Practice Playing Music
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42. Practice Playing Music

Same Three Chords

The Pianist PaderewskiTo practice playing music is the key to success. Paderewski, (1860-1941) was one of the greatest pianists of all time and would practice a bar of music as many as forty times until he had it right. He was a strong advocate for Polish independence and insisted on perfection. Before any concert, he rehearsed the whole work through even though he had played it so many times that he knew it by heart. On one occasion, he performed before Queen Victoria (1819-1901) who reigned in Britain for 64 years and with her husband, Prince Albert also played the piano. Some historians put down their romance to a duet they played together when they met for the second time. "Mr. Paderewski," Queen Victoria said, "you are a genius." "That may be," he answered, "but before I was a genius, I was a drudge." The key is to practice and practice. So we must start now too! At first, your fingertips will be sore, but they will harden up as you continue. Movements will begin to flow as you feel more at home with the instrument. Now that you have three chords mastered, you can accompany a simple song. If you move the capo up to just behind the fifth fret you can now play "Amazing Grace" with the same three chords but in the higher key of G. With no capo, the guitar plays in the key of D with the D chords, but with the capo behind the second fret you will now play in the key of E. Similarly, the third is F and the fifth is G, the seventh is A and so on.

Pitch Pipe

ListeningKnowing and identifying guitar chord sounds helps one to sing even if you are tone-deaf. A pitch pipe and/or electronic guitar tuner can also help. As you build up your song repertoire and the various tunes that you can play, try to familiarize yourself with the chord sounds and especially listen for the changes. Soon the ability to anticipate and hit the new guitar chord by pressing down on the strings with the fingers without hardly thinking will be yours! This is another big advantage of using three chords, you quickly learn to play "by ear." By slightly raising your chord fingers you will also be able to either sharpen or muffle the guitar chords and create a pleasant rhythmic beat to the music. Try very slow and very quick rhythms. Experiment with tango, quickstep, rock, slow foxtrot, or waltz tempos until you master them. This is how the great blues guitarists got their start.

Tone Deaf

Pitch PipeIf you happen to be tone-deaf and cannot tell the difference between the sound of the notes, I would encourage you to persevere. Blow the pitch pipe, hum the note to match it and tune the strings until you recognize the difference between the various string sounds. A friend of mine who sang very flat learned this and suddenly found he could also sing, but with a very unusual and interesting quality to his voice. He went on to become quite a popular folk singer. You may have hidden talent too. The last word is to persevere and as they say "all power to your elbow!"

"Practice Playing Music"
by Ron Meacock © 1982-2021

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