HOW TO PLAY BLUES PIANO
Learn to play blues piano with EASY BLUES PIANO RIFFS.
In this tutorial Tom Donald shows you easy blues piano licks and tricks to play 12 bar blues on piano. To help you develop your blues riff piano, Tom will uncover how to :
- Master 12 bar blues piano in G with an effective boogie left hand bass
- Improvise on piano blues scale with the Mixolydian scale and why you should flatten the 7th
- Play blues on piano using simple but effective 2 and 3 note riffs
- Why your hand coordination is sometimes more important than your improvisation.
Have fun with these top tips on learning blues piano.
Playing the blues involves a lovely mixture of combinations and allows you a lot of freedom to improvise. Mind you, you still have to know what to do, what the structure of the blues is, or your music will not sound very good. And while it is not difficult at all, playing the blues still involves a fair bit of practice to ensure the co-ordination of your left and right hand is integrated.
In the video, I start with a 12-bar blues in G major to take you through the left-hand pattern first. Keep practising this until you play it really smoothly, then you can improvise over the top with the right hand.
There’s a big misconception that to play the blues well, you need to stick with a blues scales but that’s not actually true. Part of the beauty of the blues scales is that they integrate very well with the standard major scales. The two worlds constantly meet to produce this wonderful soulful music.
If you’d told Mozart that years into the future, people would be playing music like the blues, he’d probably have told you that was not possible but here we are, and it sounds just great.
Trick 1 – Left Hand
When you’re trying to develop a blues riff, start with a major scale such as G major and change just one note in the chord . Flatten the seventh note, in other words G major, all on white keys. This is called the Mixolydian Mode, which is used a lot in Rock & Roll as well.
You can do this in any other key such as C-major too. When you flatten the seventh note, you’ll play a B flat instead of a B. If you’re ever stuck for ideas, this is a really good place to start.
Trick 2 – Right Hand
[4:26] Something a little more strategic involves triplet rhythm, which makes things a little bit faster. We’re also going to flatten the third note so we get a major/minor effect. We also hear this a lot in Blues music. Play a B flat, a B and a D and circle them in triplets, three times, then you can do whatever you like to finish the phrase. You can just improvise it, using all the white keys in the Mixolydian Mode.
Your biggest challenge will be the co-ordination between your left and right hands and that’s what you’ll really need to practice. It’s a nice sound to keep in your artillery.
Trick 3 – Right Hand
Another very simple technique that always sounds beautiful involves just 2 notes. Never underestimate the difficulty of pulling something off that’s simple, in a concise, convincing way. The simple things are often the best and the most profound. You only need G and B flat to play interesting rhythms and it’s particularly good if you struggle to co-ordinate both hands as you don’t have to remember too many notes to play with the right hand. Use this as a very effective practice technique.
Trick 4 – Right Hand
Next we’ll learn to play three notes that work particularly well with the two notes in Trick 3. Play G, F and D. There are some particularly nice phrases you can play with just these 3 notes [7:06] and combining them with the earlier tricks wil make for a lovely piece of music with some practice.
Trick 5 – Right Hand
To take things up a notch, you can get a bit rock and roll with it all. This is a classic trick and it’s so fun. It’s a little bit physical for some players because it takes a bit of speed in your playing. But sometimes it’s fun to practice things that are fast and loud. So let’s do it.
[8:24] Play a D and a G at the top of the piano where you will get a nice harsher, bluesy sound that you’re not quite allowed to do when you play classical music. Play in triplets just as in Trick 2, then add a C sharp against the D on every 6th beat [8:48]. Now when you add the left hand, you can hear how you have shifted the gear up a notch to something a little more explosive.
COMPOSE YOUR OWN
The different tricks you’ve learnt here are all very compatible, they all fit nicely together. Swapping between them whenever you feel like it, however the mood takes you will allow you to play some lovely Blues riffs. With the different phrases you can build a nice musical conversation.
To make your piano fingers strong and independent and your playing precise and even, make sure to watch this tutorial by Siwan Rhys, one of our amazing LCSP coaches.
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