This week’s IROCKU Piano Tip provides an exercise to learn how to separate your two hands so they can work independently, playing two different things at the same time. An essential ingredient of improvisation. This video begins with an exercise you can practice anywhere with each hand tapping independently on your lap. Not only is this a practical way to practice but it facilitates the learning process by focusing your attention on the rhythm. The video then takes this exercise to the piano based on a simple three-note New Orleans syncopated groove in the left hand. Over that groove we play a whole-note scale in the right hand, then we play the scale in half-notes in the right hand, than quarter-notes, then eighth-notes, and finally eighth-note triplets. Once you are able to smoothly play an eighth-note scale, or better yet an eighth-note triplet scale, over the left-hand groove your brain will have developed the ability to manage the two hands independently. Now it’s time to mix things up with different right-hand rhythms and patterns over that left-hand groove. It becomes magical when your mind clicks and develops the left/right independence. You’ll know it when it happens… you’ll be improvising.
We encourage IROCKU students to use this technique whenever learning a new song. And use it religiously. Before tackling the song’s melody, or an improvisation of your own, get the left-hand groove down while smoothly playing the scales on top of it. This will make learning the melody and improvisation much easier. We’ll provide ideas on what scales to use over different chords and progressions in future tips.
You might want to follow this exercise with these two IROCKU Piano Tips:
IROCKU Piano Tips cover piano techniques and fundamentals, improvisation, rhythm and groove, progressions, rhythm patterns, piano accompaniment, music theory and riffs.
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IROCKU Piano Tips
Learn how to play rock and blues piano from one of rock’s greatest. Chuck Leavell, legendary keyboardist for The Rolling Stones, The Allman Bros, Eric Clapton, John Mayer, and more.