Wrapping Up the Year with My Favorite Music Resources

I wanted to give a heads up to all my readers regarding a huge clearance sale over at http://www.hearandplay.com

Yes, that's right,  Jermaine Griggs is having his own "2009 stimulus package". You can save 43% on all Hear and Play best selling courses. This end of the year clearance sale ends Thursday- 12/31-09

Year End Clearance Sale

So, what are my favorite music resources from this company that have enhanced my piano playing? Below I have listed some  of the music dvds that are in my piano studio library that I recommend:

* Hear and Play Chords 101: Introduction To Chords

In 2 full hours of step-by-step audio instruction, we take you from the very beginning and explain how to construct various chords, when and where to use them, and how to apply them in real-life situations.

Some of my high school beginner piano students use this audio course to get familiar with chords.

Was $29.00  Now $16.43

* Hear and Play Chords 102: The Power of Seventh Chords

This audio course will start where chords 101 left off and show you step-by-step…
  • How to form various types of seventh chords and why they are so important in playing by ear.
  • Why seventh chords are the foundation of many more extended chords like ninths, elevenths, thirteenths, and altered voicings.
The power of the "magic 3rd & 7th" and how manipulating them can help you to instantly play dozens of chords in all twelve keys… very easily! Some of my intermediate to advanced piano students love this audio course to help them add flavor to their playing. Was $29.  Now $16.43

* Gospel Keys 101: Hymns and Congregational Hymns

This instructional course will teach you everything you need to know to start playing basic hymns and congregational songs by ear. We teach you a proven three step process and once you've mastered the system, you'll be able playing dozens of songs on your own in addition to the ones you'll learn by the end of the program! This is the first music online purchase that sent me on my way to playing by ear.
 Was $47.  Now $26.79

* Gospel Keys 201: Mastering Worship Chords
Gospel Keys 202 DVD will show you, step-by-step, how to play contemporary worship music by ear. We take you through every tone of the major scale and show you literally tons of chords you can play ranging from major, minor, diminished, dominant, sevenths, ninths, elevenths, thirteenths, altered chords, and more! Then you'll learn how to pair these chords together to create small progressions we call "couples." These progressions create your contemporary worship music.

Was $65.00 now $37.05

* Gospel Keys Urban Pro 600

You'll learn how to combine these modern, two-hand voicings into progressions and urban movements that are heard in countless numbers of gospel songs. On top of that, the emphasis on how to use grace notes, slides, pivoting tones, fill-ins, and other nuances will give you many of the necessary techniques to take your contemporary gospel playing to that next level! You'll study everything from major, minor, dominant, diminished, augmented, seventh, ninth, eleventh, and thirteenth chords — the big difference, however, is that you get loads of unique urban and contemporary ways to voice these chords. I especially love the way Jonathan Powell introduces you to his West Coast Urban piano style. 4 Discs Was $89. Now $50.73

There's so much more.  I recommended Drums 101, 102 and 103 to our drummer and he invested in this resource. You can also take a look of a preview on YouTube. If you've always wanted to learn Salsa Piano, Hear and Play has a course on that, too. 


Plus, my favorite is Jazz and you will learn tons of info from Jazz 101 and Jazz 201. 


In addition to your instrument instructions, don't forget 10-disc voice set. This course specializes in teaching you everything you need to know to start singing the right way. 

I play a little guitar but those barre chords are challenging for me. Take a look at this one, too. Gospel Guitar 101: How To play Praise Songs On The Guitar!

Year End Clearance Sale 

Happy end of the year shopping!

Play Robin Thicke's "Lost Without You" w/ 4 Chords (lesson) 


How to play Lost without you


All the best, 


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Learn Jazz and Gospel Christmas Piano Songs

I-IV-vii o -iii-vi-ii-V-I (in major)  Circle p...Image via Wikipedia
Every year for Christmas I am asked to play O Holy Night for friends and family. It is a simple chord progression and when you play it over and over through the years it can become a bit boring.

C                 F                  C
O holy night, the stars are brightly shining;
          Am           G7            C
It is the night of the dear Savior's birth.
                      F             C C7
Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
          Em             B7            Em
Till he appeared and the soul felt its worth.
  G7                  C
A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices,
    G7              C
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.

