What Piano Pedals Do + How to Use Them to Sound Like a Pro

What do the pedals on a piano do

Piano pedals are levers which alter the sound of the piano in a variety of different ways. The three types of pedals most pianos have are, from right to left: a sustain pedal, a sostenuto pedal, and a soft pedal.

Note: Some digital keyboards may only have one – the sustain pedal – which you can plug into the keyboard.

As you get more comfortable at the piano, you may start to wonder about these three pedals at the bottom. What do the pedals on a piano do? You’ll find the answers in this complete guide. We’ll go over each pedal’s effects, how to use them correctly, and how to recognize them in your sheet music.

What do the Pedals on a Piano do? 

The Sustain Pedal

piano pedals

The most commonly used out of all the piano pedals is the sustain (or damper) pedal. This pedal is the farthest right, and the right foot depresses it. The sustain pedals allows pianists to extend the sound of a note far longer than they could by simply pressing the key.

This allows pianists to hold notes for as long as indicated in the music, or as long as they feel appropriate. Some notes will have a fermata marking, which means to hold the note past the amount of time its value indicates.

One common usage for the sustain pedal is to hold long chords that are serving as an accompaniment to the melody. The other use of this pedal is to play with a “legato articulation.” This means connecting smoothly one note to the next, without any break in between the sounds.

One of its names is the “damper” pedal because it works by lifting the dampers off the strings so that the strings keep vibrating. What typically happens when a key is released from being pushed down is that the felt of the dampers stop the movement of the string.

For this reason, the sustain pedal provides an added richness to the sound through sympathetic vibration. In other words, the other strings (not in use) also vibrate along with the ones that are in use.

The Sustain Pedal in Sheet Music

Some music notates the exact places where you should depress and release the sustain pedal. It can also be up to you to decide when and how to use it, so its use won’t always be notated in your music.

The most common notation you’ll see is a symbol underneath the grand staff of the music. The symbol shows when to depress it (whether multiple times, or a single time), and when to release it.

Below is an example of what a pedaling symbol could look like. 

what do the pedals on a piano do (2)

In this example, the initial line indicates the start of the pedaling. The carrot in the middle indicates a quick release and re-depression of the pedal, and the final line indicates a complete release of the pedal.

Keep in mind that this symbol can be much longer in sheet music. It can even be just a single line if there is just one depression and release of the pedal. Here is another example-

piano pedals

Another way of notating the pedal in sheet music is by use of the word “Ped.” This indicates the beginning of a pedaling. A following asterisk (*) indicates the release of the pedal.

One more general way of marking pedaling is to indicate it at the beginning of the music, or section of music, with the indication “senza sordini.” This translates to “without dampers.”

How to Use the Sustain Pedal

When pedaling, it’s important to remember that the foot operates like a lever. Your heel is on the ground and the ball of your foot is depressing the pedal.

Another thing to keep in mind is that you should always leave your foot resting in contact with the pedal. This way, you can easily depress the sustain pedal when needed.

When you’re resting on the pedal, you can even keep it slightly depressed already to make your pedaling more efficient. You’ll notice that doing this doesn’t cause the pedal to engage yet.

When using the pedal, you’ll want to depress it slightly before you play a note, or right as you play a note. You’ll also usually want to change the pedal right after playing a note.

This level of coordination can be complex and it requires practice. Don’t be discouraged if you find it challenging to incorporate pedaling into your playing at first!

The Sostenuto Pedal        

The middle pedal is usually a sostenuto pedal. Out of the three piano pedals, pianists use this one the least often. The sostenuto pedal offers an exciting variation on the sustain pedal.

Instead of holding down every note struck, the sostenuto pedal allows you to hold down some but not others. This is often used to sustain long bass notes while allowing for melodic and harmonic lines to continue moving.

How to Use the Sostenuto Pedal

In your sheet music, you’ll see sostenuto pedaling indicated just like normal pedaling, except with the addition of the abbreviation “Sost.” To use this pedal, first strike and hold down the notes you wish to sustain while depressing the sostenuto pedal.

Once you’ve done so, you can release the keys you depressed, but they will still be sustained. You can play any additional notes you wish, but they won’t be sustained since they were depressed after you engaged the sostenuto pedal.

It’s also possible to use the sustain pedal as you would normally while using the sostenuto pedal simultaneously. The short video below shows the difference inside the piano between the sustain pedal and the sostenuto pedal.

Other Middle Pedal Variations

Today, most grand pianos are equipped with the sostenuto pedal, while upright pianos have a practice mute pedal instead of the sostenuto pedal in the middle. 

The practice mute pedal is quite straightforward: it quiets the sound of the whole piano by inserting a layer of felt between the hammers and the strings, so the sound is still created but not as loudly. This pedal is depressed with the left foot.

On a practical note, this is useful if you want to practice but need to reduce the volume level for others around. Another useful feature of this pedal is that you can usually lock it to the left so you don’t have to hold it down during your entire practice session.

You’ll likely never see a notation for the practice mute pedal in your sheet music since it’s only used for practice.

The middle pedal isn’t used frequently and it has different possibilities depending on the type of piano. Because of this, the pedal’s usage and purpose is often misunderstood.

While the practice mute pedal and the sostenuto pedal are the two most common middle pedals, it’s also possible that the middle pedal could be a sustain pedal for only the bass notes. This is a “bass damper.”

Additionally, it could be a “silent pedal.” A silent pedal blocks the hammers from striking the strings, allowing you to hear the sound in your connected headphones only. Or, it could be a pedal with no purpose other than visual show.

The Soft Pedal

what do the pedals on a piano do

Another name for the soft pedal is the “una corda” pedal. This far-left pedal appears to simply offer a reduction in the volume of sound. However, the true intention of the pedal is to also offer a change in the color and timbre of the sound.

Due to the change in color and volume, this pedal creates a sense of mystery, introspection, or awe.

When the una corda pedal was created, it meant that the whole keyboard and its hammers shifted slightly to the right. All the hammers hit only one string rather than the two they typically hit.

With modern pianos, using the una corda pedal now means that the keyboard shifts slightly to the right. So, the hammers hit two strings instead of the typical three that are now associated with each note.

This means it’s a bit of a misnomer today since “una corda” translates to “one string.” In addition, today’s upright pianos execute una corda a little differently than grand pianos. For this reason, the correct name for the upright piano’s pedal is a “half-blow” pedal.

Due to the angle of the strings in upright pianos, the keyboard doesn’t shift when una corda is depressed. Instead, the hammers approach the strings more closely, which leads to a similar effect of lowered volume.

