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Advanced Piano Chords 1: circles of 5ths patterns, etc.

In Piano Chords I showed you different ways of interpreting basic chord symbols like major and minor triads and 7th chords. In Advanced Piano Chords 1 I’m going to show you the easiest ways of thinking about 6th chords, 9th chords, and 13th chords, as well as diminished and augmented triads. But the main thing it covers is 3rds and 7ths on the circle of 5ths. It’s hard to describe exactly what that means in words, but if you watch the intro video I demonstrate it. Basically, the circle of 5ths is the most common chord progression in music, and alternating 3rds and 7ths is (usually) the best way of interpreting it. If that sounds complicated that’s because it is, a little, but I walk you through it step-by-step so that it’s second nature.

I was recording this course on-and-off for 6 months, and wondered why it was taking so long to record, and now that it’s finished I can see that it’s because it’s over 9 hours long (3 hours longer than my next-longest course)! So you can be sure that you’ll be very fluent with the technique by the time you finish the course. Alternating 3rds and 7ths on the circle of 5ths is an essential skill for interpreting the Great American Song Book (George Gershwin, Cole Porter, Richard Rodgers, etc.) and it therefore serves as the foundation for jazz piano, as well as having applications in classical, soul, and other styles.

As always, I’m going to demonstrate everything in the context of real pieces of music, so you’ll end up with complete arrangements of tunes like Fly Me to the Moon, Autumn Leaves, Lullaby of Birdland, Satin Doll, etc. But more importantly you’ll understand how those arrangements were put together so that you can make your own of your own favourite tunes.

Originally I wanted to have lots of tutorials on complex jazz chords, like sharp 9ths and flat 13ths, but the more I worked on the course the more it expanded, and I realised it needed to be 2 courses. So I have a second one in draft form (Advanced Piano Chords 2, naturally), which is currently about 45 lectures long and which I hope to record later this year. However, I give you a preview of the second course at the end of this one, and summarise all of those chords in addition to giving you a cheat sheet that recaps every chord that we cover, in this one and the next.

What this course is:

  • Original. There are a ton of tricks that give you easy ways of thinking about complex chords that I invented to help my one-on-one students and haven’t seen elsewhere. Hopefully these alone will be worth the cost of the course.
  • Probably the best of its kind on the circle of 5ths. People are always explaining the circle of 5ths using charts or letters, whereas I think that the best way of explaining it is at the keyboard. Of course, I’ll show you what it looks like on paper, too, but the keyboard will be the primary way of visualising it.
  • Very carefully graded. Everything here has been tested on my private students, and if a student found something too difficult I’d find a way of breaking it down into smaller steps. This course is the result of that process.
  • Actually slightly better than anything any of my private students got (sorry private students). This is because I refined all of the techniques and arrangements when putting together the curriculum.

What this course isn’t:

  • Graphics-heavy. My Read Music FAST! course is 2 hours of video with very detailed graphics. This course is 9 hours of me sitting at the keyboard explaining things. Scores aren’t very relevant to a lot of the material and sometimes even a distraction, so I like the simplicity of having nothing but the keyboard – it’s how I play piano (I play everything from memory).
  • Perfect. I recorded the course in pieces, over many months, and allowed myself to improvise sections if I wanted to since that makes the videos feel like real lessons. I remember when I was an undergraduate at Cambridge there was a lecturer who read his first lecture from a script, which was really hard to listen to, and then did the rest of his lectures from memory, which was much more engaging. You can always tell when someone’s reciting off a piece for paper or whether they’re actually communicating something, and I’ll always choose the latter, even if it means that I sometimes hesitate or slip up. (I just hope I don’t have a curse word in one of the videos that I forgot to edit out, like I did in an early version of Beginner Piano. Oops!) There’s even a surprise appearance from my cat in one of the videos. And a really bad attempt at playing the opening of Chopin’s Revolutionary Étude that I didn’t have time to practise.

Start learning

Sign up to the course now! You can always get a refund within 30 days if you don’t like it.

Note: this is a private course, so you’ll need the password Tigris (the name of my cat) to get access.

Happy studying.