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Modern Piano 101 - Play Songs Today

teacher avatar RW Studio, Instructor

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

12 Lessons (26m)
    • 1. Welcome!

    • 2. The 12 Notes

    • 3. Notes Challenge

    • 4. The 12 Intervals

    • 5. Intervals Challenge

    • 6. How is a Chord made?

    • 7. Chord Challenge

    • 8. Inversions

    • 9. Voice Leading - How to Get that Professional Sound

    • 10. The Fundamental Rhythm Pattern

    • 11. How to Lookup Chords for Songs

    • 12. Thank you

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About This Class

Can you perform songs like a singer/songwriter after a short less than one hour course?


That was my goal with this class.

I created a unique system where very quickly, you'll learn how to:

  • Lookup chord charts to your favorite songs online
  • Read and perform songs on the piano reading chord charts

And we start from the very beginning - complete beginners okay!

And by learning modern piano, you'll be also developing a strong music theory foundation!

I'll cover:

  • Notes
  • Intervals
  • Chords
  • Inversions
  • Professional Voice Leading
  • Rhythm

By the end of this course, you'll be able to perform your favorite songs in front of family & friends, at an open mic, at a coffee shop.

You'll be able to lead others in singing songs, and can write your own songs.

I'm excited to show you this very unique system I developed to teach you fast!


If you're ready to learn I'll see you on the inside!

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

RW Studio



Hi, I'm Rob and I teach classes on business and music.

