Loosen Up That Left Hand

Many really good musicians have trouble with playing comfortably with their left hand. I would like to share with you in this blog post some practical things that you can do to help you to become more comfortable playing with your left hand.

What is the cause of this? Why for some people does it seems to be more difficult playing with your left hand?

I believe what you practice on the most is what you will become comfortable with. Being right handed could have some bearing on this but I don’t think it is a huge factor.  Most people playing the piano and organ primarily focus on what they are doing with their right hand. Over time the right hand gets stronger and more flexible than the left hand.

It is similar to working out one muscle on your body and neglecting another muscle. The one that you work out is naturally going to be stronger. Likewise, with the piano and organ. Technically speaking you should be able to do anything that you can do with your right hand just as well with your left hand.

I am working on this myself. My right hand is more flexible than my left but I am working on narrowing the gap between the two.  Here are a few things that I have done and do to help strengthen my left hand.

 

#1. Take a song that you know well. Whatever you would normally play with your right hand in this song, now play it with your left hand. This can feel very awkward when you first try it but it is a good exercise to strengthen and loosen the left hand up. Try to make it sound like you are still playing with your right hand even though it is your left. (So for this exercise you are only using your left hand to play the song)

 

#2. Practice on scales with correct fingerings with both hands at the same time with a metronome (something keeping a steady tempo or beat). This not only helps to strengthen the left hand but helps in a lot of other ways as well.

 YOU CAN DOWNLOAD A SIMPLE FINGERING CHART HERE

 

#3. Stretch the hand. Hold your left hand out and open your left hand fingers as wide as you can. (Don’t hurt yourself) Try to stretch out the space between each finger.  Do several repetitions of this. Do some slowly by stretching the left hand out and holding it a few seconds in the stretch. Also do this quickly by opening to a wide stretch and closing the hand quickly. This helps to loosen up the muscles in the left hand and also helps to lengthen the range of notes that you can play within a chord with your left hand. Depending on how big your left hand is, it may be good to strive for being able to play an interval of a 10th with your little finger and thumb of your left hand.

[Try to play a C with your little finger and the 2nd E above that. This is an interval of a 10th. See if you can play this interval in every key.]

********What are some things that you do personally to strengthen your left hand?

Comment and share with a friend.

Musically Yours,

Kenneth

Rootless Left Hand Gospel Chords

This week’s gospel music lesson is called “Rootless Left Hand Chords”

It is about how to comfortably play chords with your left hand that frees your right hand up to do other things like extend the chords or play solos.

I also briefly talk about voice leading with the left hand. The transition from one chord to the next in a smooth way. Usually only moving half or whole steps with the left hand.

Enjoy the lesson and thank you for being a member of the HMPI community.

If you like this lesson then check out this one on Gospel Chords.

 

Gospel Music Lesson of the Week – Creating Contempory Chords

This week’s gospel music lesson is about playing within diminished patterns.  Taking major chords and creating a real contemporary, full sound.

I’ll demonstrate it for you and then break down exactly what I do so you can put this lesson to work right away.

Please let me know what you think by sharing your question or comment below.

If you really like it please share it via your twitter or facebook page.

Thanks for reading.  And caring to improve as a gospel musician.

For more, this lesson is on Gospel Music Chords.

 

Gospel Music Lesson of Week – Contemporary Chord Progression in the Key of Eb

 

This weeks gospel music lesson is on a contemporary chord progression in the key of Eb that can be used for background talking music or simply music to add to the chords and progressions that you already know. Enjoy the lesson and please share with a friend!

For more, this Gospel Music Lesson is about incorporating jazz licks.

Gospel Music Lesson of the Week – Chord Progressions

This week’s gospel music lesson is how to take chord progressions that you learn from jazz repertoire and apply it to gospel music. I took a piece of music that I am working on entitled Waltz for Debby by Bill Evans.

As a treat, I’ve included a midi file with the lesson here: Waltz For Debby Midi.

Be sure to check out the additional resources from HMPI.

Enjoy the lesson and if you like it please share with a friend.

Gospel Music Lesson of The Week – Incorporating Jazz Licks

This week’s gospel music lesson is a spin off of the last blog post.  It’s about how to incorporate jazz licks into gospel music. Hope you enjoy it and can apply it to your music right away!

Gospel Music Lesson of the Week – Expanding Dominant Chords


This weeks gospel music lesson was a real pleasure to put together.  It is how to take a dominant chord and explore different sounds and possibilities with the chord.  Enjoy and pass along to a musician friend.  Also make sure to check out the HMPI Store for additional resources and to get yourself ready to perform for mom on Mother’s Day.

Gospel Music Lesson of the Week – The Common Top Tone

The Common Top Tone is an interesting concept that I think you will enjoy.  It’s about how to take one common note and play several chords with that one common tone.  Enjoy and please post your comment or question below.

Gospel Music Lesson of The Week

 

This lesson is on how to play simple chords that are suitable for high praise moments. I did this lesson with the beginner to intermediate player in mind. This progression is very simple but the beauty of it is that you can easily play this in any key when ever you need or want to.

Enjoy!

Gospel Music Lesson of the Week – Pedal Points

This week’s is on Pedal Points and how to play a series of chords with only one bass note.  Enjoy and please pass along to a friend.

