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I have just started in learning to play the piano. I have begun to take music lessons. (Today I had my second lesson.)

I have a little bit of experience in playing the guitar. I have a friend with whom I have done some "jamming" on the guitar before. It was basically just me playing some random chordprogression like D - C - G - D and he started to improvise over that. Or we changed the roles and I played a little bit with the pentatonic scale.

Now I teamed up with some friends to jam together. We have no specific genre we want to play. I am playing the piano. There is one drummer, one guitarist and - sometimes - a bassist. The guitarist is playing some crazy solos and I try to accompany the song, so the solo wouldn't sound so thin.

On the piano it seems way more harder to me to just accompany a song. On the guitar I could play along with up and downstrokes to some interesting rythmic figures, which seems way harder on the piano. I could also use some muting for developing a progress of the sound, what I can't do on the piano.

Basically I just play the bass-note on my left hand and hit the chords with my right hand. When we want to jam, everyone is waiting for me to play something. It's like they want me to lead the jam. I just feel overwhelmed.

Wouldn't it be a better idea to let an experienced player lead a jam and give the beginner some room to develop himself? I just feel overwhelmed. Do you have some tips for me to accompany a song on piano? Something like roles I can assign to my left and right hand, so I can play along with and vary to not only hit the chords on the beats and play 20 minutes the same?

One more thing I have to mention is that the guitarist mostly playing the solo is not accompanying the song. That's okay; I want to learn to accompany the song before I start to solo by myself.

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As someone who plays both guitar and keyboard, I agree that it can be more difficult for a beginner keyboardist to accompany. But it really depends on the style of music. For example, if you have access to organ or "pad" sounds, you could accompany by just holding out chords. If you play in this fashion, you usually want to experiment with what notes of a chord sound most pleasing to you -- or what supports the song the best. It's also nice to add in notes here and there that add texture to a chord, such as 4ths or 9ths. Having a good chord book makes sense here.

If you want to play more "in rhythm," you can start by playing an octave-interval with the left hand, and try to play very simple rhythmic patterns. You usually want to play something that fits in well with the bassist. The octave can be the root of the current chord in the progression, or it could be a 4th or a 5th of that chord as well. You just have to experiment and try to get comfortable with something that sounds good to you.

If you have a good bassist already, you can maybe just concentrate on the upper register and, again, try to find a simple, repeatable rhythm while playing two- or three-note chords in the upper register. This simple rhythm could/should be just two or three notes per measure. You don't HAVE to stand out in the song -- it's OK to blend in with the drums and bass. After all, piano is traditionally considered a part of the rhythm section.

I think the best thing you can do is try to listen to some music that is close to what your band sounds like, and try to figure out what they keyboardist is doing.

(By the way, you keep using the term "acomp," which is a tiny bit confusing to me. You can "accompany" someone, but the word you might be looking for is actually "comp.")

  • Thank you, I will try this and give feedback after the next jam – Olli May 14 '18 at 11:08
  • Having a really simple rhythmic pattern with the prime and octave or fifth on the left hand was really great. It felt like i was feeling the groove really hard and my left hand went in full automation mode. It gave me a lot of freedome to concentrate on the right hand. In the right hand i was able to vary with some different rythmic patterns via playing chords. I was even able - if the rythmic pattern in the right hand was not to complicated - to fill the gabs between the chords with some simple licks. Thank you – Olli May 19 '18 at 10:12
  • Hey, awesome! So glad you got some stuff working for you. Just keep trying new things to find the sounds you (and your band) like. In my opinion, it's not important how technically impressive you are. It's more important to listen closely and find ways to make the songs sound better. – Ringo May 19 '18 at 16:11
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"Basically I just play the bass-note on my left hand and hit the chords with my right hand"

Try expanding that basic idea.

When hitting the chord in the right hand try different combinations of on or off beat rhythms. Something like RH down on beat 2, up on beat 3, or maybe up on beats 1 and 2 and down beat 4, etc.

Instead of hitting all the notes of the chord at once, playing it as a broken chord. If you mix in the bass note left hand with broken chord notes in the right using difference rhythms you get lots of patterns from one chord. L R R R L R R R, or L R R L R R L R, etc.

Along with those two ideas try changing the position of the right hand chord. If you have an A minor chord using notes a,c,e play a pattern then move up to c,e,a then to e,a,c. Of course you can move downward a,c,e down to e,c,a, etc. You could also just jump up or down by octave without the in-between steps.

Finally, embellish the chord with it's "neighbors." Take that A minor chord a,c,e, hit it, step down to the G major chord g,b,d then go back to the A minor. There are other possibilities like playing the D minor chord above a,d,f. This idea may take a while to become familiar as some "neighbor" chords will be in the key while other out of the key. If you don't know harmony and all the key very well, take things slowly.

The main idea here it to think of ways to add rhythm and motion to your playing even though the chord doesn't change for one or two bars. You can get creative in this way without needing a lot of advanced keyboard technique.

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