My Learning Project Part V


Today’s Chord of the Week is the minor7/flat 5, or m7/b5. 


This is a seventh chord with a flattened five! It is a super intriguing chord that can be used in jazz music and sounds great as the first chord in a progression, as well as the chord to return to after laying around or going off-script. 


This week, while I was playing piano and minding my own business at the church, my friend Philip came up to me and told me that I play the piano “like I wanted to break it”. 

I asked him what he meant by that the next day, and he said that I don’t have enough “dynamics” in the way I play. Being a drummer, I know all about the importance of controlling your volume, in order to give your music different energy. However, being a drummer also means that I still have a tempting tendency to bang on things. Apparently it translated over to my piano-playing.  My friend also explained to me that it’s important to use the sustain pedal to control whether what I’m playing is legato (long, dragged out notes) or staccato (short, abrupt notes).


I went to the internet and found this awesome video on how the pedal works and how to use it.

When pressed down, the sustain pedal causes any note you play to “sustain”, or to drag out and slowly fade, even if you remove your fingers from the keys. When you release the pedal, all notes that you played will stop. 

I learned that I had been using the pedal wrong. I would hold it down for too long, causing all of my chords to bend together in a muddy mess. The video revealed that if I release the pedal at the very moment that I begin the next chord, I can create a seamless transition between chords. My music sounds much more full and less harsh on the ears now. 


When learning new things, I think it’s a huge advantage to have other people involved in your process! Telling Philip that I wanted to learn piano and that I wasn’t just going through a phase meant that he was willing to give me advice on my process. Also knowing that the support I had was from a practiced pianist helped me get the right advice at the right time, and also drove me to seek out resources on the internet to help me. 

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