How to Use the Soft Pedal

Like the sostenuto pedal, your left foot depresses this pedal as well. In your sheet music, you’ll see una corda pedaling indicated with the phrases “con sordino” and “una corda.” The following symbol also indicates una corda pedaling. 

piano pedals

The phrases “senza sordino” and “tre corde” tell you to release the soft pedal. You may also see the following symbol.

piano pedals

This video nicely shows how each of the three piano pedals sound. It also demonstrates good usage of all three pedals at the end of his improvisation.

Knowing how to use the piano pedals allows you to add finesse, accuracy, and color to your playing. While it may seem straightforward, pedaling at the piano is an art. There are many techniques you can use to make pedaling flawless within the music.

As a piano student, it’s always a good idea to get feedback and advice on how to master pedaling. TakeLessons is an excellent place to find a piano instructor for private lessons, or learn piano in online classes.

Have any more questions about what the pedals on a piano do? Leave a comment and let us know!

Need Private Lessons?

Search thousands of teachers for local and live, online lessons. Sign up for safe, affordable private lessons today!

7 Common Chord Progressions for Every Piano Player

piano chord progressions

Chord progressions offer a view of music from a whole new perspective. Once you know some common variants, you’ll be able to create your own music, learn and sight-read written music more quickly, and have a greater understanding of music in general.

First, what are piano chord progressions? Chord progressions are simply a sequence of chords. (A chord is two or more notes played together). Chord progressions exist to develop the music in a harmonically meaningful way. Often you can hear a “harmonic story” in each chord progression which includes a beginning, middle, and end.

In order to notate and analyze chords, musicians use a system of Roman numerals. In each major key, there are seven unique chords, built off the notes of the scale. Each chord in the scale can be major, minor, diminished, or augmented.

Here are the notations for each chord in a major scale: I (major), ii (minor), iii (minor), IV (major), V (major), vi (minor), and vii° (diminished). As you can see, a capital Roman numeral indicates “major,” and a lowercase Roman numeral indicates “minor.”

7 Piano Chord Progressions Everyone Should Know

The chord progressions on the following list can be used in any of the 12 major keys. For simplicity’s sake, each chord progression below is shown both in Roman numerals and in the key of C Major, as an example. (The last progression on the list is an exception, which is in minor).

In each genre of music, there are specific chord progressions that are commonly used and well loved. Below, you’ll learn seven of the most common piano chord progressions from jazz, gospel, blues, and more!

1. The 12-bar Blues Chord Progression

This chord progression is incredibly simple because it uses just three chords – I, IV, and V – but it has infinite possibilities for melodic improvisation. When played over 12 bars, this progression becomes a “12-bar blues.”

Note: A bar of music is a way of notating a set amount of time, or a certain number of beats, in the music. In the 12-bar blues, each bar would have four beats or counts, and each chord would last one bar. This makes 12 bars in total – one for each chord.

You can experiment with improvising on top of this chord progression using the blues scale. When this chord progression is used in a blues song, it’s repeated many times throughout the song. You’ll find the 12-bar blues in songs like Elvis Presley’s “Hound Dog,” BB King’s “The Thrill is Gone,” and Bill Haley’s “Rock Around the Clock.”

Without further ado, check out the progression in C Major below. This chord progression, like all chord progressions, can be played in a variety of timings. Here, the chord progression (I-IV-I-V-I) is extended so it can last for 12 bars.

C – C – C – C – F – F – C – C – G – G – C – C

I – I – I – I – IV – IV – I – I – V – V – I – I

If you’d like, you can also practice this in other keys by transposing it. To do this, choose your key (say, G Major), and then use the sequence of Roman numerals above to create the same chord progression using the scale of G Major.

If you need more help or want to check your transposition, you can type in the chord names (i.e. C, G, F) here and they will be transposed to the key of your choice.

2. The “Cadential” Chord Progression

No piano chord progression list would be complete without this one, since it defies genre and is an essential ending progression. This is called a “cadential” chord progression in music theory, and it’s particularly common in classical, church, and gospel settings.

The ii-V-I chord progression is complete on its own, but it can also be made into the longer progression I-vi-ii-V-I. You can hear this progression in many jazz standards, including Miles Davis’ “Tune Up” and Eric Clapton’s “Tears in Heaven.”


Here’s what this progression would look like in C Major:

Dmin – G – C

ii – V – I

3. The Songwriting & All-purpose Chord Progression

This progression will likely sound familiar to you, as it’s extremely popular and has a dramatic sound – thanks to the minor vi chord. The progression lends itself very well to songwriting.

It can actually be altered by starting on any of the chords in the progression and then continuing in the same order (for example, V-vi-IV-I). Changing it in this way creates different tonal sentiments, from melancholy to drama.

Songs using this progression are numerous, including the Beatles’ “Let It Be,” the Rolling Stones’ “Beast of Burden,” and Bruce Springsteen’s “I’m Goin’ Down.”


Here it is in all four alterations:

C – G – Amin – F / G – Amin – F – C / Amin – F – C – G / F – C – G – Amin

I – V – vi – IV / V – vi – IV – I / vi – IV – I – V / IV – I – V – vi

4. The Classic 3-chord Progression

This is one of the most versatile piano chord progressions, yet also one of the simplest! It’s been widely used as the basis for many songs, especially in modern pop. It’s also a good one to practice improvisation, since the progression itself doesn’t take a lot of concentration.

You’ll recognize it in Richie Valen’s “La Bamba,” Poison’s “Every Rose Has Its Thorn,” and Jerry Lee Lewis’ “Great Balls of Fire.”


Here is the 3-chord progression in C Major, as an example:

C – F – G

I – IV – V

5. The Canon (AKA Pachelbel) Progression

This progression is named after Pachelbel’s Canon in D Major, an idyllic work that has become very well known. It is a more extended version of the previous I-IV-V progression. Like the 12-bar blues, it can be repeated many times within a single song.

The Canon progression appears in many genres, particularly pop. You’ll hear it in Aerosmith’s “Cryin’” and Blues Traveler’s “Hook.”


The progression looks like this in C Major:

C – G – Amin – Emin – F – C – F – G

I – V – vi – iii – IV – I – IV – V

6. The 50s Progression

This progression is a throwback to the 50s, although it’s still in use today. It has several different catchy names that speak to its versatility including the “Heart and Soul” chords, the “doo wop progression,” and the “ice cream changes.”

You can hear it featured in songs like Ben E. King’s hit “Stand By Me,” Green Day’s “Jesus of Suburbia,” and Bob Marley’s “Stir It Up.”


