Friday, May 7, 2010

Blues Piano Lessons. Guitar too!

Ever want to play Blues Piano? Well, it's the easiest thing in the world if someone shows you the right way to approach it. You don't even need all ten fingers but you need at least three on each hand. Nor do you need to be able to read since Ray Charles beat Blues like a rented mule and he couldn't see at all.

It's basic,

Step 1)
you break up a chord in the left hand, 1-5-1-5-1-5-1-3-5, or something like that, some variation of three notes. In the right hand you learn 5 notes. 5! Not 6 or 8 or 2. Just 5! And you practice playing those five notes in different places on the keyboard./ They're all the same but in different octaves! It's a minor pentatonic scale. 1 b3 4 5 b7. See? The "b" means flat. five notes. 5. If you feel comfortable with that then you throw in the note between 4 and 5, called flat 5, or b5. You can't miss it.

Step 2)
Play a 1 chord in the left hand. Then a 4 chord. then a 1 chord. Then a 5 chord. then a 4 chord. then a 1 chord. Then a 5 chord. Repeat.

Step 3)
Add the right hand improv. while playing the left hand chord arpeggio.

Congratulations, you're playing the blues.

If you want to play the piano like Ray Charles then please please do not pay a piano teacher to show you how to play major scales and pieces by Bach or Scarlatti. Please~! Those lessons have their place but Blues and Boogie Woogie are music someone just passes along to you and you practice. Learning to read sheet music is what you do when you want to play note for note transcriptions like Ragtime or Schumann. If you are starting from scratch you can learn Blues piano in like two lessons. If you are starting from scratch you can learn a Bach Invention in probably two years...if you are absolutely committed. And at the end of it you will be able to play a Bach invention. At the end of our blues lessons you will be able to IMPROVISE, which means you can play anything within the framework of simple blues, which happens to be GIGANTIC. Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Ray Charles, AC/DC, just about every pop rock musician plays blues and it all comes down to those 5 notes. If you change keys the notes just shift in one direction or another. You can figure it out by ear and feel. Don't worry about the notation unless you want to write it down.
Jazz piano has blues elements but it takes a lot longer to learn and explain. You do need some music theory background to understand Jazz piano. I can show you what I know but Blues is the easiest and funnest thing in the world to play. It fits in everywhere.

You see any music on the piano?(I'm looking at my left hand and admit it is grotesquely long, like Wolfman. From wrist to fingertip must be a foot! Those are fingers born for the piano. I can reach an interval of a 10th. 11ths hurt. Octaves are perfect.)

So, if you want to learn blues improvisation then call me. Right now I'll give the lesson for $10. If you are difficult and resistant to my methods then pay me $20. If you will let me play your piano any time I want then the lesson is FREE. I don't care if you are 5 years old or 105, you can learn blues piano. A child who doesn't like piano lessons is probably not having the right lesson. Most piano teachers feel the student should be prepped for a lifetime of musical performance and learn proper posture and arm position and major scales and simple melodies played exactly as in a book. I agree that you can not expect to play Rachmaninoff if you don't have these fundamental skills. But no kid I've ever met wants to play a Beethoven piano concerto. Yes, concertos are the pinnacle of piano repertoire. But, IT TAKES YEARS TO LEARN THEM. Years of hard work and practice and then there will be ten thousand other kids playing the same piece. Blues improv is's never the same twice and it develops creativity instead of artistic mimicry. I wish I could play a concerto but I can't so don't ask me to teach you Rachmaninoff. I know what the notes are but that's too many notes for me. Blues, yes, Romantic concerto, no.

I'm a guitar teacher too and blues improv is a little harder because the formations aren't identical every time you move up the neck. the notes are the same but the visual formations change. But there are only 5 of them. I use the CAGED method and it works. If you want to learn tab or standard notation I'll show you that but blues improv is really about learning the instrument without sheet music. Your fingers and heart play the blues. It's easy. Your brain plays Bach.

As with any lesson program you still have to practice. One or two hours a day will get you comfortable. But you have to practice the right thing and I can show you what to practice. There are a bunch of lessons on youtube that will show you the same thing I'll show you. But if you can't figure it out from those videos then maybe an in-person lesson will help. I've got a degree in music and I can teach you just about everything about music theory and blues piano.
I don't have a piano right now so I've got to come to you. I'll drive in Portsmouth but for $10 I'm not driving out of town. You see?

That's all. my name is Oggy
email me if you are interested.

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Man in the Van by Oggy Bleacher is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.