Would you like to be able to play piano, or keyboards?
Would you like to sit down and play—whenever, wherever?
Maybe you feel a little like the person in this story.
Once upon a time, a traveler stood in a wooded place where many paths diverged. "Why are you standing here?" an observer asked. The traveler replied, "I wish to play the piano, or keyboards, in an interesting and expressive way. I would like to play songs, and write songs. Is there a path here for me?"
"What can you bring to this endeavor?" the observer asked. "Have you time? Some of these paths require years of dedication and practice."
"I have some time," the traveler answered, "but perhaps not enough for the journey you just described. My job and my responsibilities take up the majority of it. But, if there is a path that doesn't require quite as much time, I would still like to learn to play."
"There is a path like that," the observer explained, "but you'll have to follow these instructions. You will pass through three places or landscapes on the way to your goal. Each of the three landscapes has the same challenge: to get a series of chords under your hands, so that you can play them almost automatically, as soon as they are named."
"Think about it this way," the observer continued. "Chords are like words. If you would like to express yourself through music, you have to know the words. They have to rise up from within you, instantly, just like when you are speaking, or telling a story. You put your hands down on the keyboard, and there they are. Do you understand?"
"I think so," the traveler said. "I'm willing to spend some time learning to play the chords. But would you tell me more about the three landscapes you mentioned?"
"In the first landscape, you will learn 72 chords—12 major chords and 12 minor chords, each in three different hand positions. In the second landscape, you will choose one of the 12 major keys, and you will learn chords specifically useful when playing in that key. In the third landscape, you will connect the chords from that key together, one after another, in ways that sound good, just like words flowing together to make sentences. These musical sentences are called progressions."
"Is it difficult?" the traveler asked.
"The process isn't," the observer answered. "You simply have to be willing to learn one chord at a time. Learn enough of them, and you'll start to speak the language of music. Are you ready to begin?"
"I'm ready," the traveler said. "Where do I start?"
Copyright 2014, 2015 Stephen Mugglin
Hi, my name is Steve. I spend a lot of my time in music: writing, arranging, and teaching. But before getting involved with music education, I studied engineering. These two disciplines have led to the challenge of creating efficient "paths" for music students to follow.
Years ago I remember looking in a music store for books that could answer the questions I had about chords and how they flow together to create musical phrases. I didn't find what I was looking for then, but as the years went by I began to understand the principles related to those early questions.
One of our goals at Chordmaps.com is to explain in as straight-forward a manner as possible the concepts I would like to have had explained to me when I was just starting.
I hope this series called "First Steps in Keyboard" will help those who are asking the questions I was asking then.
Your first challenge is to learn 72 chords—12 major chords and 12 minor chords, each in 3 different hand positions.
This eBook may help you learn. It's found at the link just below.
Your second challenge is to choose one of the major keys and learn a group of chords from that key.
This part of the challenge will take longer than learning the 72 chords, but it will be worth it if you follow through.
Remember: these chords are like words. The more chords you know, the better will be your ability to communicate using these sounds.
Remember: a little practice every day is better than a long session once a week. If you spend a few minutes every day, you can learn a skill that will give you something new to share.
As you work your way through the 72 chords, remember the suggested fingering. Use thumb - middle - little for the right hand unless you are playing the first inversion. Then use thumb - index - little.
Learning to Play Useful Chords in Various Keys
The downloadable eBooks listed below are each designed to teach you a group of useful chords from one key. We suggest starting with the key of C. After you've learned these chords in the key of C, you will find it easier to move to the other keys.
First Steps in Keyboard - Part 5 - Chords in the Key of A - Coming
First Steps in Keyboard - Part 6 - Chords in the Key of E - Coming
First Steps in Keyboard - Part 7 - Chords in the Key of B - Coming
First Steps in Keyboard - Part 9 - Chords in the Key of Bb - Coming
First Steps in Keyboard - Part 10 - Chords in the Key of Eb - Coming
First Steps in Keyboard - Part 11 - Chords in the Key of Ab - Coming
First Steps in Keyboard - Part 12 - Chords in the Key of Db - Coming
First Steps in Keyboard - Part 13 - Chords in the Key of Gb - Coming
We suggest starting with one key. Most people begin with the key of C. Spend some time learning these chords and the variations. Be sure to read the explanations written at the bottom of the pages. You may not understand everything the first time you read it. That's okay. Just move on. As you continue learning the chords, and reading each page, the ideas will grow easier to comprehend.
Images from First Steps in Keyboard Part 2 -
Chords in the Key of C
First Steps in Keyboard is a Chordmaps.com music education project developed by Stephen Mugglin and Mac Mugglin.
This part of the site is still under development. Thank you for checking back.
The Third Challenge -"Landscape 3" - (Not Yet Available)