This chord progression makes the rounds in many genres, including pop, classical, reggae, and doo-wop.

C – Amin – F – G

I – vi – IV – V

7. Andalusian Cadence

Now that you know a number of basic piano chord progressions in major, here’s one that has a bit more flair thanks to its roots in Flamenco music. This progression is in minor, and it also uses chords that are lowered by a half step (♭ VII and ♭ VI).

You’ll hear the Andalusian cadence in Ace of Base’s “Cruel Summer,” Ray Charles’ “Hit the Road, Jack,” and Nina Simone’s “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood.”


The Andalusian cadence looks like this in C Minor:

Cmin – B♭– A ♭– G

i – ♭ VII – ♭ VI – V

Chord progressions are fundamental to playing the piano proficiently and understanding music on a deeper level. To learn more about chord progressions and the theory behind them, piano lessons are a great solution.

A teacher can help demystify music theory, and give you personalized exercises to train your ear and fingers. Try an online piano class, or take one-on-one piano lessons with a professional instructor near you to learn more.

Interested in Private Lessons?

Search thousands of teachers for local and live, online lessons. Sign up for convenient, affordable private lessons today!

The Top 20 Best Jazz Pianists of All Time [Infographic]

best jazz pianists

Narrowing down a list to just 20 of the best jazz pianists isn’t easy, as there are plenty to choose from. Creative geniuses such as Art Tatum, Count Basie, and Thelonious Monk are just a few of the names that come to mind, among many other greats in jazz’s rich history.

Although most people think of trumpeters or saxophonists when they hear the word “jazz,” the piano has played a crucial role in the development of jazz theory and performance.

Acting as both a solo and ensemble jazz instrument, the piano has important contributions to make in the areas of rhythm, harmony, and style. Some even consider it the backbone of jazz ensembles – as crucial as the double bass that outlines the harmonic figures, and the trumpet that riffs and solos on the melody.

Perhaps what’s most incredible is how jazz piano has supported the evolution of jazz over the decades, from ragtime to bebop to swing and more. If you’re ready to place your finger on the lively pulse of jazz, read on for a compilation of the greatest jazz pianists, ordered by era.

The 20 Best Jazz Pianists

1. Scott Joplin


Scott Joplin’s style represents the earliest precursor of jazz, in the form of the classic ragtime. Born around 1868 in Texas, Joplin’s works inhabit a unique space where classical music and African-American styles, such as work songs and gospels, converged.

The unique sound of ragtime, with its syncopation and joyful melodies, can’t be mistaken for anything else. Joplin’s greatest hit, “Maple Leaf Rag,” epitomizes the genre. His compositions had a classical quality to them and weren’t intended for improvisation, unlike other forms of jazz that would follow.

2. Jelly Roll Morton


A few decades after Joplin’s birth, the pianist who came to be known as “Jelly Roll Morton” was born into a family of proud Creole heritage in New Orleans. His colorful stage name was invented to mask his family name, when he took a job playing piano in a brothel.

Morton acted as a pianist, bandleader, composer, and arranger. He is firmly rooted on the map of jazz piano, thanks to his works which embrace ragtime and early jazz. While his claims to have invented jazz have never fully been proven, it’s certain that he is an important figure who left us with many spirited compositions.

3. Willie “The Lion” Smith


Willie “The Lion” Smith, born in 1897 in New York, moved jazz one more step forward, to the “stride” style – involving rapid, rhythmic alterations in the left-hand accompaniment. This style became popular in the 1920s and 30s.

Willie’s birth name was actually, William Henry Joseph Bonaparte Bertholoff Smith, chosen to represent all parts of his rich family heritage. A highly influential figure, Willie is one of the best jazz pianists of all time because of his skillful and virtuosic artistry.

4. Duke Ellington


Duke Ellington certainly pulled his weight as a bandleader, but he was much more than that. He also wore the hats of composer and pianist. Alive from 1899 to 1974, he had a prolific and lengthy career which included over 1,000 compositions.

Ellington’s career wasn’t just a solo performance. His strength originated from his use of a big band, or orchestra, which featured dedicated musicians of the highest quality. Born in Washington D.C. and passing much of his life in New York City, Ellington is widely celebrated as a quintessential American jazz musician.

5. Earl Hines


A fabulous pianist who made a mark on jazz history, Earl Hines was someone who truly captivated his listeners. Hines, born in 1903 close to Pittsburgh, had a big band with which he performed.

Yet his artistry was so strong, his piano playing alone contained everything needed for a meaningful, stylized jazz performance. He’s still recognized today as the father of modern jazz and as a huge influence on numerous famous jazz pianists.

6. Fats Waller


Only a year after Earl Hines entered the world, Fats Waller was born in 1904 in New York City. Waller’s career was full of surprises, twists, and turns. His artistry spanned many different genres including comedy, organ, and singing performances.

An entertainer at heart, his most popular works still hold a place in listeners’ hearts, with compositions like “Ain’t Misbehavin’” and “Honeysuckle Rose” never going out of style. Waller was a popular and well-liked artist with a sense of humor, and his music had no limits—he played jazz and Bach on the organ.

7. Count Basie


Count Basie is a classic – his style is timeless, and the sound of his piano playing at the center of a big band, unmistakable. Born the same year as Fats Waller, Count Basie is most well-known as a bandleader, but his leading was done from the piano. Thus, the two roles of pianist and bandleader are both integral to his identity.

Count Basie knew how to make a big band swing! While he made the big band sound popular, he is also known for shining a light on the rhythm section, with the piano at the centerpiece of the tight-knit group.

8. Art Tatum


Tatum heralded a new age of genius in jazz. He was ahead of his time, a devilish improviser and a technical wizard at the piano. Taking cues from his predecessors, Waller and Hines, Tatum had an especially unique life as a visually impaired musician.

He melded the styles of swing and stride, inventing creative improvisations that surpassed anything heard until then. Born in Ohio in 1909, Art Tatum went down in the history of jazz, and for good reason!

9. Thelonious Monk


Inimitable in personality and musical style, Thelonious Sphere Monk was in a class of his own. His music was and still is widely recorded. His style at the piano is highly unusual, featuring dissonances and dramatic, unexpected changes within a piece.

He was born in North Carolina in 1917 but spent most of his childhood in New York City. Monk’s legacy lives on in the form of albums and tributes, as well as an institute established in his honor, which supports jazz education in public schools.

10. Hank Jones


Hank Jones was a product of Earl Hines, Fats Waller, and Art Tatum, among other greats who influenced him. He was a versatile and admired pianist, bandleader, arranger, and composer, and his career included more than 60 albums.

