Welcome to lesson 1 of the Blues Hero. This is the perfect course to get you playing some really cool sounding blues and you’ll be impressing your friends in no time. We going to start right at the basics so if you already know a bit about the piano bear with me while I start at the beginning. Now depending what piano/keyboard you’re learning on it may have a different amount of keys than in the video. Most piano’s have a total of 88 notes in but some keyboards are often a bit smaller. For this course you don’t really want to be using anything less than a 49 note keyboard, and ideally if you have a fully weighted note keyboard it will be a lot better.
So lets start by looking at the keys and you should notice a bit of a pattern forming with the black notes. You have a group of two followed by a group of three then another group of two and so on. Altogether there are actually only 12 notes on the piano and it’s just the same notes repeated over and over. The further left you go the lower the notes and the further right you go the higher the notes, so when I refer to up or down, left is down and right is up. So we’re going to start naming these notes and an easy way to do this is by finding a few notes in this pattern. We’re going to start with C. Now all you have to do is find a group of two black notes, place your finger on the lower of the two and slide down to the white note just below it, and you have a C. Now if you do the same with another group of two black notes, slide down to the white note just below it and you have another C. If you now play both of these notes you’ll hear that it’s the same sounding note but the one further to the right is higher in pitch and the one further to the left is lower in pitch. So if you now try finding all the C’s on your piano, play them and notice the difference in sound.
Once you’re comfortable with the C we’re now going to look at another note, and this note is F. We’re going to do exactly the same as we did with the C but this time take the group of three black notes, place our finger on the lower of the three and slide down to the white note just below it. Now do the same by finding all F’s on the piano and familiarising yourself with there position and sound.
In this lesson we’re just going to be naming the white notes. Now that we know where two of the notes are it’s really easy to find the rest. Now the notes in music are a bit like the alphabet instead there are only 7 letters instead of 26. So we start at A, count up to G and then start again at A. So the full run goes A, B, C, D, E, F, G and then back to A, B, C… and so on. So if we want to find a D we simply use our technique of finding a C and count up to the next white note, and we land on D. If we want to find say an A we can either count down from C, B, and we have the A, or use our technique of finding an F and count up G, to the A. Try placing your finger on any note on the piano and naming the note. You can use the keyboard below for reference.
So now that we know where all the white notes are we can start learning our Blues song. This week we’re just going to be focussing on the C and F so know that we know where those notes are it should be pretty easy. We’re going to start with the left hand and place our little finger on a C. If you then count up four notes (to the G) we’re going to place our index finger on it and play it together with the little finger. This is our first shape. To find our next shape we’re going to leave our little finger on the C but instead of playing the G with our index finger we’re going to count up one more white note and play it (the A) with our thumb. Once again play the little finger and thumb together and that’s our second shape. Get used to switching between both shapes. If may feel a bit uncomfortable at first and may even take a few days to settle in. This is because you’re using muscles in your fingers that you may have ever used before and will take a while for your hands to adapt. The main thing is not to get disheartened, this will come the more you practise. As we move on through this course new shapes will be hard at first and get easier the more you play them. Once you’re happy with the left hand we can start adding the right hand in. All we’re going to do this week is is play a single note and place our thumb on a C. Even though it’s a single note that we’re playing it’s really important to get a good had position and let the rest of the fingers rest over the keys. See the image below for a good hand position.
So far we’ve just looked at the C position. We’re now going to do exactly the same thing but in the F position. So starting with our left hand we’re going to place our little finger on the F, count up four white notes (to the C) and alternate between the index finger and thumb (on the D) for our two left hand patterns and then simply play and F with our thumb in the right hand and that’s it, we have our C position and our F position. To help you practise these two positions I’ve put together a play along video. Now to play along to this I just need to run through ‘bars’ with you. A bar is simply a count of beats. In the song we’re learning it’s a count of 4. So each bar lasts for 4 beats, 1, 2, 3 and 4. So in our left hand we’re going to play our two patterns 4 times each which makes 1 bar. In total we’re going to do 4 bars in the C position and then 4 bars in the F position, then back to the C position and so on. You may find it tricky switching from position to position at first, but like I said before the more you practise the easier it will get, so don’t worry if it’s hard at first. I’ve included three play alongs at different speeds for this lesson. Take it nice and slowly to start of with and I can’t emphasise enough that the slower you take it (playing it properly) rather than rushing to play if fast (and playing it wrongly) the better you will get and the quicker you’ll improve. When ever I have something new that I want to learn I will always slow it right down to a point slower than I need to and really get the positions right before speeding it up. Also don’t worry if you stay on the slowest play along, the speed will come the further though the course we go. So that’s it for this lesson, good luck and when you feel ready try moving on to lesson 2.