Am           Em
Fall on your knees,
    Dm             Am
Oh, hear the angel voices!
  C  G7    C F      C  G7                 C
O night, divine!  O night when Christ was born!
  G  G7    C F      C  G7            C
O night, divine!  O night, O night divine! 

So how can we spice up this song so it sounds bluesy gospel?
* Change quality of chords from major to dominant chord ( C F7 C )
Bass Walk Down (C, B, A, G) so  C/B F/A

alternate bass note, any note that comes from the l.h. chord (go to E instead of C)
* Bass Walk Up (D E F# G)
* target major= dominant resolution
* target dominant= minor resolution

I wanted to share with you a great online teacher that I have learned so much from and that is Willie Myette. 

Learn Jazz and Gospel Christmas Piano Songs

Willie Myette from JazzEDge says:

Whether you're looking to impress your friends this year at your Christmas party or just gather the family around the piano for a sing-along, you'll find the over 3+ hours of step-by-step instruction on these DVDs to be an early Christmas present to yourself and your listeners!
You're going to learn two classic Christmas song arrangements. I break down each song and teach it to you using my clear step-by-step method. This means you'll spend less time practicing and more time playing. Now, you do not need to know how to read music to use this DVD. However, if you do read music, PDF music has been provided for you.
Chords are the building blocks of songs and harmony. It is important to learn chords. But more importantly, you need to understand why certain chords work with certain melody notes. I'm going to break down all of the chords and teach you what notes are needed and which ones are not. I'll also teach you how to determine the best chord for a particular melody note.
I'll also teach you how to apply certain chords to melody notes to get that full and rich sound. No more scratching your head trying to figure out what I am playing. I will explain all of the notes that I am playing plus there is a virtual keyboard that lights up the notes that I play.

In the true spirit of the season, I would like to say "thank you" for your loyalty to LadyDpiano. Wishing you joyful holidays and a new year of peace and happiness.

Merry Christmas!
~ LadyD

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How To Play Carol of the Bells

Over a million views of Carol of the Bells on YouTube... can you believe it?! 


It is one of my favorite Christmas songs. Oh there are so many that it's difficult to choose. I thought I would share a bit of history of the song with you. It is endless as to how many artists have performed this particular song.

Piano Lessons: How to play Carol of the Bells on the Piano - Part 1



 Leontovich, Mykola

Mykola Dmytrovych Leontovych (Ukrainian: Ìèêîëà Äìèòðîâè÷ Ëåîíòîâè÷) (December 1, 1877 - January 22 or January 23, 1921) was a Ukrainian composer, choral conductor, and teacher of international renown. Leontovych is most famous for composing Shchedryk in 1916, the song that Carol of the Bells was later adapted from.

Mykola Leontovych graduated in 1899 from the theological seminary in Kamianets-Podilskyi. After teaching at schools throughout present-day Ukraine, including the guberniyas of Kiev, Yekaterinoslav, and Podillia, he moved on to study music. He received private instruction in both St Petersburg and Kiev (at the latter with Boleslav Yavorsky), and soon came to be known as an adept choirmaster. In 1918, at a time of great Ukrainian nationalist revival, Leontovych began teaching at the Kiev Conservatory as well as the Mykola Lysenko Institute of Music and Drama.

Leontovych's is remembered today mostly because of the body of musical works he left behind, including over 150 choral compositions which range from artistic arrangements of folk songs, religious works (including his liturgy), cantatas, and choral compositions to the texts of various Ukrainian poems. Although he attempted to write a Ukrainian opera (Na rusalchyn velykden’ - On the Water Nymph's Easter) based on the writing of Borys Hrinchenko, he never had the chance to finish it. In 1921, he was shot down by a robber at the home of his parents.

 Download Free Sheet Music:


Carol of the Bells

Lyrics & Music: Adapted by Peter J. Wilhousky, copyright 1936,
from original by Mykola Dmytrovich Leontovych, 1916

William Studwell, The Christmas Carol Reader

The Ukraine region of the former Soviet Union has been frequently misunderstood. Although for centuries it was more than large enough to be an independent medium-sized nation, which it now is, and had a language, alphabet, and culture distinct from the dominant Russians, the Ukrainians were often mistakenly labeled "Russians." This miscomprehension affected all sectors of their civilization, including the one famous contribution to the literature of carols to emanate from the Ukraine.