He also collaborated with well-known musicians like Ella Fitzgerald and Charlie Parker. Jones was particularly known for his usage of advanced harmony, and many described his artistry as “impeccable.”

RELATED: 9 Easy Jazz Piano Songs to Learn 

11. Nat “King” Cole


Extremely popular with the public, Nat “King” Cole’s infectious melodies and vocals will never be forgotten. Expanding beyond the sphere of jazz, Nat King Cole also appeared in films and had his own television series.

While his music itself was plenty noteworthy, his life was also remarkable, as he personally experienced a high degree of racism as a black musician born in Alabama in 1919 and going on to perform in the southern states of the US.

12. Dave Brubeck


A contemporary favorite, Dave Brubeck arrived unexpectedly at the piano, after first attempting a formal course of study in zoology. Born in 1920 in California to a pianist and a cattle rancher, Brubeck went on to forge a diverse musical style, encompassing experimental techniques and out-of-the-ordinary meters, rhythms, and harmonies.

His work is perhaps best represented by his ensemble, the Dave Brubeck Quartet, which he established the same year that he suffered a debilitating surfing injury. He left behind a vast musical legacy, and four of his six children are professionally involved in music.

13. Bud Powell


Bud Powell signaled a new era in jazz piano: bebop! Known for his compositions and creative harmony, Powell followed in the footsteps of his pianist father. He also admired Art Tatum and Thelonious Monk.

Bill Evans, along with several other famous jazz pianists, would later follow in Bud Powell’s musical footsteps. Powell struggled with mental health and drug abuse, which unfortunately was not uncommon in the bebop scene of this age. Alive from 1924 to 1966, Bud Powell’s music led jazz piano in a new direction.

14. Oscar Peterson


Hailing from Canada, Oscar Peterson came from a vigorous, disciplined classical background, with the habit of four to six hours of daily practice. Soon fascinated by boogie-woogie and ragtime as an adolescent, Peterson is well-known for his diverse style, melding jazz and classical, as well as his work in small ensembles.

15. Bill Evans


Originally from New Jersey, where he was born in 1929, Bill Evans is known for his harmonic prowess at the piano, as well as his collaborations with other famous musicians like Miles Davis and Chet Baker.

A prolific musician who deeply valued his collaborators, Evans was known for his superb work in trios. His music-making involved new harmonies, unique interpretations of old standards, and masterful melodic lines. Evans’ legacy influenced many famous jazz pianists to follow.

16. Ahmad Jamal


Born in Pittsburgh in 1930, Ahmad Jamal valued his connection to the city throughout his life. His relationship with music started very early, as he found himself at the piano at the young age of three.

Jamal’s career has spanned many decades and he is best known for his innovative style of music making, called “cool jazz.” While he was inspired by bebop, his style diverges into his modern interpretation of jazz.

17. McCoy Tyner


Born in 1938 in Philadelphia, McCoy Tyner’s career was defined by his contributions to the John Coltrane quartet. He ultimately used these experiences as a jumping-off point, continuing to innovate even after leaving the quartet due to stylistic differences.

Tyner made several contributions to modern jazz piano, including his approach to chord voicing and his unique voice expressed through his melodic interpretations.

18. Herbie Hancock


Herbie Hancock is a versatile jazz musician who joined Miles Davis’ Quintet at the young age of 23. Hancock was born in 1940 in Chicago and demonstrated exceptional talent in classical piano as a child. He was fundamental in establishing another evolution in jazz history: post-bop. Hancock’s music is extremely experimental with eclectic influences.

19. Chick Corea


Chick Corea has enjoyed a long, distinguished career. Born in 1941 in Massachusetts, Corea draws on a lineage of famous jazz musicians, including Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, and Bud Powell.

His style evolved over the years, from avant-garde to jazz fusion to contemporary classical music. Corea is also well-respected for his musical collaborations with other artists, including contemporary Hancock.

20. Keith Jarrett


Keith Jarrett, born in 1945 in Pennsylvania, is a multidisciplinary performer, equally devoted to jazz and classical music. Found to have perfect pitch, he was extremely accomplished at the piano from a young age. His most well-known collaborations were with Art Blakey and Miles Davis.

Although this list isn’t comprehensive, each of these artists’ creativity and legacy gave them a place in the history of jazz – a music which reflects African American history, experimentation, culture, and change.

If you’re interested in honing your jazz skills, spend some time listening to songs from these jazz pianists and even try to transcribe a short riff from one of them. You can also obtain professional instruction from a piano teacher at TakeLessons, who can give you feedback and guidance on how to improve your skills, one lesson at a time!

Interested in Private Lessons?

Search thousands of teachers for local and live, online lessons. Sign up for convenient, affordable private lessons today!

4 Tips for Learning Jazz Piano Chords & Chord Progressions

jazz chords pianoReady to add some flair and style to your playing with jazz piano chords? Learning jazz chord progressions is an excellent way to explore a new genre on the keys.

Jazz piano can be a fun but difficult thing to learn. In this article, we’ll break it down by helping you master some essential jazz piano chords. Here are four tips to get you started!

How to Play Jazz Piano Chords & Chord Progressions

1. Know Your Theory

In order to even think about playing jazz piano, your music theory skills have to be strong:

  • Practice playing major seventh, dominant seventh, minor seventh, half and fully diminished seventh chords in root position across the keyboard.
  • Practice major ii V I chord progressions (ii minor 7th, V dominant 7th, and I major 7th) and minor ii V i chord progressions (ii half diminished, V dominant 7th, and i minor 7th) in all 12 keys.
  • Be aware of all the possible chord symbols: Major 7ths (Cmaj7, C△, CM7), Minor 7ths (Cmin7, C-7, Cm7), and half-diminished 7ths (Cmin7♭5, C∅). Luckily, dominant 7ths and fully diminished 7ths only are notated one way (G7 and G° respectively).

2. Know Your Voicings

The root position chords above are great to familiarize yourself with the notes, but don’t smoothly connect the harmonies. In C:
jazz chord progressions piano

To play these jazz chord progressions on the piano smoother, move the least distance to the next chord.

jazz chord progressions piano

Often with smooth voice leading, 7ths in one chord resolve to the 3rd of the next chord. There are many unique sounding jazz voicings to experiment with. Use your ear to be the judge.

To experiment, here are some possible voicings to try out with both major and minor ii-V-I chord progressions.

jazz chord progressions piano jazz chord progressions piano

3. Know Your Extensions

Chordal extensions are harmonies added to 7th chords that add texture, color, and a characteristic jazz sound. In fact, 7th chords are rarely played plainly, but with one or more of these added notes.