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1. Welcome!: Hey there, welcome this class on modern piano playing. We're gonna learn how to look up and play your favorite songs. My name's Rob. I'm a musician here in Los Angeles and a former music instructor with Fender Grant winning non profit. The original curriculum for this course is developed for my songwriting friends who only played the guitar and over the years have refined the method as have taught more and more singers and songwriters in L. A in New York City, This course for anybody that wants to coming themselves or a friend on the piano. It starts at the very beginnings to somebody with zero. Piano experience could benefit. At the end of this course, you'll be able to read and interpret courts in different formats so you can look up and play any song you want. I'm excited to show you what I prepared for you, and if you are, too, we'll see on the inside 2. The 12 Notes: So you look at the piano for the first time here, you'll see that there's a pattern of two and three black notes rights or to 3 to 3 to three all the way up the keyboard. Right? So that pattern of five black notes two and three If you look at those five black notes there seven white notes that surround it, right, So in total there seven plus five, which is 12. So there's 12 notes that exists that repeats of the keyboard. Those are the 12 unique notes. So let's learn those notes if we look at just the white ones seven. Each of those seven has a letter name, letter of the alphabet. So if we start with here that then let the note in front of the two black notes. That's Letter C, and you can think of this is the Sea Group the notes that surround the two black notes. So you have seen D and just up the out up the alphabet C D. Now, if you look at the three black notes here, there are four notes that surround it, right, and this is the letter F so you can think of this is the F group. So in front of the three black notes here you have the F. So that's just F G. Then once you get the letter G, it flips back to a so it's a be on. Look, you're back at C because C is in front of the two black notes, and you just go up the alphabet. C d E f g flip over a B in your back at sea. Now we need to learn the black notes, right? So if you notice all the black notes are between two white notes, So if we choose a black note like this, it's between C and D. So it has two names. You can call it a D flat or a C sharp. Sharp means above flat means below, so blow D d flat above sea. It's also called a C sharp, right? Let's pick another one. This note is between what you notes. It's between F and G, right, so this is an F sharp or a G flat. Another thing that you'll notice is that you know you have your five black notes and your seven white notes here, and the order usually goes, you know, it's white, black, white, black. But then here it's white white, right? You have that little crack in there and you know, then it goes to white, black, white, black, white, black. And then here again, you have that white white there, that little crevice. So here and here there's the two spots we have white, white. So basically from 80 f, right, Because if I see that c d e f so TNF it's white, white and then you have to keep going. F flips back to a and then B C B C is also rehab. It white Noto white note So e f NBC. So I want to point that out because, you know, sharp means above and flat means below. So if we played this F year, this'll could be called an F. Or it could be called in e sharp because you know, this is me. And then above e isn't the sharp on. So this is an F or any sharp and then same works the other way, right? So this is an E, but it's below f, you know, flat means below so f flat. So this all super could be called an F flat on same here in this area to from the speed at sea. So this is a B. But it could also be called a c flat because it's below sea, right, See? And then blow, see, see flat. And then this is a C. But it could also be called a B sharp, because be me sharp means above. And then it's above be so It's a b sharp. Okay, so those are the flats and sharps those air. Just the two last little nuances with regards to flats and sharps. And this will mean a lot more later. But just for now, just understand that. That's how you can name those notes as well. Okay, so that's it for this lecture I will see in the next one. 3. Notes Challenge: all right, so now I want to do an exercise with you to help you remember the notes and kind of review what we just learned. So what I'm gonna do is I'm gonna play a note at random, and then I want you to pause the video. Guess what? It ISS and then a NPAs the video, and I'll tell you what. The notice. Okay, so here we go. That's a C. That's an E. That's an A, because that's where it flips, right? G T o. That's a B. That's an F. That's a G. That's an E flat or D sharp because this is D. That's E. That's a G sharp or a flat, because it's between a G and in a so above G g sharp below A. A flat Ah, that's a C sharp or a D flat because it's between C and D, so above C C sharp below D D flat. That's an F, or it can also be called an e sharp because it's above E. Um, that's an E, but it could also be called an F flat because it's below F. That's a D sharp or an e flat because it's between D and E. So it's above Dee dee sharp below e e flat. That's a G sharp or in a flat. Yeah, that's in a sharp or a B flat. That's an F sharp or G flag. All rights that concludes this exercise continue to work with the notes and just practice getting to learn them and across the keyboard and getting familiar with how they look. That's it for this exercise. I will see you in the next lecture. 4. The 12 Intervals: Okay, So now the understand notes, the next thing you have to understand or what we call intervals intervals are two notes or the distance between two notes. So say, for example, you have two pennies here and you have a distance from one penny to the other. Penny, if you move it here and now have a wider distance right and a wider distance or a wider interval, you can see here same thing with notes. We have a very narrow distance or you can have a wider interval, right? And so, depending on how wide it is or what not, it's called something different. So our smallest interval that's called minor Second, the next biggest interval from here to here, that's a major second. The next biggest interval from here to here is a minor third, and then you have a major third. Okay, so these are the intervals that we're gonna work with. Minor second, major, Second, minor, third major. Third notice that a minor third has two notes inside of it, and a major third distance has three notes inside of it. So with that knowledge, we can go plate other minor thirds and other major thirds. So over here that's a major third right causes three inside of it. If we go here, that's major. Third says those three notes inside of it here. That's a major third, because there's these three nights inside of it. But we played this. That's a minor third because it has two notes, right? And so is this. That's a minor third. Okay, so now that you understand that these intervals air just distances right, you can place them anywhere on the keyboard. You know, a Zilong is it's, you know, three notes inside of it. It's a major third and that could be anywhere in the keyboard. Now show you the rest of the intervals. You understand