Technical Exercises for Improving Keyboard Technique
Sheet Music - for Piano Solo
* * * Check out new videos of Elmo Peeler playing piano on YouTube here! * * *
For a pianist, technique is the physical ability to convey one's musical ideas. It's not good enough to be able to hear in one's head Art Tatum or Jimmy Smith type of runs and phrases if one's fingers can not execute them on the keyboard. That's where finger exercises come in - to gain strength and independence in all ten fingers (Richard Tee talked about the importance of this in his tutorial video, "Contemporary Piano").
Some pianists spend many hours practicing books full of technical exercises, such as those by Czerny and Hanon. The good news is that it's not necessary. Being able to play scales and arpeggios fluently is indeed essential to good keyboard technique, but only a few supplemental piano technique exercises are usually necessary.
And other piano exercises can help one to understand and to "feel" rhythms commonly found in rock, pop, and blues.
The piano exercises included here are very effective at improving not only finger technique but also Left Hand vs Right Hand coordination.
The price of these exercises is $4.95 (unless indicated otherwise), with an Unconditional Money-back Guarantee. Every purchase is secure and risk-free.
Purchase any of this piano sheet music by clicking on the ADD TO CART button just beneath each piece's description. You do not need to have a PayPal account, only a debit or credit card (eChecks are also accepted). After your payment has been securely processed, you can download the PDF file, which can be printed out.
Elmo Peeler - Heartbeat Exercise.pdf
Pop/rock music is based on the rhythm of the human heartbeat. One of the most fundamental coordination skills that a pop/rock pianist must develop is the ability to play 'straight fours', i.e., quarter-note chords, in the Right Hand, while playing a heartbeat rhythm in the Left Hand. This exercise introduces the beginning pop/rock pianist to a very simple, basic, and essential skill.
The Heartbeat Exercise is a five-measure exercise meant to be repeated over and over, until it becomes second nature. It should first be memorized, then practiced repetitively. Many will master it - 'internalize it' - within five or ten minutes. Some will require a day or two. And a very few rhythmically-challenged individuals might need two or three weeks.
Also included in this PDF is a slight variation on the Heartbeat Exercise that will reinforce and further develop these essential coordination skills.
If you can already play pop/rock piano, you probably already have these coordination skills and don't need this exercise. However, if you're a beginner and would like to start at the very beginning, the Heartbeat Exercise will prove very useful and even enlightening.
To listen, just click: Elmo Peeler - Heartbeat Exercise
Elmo Peeler - Blues Exercise No.3 (Grace Notes & The 'Push').pdf
A 12-bar blues pattern in the key of C, this exercise teaches several things: what each hand can play to make an effective blues phrase, an introduction to the two types of grace notes, and an introduction to the "push", i.e., when the right hand chord slightly anticipates the left hand (a very common and important rock/blues technique). It's a basic coordination exercise, and an introduction to grace notes.
To listen, just click: Elmo Peeler - Blues Exercise No.3
Elmo Peeler - Blues Exercise No.5 (Double-Flip).pdf
A 12-bar blues pattern in the key of C, the purpose
of this exercise is to perfect the 'flip' - a pianistic technique commonly found
in blues and R&B, particularly New Orleans-influenced R&B - in the context of a
triplet-based, rolling background (the left hand). Pianists from Dr. John to
Otis Spann use 'flips' as an essential element of their style. One of the very
first rock-and-roll records, Big Joe Turner's "Shake, Rattle, and Roll" (1954),
had a piano 'flip' as one of its most important elements - to be precise, it had
two flips every measure throughout the entire song.
A flip is a briskly executed up-then-down arpeggio (broken chord). This exercise is called the 'double-flip' because it has two flips in each phrase.
The flips in this exercise are polyrhythmic, i.e., the left hand is in 3 (triplets), while the flip is in 4 (sixteenth-notes). Flips are usually polyrhythmic, although not always 4 against 3.
The notes of the flip must be performed perfectly evenly and cleanly, very articulately, like a perfect little string of pearls. Although it's a little trickier at first than it sounds, once mastered the 'flip' is a wonderful addition to a pianist's bag of tricks - really essential for playing blues and boogie.
To listen, just click: Elmo Peeler - Blues Exercise No.5 (Double-Flip)
Elmo Peeler - Blues Exercise No.6 (9th Chord Boogie).pdf
A 12-bar blues pattern in the key of C, the purpose of this exercise is to introduce the 9th chord to the beginning student of boogie-woogie, and how it can be used and transposed throughout the I, IV and V chords. The 9th-chord "sound" was extensively used by the founders of boogie-woogie piano-playing, Pete Johnson, Albert Ammons, and Meade "Lux" Lewis. Without using 9th chord-based Right-Hand riffs and licks, a pianist cannot truly capture the full, rich sound of boogie-woogie.
