Tips for Piano Performance - Altered Chords

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One of my favorite songs that I've had the opportunity to play in public for many different occasions is "Amazing Grace." Do you have a popular set of songs that you perform well?
Below the following tips I have posted chords and altered chords to Amazing Grace.




Tips for Playing the Piano in Public 
  1. Develop an area of specialty and play what you love the most. You can play a wide range of music styles but your own specialty will provide you with a focus that will set you apart from the crowd.

2. Have a few “show-off” pieces that are impressively arranged for crowd pleasing.

3. Try to memorize at least one new song a week that you really like. That way, you’ll have less music to tote around.

4. By memorizing a song, you’ll have more fun when your eyes aren’t glued to the sheet music.

5. Do type a list of songs alphabetically that you play by memory. While you’re playing one song, you can scan the list to determine your next selection.

6. Once you purchase sheet music, organize your notebook with songs alphabetically that you’ll be playing that are not memorized.

7. Fake books are great to use but make sure you’ve practiced the songs privately before playing in public. Sometimes you’ll find that fake books can have a mislabeled chord.

8. Strive for balance in your playing sequence. If you play ten ballads in a row or perhaps seven classical pieces consecutively, it might be boring for the listener’s ear.

9. When you’re playing for your audience, “play” for them. People enjoy being able to recognize and remember songs that they’re familiar with.

10. On the other hand, don’t be afraid to play a new song that is not generally known.

11. THIS TIP IS IMPORTANT: Allow your personal style to emerge, but don’t let it take over to the point that everything you play sounds the same. A good way to avoid this is to study songs in their original arrangements.

12. On the other hand, don’t be timid about experimenting. Sometimes a rock song can work as a lush ballad.

13. Constructing medleys is fun. People seem to enjoy medleys.

14. Often you’ll get requests at your live gig. If you don’t know a particular song, just hand them your play list. They’ll probably recognize a song on your list that they would love to hear.

15. If someone requests a song, let’s say “The Girl From Ipanema” and you don’t know it well enough to play from memory, make a counter offer with a song that you do play well and ask them if they would like to hear it.

16. Even if someone requests a song that you don’t especially like, just play it anyways because the song is usually related to a special moment for them.

17. Play every song with passion, from your heart, as if every song is your favorite because boredom is easily spotted.

18. If you draw a blank and space out during a performance, you have several choices here. You can flow into another song or you can improvise until you figure it out and get back on track. Sometimes I have found that playing the same song at the beginning of my set sets me at ease for what is to follow.

19. If you botch a song beyond redemption don’t panic. One time I recall playing Ave Maria for my mom’s friends. I modulated to another key and couldn’t remember the chords in that new key. (It happens to the best of us). So, I just smiled, laughed out loud, played “Mary had a Little Lamb” and went back to Ave Maria and played it well that time!

20. You are playing the piano, not working the piano. So play with feeling and emotion. Knowing the lyrics to a song in your head enhances the feeling your fingers are trying to convey. Remember to share your love for music with the world. (Your family, friends and audience).

Am     C                D   F        
Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
     Am      C           Em
That saved a wretch like me....
  Am       C        D      F        
I once was lost but now am found,
    Am         Em     Am
Was blind, but now, I see.

          Cmaj         Fmaj   Cmaj        
Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
     Am      Cmaj/D    Dminor      Gmaj
That saved a wretch like me....
  Am       Cmaj7        D      Fmaj        
I once was lost but now am found,
Cmaj    Am      C/G   Dm/G     Cmaj
Was blind, but now, I see.
Am     Cmaj         F9       Cmaj E7(b9#5)           
Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
     Am9      D9           G13
That saved a wretch like me....
  Am       Cmaj        F9      Cmaj E7(b9#5)       
I once was lost but now am found,
    Am9         Cmaj/G  G9   Cmaj
Was blind, but now, I see.
* G maj to G13:
V13 chords are great chord substitutions for V7 chords. 
* It is common  to play the IV# diminished chord right after a IV chord (especially when the IV chord resolves back to the I chord).


These full sounding polychords (above) sound bluesy compared to simple arrangements.
C/D   G      G/D   D7   Em   C   G           G        G/D   D/C  G/B 
A----mazing grace! How sweet the sound, That saved a wretch like me! 

C/D  G         G/B      C    C   G     G/B Em     G/D G/D  D7  G
I--  once was lost but now, I'm found. Was blind, but now  I  see.

 
* This is one of my favorite jazz arrangements for guitar

GM7      Bm7          CM7      Am7
Amazing grace how sweet the sound
       GM7     Bm7           Am7  D9
That saved a wretch like me
GM7         Bm7      CM7      Am7
I once was lost but now I’m found
        GM7       Bm7      CM7 – Bm7 – Am7 – GM7 
Was blind but now I see
I look forward to posting more on using altered chords in 7-3-6-2-5-1 progression.


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I hope you enjoy your stay at LadyD Piano.
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