• Top Five Left Hand Techniques Every Keyboard Learner Must Explore

    in Experienced players,General Music,Piano,Playing songs,Theory

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    In today’s lesson, I’ll be showing you how your left hand should work using left hand techniques.

    Believe it or not, the left hand is often times ignored and this is because 100% of the time, our focus is on the right hand and of course, we’re right-handed.

    So, we are carried away with what the right hand does and how it should work so much that the left hand is partially or totally ignored. But one secret that a lot of great players out there might not tell you is that their left hand is the real deal.

    The great players you admire invest a lot of time developing the left hand and they explore tons of left hand techniques that can enhance their left hand from being lazy to being rock-solid.

    “There’s Good News For You…”

    Now that you’ve admitted that you’ve not really given your left hand the attention it deserves, I’m going to show you how you can get started with the enhancement of your left hand using left hand techniques.

    Although there are a variety of these left hand techniques, there are five of them that top the list and I would want you to learn, master, and apply them in all the degrees of the major scale.

    If you do that, then you’ve achieved the goal of this lesson.

    So, let’s start with an overview of the left hand techniques before seeing their examples in the key of C major.

    An Overview Of The Five Left Hand Techniques

    You can mix and match these techniques to create even more techniques and add variety to your playing.

    Analogy: See them as different types of wine that you can mix two or three varieties to create a new, tastier, and better wine. Well, I’m no brewer but I’m just saying.

    But if you don’t want to mix and match, please feel free to stick to these five techniques.

    Technique #1 — “Root Note”

    The root note is the most important note of the chord because every chord originates from its root note. So, for the C major chord:

    …you should know that the root is C:

    …so, we can play C on the left hand:

    …and that’s the root note.

    Just in case you don’t like the root note because it’s a single and one-finger left hand technique, move on to the next technique: the power chord.

    Technique #2 — “Power Chord”

    Now, once you play a chord and take away what makes it major or minor, you’ve kinda neutralized the chord.

    The question is, if this is C major:

    …and this is C minor:

    …what makes one major and the other minor?

    Well, if you make a close observation at both chords, you’ll notice that while C and G:

    …are in both chords, the C major chord:

    …has a E note:

    …while the C minor chord has an Eb note:

    Technically speaking, what makes the C major chord:

    …a major chord is the E note:

    …and when we take it off the C major chord, we’ll be left with “C-G”:

    …and that’s the power chord.

    Analogy: What’s that one thing that differentiates a man from a woman, that can be taken away and we’ll all be the same? For the C major and C minor chord, it’s their third tones respectively.

    So, playing only the first and fifth tones of a chord produces the power chord and the first and fifth tones of the C major chord:

    …are C and G respectively.

    If we play the power chord on the left hand:

    …and still have the C major chord (on the right hand):

    …we’ll have this full-sounding C major chord:

    Technique #3– “Octave”

    Doubling the root note on the left hand produces the octave.

    For example, instead of playing C:

    …on the left hand, we can double it (C-C):

    …to give us an octave.

    Now, try playing the C major chord with the octave on the left hand:

    Technique #4 — “Filled-In Octave”

    The left hand technique gets even more interesting with the filled-in octave; where we add an extra note in between the octave.

    Already, you know that you can play the C octave:

    …for the C major chord:

    Instead of playing an octave:

    …we can fill it in with the fifth tone:

    …and that produces the filled-in octave:

    …consisting of the root, fifth tone, and octave.

    Analogy: This is pretty much like making sandwich. We have two Cs and then a G in between and it tastes like a burger or something.

    So, if you’re interested in making left hand sandwich on the piano, the filled-in octave is the way to go.

    Technique #5 — “Open Triad”

    The open triad literally looks like we’re opening the triad and it doesn’t matter whether it’s a major or a minor triad.

    “Let’s Use The C Major Chord As A Reference…”

    Now, the C major chord:

    …if we’re to play it on the bass:

    …would sound muddy.

    But using the open triad technique, you can still play the C major chord (or any other given chord):

    …on the left hand and here’s how:

    Take the middle note of the C major chord:

    …(which is E):

    …and play it an octave higher than usual.

    So, we’ll now have C-G:

    …then the E (an octave higher):

    …and altogether, that’s C-G-E:

    …because we’re playing this E:

    …as this:

    Final Words

    Now that you’ve learned these left hand techniques, I would appreciate it if you can practice and master them in all other tones of the major scale in the key of C major:

    If you go to the 2-chord:

    Here’s the note:

    …followed by the power chord:

    …then the octave:

    …and then the filled-in octave:

    …and we can also add the open triad to it:

    You can do the same for the 3-chord:

    Here’s the note:

    …followed by the power chord:

    …then the octave:

    …and then the filled-in octave:

    …and we can also add the open triad to it:

    We can also go to the 4-chord:

    Here’s the note:

    …followed by the power chord:

    …then the octave:

    …and then the filled-in octave:

    …and we can also add the open triad to it:

    Now that I’ve provided you with the second, third, and fourth tones, it behooves you to figure out and master the rest of them and I’ll see you in the next lesson.

    All the best!

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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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