" The music for the very popular holiday song, "Carol of the Bells," was created by the Ukraine's most popular composer, Mykola Dmytrovich Leontovych (1877-1921). Despite being born in Ukraine, living in Ukraine, and largely working with Ukrainian music, Leontovych and his works are most than occasionally called "Russian." The composition from which "Carol of the Bells" was derived, the choral work Shchedryk, which was first performed by students at Kiev University in December 1916, has not been exempted from the mislabeling. But the Ukrainians, from one perspective, have had the last laugh in this cultural comedy of errors, for by far the best-known carol music to originate in any portion of the former Soviet Union was Leontovych's brilliant musical portrayal of the sounds of Christmas bells.

Only 20 years after its composition, the music from Shchedryk was converted into a carol halfway around the world. Peter J. Wilhousky (1902-1978), a composer, lyricist, and conductor who worked with Arturo Toscanini on NBC radio, adapted Leontovych's music and added some lyrics. The title chosen by New Jerseyite Wilhousky was ideal, for "Carol of the Bells" is not only extremely suitable as a characterization of the melody, but also is completely harmonious with the old Slavic legend on which Shchedryk is based. At midnight on the night Jesus was born, the legend claims, every bell in the world rang out in his honor.

Since the synthesis of "Carol of the Bells" in 1936, the song, also known as "Ukrainian Carol," has increasingly become a part of the celebration of Christmas in the United States. Its public acceptance was surely boosted by the employment of the melody in a series of television advertisements for champagne. The idea, apparently, was that the champagne was as tasteful and sparkling as the music. In addition, the melody has been utilized in three other American carols. In 1947, M. L. Holman wrote "Ring, Christmas Bells." In 1957, the anonymous lyrics "Come, Dance and Sing" were published, and by 1972 another "Carol of the Bells" (this time anonymous) was published. Wilhousky's original "Carol of the Bells" can be easily distinguished from the later one by his first line, "Hark! How the bells, sweet silver bells." The second "Carol of the Bells" starts with "Hark to the bells, Hark to the bells." This multiple usage of Leontovich's music for four carols as well as for a variety of other purposes is sound testimony to its quality and popular appeal.

William L. Simon, ed., Reader

Celtic Woman-Carol Of The Bells

Chord Chart: Carol of the Bells

Chord Em     Em/D   Am/C   Em/B   Em7/B  Am
3/4 time (can be played in one)
Key of G 
Intro: (transcriber's suggestion)

Em Em/D Am/C Em/B 2x

Enter Choir:
Em                     Em/D                  Am/C              Em/B
Hark! how the bells, / Sweet silver bells, / All seem to say / "Throw cares away."

*Opening Repeat Dots* <----Look @ Me!!!
Em                   Em/D                  Am/C                Em/B
Christmas is here, / Bringing good cheer / To young and old, / Meek and the bold.

Am/C                      Em                   Am/C                Em
Ding, dong, ding, dong, / That is their song / With joyful ring, / All caroling.

Am/C                Em                    Am/C              Em
One seems to hear / Words of good cheer / From everywhere / Filling the air;

Am/C                 Em                  Am/C                  Em
Oh how they pound, / Raising the sound / O'er hill and dale, / Telling their tale.

Em                                     Am
Gailly they ring / While people sing / Song(s) of good cheer / Christmas is here

Merry, merry, merry, / merry Christmas! 2x

Em/D                Am/C              Em7/B               Am
On, on they send, / On without end, / Their joyful tone / To ev'ry home.

Em                                                             N.C.       *repeat dots*
Hark! how the bells, / Sweet silver bells, / All seem to say / "Throw cares away."

On, on they send, / On without end, / Their joyful tone / To ev'ry home.

N.C.                   Em->fret me conventionally and hit me good once
Ding, dong ding dong / Bohm!//

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

How are your Christmas preparations coming along? Enjoy your practice time and playing your favorite Christmas songs during this special time of year.
~ LadyD

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How To Find Free Sheet Music: Christmas Music Sites

There are so many wonderful web sites offering reviews and detailed guides to free Christmas sheet music. Here are a few links I've discovered. Perhaps you will share more sites you have discovered. Some of my favorite songs to play at this time are "Mary, Did You Know?" and "A Charlie Brown Christmas" to name just a few.


Christmas Music Sites:















There are literally tons of music sites out there --- some are quite informative while others simply waste your time. As I was surfing the net (a while back), I came across a site which just blew me away!

