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10 Standard Left Hand Patterns for Piano Explained


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There is a fantastic video on youtube that Ken Larkin of www.pianobible.com put together that breaks down 10 standard left hand patterns for piano. All of the patterns are played in the key of C, progressing from the C chord, to the F chord, to the G chord, back to the C chord. There is a bit of variance, but only the C, F, and G chords are used (I, IV, and V chords). He plays the left-hand only pattern first, then he incorporates a melody in the right hand together with the left hand pattern. The melody stays the same through all ten patterns, adjusting for the tempo of the left hand pattern. This is great, because it allows you to see just how much the rhythm affects the music.

However, this is a visual only video. So many people are blessed to learn by visual only, but I am a technical learner, so for all of you other techies out there, I watched the video over and over and wrote down the numerical pattern, according to the chord. The chord number pattern that is established is the same pattern that is used in all 3 of the chords throughout the rhythm pattern that is being played.

For instance, the first left hand rhythm pattern that is show is the Basic Walking Pattern #1. He plays the C chord like this: C, E, G, and A. He plays this four times in a row. Then he switches to the F Chord, and so he plays F, A, C, D twice, then switches back to the C chord, then he moves up to the G chord and plays G, B, D, E. Therefore, the chord’s number pattern that is used is 1, 3, 5, and 6.

C Chord


F Chord


G Chord


Here are the 10 Standard Left Hand Patterns Explained

I am not documenting how many times he played each chord. This documentation only gives you the notes that were hit when he changed chords.

Basic Walking Pattern #1

1     3     5     6

C    E    G    A

F    A    C    D

G    B    D    E

Basic Shuffle Pattern #1 (comma means play at the same time)

1,5     1,5     1,6     1,6

C,G    C,G    C,A    C,A

F,C    F,C    F,D    F,D

G,D    G,D    G,E    G,E

Basic Shuffle Pattern #2

1,5     1,5      3b     3     1,5     1,5     1,6     1,5

C,G    C,G    Eb    E    C,G    C,G    C,A    C,A

F,C    F,C    Ab    A    F,C    F,C    F,D    F,C

G,D    G,D    Bb    B    G,D    G,D    G,E    G,E

Jerry Lee Lewis

1     1     3     1     5     1     6     1

C    C    E    C    G    C    A    C

F    F    A    F    C    F    D    F

G    G    B    G    D    G    E    G

Fats Domino #1

1     8     3     5     3     5

C    C    E    G    E    G

F    F    A    C    A    F

G    G    B    D    B    G

Fats Domino #2

1     3     5     5     3     5

C    E    G    G    E    G

F    A    C    C    A    C

G    B    D    D    B    G

Bumble Boogie (Don’t let the sharp throw you. The 4 of the F chord is Bb, so the 4 sharped will be B.)

1     8     3     4     4#     5     4     5

C    C    E    F    F#    G    F    G

F    F    A    Bb    B    C    Bb    C

G    G    B    C    C#    D    C    D

Basic Country Pattern (the negative means down an octave)

1     3,5     -5     3,5

C    E,G    G    E,G

F    A,C    C    A,C

G    B,D    D    B,D

Country Swing Pattern

1     5     6     5

C    G    A    G

F    C    D    C

G    D    E    D

Lucille

1     1     3     3     5     7b     7b     5

C    C    E    E    G    Bb    Bb    G

F    F    A    A    C    Eb    Eb    C

G    G    B    B    D    F    F    D

Hopefully, some of you found this helpful. I believe that in order to be truly successful on the piano (or any musical instrument) that you must learn the foundation of this musical language. If you need help transposing these rhythms into another key besides C, you may be interested in the 12 Major Keys with Chords Diagram.
Please let me know if I made a mistake any of my documentation.

Learning About the Piano

This post has nothing to do with how to play piano. It does, however, impart information that is necessary to properly learn the piano or at the very least for you to be able to have some intelligent conversation about this grand instrument.

The Keyboard Layout

Most pianos will have 88 keys. However, the piano keyboard is best studied if broken down into a 12-key section. At the heart of the piano is this 12-key section repeated over and over (7 times+) to form the full keyboard layout. We use what is called the “musical alphabet” to name the keys. The musical alphabet runs from A – G. The left end of the piano will start on the musical alphabet letter A, and it will end on the musical letter alphabet C.



Now that is only 7 letters, and we have 12 keys in each section. This is where the terminology of sharps and flats will come into play. Technically, every key on the keyboard has various names. The “C” key can either be C or B# (B sharp). You will decide which name to give each key depending on the scale you are playing or key you are playing in. If you go the left, it’s a flat. If you go to the right, it’s a sharp.