Lesson of The Week -Praise Chords in F

Thanks for viewing this weeks lesson Praise Chords in F.  Enjoy and please pass along to a musician friend.  Stay tuned for more lessons and instruction.

Lesson of The Week – Overcoming Key Changes

I would encourage you to take this key changing technique and try to apply it to all 12 keys. It is good to think about the number and type of chord that you are playing in songs. The 2 most important things you must be able to do in order to effectively use this technique is to know all 12 major scales and know your basic chords. These are very fundamental skills that will in the end make a huge difference in your playing. It really does take the frustration and anxiety out of playing in every key evenly.

Key Change Exercise Song

Click Below To Hear The Song

If you like this lesson then don’t be shy. Help us spread the free lessons. Share with a friend.

Thanks,

KH

Lesson of the Week – Organ Chord Inversions

Welcome to HMPI’s Music Lesson of the Week.  There have been several requests for an organ lesson so I put together a great lesson for players of all skill levels around Organ Chord Inversions.  I hope you enjoy.  Please comment below with any questions and/or requests for future lessons.  We’ve also just launched a digital download section in our store that has more complete organ lessons.

And don’t be shy, share with a friend via email, facebook, or twitter.

HMPI Lesson of the Week – Reharmonization and Counter Melodies

For this week’s lesson I decided to do a brief demonstration of a song reharmonization and adding counter melodies to a song. This is something I love to do and you certainly grab people’s attention when you reharmonize familiar songs and melodies.  As with anything this has to be done with discretion and tastefully.  However, it’s great to keep things fresh musically and to keep raising the bar for creativity.

Reharmonization for me is centered around the melody. In a nutshell you keep the melody notes prominent and at the top of the chords. This helps people to hear where you are in the song. It goes with out saying that in order to do this that one should already be able to play quite a few chords in several different keys.

Now lets take chords that we already know and maybe discover some new ones along the way and weave together a creative chord progression that allows the melody notes to be the top notes of the chords. It can be challenging to reharmonize certain songs but it is a  fun challenge.

  • Look for progressions that sound natural

I really love to hear musicians that can play in a very creative way but it still sounds musical. Sometimes musicians can get so caught up into doing something innovative and new that it is easy for the music to become non musical or doesn’t really make sense to the listener. Always keep your listeners in mind. Will your listeners be able to follow your reharmonization or will they still be able to  make out what the song is. These are things to consider when coming up with your own  reharmonization.

  • Go back to home base from time to time

It is important when you are playing a familiar melody or song to go back to the standard progressions within the song sometimes. In a sense it helps the listener reset their ears to the song you are playing. You don’t won’t to stay out in left field the whole time, come back to the regular way of playing at the right times and go then go back to something new and different. It is all about being tasteful. It is possible to have too much of a good thing.

  • Use Modulations to get out and back in

Sometimes you may find yourself stuck and can’t figure out how to reharmonize a certain part of the song. In that instance, allow the melody note to stay the same but play chords that are in a different key. This will really make people listen. You have to be careful how you do this but it is a great technique  to use.

My last tip is learn more songs. The more songs you learn the more chord progressions you will learn and you will be better equipped to come up with your own unique chord progressions.

Have fun and be creative. There are no rules. Discover something great!

KH.

If you like this lesson please comment and share it with a musician friend.

Lesson of the Week – Playing Outside of the Key

I’m happy to announce that HMPI will be issuing a lesson of the week from here on out.  I hope that you find value and come back to the blog each week to check out the lesson.  The first lesson is called “Playing Outside the Key.”

I’d love to hear your comments and or questions.  Please post below.  Also, if you like what you see and hear and feel moved, please share with your friends via facebook, twitter and email icons below.  Have a blessed week!

Piano and Organ Tips – Real Success Insights

Have you ever sat down at your piano or organ to practice and didn’t know what to really work on?  Have you ever felt like you were not accomplishing much in your practice time?

We both have probably felt like this at some point in time.

Let me share some things with you that has helped me over the years.  I know you have been playing awhile but hopefully this will help.

If you are anything like me, you are probably really busy and don’t have as much time as you would like to practice so you have to make your practice time count.

I have found that it helps to make out a practice schedule:

1.  Specify how much time you can allot to practicing a particular day.

2.  Determine what you want and NEED to practice on.

3.  Divide the time up that you have so you can practice on everything. You have to stop working on a particular thing when the time is up or it will throw off your  schedule.

4.  Keep a log or diary of what you practiced on so you can track your progress.

A practice schedule for me may look something like this:

 Practice Schedule

Time: 1 Hour

Finger Exercises/Scales: 15 min

Sight Reading: 15 min

New Song to Learn: 20min

Improv/Soloing: 10 min

I”ll send you a free video lesson next time. People seem to really like the video lessons. I have a process where you can download lessons to your computer.  I think you’ll like it.

Gotta go now.  I’ll talk to you soon.

Kenny

Minor Scales – Free Lesson

Thank you for subscribing to free lessons from HMPI. Enjoy your first video and stay tuned for me. If you like what you see please share with your friends on facebook and twitter.

How Great Thou Art – Organ Lesson

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