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How to Practice Chords
Chords with Inversions
Choose the chord you want to practice, for example a Major Triad. Look at the Chord Construction Chart and you see that the notes needed for a major triad are 1, 3, 5. Then choose the key or scale.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
C D E F G A B C
For example if you want to practice C, look at the C scale above and you see that the number 1 note is C, the number 3 note is E and the 5 is G. So the chord tones for a C major triad are C E G. Now play the chord with both hands at the same time with one an octave higher than the other.
You start with C, the keynote ( 1 ) on the bottom. Then move up with both hands and put E ( 3 ) on the bottom playing E, G, C ( 3, 5, 1 ). Then move up again putting G on the bottom playing G, C, E ( 5, 1, 3). These different chord positions are called inversions. Then move up again putting C on the bottom as at the beginning playing C, E, G. Start this whole practice sequence kind of low and move as high as is comfortable. Then play going down the keyboard in reverse.
The technique is the same for four note chords, but there will be one extra chord position or inversion because of the extra note. For the ninth chord, play the top four notes 3, 5, b7, and 9.
You simply play the chords with both hands in different positions or inversions going up and down the keyboard. This type of chord movement is very much used in hymns. So practice this.
Practice using the sustain pedal during this exercise. Let the pedal up just before you play each chord then hold down the pedal while you move your hands to the next position. This is how you will do when playing hymns, you will hold down the pedal while changing from one chord to the next.
You must practice all 13 chords in all twelve scales like this. This is how to learn chords and it gets your hands moving on the piano, plus the pedal technique.
An arpeggio is the notes of a chord played separately from low to high or in reverse, high to low. You do not need this technique to play hymns, but is wonderful practice to get your hands moving on the piano and you learn chords. You must know the chords before you can play hymns using chords.
Using both hands, play arpeggios with all the chords in all the scales.
Keep the key note on the bottom of each chord, no inversions.
Do not use the sustain pedal when you practice arpeggios. Go up and down the keyboard with these arpeggios.
You must cross your hands over to play arpeggios. Going up the keyboard, cross the left hand first, then right, left hand crossing over, right hand crossing under. Going down the keyboard cross the right hand first, then left, right hand crossing under, left hand crossing over.
Do two sets to start with. Like this.
Left Hand Right Hand Left Hand Right Hand
C E G C E G C E G C E G
Later you can try three sets.
You must practice this with all thirteen chords. Do each chord in all twelve keys. Most of the chords have four notes. You must learn to play four note chords.
There is only one 5 note chord, the ninth chord. When you practice the Ninth chord, leave out the number 1 note. Play the other four notes, 3, 5, b7, and 9. This chord sounds best when the ninth is on top. This is how it is used most often in hymns, with the ninth on top, which can be played easily by leaving out the keynote and playing the top four notes.
These practice techniques really work. This is the best way to learn and practice chords.
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