As a general rule:

  • Major 7ths, minor 7ths, and dominant 7ths often come with added 6ths and/or 9ths. A 9th is just a 2nd an octave up. The 7th is almost always included in any chord, regardless of what extension is being added. When a 6th is added to a dominant chord, it’s always added above the 7th, creating a “13th” interval. Thus, a 13 chord is a dominant 7th with a sixth added above the 7th (see below). Also note that a plain 9 chord indicates a dominant 7th with a 9th added.

jazz chords pianojazz chords piano

  • Dominant chords (plain 7th chords that often function as the V in a ii  V  I chord progression) sound great with many different extensions. In fact, the 5ths and 9ths of dominant chords can be raised or lowered, leading to many unique harmonic possibilities, including 7♭9, 7#9, 7♭5, 7#5, 7♭9#5, 7♭9♭5, 7#9♭5, and 7#9#5.

jazz chord progressions piano

  • Often, in lead sheets and jazz chord progressions, the dominant extensions above aren’t specified, but can be added to taste. This goes for the 6ths and 9ths in major and minor 7th chords. There are almost always extensions added to 7th chords. Many times the 5th is excluded from the voicing, especially if extensions are added. If it sounds appropriate in the chord progression and leads smoothly to the next chord, it’s probably a great choice.

4. Know How to Practice

The easiest way to become familiar with these jazz piano chords is to practice ii-V-I chord progressions in every key.  Another great resource is playing pre-written arrangements found in books such as Piano Stylings of the Great Standards (Vol. 1-6) by Edward Shanaphy or The Jazz Piano Book by Mark Levine.

These books provide you with many great voicings that are clearly labeled.  And of course, having a quality hard copy full of jazz standards, such as The Real Book by Hal Leonard, is a must for practicing your jazz voicings. Good luck and have fun practicing!

ChrisFPost Author: Chris F. teaches guitar, piano, music theory, and more in Tulsa, OK. He has experience in concert bands, choirs, chamber music groups, jazz combos, and an award winning jazz big band. Learn more about Chris here! 

Interested in Private Lessons?

Search thousands of prescreened teachers for local and live, online lessons. Sign up for safe, affordable private lessons today!

Photo by: Tom Marcello

How to Convert Guitar Chords to Piano Chords [+ Tabs]

Convert guitar chords to piano chords

Curious about how to convert guitar chords to piano chords? We can’t let guitarists have all the fun playing classics like “Stairway to Heaven” and “Hotel California!”

Just because a song is written in tabs doesn’t mean that piano players can’t read it too. In this article, we’ll show you how to translate guitar chords to piano using tabs.

Convert Guitar Chords to Piano Chords

First, let’s establish a basic understanding of the guitar. The notes of the open strings from thickest to thinnest are E, A, D, G, B, and E. Also, each fret on the guitar is a half step.

This means that you can find any note by starting from the open string that the note is played on and counting up in half steps, one fret at a time, until you arrive at the desired note.

Understanding Guitar Tabs

In this tutorial, we’ll be using tabs to convert the guitar chords to piano chords. What you need to know about tabs is that there are six lines that represent the six guitar strings. The bottom line represents the thickest string, while the top represents the thinnest.

The numbers you’ll see on each line indicate the number of the fret that is played on that string. As far as reading rhythms, tabs usually only approximate rhythms. But as you read the fret numbers from left to right, more or less spaces between numbers indicate note values and rests.

So, more space between two numbers means that you’ll either hold the note or rest until the next one is played. If numbers are stacked on top of each other vertically, that means those notes are played at the same time.

Practice Converting Guitar Chords to Piano

In a nutshell, the basic idea for translating guitar chords to piano is a method of counting up in half steps from an open string.

After getting some practice with this method, you can effectively steal all the guitarists’ favorite songs!

Let’s practice by sinking our teeth into one of the most wonderfully cliché, guitar-based songs ever made – “Stairway to Heaven” by Led Zeppelin. Take a look at the video below that provides the tabs.

Now it’s time to figure out the right piano notes, and from there, the appropriate piano chords to play!

We’ll just focus on the first measure for now. To find the first note, we look at which string it’s played on. The number 7 is on the third line from the bottom, which indicates the D string.

Since the fret number is 7, we’re going to count up 7 half steps from the open D string. Feel free to use your piano to help you do this. When we count up we get these notes: D, D#, E, F, F#, G, G#, A.

So, A is the first note. Next, let’s look at the second note. It’s played on the third thinnest string, which is a G. Since the number is 5, we count up 5 half steps from the open G string, giving us these notes: G, G#, A, A#, B, C.

So, our second note is C. Keep using this process to find the next notes.

When we get to beat 3 of this measure, there is a 7 and a 6 stacked on top of each other. This means that both notes are played at the same time. The 7 is on the thinnest string, E, while the 6 is on the third from the bottom string – D.

Starting with the thinnest string, E, let’s count up 7 half steps: E, F, F#, G, G#, A, A#, B. Now, count up 6 half steps from D: D, D#, E, F, F#, G, G#. So you’ll play B and G# at the same time.

So there you have it! What song are you going to convert to piano chords next? Do you have any questions about how to use this method? Let us know in a comment below.

AndyWPost Author: Andy W. teaches guitar, piano and more in Greeley, CO. He specializes in jazz, and has played guitar for more than 12 years. Learn more about Andy here!

 

 

Interested in Private Lessons?

Search thousands of prescreened teachers for local and live, online lessons. Sign up for safe, affordable private lessons today!

Photo by angelocesare

5 Best Piano Accessories for Beginners

piano accessories

Before you can start piano lessons, you’ll need to have the right equipment – and that means spending a little extra on piano accessories.

Getting your first piano is an exciting time. It’s like meeting your first pet, finding a new roommate, or buying the most amazing piece of furniture you’ll ever own.

But you’ll need more than just a piano as you progress. If you’re wondering what other supplies you’ll need, here are five helpful tips.

Piano Accessories – Tips for Beginners

1) Location, Location, Location

Your biggest “accessory” is the piano’s location. Ideally, the piano should be placed close to an inside wall to keep changes in temperature and humidity to a minimum. This will not only keep the piano in tune longer, but it’ll also help lengthen its life.

You will want it to look natural in the room, and most likely have it be the focal point of the room. Upright pianos tend to go up against a wall, though you can also use them as a room divider.

Grand pianos are generally placed so that the player has a line of sight to people sitting in the rest of the room. Visit this Pinterest board on piano rooms for some inspiration!

2) Carpet or Rug Under the Piano?