Note: When you hear someone speak of “C” (for example) in the music world, this could mean a few different things.

  • This could be the one physical note of C (in any of the different sections).
  • This could be the chord C major.
  • This could be referring to “playing in the key of C (major)”, which means to play in the C major scale. 

We will cover more about scales further down.  There are no sharps and flats in the C scale, which makes it the easiest key to learn to play in.  You can learn about the C Major Scale here.

Black and White

When you look at the piano, it is natural to assume that the black keys have a different function than the white keys. However, this is not the case. Every key on the piano is equal in musical value. They are all what the music world calls a half-step or semi-tone apart from each other. The music will start to take shape after you apply patterns to it. Patterns are used to arrive at the makeup of the various scales, chords, and fills that are used to compose songs. Even many people that are playing “by ear” don’t have a clue about music theory, patterns, etc., but they are still using music theory, just unbeknownst to them.

The black keys have no different value than the white keys, but in order to make the piano easier to play, they came up with the black/white scheme. If the black keys were the same size as the white keys, then the piano would need to be twice as long, which would be huge and impossible to play. Also, breaking the keys up by color gives the player the ability to tell the keys apart by sight. In addition, the black keys are in alternating groups of two and three.

 

Under the Hood

The inside of the piano looks like a harp. At the left end are really long strings, and as you progress to the opposite end, each string is just a little bit shorter than the last one. The long strings make the low notes, while the short strings make the high notes. Each piano key is wired to its own string, so that when you hit the key, it plucks the desired string. If you look inside the piano, you will see that the black keys and the white keys keep the same string reduction pattern. (C is shorter than Bb, C# is shorter than C, D is shorter than C#.)


A Little Music Theory

Each key is used to start its own scale, using a scale step-pattern. The Major Scale uses the following step pattern: whole step, whole step, half step, whole step, whole step, whole step, half step. Refer to the “What does it mean to play in the key of C?” post for more diagrams and explanations.

Since there are 12 main keys, there are 12 Major Scales. The 12 Major Scales are: C, G, D, A, E, B, F#/Gb, Db, Ab, Eb, Bb, F.   You can find the accompanying chord charts for each scale here.   Notice that the scales are not listed in normal alphabetical order. They are, instead, listed in what is called the circle of fifths, which goes above and beyond your basic intro that I’m doing here. But the short of it is this: G is 5th note up in the C scale. D is the 5th note up in the G scale. A is the 5th note up in the D scale, etc. By the time you get all the way down to F, it will bring you back full circle to C, because C is the 5th note in the F scale.


Conclusion

This was a good “get your feet wet” lesson. You may not remember everything that you read, but if you here the terminology, you might be able to fake through the conversation. The more you study, the more you will know.

Christian Blog Link Ups


The Matthew 6:33 Piano Teacher Book Review and Giveaway

Very seldom will you find a book that answers all of your questions about a specific topic, addresses concerns you haven’t even thought about, and does it all from a Biblical standpoint. The Matthew 6:33 Piano Teacher is just such a book.

What is The Matthew 6:33 Piano Teacher book?

This book is written with the novice piano teacher or would-be-teacher in mind. This book does not teach you how to teach. Rather, it gives advice on how to manage your piano teaching business. The book is actually applicable to more than just piano teachers. One would be able to comfortably substitute any musical instrument in place of the word “piano.” The Matthew 6:33 Piano Teacher book covers a wide variety of topics that would even go beyond music teacher in general.

Music aside, the core of the book deals with the topic of what you can and should expect about being a self-employed teacher or tutor. Whether it’s a question about taxes, tithing, or dress code, this book covers it. It is a very well thought-out book.

About the Author

Here is a little bit about Mrs. Logan in her own words.

I’m a wife to a future Reverend (we’re just waiting on his grades), a mostly stay at home mother of the world’s cutest kids, writer, music pedagogy teacher, and most importantly a child of the King.

A Look Inside

See for yourself the exhaustive list of topics that are covered:

You can also click here to read a portion of the book and also to read other reviews on the book at Amazon.

The book is available as a Kindle download (pdf file), and it carries price of only $9.99. It really is worth this small investment. And that is saying a lot coming from a woman whose goal in life is to spend as little money as possible. You will not be disappointed!

Luckily, for one of you, I am hosting a giveaway for one copy of The Matthew 6:33 Piano Teacher book. If you do not want but would like to purchase a copy of the book, you can go to Barnes and Noble, Amazon, or her site directly.

To enter the giveaway, please leave a comment below, and she does have a Facebook page that you need to like here. One winner will be randomly selected and notified. The deadline is May 2, 2012.