord/octave technique. This technique is done by playing a certain chord , like G Major, with the right hand and a different chord, E minor (Em) on the left hand. another way is to play the root octave with the left hand and not the chord. So, you could play either E octave or Em chord at the same time you play the G chord with your right hand.

The chord change would be written like this: G/Em if the chords were used on each hand or G/E if the right hand is playing a chord (G) and the left hand is playing an octave E. Since the right hand is usually playing a higher tone, it's chord is listed first to indicate it is over the left hand. Here I'm talking about the pitch. This chord change G/E is called G over E.

Now you have created a fuller sound. Normally, the change would be Em in the song, but using the previously mentioned technique, one has achieved a much more fuller sound. If you play Em, that's o.k. but playing G/E the next time you come to the same chord change creates a fuller and different sound.

The chord change G/E and G/Em is actually a split of the chord Em7

* David Crowder Band/No One Like You

Verse 1:
G Em D C
You are more beautiful than anyone, ever
G Em D
Everyday you're the same
You never change, no never
G Em D
And How Could I Ever Deny
C G Em
The love of my Savior you are to me
Everything All I need forever
How could you be so good?

G D Em C
There is no one like you
G D Em C
There has never ever been anyone like you

Verse 2:
G Em D
Everywhere you are there
Earth or air surrounding
G Em D
I'm not alone the heavens sing along
My God you're so astounding
G Em D
How could you be so good to me?
Eternally I believe it

Chorus 2:
G D Em C
You, You, You, You, You, You (2x)

How could you be so good to me?
How could you be so good to me?
We're not alone so sing along
We're not alone so sing along
sing along sing along

There is no one like you
Em C
There has never been anyone like you
There is no one like you
Em C
There has never been anyone like you
C G/B Am C G/B Am C G/B Am G
There is no one like our God, yeah

Bookmark and Share

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Featured Post

Learn To Play How High The Moon

How High The Moon (Chords and Lyrics) Words by Nancy Hamilton Music by Morgan Lewis (1940) Sung by Ella Fitzgerald from album...

© copyright 2015 – All rights reserved



Virtual Sheet Music - Classical Sheet Music Downloads Download Sheet Music at Faber Piano Adventures