Resist the temptation to put your piano centered on a carpet or rug (unless you live in an apartment building and need to dampen the sound). The natural way to listen to orchestral instruments, including a piano, is on hard floor.

The ear simply wants to hear the reverberation off hard surfaces. This dates back to the baroque and romantic eras of classical music where all concerts were payed on ballroom floors and large stages, all with bare floors around them.

3) Standing Lights

Out of all the piano accessories, this one is perhaps the most important. Table lamps on pianos often cause a glare and get in the player’s eyes – making it all the more difficult to learn at first.

We’ve found that a standing light to the side or slightly behind the player is ideal for seeing the keys without casting shadows. Natural light is another favorite, and overhead lights can also be pleasant.

Resist the urge to put (or light) candles on your piano! Even if you never light them, the wax is NOT your piano’s friend.

4) Wall Art & Paint

Putting art on the wall, centered above the piano, brings attention to the area and can inspire the player. Choose something you will enjoy looking at as you sit and practice!

You can also paint the piano wall a bold color, making it an accent wall within the room and drawing the eye to it.

5) Your Piano Bench

The bench can be a part of the piano’s style and your design expression. Reupholstering it to add a colorful cushion or painting the top can add a burst of character to the piano room without altering the piano itself.

Bonus Tip –

If you purchase an upright piano, you’ll have more of flat surface to play with if you’d like to decorate it with vases or picture frames. However, if you like having the option to open and close the top of your grand piano, for instance, you’ll want to keep it clutter-free.

Whether you’re taking beginning piano lessons or you’re playing at a professional level, trust yourself in what feels right when you are sitting at the piano. If the piano accessories, lighting, and bench inspire you to play more, than you’ve done the perfect job placing your piano!

CherylEPost Author: Cheryl is a singer/songwriter with multiple tours, records, and TV placements under her belt. She teaches piano, composition, and arrangement in New Paltz, NY. Learn more about Cheryl here!

Interested in Private Lessons?

Search thousands of prescreened teachers for local and live, online lessons. Sign up for safe, affordable private lessons today!

Photo by: Joe Buckingham

6 Great Gifts for Piano Players

Need a gift for the piano player in your life? As if finding original gift ideas isn’t tough enough as it is, thinking of gifts for piano players can be even tougher.

But rest assured, there are dozens of fun accessories that pianists can use on a daily basis. Here are six great ideas whether you’re shopping for Hanukkah, Christmas, or a birthday.

Gifts for Piano Players

Here are six of the best piano gifts to choose from. Please note that the prices listed are the manufacturer’s suggested retail prices. Plenty of local and online music retailers should have these on sale.

Seiko Credit Card Metronome

List Price $25.99

metronome - piano gifts

Image Source: Guitar Center

Metronomes are handy devices that most musicians, especially pianists, use every day. They sound a consistent beat of your own setting.

This super-lightweight metronome, small enough to carry in your purse, backpack, even your pocket, has a ton of features. The LCD display features a beep sound, too, with seven different rhythms and time signatures.

Perfect for any pianist from late beginner level to advanced, Seiko’s tiny device is big on versatility and user-friendliness.

Hal Leonard – “The Best Songs Ever”

List Price $24.99

Best Songs Ever - Gifts for piano players

Image Source: Guitar Center

Seventy-two classic songs arranged for piano and the voice are packed into one great volume. John Lennon’s “Imagine”, “What a Wonderful World”, and “Candle in the Wind” are only a few of five decades’ worth of popular tunes that you’ll find here.

Any pianist will find themselves buried in this book for hours.

Behringer Headphones

List Price $29.99

Headphones - piano gifts

Image Source: Behringer

Oftentimes, a piano player needs headphones for times when he/she wants extra focus, when playing in a house or apartment without a lot of sound insulation, and when recording.

Behringer is a well-respected company that makes durable, ruggedly constructed products for the serious musician.

This set simply plugs into the earphone/headphone input in a keyboard with the help of the included adapter, and your keyboardist has their own mini closed studio!

CME Xkey Portable Keyboard

List Price $129.99

Portable Keyboard - gifts for piano players

Image Source: Guitar Center

Though it has a traditional key layout, this MIDI keyboard is anything but traditional. Under each key and button, highly sensitive sensors connect to a circuit board with “high processing power.”

Thin and light, it can fit into a standard backpack. Out of all the piano gifts on this list, this one is perfect for the on-the-go, tech-loving, recording keyboardist.

ProLine Bench

List Price $111.99

Memory Foam Stand - piano gifts

Image Source: Music & Arts

Sitting for long practice sessions just got a little easier with ProLine’s PL1250 memory foam bench.

Tear-resistant vinyl, adjustable height, and a reinforced steel structure are great features to have on a bench that your pianist plans on keeping for a long time.

Yamaha PSR-E243 Keyboard

List Price $79.99

Yamaha Keyboard - gifts for piano players

Image Source: Guitar Center

The PSR-E243 has 61 keys, great sound and it can even interface with your iPad, iPod, or iPhone.

You can also record your progress with a feature called “My Music Recorder.” All this and almost 400 voice and 100 accompaniments make this entry-level portable keyboard a great buy.

In the end, perhaps one of the best gifts for piano players is a package of lessons with a great teacher. Whether you choose to give lessons or one of the other great gifts listed above, your pianist is sure to love it!

HeatherLHeather L. teaches piano in St. Augustine, FL, as well as through online lessons. She is a graduate of the prestigious Westminster Choir College in Princeton, New Jersey, and has a wide variety of performance experience. Learn more about Heather here!

 

Interested in Private Lessons?

Search thousands of prescreened teachers for local and live, online lessons. Sign up for safe, affordable private lessons today!

Photos by Bo Insogna, TheLightningMan.com

Diana Krall jazz piano

9 Easy Jazz Piano Songs to Learn Today [Video Tutorials]

Diana Krall - jazz piano songs

Interested in learning jazz? Try your hand at some of these easy jazz piano songs!

If you’re used to playing classical piano styles, we recommend starting with these tips for transitioning to the jazz style.

Next, you’ll want to review jazz piano chords, and then try out some of these helpful exercises.

Beyond that, keep the following tips in mind while attempting to play the following jazz piano songs:

  • Play eighth notes unevenly, so that four of them sound like this: “long – short – long – short”. This is called a swing pattern.
  • Play any accents lightly, not heavily as in a lot of other piano music.
  • Play in a slightly detached and clear tone, as if you were playing a Bach piece. Think of little bells!

9 Easy Jazz Piano Songs to Try

Now that you know some of the basics, here are a few tunes to listen to and try your hand at.

