Singer-Songwriter Piano Method

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The Singer-Songwriter Piano Method, as it is known, is a way of playing pop music at the piano without reading music, or with as little music reading as possible.

The basis of this method is chords and the chord progessions (groups of chords) that are their inter-relationship.

In pop music, only certain chords are used, and they are usually limited to the most basic of chords, like  C F G D E and A, plus their minor chords. Six chords are not hard to learn, if a six year old can do it.

In this style, chords are usually played in the right hand, not the left, and it is more or less assumed that the melody will be sung by the pianist, so there is no need to play it on the piano.

The left hand is relegated to simply playing the roots of the chords, usually in octaves. Thus, if the chord progression of the song is C F G F (Louie, Louie) the left hand plays the notes (not chords) C F G and F.

In this method, there is no melody, that will be sung. The right hand plays chords, and the left hand plays a single note.

Once you know the chords, there is no need to read music.

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Every pop pianist you see, with few exceptions, plays in this manner. Many do not know how to read music, and rely on an encyclopaedic knowledge of chords and chord progressions.

It does require finesse in how you move from one chord to the next, in the right hand. Chords, when played in the left hand, are quite easy, but when put in the right hand, the chord permutations possible and desirable increase exponentially.

This method is useful if you want to play pop music, or if you have great difficulty reading music.

The good news is that the chord progressions tend to be similar from song to song. That is almost the definition of pop music: familiar enough to be popular. That is why such a limited group of chords is used: it makes the listener feel comfortable.

Thus the chord progression, for example C F and G, is actually the basis of 90% of blues songs. The chord progression C Am Dm G ruled American pop music for 75 years (Blue Moon, Heart and Soul, and many more.)

The list of similarities between songs is endless: learn the rather limited group of chord progressions and you have essential control of ALL of pop music.

Put two or three chords together and you’re hooked.

Teach Yourself Piano is a simple introduction to all 12 chords. Piano Chord Dictionary is more advanced and goes into more detail on complex chords found in popular music of all eras.

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