• Beginners: Is Your Right Hand Failing You?

    in Beginners,Chords & Progressions,Piano,Theory

    Post image for Beginners: Is Your Right Hand Failing You?

    If you’re having a hard time playing right hand chords, this lesson is for you.

    In this lesson, we’ll start out by defining the suspended chord — highlighting suspended chord types, then we’ll also take a look at the versatility of suspended chords especially as it relates to chord formation and chord progression.

    Attention: This lesson is designed with beginners and learners in mind. Although intermediate and advanced players would benefit as well, they may find this lesson to be very elementary.

    Alright! Let’s get started by refreshing our minds on the definition of suspended chords.

    A Quick Review On Suspended Chords

    According to Jermaine Griggs, “…a chord is a collection of three or more related notes [agreeable or not] which may be played or heard together.”

    From this definition of chord, we can understand why the C major triad:

    …is considered as a chord and that’s because it is a product of the relationship between three notes – C, E, and G:

    “What Is A Suspended Chord?”

    Raising the third tone of the major triad (by a half step) to the fourth tone produces a suspended chord. For example, raising the third tone of the C major triad:

    …which is E:

    …by a half-step (to F):

    …produces the C suspended fourth chord:

    …which is commonly known as the C sus4 chord.

    It’s called the suspended fourth chord (aka – “sus 4 chord”) because the fourth tone of the C major scale:

    …which is F:

    …is used to substitute the third tone (which is E):

    A Short Note On Suspended Chord Types

    Although the suspended fourth chord is the default suspended chord, there are other suspended chord types that are too important to be ignored and they can be derived by the inversion of the suspended fourth chord.

    Inverting C-F-G (which is the C sus4 chord):

    …produces F-G-C (the Fsus2 chord):

    …which is another suspended chord type — the suspended second chord (aka – “sus 2 chord”).

    Inverting F-G-C (which is the F sus2 chord):

    …produces G-C-F (the G7 sus4 chord):

    …which is another suspended chord type — the dominant seventh suspended fourth chord (aka – “7 sus4 chord”).

    Although there are other suspended chord types, these are the basic suspended chords every serious pianist should know:

    The suspended fourth chord

    The suspended second chord

    The seventh suspended fourth chord

    Now that we’ve refreshed our minds on suspended chords, let’s go ahead and explore the versatility of suspended chords.

    The Versatility Of Suspended Chords

    Let me take you by the hand and show you how suspended chords can be used in the formation of scale degree chords.

    Attention: All examples will be given in the key of C major.

    Formation Of Chord 1

    The first tone in the key of C major is C:

    The chord of the first tone (aka – “chord one”) can be formed using the C sus2 chord (on the right hand):

    …played over the C bass note:

    Altogether, this would produce the C sus2 chord:

    Formation Of Chord 2

    The second tone in the key of C major is D:

    The chord of the second tone (aka – “chord two”) can be formed using the C sus4 chord (on the right hand):

    …played over the D bass note:

    Altogether, this implies a D minor eleventh chord:

    Final Words

    If you’re still struggling with learning and playing the right scale-degree chords in any key, the use of suspended chords can help you do a little and achieve a lot on the right hand, while you focus on the left hand.

    Check Out This Example In The Key Of C…”

    As the deer panteth:

    …for the waters so my:

    …soul longeth:




    See you in the next lesson!

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    Onyemachi "Onye" Chuku is a Nigerian musicologist, pianist, and author. Inspired by his role model (Jermaine Griggs) who has become his mentor, what he started off as teaching musicians in his Aba-Nigeria neighborhood in April 2005 eventually morphed into an international career that has helped hundreds of thousands of musicians all around the world. Onye lives in Dubai and is currently the Head of Education at HearandPlay Music Group and the music consultant of the Gospel Music Training Center, all in California, USA.

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