Of course, if you’re serious about playing jazz, you’ll want to work with a piano teacher who can show you the ropes – but these easy songs will certainly get you started!

1. “Summertime”

This celebrated jazz classic is actually the gem of the acclaimed opera “Porgy and Bess”. Take it slow – it is a lullaby, after all.

Simply play the chords in the left hand in a very steady rhythm, and play the melody in a very off-beat way. The word for this is syncopation, which means unexpected rhythmic patterns.

Don’t think too much about it – just be creative. Watch the video a few times, then start playing along!

Sheet Music Download 

2. “When the Saints Go Marching In”

If you can play “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star”, then you can play “When the Saints Go Marching In”. And because this song’s melody is so simple, it’s the perfect song to help you learn how to improvise!

It’s often included in beginner piano books, and the following tutorial will teach you the melody. This song is really easy and the video takes it very slowly.

Once you learn the melody, you can play it in an even jazzier way by changing the rhythm of when and how you play the left-hand chords.

For instance, you can play the same block chords in eighth notes instead of quarter notes (in other words, twice as fast).

Sheet Music Download 

3. “Fly Me to the Moon”

Classic crooner Frank Sinatra made this song famous, and now you can make it your own! First, though, watch the tutorial below.

The keys highlighted in blue are played by the right hand; the keys highlighted in yellow are played by the left hand.

Play along with the video a few times with only your right hand, and then again with only your left hand, before playing with hands together.

Sheet Music Download 

4. “Autumn Leaves”

“Autumn Leaves” is another one of the best, easy jazz piano songs for beginners because it introduces us to jazz harmony and the popular chord progression ii – V – I – IV.

Unfamiliar with these symbols? It means that if you’re playing in the key of C, this chord progression would be D minor, then G, then C, and finally F. The tutorial below goes a little fast, so watch it a few times before you begin to play along.

Sheet Music Download 

5. “Misty”

This tutorial is easy to follow, taking the right hand first, one note at a time. The second time through, the player shows us the left-hand three-note chords, or triads.

Feel free to play the left hand alone, ignoring the right hand the first few times through, since the left-hand chords will become the steady “time-keeper” of your playing. Then, add the right-hand melody later after the left hand becomes almost automatic.

Sheet Music Download 

6. “Someone to Watch Over Me”

George and Ira Gershwin wrote a musical in 1943 called “Oh, Kay!” and this song is perhaps its most famous. Lots of singers have covered it, and lots of pianists love to play it!

This arrangement is a little different, in that it has the left hand playing the melody, and the right hand playing chords. If it seems a little too difficult, it’s okay to simplify the rhythm. As always, take your time and practice hands separately at first.

Sheet Music Download 

7. “Take the A Train”

Kent Hewitt leads this fun video about Duke Ellington’s classic, “Take the A Train”. He may sound like he’s playing something really complicated in the left hand, but remember, he’s only playing the chords of the song in different ways.

For example, instead of playing a D chord in a root position block, he’ll play the D way down low, and then the F# and A up in the middle of the keyboard. In this video he guides you all the way through his own version. Have fun!

Sheet Music Download

8. “Satin Doll”

“Satin Doll” may be one of the most famous jazz songs of all time.

This tutorial will teach you the famous introduction and explain the importance of triplets in swing music, and more importantly, how to play them!

Sheet Music Download

9. “So What”

Again, this version has the melody in the left hand and the chords in the right. For most of us, the left hand is just not as dextrous as the right. In other words, it’s not as easy to stretch and move.

If you have a favorite exercise set, (like Hanon) practicing it daily will help you get ready to play this song.

Be warned: the piano player in the video below talks about some advanced stuff, like modes and modulations. But don’t feel intimidated! You can still play the song – just stay patient, and take your time.

Sheet Music Download

This list of easy jazz piano songs is only the beginning. Jazz music is a gold mine of timeless standards and classic pieces to add to your repertoire!

Just remember, online tutorials are wonderful tools, but they’ll only take you so far. Progressing in this genre really takes two steps: listening to a lot of jazz piano music, and finding a great teacher!

HeatherLHeather L. teaches piano in St. Augustine, FL, as well as through online lessons. She is a graduate of the prestigious Westminster Choir College in Princeton, New Jersey and has a wide variety of performance experience. Learn more about Heather here!

Interested in Private Lessons?

Search thousands of teachers for local and live, online lessons. Sign up for convenient, affordable private lessons today!

Photo by Bruno Bollaert

3 Legit Places to Find Free Piano Lessons

Free Piano Lessons

If you’re looking for free piano lessons, look no further. In this article we share three resources that will help you take your first steps from beginner to Beethoven.

No one ever says, “I wish I hadn’t learned the piano.”

With a bit of skill and practice, the piano creates beautiful music. It’s no wonder why so many revere those who play it and are eager to learn it themselves.

Although learning the piano can be quite expensive, there are several affordable and even free options available. We’ve done all the research for you below!

Where to Find Free Piano Lessons

1. TakeLessons Live

free online piano lessons

When it comes to learning a new instrument, most will agree that having a teacher is the best way to go. This can be challenging if you live in a rural area, or if you’re on a budget. TakeLessons Live is an excellent solution with free online piano lessons.

With TakeLessons Live you get a real, live teacher who can show you proper technique, correct your mistakes, and answer any questions you have “in real time.” You’re able to take classes from the comfort of your home, or while on-the-go with your laptop or mobile device. 

You can take as many classes as you want, at no cost. A few examples of class topics include how to read music, playing piano chords, and scales for beginners. These classes allow you to get a solid foundation on the piano that you can continue to build upon as you progress in your studies.

2. YouTube


One quick search on YouTube returns hundreds of results for piano lessons. They include everything from song tutorials to guides on hand positioning to music theory.

These free online piano lessons are a good tool for beginners since you can watch them as many times as you’d like to really master the concepts.

Here are just a few of the top piano channels that you can subscribe to on YouTube:

  • Piano TV – Allysia has hundreds of videos ranging from piano exercises to analyses of classical and pop favorites. She takes a deep dive into the music to help you become a more well-rounded pianist.  
  • Hoffman Piano Academy – Joseph Hoffman helps you make the transition from beginner to intermediate pianist with a series of curated playlists on the different skills you’ll need.
  • Pianist Magazine – Pianist Magazine features instructional videos from well known teacher-pianists. While most of the songs are classical, the concepts taught can be applied to all types of music.
  • Bill Hilton – Bill Hilton has around 200 tutorials covering everything from basic music theory to improv and various piano styles.
  • Piano Couture – Piano Couture is full of the music you know and love. Learning to play songs you’re already familiar with makes these lessons fun and easy.