eso after a major third is a perfect fourth, right? So we have our minor second or major second are minor third distance with two inside of it are major third distance of three inside of it. And now we have a perfect fourth distance with four notes inside of it. That's a perfect fourth. And then, from there, you know, this is called a tri tone and then this is a perfect fifth see ever perfect Fourth are perfect fifth with the tri tone in the middle. Right, So forth. Try tone Texas on then after this weird kind of middle part where you have perfect fourths , not minor, a major force, you know, perfect fifth. And you also have this weird one called a try tune. Then we get to our minor. Sixth on. If you want to count it, you could see that it has 1234567 notes inside of It s so minor. Six will always have seven notes inside of it. So if we want to start, you know here, you know, and you create a minor six. We just count 71234567 And then one more eyes. That's a minor six. Okay, but back to our example here when we're starting on C, that's minor. Second, major, Second, minor, Third major. Third perfect fourth try. Tone Perfect. Fifth, minor. Sixth. Now we ever major sense. And then for sevenths, it's the same thing. Minor, seventh major seventh. And then this last one from sea to sea. That's called an octave. Okay, so you can see how all those intervals air different distances and you know you can play these intervals. You know, different places in the keyboard. Say we want to play a perfect fourth starting on a flat so you find a a flat Is the note blow right? Because that means blow. And now we need a perfect fourth. So Perfect Fourth has 1234 notes inside of it. That would be a perfect fourth. OK, but that's the concept of intervals. It's just one note to the next note, and it's all different distances. OK, but that's it for this lecture on Interval. So now you understand what this concept is, and I'll see you in the next lecture. 5. Intervals Challenge: Okay, so the intervals that you're probably gonna work with the most are the minor Second, the major second, the minor third in the major third for a lot of reasons that will get into. But basically, when this exercise, I want to just get you familiar with seeing minor seconds, major seconds, minor thirds and major thirds. So what I'm gonna do is play one of those intervals and then I want you to pause the video . Guess what that interval is, then a NPAs it and I'll tell you what the interval is. Okay, so here we go. That's a minor second, because it's one note very closest. Next. That's a major second because it has one note in the middle that's a minor third because it has two notes. The middle. That's a major third because it has three notes in the middle. That's a major third because it has three notes. The middle That's a major third because it has three notes in the middle. That's a minor third because it has two nights in the middle. That's a major second because it has one note in the middle. That's a major second because, as one note in the middle. That's a minor third because it has two notes in the middle. That's a major third because it s three notes in the middle. That's a minor third, because it s two nights in the middle. Yeah, that's a minor third because it has two nights in the middle. That's a minor second, because it's one note to the very next note that's a major third because it has three notes in the middle. That's a minor third because it has two notes in the middle. That's a minor third because it has two notes in the middle. That's a major third because it has three notes in the middle. All rights that concludes this exercise on minor seconds. Major seconds. Minor thirds and major Certs and being able to see them clearly so just kind of play around on the keyboard now and play your own minor seconds. Major seconds. Minor. There's a major thirds and kind of see how you can play different ones on the keyboard. It's pretty simple, right? You just figure out, you know, for the first note and then put notes in the middle and then do the second out and you have your interval. But just play around play Bunch of EMC get comfortable seeing them in different contexts. OK, but that's it for this exercise. I will see you in the next lecture. 6. How is a Chord made?: So now that we know what a major third miner 30 is, what we can do is use those to build cords. Cords are three notes, so we have notes which are singular. We have intervals which are two notes, and we have cords, which are three notes. So there are major chords and their minor courts. A major chord is a major third like that, plus a minor third. See, because you have three here and then have to hear so 32 major, third, minor third. That creates a major chord. And since we have seen the bottom, it's called a C major chord to play minor chord. It's the reverse. So you have a minor third, which is two notes right, and a major third, which is three notes so together. That is a C minor chord because of a minor third in a major third. With that knowledge, we can play different chords now. So say we want to play in F sharp major triad or major Chord writes. We find the f sharp. This is f sharp means above. That's enough sharp Now. We need a major 3rd 1st so we have those three notes years. That's this one. Then we need a minor third. So two notes, then here. That is a F sharp major court. Now if one play in a major chord, start with a you need three notes on two notes. That's an a major court one to play an a minor chord. All you do is lower the middle note because now you've shifted it over. So now you have to hear and you have three here, right? Does he have a minor? Third in a major third? It's the reverse. 7. Chord Challenge: Okay, So now they understand that a major court in a minor chord are built on major and minor thirds and you see, understand how these things are built. Now, I want to test your knowledge and kind of get you to see different chords. So basically, what we do in this exercise So I'm gonna play Accord on, and then I want you to tell me whether it's a major chord or a minor court And what? What? ISS. Okay, so I'm gonna play it. Then you can pause the video guess, and then I'll tell you the answer. Okay, so here we go. That's a C major court. That's a G major court because it has a major third with three in the middle and then a minor third with two in the middle. That's an E flat major court because it has a major third on, then a minor third. The major threat is three. The middle in the minor. Third has to. That's a minor chord, because I reversed it. So now I have to in the middle, a minor third at the bottom, and then I have a major third on top with three in the middle because a minor third plus a major third is a minor court. Uh, that's a C sharp major court, because I have a major third on a minor third. That's an a major court. Uh, that's a B major court. That's an e major court. That's an E flat, minor court. Okay, so now what I want to do is I'm gonna switch up the exercise and I want to call out Accord . I want you to pause the video and try to construct that court and play it and then a NPAs video, and I'll show you how to play it. I'll show you show you the answer. Okay. Okay. So here we go. So I want you to play for me a D major court. Okay, Here's the answer. You have your major third in the bottom, right? You start on D, you go for your notes, and then you have