It's no secret that professional piano players use techniques that amateur piano players don't. So what else is new? Professional golfers use techniques that amateur golfers don't use (at least not very well), and pro ball players use techniques that sandlot and weekend athletes don't use -- or again, not very well. So it's not surprising that professional piano players have some tricks up their sleeves that the rest of us mortals don't have. But that doesn't mean we can't try to emulate the great pianists. We may not pull it off as well as them, but we sure can have a lot of fun trying, and who knows? Maybe a few of us can actually learn these techniques well enough to win some admiration from our friends, join a group, play for our own enjoyment, or whatever.
Here is a list of just a few of the technique the pros use when they play piano. There are more, of course, but this is a pretty good estimate of the most important skills: Pro Secret 1: Straddles. Leaving one of more notes out of a chord to create an open feeling. 2: 2/1 & 3/1 Breakups.
Breaking a chord up by playing part of the chord & then the rest of the chord. 3: Waterfall Chords. Broken chords cascading down from the top of the keyboard similar to a waterfall. 4: Tremolo-Fired Runs. Rapid-fire runs made of chords, but starting with a tremolo.
5: Half-Step Slides. Approaching the next chord from 1/2 step above or below. 6: Suspensions.
Using the 4th as a "hangover" instead of the 3rd. 7: Chord Substitutions. Harmonizing songs using different chords than the traditional ones. 8: Voicing in 4ths. Stacking chords in intervals of 4ths instead of 3rds.
9: Turn-Arounds. A chord progression that turns you around, like a cul-de-sac. 10: Introductions. Creating a front door for the song. 11: Endings.
Creating a back door for the song. 12: Transposing. Playing a song in a key different than it was written in. 13: Modulating. Getting from key to key smoothly.
14: Altering a Melody to Create a New Melody. Using neighboring tones to craft a new tune. 15: Inversions. Instead of always playing chords in root position, using a variety of "upside down" chords. 16: Creating Original Chord Progressions. Linking chords together creatively.
17: Echoes - Rhythmic, Melodic, Harmonic. The easiest way to begin the arranging process. 18: Touch. The difference between a sledge hammer and a pillow.
19: II7 to V7 Progression. One of the most common chord progressions. 20: Latin-American Rhythms. Using various rhythm patterns such as Samba, Bossa Nova, Cha Cha, etc. There are other techniques the pros use, and new techniques are always being invented.
But for a list of worthy goals for an aspiring piano player, this list will keep us busy for a long time.
For more information on piano playing secrets of the pros, please go to "Piano Playing Secrets of the Pros!"