This "9th Chord Boogie" can also be used as a very basic exercise in coordination and improving one's sense of rhythm if one practices foot-patting while playing this exercise. First, foot-pat on beats 1,2,3 & 4. Then, after becoming comfortable with that, foot-pat on beats 1 & 3. After becoming comfortable with that, foot-pat only on beats 2 &4, which is the goal.
To listen, just click: Elmo Peeler - Blues Exercise No.6 (9th Chord Boogie)
Elmo Peeler - Blues Exercise No.7 (Thirds in Triplets).pdf
Also based on a 12-bar blues pattern in the key of C, this is a fairly easy, but important, lesson in basic 12-bar Blues coordination. The goal is to be able to play it smoothly with a relaxed, laid-back feel, while effortlessly patting your foot (or feet) on the 2nd and 4th beats and truly feeling that two and four back-beat throughout your body.
It also shows that in blues, full three-note chords are often not preferable to the simpler sound of thirds.
Elmo Peeler - Blues Exercise No.8 ("The Worst Thing in My Life").pdf
This is a wonderful exercise in how to play old-school blues, and is based upon the piano part from B.B. King's "The Worst Thing in My Life", recorded in 1964. Comprised of 24 measures - two 12-bar blues phrases - this is a slightly simplified version of the original piano part. Each of the two sections has a different Right Hand blues pattern, with the first 12 bars using stabbing 7th and 9th chords, and the second 12 bars using tinkling thirds in a higher register - perfect as an introduction to learning the rhythms and voicings of that wonderful early blues style.
To listen to the original version of the two 12-bar phrases, just click: B.B. King - The Worst Thing in My Life - Blues Exercise
Rudolph Ganz - Exercise No.1 (Double-notes: Diminished 7ths).pdf
A wonderful double-note exercise, based on the diminished 7th chord. Excellent for finger independence, strength and endurance. A perfect warm-up exercise when your hands need to be limbered up and there is very little time to do it, such as right before a performance, backstage or in the studio. Also good for warming up at the beginning of a practice session. Passed down from early-20th-century concert pianist Rudolph Ganz to his student, Sarah Love Regan, who was my teacher.
To listen, just click: Elmo Peeler - Ganz - Exercise No.1
Rudolph Ganz - Exercise No.2 (Double-notes: Dominant 7ths).pdf
A wonderful double-note exercise, based on the dominant 7th chord. Excellent for finger independence, strength and endurance. A perfect warm-up exercise when your hands need to be limbered up and there is very little time to do it, such as right before a performance, backstage or in the studio. Also good for warming up at the beginning of a practice session. Passed down from early-20th-century concert pianist Rudolph Ganz to his student, Sarah Love Regan, who was my teacher.
To listen, just click: Elmo Peeler - Ganz - Exercise No.2
Rudolph Ganz - Exercise No.3 (Double-notes: Diminished & Dominant 7ths).pdf
A wonderful double-note exercise, based on both diminished 7th and dominant 7th chords. Excellent for finger independence, strength and endurance. Good for warming up at the beginning of a practice session. Passed down from early-20th-century concert pianist Rudolph Ganz to his student, Sarah Love Regan, who was my teacher. It is less ideal than either Ganz Exercise No. 1 or 2 as a quick warm-up exercise only because it takes twice as long to play. This is definitely the most difficult of the "Ganz" exercises, requiring much more stamina and endurance, but will certainly pay off in strong hands and independent fingers.
To listen, just click: Elmo Peeler - Ganz - Exercise No.3
Rudolph Ganz - Exercise No.4 (Single-notes).pdf
A wonderful single-note exercise, based on both diminished 7th and dominant 7th chords. To be practiced with highly-raised fingers, this technical exercise is excellent for finger independence, strength, and crystal-clear articulation. It is a perfect compliment for the three Ganz double-note exercises, and should be practiced immediately following them to loosen up the fingers after the double-note exercise(s). Passed down from early-20th-century concert pianist Rudolph Ganz to his student, Sarah Love Regan, who was my teacher.
To listen, just click: Elmo Peeler - Ganz - Exercise No.4
Elmo Peeler - Rhythmic Analysis Exercise No.1 ("Down by the River").pdf
The purpose of this exercise is to
teach how to play a rhythm guitar part on the piano, i.e., how to 'translate' a
rhythm guitar part onto a piano keyboard. For that purpose, Neil Young's classic
"Down by the River" (from his "Decade" album) is
used as an example.
The rhythm guitar pattern that begins "Down by the River" is analyzed; and then the logical steps to convert the guitar pattern to a two-hand piano pattern are explained in three steps, with two possible solutions given.
The ability to transpose a guitar rhythm onto the piano is an important skill for pianists to learn. This exercise will prove quite helpful in understanding how to do it.
To listen to the original rhythm guitar pattern,
Neil Young - "Down by the River" (original guitar Intro)
Elmo Peeler - The Leon Russell Exercise
Beverly Hills, CA