• This Warm-Up Exercise Is Helping Musicians Master Modulation In Half-Steps

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    Today, I’ll be teaching you a warm-up exercise that you can add to your daily or weekly practice routine.

    This warm-up exercise is extremely useful to anyone who wants to learn how to modulate — especially in half-steps.

    Modulation is simply the change of key and in the course of my career as a music educator, I’ve come across students who are interested in learning how to modulate.

    If you belong to the category of musicians interested in learning how to modulate, then you’re on the right page and here’s what to do:

    1. Invest a few minutes into the breakdown of the warm-up exercise.
    2. Read through the instruction on how the exercises should be played and the number of counts.
    3. Play the warm-up from the beginning to the end and transpose to other keys.

    Alright! Let’s get started.

    A Breakdown Of The Warm-Up Exercise

    The benefits of warm-up exercises cannot be over-emphasized especially when they’re prolonged.

    I’ve never come across anyone who lost anything simply by warming up his/her fingers with a few exercises to get them prepared.

    The warm-up mechanism I’m about to show you consists of vital harmonies:

    Primary chords in the key

    …and I’ll explain the importance of these harmonies.

    A Quick Review On Primary Chords

    The primary chords in the key are the chords that have the same quality with the key you’re in and this means that major chords are primary chords in the major key while minor chords are primary chords in the minor key.

    So, in the major key, the following chords are classified as primary chords:

    The 1-chord

    The 4-chord

    The 5-chord

    …and this is because they have the same quality with the major key.

    In the key of C major:

    …the primary chords are as follows:

    The C major triad (the 1-chord):

    The F major triad (the 4-chord):

    The G major triad (the 5-chord):

    Primary chords are harmonically sufficient to play songs with in any major key and with three of them in all the keys, you can harmonize songs. Although they may not sound sophisticated, but with primary chords, you can play a variety of songs.

    So, mastering the primary chords in all the keys is one of the benefits of this warm-up exercise.

    Warm-Up Exercise: Modulation In Half-Steps

    Instruction: All the chords should be played for two counts each; except the pivot chord that should be played for eight counts.


    “Let Me Give You An Example…”

    1-chord (two counts):

    4-chord (two counts):

    5-chord (two counts):

    1-chord (two counts):

    Pivot chord (EIGHT COUNTS):

    Kindly repeat the example several times and with the intention of mastering the timing for each chord (or harmonic rhythm.)

    “Here’s The Exercise…”

    1-chord (beginning of the warm-up):

    4-chord:

    5-chord:

    1-chord:

    Pivot chord (5-chord of the next key [Db major]):

    1-chord:

    4-chord:

    5-chord:

    1-chord:

    Pivot chord (5-chord of the next key [D major]):

    1-chord:

    4-chord:

    5-chord:

    1-chord:

    Pivot chord (5-chord of the next key [Eb major]):

    1-chord:

    4-chord:

    5-chord:

    1-chord:

    Pivot chord (5-chord of the next key [E major]):

    1-chord:

    4-chord:

    5-chord:

    1-chord:

    Pivot chord (5-chord of the next key [F major]):

    1-chord:

    4-chord:

    5-chord:

    1-chord:

    Pivot chord (5-chord of the next key [Gb major]):

    1-chord:

    4-chord:

    5-chord:

    1-chord:

    Pivot chord (5-chord of the next key [G major]):

    1-chord:

    4-chord:

    5-chord:

    1-chord:

    Pivot chord (5-chord of the next key [Ab major]):

    1-chord:

    4-chord:

    5-chord:

    1-chord:

    Pivot chord (5-chord of the next key [A major]):

    1-chord:

    4-chord:

    5-chord:

    1-chord:

    Pivot chord (5-chord of the next key [Bb major]):

    1-chord:

    4-chord:

    5-chord:

    1-chord:

    Pivot chord (5-chord of the next key [B major]):

    1-chord:

    4-chord:

    5-chord:

    1-chord:

    Pivot chord (5-chord of the next key [C major]):

    1-chord:

    4-chord:

    5-chord:

    1-chord (end of the warm up):

    Final Words

    In a subsequent lesson, we’ll look at other variations of this warm-up exercise and also cover seventh and extended chords as well.

    But before then, I encourage you to start off slowly, then as you get more comfortable with the chords, your speed would naturally increase.

    Don’t start out with a fast tempo: go as slow as possible. If you have a metronome, start from 75 BPM and then kick it a notch higher as you improve.

    Thank you for your time.

    The following two tabs change content below.
    Hello, I'm Chuku Onyemachi (aka - "Dr. Pokey") - a musicologist, pianist, author, clinician and Nigerian. Inspired by my role model Jermaine Griggs, I started teaching musicians in my neighborhood in April 2005. Today, I'm privileged to work as the head of education, music consultant, and chief content creator with HearandPlay Music Group sharing my wealth of knowledge with hundreds of thousands of musicians across the world.

    Attention: To learn more about this, I recommend our 500+ page course: The "Official Guide To Piano Playing." Click here for more information.




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