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When I play piano or keyboards, I've noticed that I keep slipping into playing the same chords (and variations thereof, such as very simple bass lines) with my left hand while I use my right hand to play some melodies. It doesn't sound wrong, but certainly not very professional.

I know that this is partly because I'm right-handed and therefore my left hand lacks some of the strength and dexterity that my right hand has, but somehow I'm also not very imaginative when it comes to accompanying the melodies I play with my right hand. Also, I am more of a keyboarder than a pianist, so maybe that's why I just tend to bang out chords. I've also noted that I'm okay at writing piano/keyboard parts for my right hand, but most of the time I'm really just unsure how to write (and play) a good left hand part.

Are there any specific techniques I could use to break out of this repetitive behavior? I'm not really sure what to do here.

Edit: Thanks for the comments so far. I do have some sheet music that I like, so I'll see if I can make some use of the left hand parts there. I mostly play rock and metal-ish things but I occasionally dabble in classical music and film scores. This sometimes makes things difficult because the different parts are often only transcribed to piano but were originally written for strings/guitar/whatever other instruments, or at least that's how it seems to me. I've checked out some jazz sheet music but it seems pretty daunting so far, I'll see what I can do.

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Find sheet music with written-out left hand parts and study and play those. –  nonpop Jan 5 '13 at 15:59
What style(s) of music are you playing? I've seen some good books that talk about left hand ideas for various pop styles. e.g. rock, blues, funk etc. –  Mike Hildner Jan 8 '13 at 16:26

3 Answers 3

There are two things that will really help you here:

1.) Listening to different music.

I don't mean passively, like most people listen to music, but listening for the chord qualities, the inversions, and the voicings.

2.) Learning different music.

The next step would be to learn the music you just heard, or even music you haven't heard. For example, Franz Schubert wrote hundreds of lieder and was a master accompanist. Looking at his music and stealing some ideas is on example of what you can do.

You can't improve without expanding your horizons.

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I'm a professional pianist has been major jazz festivals, recordings and NY scene. I also have 4 published books about music.

  1. HANON for both hands. That's the method you will need to use probably life long. It's a very easy to read also very helpful method for piano technique. Yes you play keyboard. But if you want to be good enough to feel more professional, you will need piano books.
  2. Simple but important pieces from Bach such as minuets. After that inventions for being able to use both hands independent enough.
  3. Keep listening the great names such as Horowitz, Glenn Gould, Chick Corea, Bill Evans etc.
  4. Study harmony; functional and nonfunctional. After that try to get close to complexity with Arnold Schoenberg

If you are serious enough probably when you follow those 4 you will be a happy musician.

My music website to hear me.

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Maybe these tips would be helpful:

  1. When you play accompaniment, avoid playing the melody. The singer sings the melody while we provide the harmony, or background music.

  2. Listen to different music or songs and pay attention to the harmonies. Try to imitate the background music.

  3. Learn different chord techniques so you can create different variations of harmony. You should learn to improvise too.

  4. There are books/courses that teach different left hand piano styles. There are also many YouTube videos that provide tips on piano accompaniment.

Whether you play accompaniment in a piano or in a keyboard, it is helpful to apply these tips so you can create a beautiful background music for the singer.

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Please do not use answers to promote your products. Disclose your affiliation with Yoke Wong and Piano Mother if you must mention your products in answers. –  American Luke Jan 30 '14 at 16:31

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