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A rhythm exercise for pop piano comps

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Published on Mar 2, 2012

NEW Check out my collection of pop piano pieces (with explanatory notes) Seven Studies in Pop Piano: http://www.billspianopages.com/seven-...

My book, How To Really Play The Piano: http://www.billspianopages.com/how-to...

Many people find it difficult to make the transition from playing simple block chords in a progression to playing chords in a rhythm pattern with both hands working together. To try to help with this problem, in this video I demonstrate a relatively simple exercise aimed at developing rhythm and co-operation between two hands when playing pop or rock comps.
If you're playing block chords, both hands are usually fairly static on the piano. However, a good comp needs more than block chords; both hands should work both in co-operation and against each other.
You'll notice that when I'm comping my hands are either both on the keyboard at the same time or taking turns to play, similarly to the way a drummer plays rhythms.
So, the first stage of this exercise is simply to tap out rhythms with your hands like a drummer! Listen to your favourite song and drum along with two hands. Make sure to play around with different rhythms.
After getting used to beating out rhythms, stage two is to take it to the keyboard. Use just one chord and play it in the rhythm pattern that you've practised.
When you're able to play one chord in rhythm confidently, move on to stage three: playing your full chord sequence in rhythm. This is quite a large step up from stage two and will take a lot of practice to perfect!
The fourth stage is to continue playing your progression in rhythm whilst adding in the pedal. In most cases you should pedal between each chord. Once you can play your chord sequence in rhythm comfortably whilst pedalling, you should start to add in techniques from my other comping videos, whether it's split chords, suspensions, arpeggios or anything else that takes your fancy.
Being able to play and improvise using rhythm patterns will take a lot of time and effort to develop, but it's a skill that's really worth developing. It adds interest, movement and complexity to your comps and turns them from a set of chords into something really worth listening to.
My final piece of advice is to know your chords. If you're after a useful resource on chords, my book -- How to Really Play the Piano -- has a full section on chords and a section on lead sheets and comping. You can also find loads of information on chords comping techniques in my earlier videos, some of which I've added as links in the video annotations.

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