your f sharp there and 50 notes for your minor. Third remaining. Third, minor third. Okay, play for me. A B flat, minor court. Okay. So first step, you find your b flat, right? And then you have your minor third on your major third that is a B flat, minor court. All right, play for me in G major court. That's the G major court ever. Major. Third line. Play for me, an E flat major court. That's three fly major court play for me. A f sharp, minor chord. That's an F sharp minor court, because you have your minor third with two in the middle of your major third with three play for me. One last one. Play for me, a f minor court. That's a minor chord. Uh, you have your mind 1/3 in your nature. Third. Okay, Actually, let's do one more and end on a happy chord. Play for me an e major court. Okay, so that's your e major chord. You have your major third right with three middle on your minor. Third with to the middle. Okay, so that concludes this exercise on really getting these courts on your fingers. What I do now is just experiment around, play different chords on the keyboard and sort of get used to that. The shapes kind of seeing it. You know what a major third major chord looks like versus a minor third, and you'll also hear the difference, right? A major court is going to sound happy. Ah, minor court is going to sound more sad on. So you kind of hear those differences as you're playing. OK, but that's it for this exercise. I will see you in the next lecture. 8. Inversions: Okay, so those records the next thing and understand what we call inversions so you can take a cord like a c major chord on. You can reorder it. So the notes here are C, E and G. But what if you took away the sea here and you put it up here, Have a different inversion, right? We take away that, you hear when you put it up there. Now we have another inversion, and there's only gonna be three versions of it, right? Because they're three notes you have three different versions with a different note at the bottom. I want to see at the bottom won't eat the bottom one of G at the bottom Those air, your inversions, those air important because say we want to play a song with a court progression. A court progression is a group of courts. So our core progression, for example, could be C major chord G major chord, A minor chord. You see how that sounds very jumpy when you play it in those root positions like this To make it sound more smooth, you can play different variations of them meaning different inversions. So how about this? See to this G to this, a minor to this f And with the left hand here, we're just gonna play the route. So see, if you're playing seek or you could just play See in the left hand. See? E minor. Yes. See that how smooth it sounds and how natural it sounds. 9. Voice Leading - How to Get that Professional Sound: I'm gonna show you now an easy way to do that, which is called Voice Leading because it's sort of like your three fingers Like a choir, right? These voices air moving very smoothly like a choir Voices would move smoothly in choral music. So how you do it is you write out the notes, you write out the letter so you could write out See, e g. When you write out g b d on your right out a c e on you right out f a c right. And then you want to circle all the common notes like see, e g. The C chord has the G in common with the G chord Rex. They both have G and then the next one doesn't have anything comments. You don't circle anything, right? Because the a minor is a see nothing in common. But then the f a c has the a a and the C in common. Right. See, circle those all the letters that aren't circled. You draw arrows over to the next notes and basically all the circle letters or what you keep the same and all the arrows are what you move. So say we start with CGE since she is circled, but the other two have arrow. So you just move those notes to the new notes, right? And then if there's nothing circled, that means all three letters move. And then here we have two letter circled and just one arrow. So all you do is just move the e t. F. And that's what you could do for any court progression. When you look up court progressions online, just draw. Figure out the cords. Now you know how courts were built. Draught. The letters circle the common letters, draw the arrows pointing, and then you'll have this professional voice leading sound. 10. The Fundamental Rhythm Pattern: last thing. You have to add his rhythm. So most songs air in 44 time or four beats per measure, so you can just do very basic rhythm pattern, which is 2341234123414 and your left hand itches, holding notes for four beats. 11. How to Lookup Chords for Songs: Okay, now I want to show you ultimate guitar dot com This is a website where you can look at any song that you want to play and get the courts right away. So first we go here and type in ultimate guitar. Then you click here and what you see here is a search far. So in here you can type in any song that you want. So let's take and let it be. And then what you see here is you have the artists on the left side. You have the Beatles. Then you have all the songs and this year, different versions of the songs. Because this is actually all crowdsourced, so different people are contributing to make the best version possible. The cords so you want to do is find the version with the most ratings. So you're you have 839 So we're gonna go with this. Additionally, on the right here, you have the type, so you want to go with the typefaces courts. The other stuff is for guitars. Now, what you see here is you have all the lyrics and you also have all the cords that are lined up with the lyrics. So you see that the accord comes on find then the e comes on times they have sharp on mother and the Dion comes So this is how you kind of figure out when to play the chords. You could also listen to the recording of the song to kind of give you an idea where the court seem to come in. But also here on this transposed side, you can actually transpose the song up and down. So you know where we have We're in the key of B here. That's too high. Now you have a sharp and now we have a eso. This is what you'd use if the song is too high or too low for your voice. But that's a This is the This is a tool that you should use. Look up, songs that you want to play, figure out how to play them. Um, And there you go. That should be it. All right. I'll see you guys in the next lesson by 12. Thank you: All right. Congratulations. You made it to the end of the course. So now want to give you the assignment for this class? And that is to play a song. So look up a song and ultimate guitar dot com, you can look up. You know, pop songs are great for this. So in this course we cover, you know, major and minor courts and just learning those two chords are gonna open up thousands of songs that you can outplay. There also be a lot of songs that you'll see that are more advanced. That argues more advanced courts that are out of the scope of this class. But there will also be tons and tons of songs that you can play. So look up a song and sing and just record yourself playing it. You can do a simple recording. Just record with your phone. Doesn't have to be anything fancy. But once you finish recording it, just put it up on soundcloud on YouTube or wherever and link it in the project section. Ok, All right. Well, congratulations again and I will see in the next one. Thanks