These are just a few of our favorite piano channels on YouTube. With hundreds of piano channels to choose from, you’re sure to find one that is a good fit for your learning style!

Remember that as a beginner, it’s important to ensure that you’re learning the proper techniques so you don’t form bad habits later on.

One downside of YouTube lessons is that you can’t get immediate feedback on your playing. This makes YouTube a great supplement to online or in-person lessons, but it is not recommended as a substitute.

3. Local Music Stores, Studios, & More

free piano lessons

Although it can be more difficult to find, another option for free piano lessons is local music stores. Some music stores like Guitar Center or Steinert & Sons offer free group lessons and workshops for children and adults.

If there isn’t a music store in your area, see if a local studio offers free introductory lessons. You can also check with your city’s recreation department and local community centers. Some offer free piano classes as a service to the community.

One benefit of these free piano lessons is the ability to ask a teacher questions in person, and have them physically show you what to do. A quick search will tell you if these options are available in your area.

Now that you know where to find free piano lessons, we encourage you to get started today and commit to growing your musical abilities. The benefits of learning the piano go far beyond being able to simply play a piece of music. You’ll also get to take advantage of health benefits such as reducing stress, strengthening your hand muscles, and stimulating the brain!

Need Private Lessons?

Search thousands of teachers for local and live, online lessons. Sign up for safe, affordable private lessons today!

5 Little-Known Factors That Affect Your Piano Posture

correct piano posture

Proper piano posture: the words alone are enough to make any pianist wince, straighten up, and make every effort to maintain it, at least for a few minutes.

You may not realize that when you’re playing the piano, your posture is a key factor in your technique and whether or not you feel at ease practicing the instrument.

Because practicing is a repetitive activity, it’s important to do it well. Otherwise, you risk reinforcing bad habits through repetition. If you struggle with maintaining proper piano posture over time, it could lead to pain and injury.

When your body is in an optimal relationship to the bench, the ground, the pedals, and the keys, you develop ways of executing challenging passages with coordination, skill, and grace without as much effort. Let’s take a look at how to improve our piano posture.

5 Factors That Affect Piano Posture

Slumping at the piano is an obvious no-no, but there are a few additional factors that you probably haven’t considered relevant to your piano posture.

Recognizing these factors and making adjustments can create a significant difference in feeling poised and comfortable at the piano. The best part is, these changes are all very easy to implement into your routine!

1. Your Bench

The first culprit to proper piano posture is often your bench (or lack thereof). The bench is the last thing someone considers when buying a piano or keyboard. You may not even have a bench at all!

Remember that the bench is an integral part of the piano, and it’s important to find one that’s a good fit for you. A good option for many people is an adjustable bench, which you can tailor to any player’s height. This ensures that your hand and wrist positioning are correct, so that you can make a good tactile connection to the piano and avoid repetitive stress injuries.

Your bench is also a source of stability.

Your sitting-bones (at the bottom of your pelvis) give you strength to play forcefully when needed. Standing up while playing is particularly hazardous, since you’re forced to look down at the piano and bend your arms at an awkward angle to reach the keys.

One other common problem is using a chair instead of a bench. While not the worst option, this can also negatively affect your posture, particularly if you have a tendency to recline into the backrest while playing. As you can see, your bench can make a big difference in your ability to stabilize, connect to the piano, and draw the music from your whole body, not just your hands.

2. Practice Session Length

Another critical factor that’s often missed when thinking about correct piano posture is how long you’ve been seated. Playing for extra long periods of time can wreck anyone’s posture, even those who started with good posture at the beginning of the practice session.

This is especially true for beginners, since the amount of concentration needed to execute your playing makes it challenging to also dedicate attention to your posture.

At the end of a long practice session, you might find yourself over-focused at the piano, with your neck drawn forward to your music and your spine collapsed. Luckily, this hidden factor in piano posture is easily fixed.

Take frequent breaks, set a timer if needed, and build up to longer playing times as your body adjusts and forms good habits.

3. Not Using a Footstool

This next surprising pitfall is particularly key for children and shorter adults at the piano. Are your legs dangling from the piano bench? This is a big red flag! Just like the bench helps you to stabilize your body, so does the ground.

If you’re not touching the ground, you’re losing a place to release your weight into while maintaining an upright posture.

Being upright at the piano actually starts from the ground, and an adjustable footrest is an excellent solution.

Not using a footstool when it’s needed means you’ll be putting a lot of effort and strain into your upper body. You may even find that your legs are tense, as you can get into the habit of holding them up while they dangle in the air.

4. Lack of Exercise

Another factor you may not have considered actually happens outside of piano practice. Have you ever thought about physical fitness as a part of maintaining good posture at the piano?

Playing the piano is an endurance sport of your small muscles, as well as your spine and upper body.

Exercising allows you to release any tension from your practice session and encourage circulation.

Another reason to exercise outside of your piano practice goes back to the idea of repetition. Since you’re exercising certain muscles repeatedly at the piano, it’s important to vary your workout so you can avoid tension from over-strengthening certain muscles.

5. Your Position on the Bench

Lastly, it’s important to take a few minutes to notice how you’re sitting on the bench. A big factor in correct piano posture is to make sure you don’t just have the right equipment, but that you’re also using it well.

If you’re sitting too far back on the bench, this can have a detrimental effect on your posture.

Why? Just like you don’t want to be collapsed forward and leaning too far into the piano, it’s equally important not to lean back and over-straighten your arms.

This position strains your connection to the keys and causes too much effort to maintain your posture. It also throws off the positioning of your head, as your head may crane forward to compensate for your backwards stance. Yikes!

Final Tips & Tricks

Now that you’ve seen some sneaky causes of bad piano posture, here are a few tips that will help you reduce strain in the future. With these tips, you’ll feel better and look effortlessly graceful at the piano, too!

  • For pianists who feel that the weight of the music lies in their shoulders, try to release your upper body weight into the bench, so your shoulders can release and widen.
  • You can do the same with your feet by allowing them to release into the ground, so your legs feel free instead of tense.
  • Allow your head to rest easily on top of your spine and try to avoid pulling your neck forward, toward the music.
  • Let your eyes view the music with a wide, easy gaze so the muscles of your head and neck can release.

Having correct piano posture is very important, and if you feel like you need some more attention in this area, a qualified piano teacher can help you overcome these challenges and improve your technique.

Interested in Private Lessons?

Search thousands of teachers for local and live, online lessons. Sign up for convenient, affordable private lessons today!