In this tutorial, I will show you a great pop ballad accompaniment style for piano. Using basic major and minor chords plus this simple pop ballad pattern, you’ll be singing and playing your favoite songs in no time at all!
Learn to sing and play piano
Learning to sing and play the piano doesn’t have to take years. In my Piano for Singers series, I show you my simple method to learn to accompany yourself on piano. You can start accompanying yourself in a matter of days or weeks, rather than the years it takes with traditional lessons.
My method consists of a four short steps:
Step #1: Learn to play your major and minor chords on piano
Step #2: Learn some basic accompaniment patterns
Step #3: Learn a variety of songs to master these concepts
Step #4: Be awesome and get all of the gigs!
In this tutorial, I am going to show you another basic accompaniment pattern that works as a great stock accompaniment for a ton of songs!
Pop Ballad Accompaniment Style for Piano
This pattern shows up all over the play and can work for any ballad in 4/4 time, from The Beatles to Adele. There are literally hundreds of songs that this pattern will work for!
Remember that the patterns we are learning aren’t necessarily what the piano is playing on the recording. Instead, we are trying to recreate what the entire band is playing. This means you’ll be able to play songs by bands that don’t have piano in them. The musical world will be your oyster!
In the Pop-Rock Ballad pattern you’ll notice that your Right Hand plays four quarter notes, while your Left Hand plays a dotted eighth note followed by an eighth note.
Piano for Singers Practice Protocol
Here are seven simple steps for mastering your sel accompaniment skills. I know that seven steps seems like a lot, but each step works incrementally to build up your coordination. I find that taking the time to move through these steps will lead to being a much more confident self accompanist. My hundreds of students agree!
Step #1: Tap the Right Hand
Practice with a recording of the song, counting aloud if you need to.
Step #2: Tap the Left Hand
Practice with a recording of the song or the metronome, counting if you need to.
Step #3: Tap Hands together
Notice how the two hands relate to one another. Do they sound at the same time, just the right hand or the left hand? Take your time on this step, repeating it until it is no longer a struggle. (This might take a few minutes or a few days, depending on your experience level. Don’t rush this step!)
Step #4: Play the pattern on piano
Choose an exerpt of a song to get started and practice looping that small section over and over until you have mastered it. Once you can play it, move on to tackle the rest of the song.
Step #5: Tap and Sing
EVERYONE tells me how much of a struggle coordination is when you are singing and playing piano. The easiest way to build up your coordination? Practice tapping the rhythms in your hands while you sing. This will give you a chance to get the rhythms down before you add in the chord movements. For extra fun, sing and tap along with a recording of the song.
Step #6: Sing and play the song!
Now that you have taken the earlier steps, you are ready to sing and play the whole shebang!
Step #7: Try this on a variety of songs.
Once you have mastered this song, choose some more songs that share this same groove. There are tons of them!
Here are a few I recommend:
I’ll Stand by You – The Pretenders
Let It Be – The Beatles
Easy on Me – Adele
Eternal Flame – The Bangles
Fix You – Coldplay
Can’t Fight This Feeling – REO Speedwagon
Alone – Heart
Baby I Love Your Way – Peter Frampton
Glory of Love – Peter Cetera
I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing – Aerosmith
Piano Skills Are Worth the Effort
I totally get it: this feels like a lot. What is different about this approach is that it can actually take place over the period of a few months rather than a few YEARS. Why? Because in this approach you are actually developing the skills you need, rather than a bunch of skills that don’t actually serve you as a singer.
Think of what it would feel like to be able to sit down at the piano and sing and play your favorite songs.
Think of the opportunities this skill might provide for you.
Could you play solo gigs? Play at a nursing home? Could you lead your family and friends in a holiday sing along? Join a band and write and record your own songs? Could you just feel more like a musician and feel more confident in the musical language? Teach lessons or lead a choir?
Piano skills will help make all of these dreams a reality. You can do this!
Are you a singer who wants to jump start their piano skills? Sign up for my Crash Course in Piano Skills for Singers Mini Course and get started today!
For only $49, you get a full course that covers all the basics you need to get started on the piano. You’ll get video lessons, a printable book and weekly emails that will motivate and inspire you to make it happen.