It offered over 60 free online piano lessons, resources, and even a Christmas Keys DVD for students who are serious about learning to play the their favorite Christmas Songs by ear. As I began reading about the Christmas Keys course, I was truly amazed at all the topics covered in this course. It covered beginning techniques, music theory, chords, progressions, improvisation, and more! I own the Dvd Course and recommend it to you!

Get Started Playing Christmas Songs Today

Best Wishes,
~ LadyD

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Perfect 5th and Enharmonic Use of Tri-Tones

TritoneImage via Wikipedia
Question: What's a tritone? I've heard this was considered dangerous music and banned by the church in the middle ages. - J.P.

Answer: Strictly speaking, it's an augmented fourth (such as C up to F#), and is called that because it's three whole scale tones in succession (for example, C-D, D-E, E-F#). But a diminished fifth (such as F# up to C) is just a tritone turned upside-down (inverted) and is treated in traditional music with the same care as the tritone. The tritone was in traditional counterpoint studies known as "the devil in music," and was avoided as a difficult-to-sing-in-tune awkward melodic interval. You may read stories at unreliable internet sources about this interval being "banned by the Catholic Church" but really it just presented a technical problem in composition and performance, and so the style "rules" studied by budding musicians advised that one should not use it. Nonetheless, it was used on occasion, and some theorists thought it useful when handled well.

Leonard Bernstein made a little joke out of this in West Side Story - in particular with his song "Maria," whose melody begins with a tritone, Eb-A, that is lovingly repeated.

Here are Tri-tones and 7th chords. They involve the 3rd and 7th or the other way around. Think in terms of the left hand where you're playing your chords. The left hand tells the right hand what to do. Here are some examples. Try these:








Then go to the black keys:






Then try this:













A great resource that I have bought online from Jamal Hartwell regarding tritones can be purchased here:

Learn the X-treme Way to Play Worship by Ear!

Thanks to all my readers and your wonderful messages I have received. I decided to post answers to your music questions instead of replying individually to your messages. Thanks for understanding. I hope that you enjoy practicing tritones and loving the sounds!

All the best,
~ LadyD

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How To Play Common Progressions In Gospel Music

Illustration of cadential 6/4, modified after ...Image via Wikipedia

There's common progressions in gospel music that correspond with the numeric scale/chord degrees. For example:


Longer progressions are a mix between the above shorter progressions. To play these contemporary chords, you must know what they are. The rule of thumb is, what you can play for the 1, you can also play for the 4. Here's a list of chords and they are all C chords:


So depending on the inversion, you can come up with some interesting sounds in your music. You can add altered chords at "key" points in the music:

GD/FM7 There
CG/Em7 Is
DA/C A Name I
EB/DM7 Love To
AE/Dbm7 Hear

Depending on the type of songs you play, you can take progressions and use different voicings:

Common Progressions:

Scale Degrees and Chords Associated with them:


Use Chart Above and Create Voicings with Above Progressions:

2_5_1 Key of C (normal)

2= DC/Gbdim7
5= GD/F6
1= CG/C7

2_5_1 Key of C (altered)

2= DC/E

C Chords/ Substitutions:


If you use any of these for the I chord, you can use the equivalent of that chord for the IV chord. Depending on how you look at the board, these altered chords offer color to your music. If you want a more mellow or aggressive tone to your music, it's all about voicings:

1_4_5 (normal)


1_4_5 (7th voicing)


1_4_5 (9th voicing)


1_4_5 (11th voicing)


1_4_5 (13th voicing)


Hearing the differences in the sounds, mix them up, play around with them and practice in every key... have fun! If you're looking for a music theory book, I recommend:

Learn to Play Altered Chords

All the best,
~ LadyD

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How To Play Slow Gospel Blues Piano

my piano, my hand, musicImage by zen via Flickr

My friend dazza from the zone community at hear and play sure can play the blues! You will learn so much from dazza's piano tutorial on playing slow blues. I have posted a chord chart for his chord progressions. Those quick grace notes add such a cool sound!

learn this at:

, plus loads of free videos on how to play piano

* Chord Chart

Pick Up - (r.h. notes) Bb, B, D, E



C C/Bb, (Eb), E G, (Bb, B, D, E) (C9)

D D/F# C D (D7)

/ D Bb, C A

G D/(Bb) B G

E E/Gb D G (E7 add9)

A A/G C# (A7)

D D/F# C (D7)

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