How to Style Your Piano Chords

By: Jerry A. Greene

Question: How do I learn different ways (styles) of playing piano chords without a private teacher?

Answer: First thing you want to do, is make sure that you know your basic chords, Major, Minor, Augmented, Diminished, 7ths (Major 7ths, Minor 7ths, and Dominant 7ths) in all twelve keys. If you don't know all of your chords, you can use the circle of fifths to figure these all out (more on that in a later article), or use a chord chart.

The next thing you need to do is open a book of sheet music that has chords above the staff and just be able to play every chord without thinking about it.

The most important step and one that you can do in your spare time, or even while doing other things, is to listen to other pianists playing in the style that you are trying to emulate.

After a while, you'll start to hear how the chords are used, and aurally be shown how to use chords in a way that fits with the style of song you want to play.

Most piano players that play in styles other than classical, tend to learn this way. For myself, when I was learning how to play cocktail style piano, I would listen to CD's that had that type of music on there. After listening to them over and over again, I started to pick up how to play the chords and therefore learned the style. Of course, it helps to be able to play by ear. I am assuming, by the fact that you are reading this article, that you have some sort of ability to do so.

Jazz, Cocktail, Country, Pop, R&B. These genres of music all have unique styles that can be learned by listening to some great piano players!

Of course, there are certain chord fingerings and hand-shapes that help to make the style you are playing easier. You CAN learn them by yourself, but it would help to have a pianist with experience in the type of music you want to play, that can teach you good habits (certain ways to play the chords that give you the most flexibility).