In case you don’t know it, I’m here to help with an easy piano arrangement that includes a notated rhythm in the right hand (so you don’t sound like a square when you play it for all of your friends) and some super easy left hand voicings, called “shell voicings”
Here is a video with step-by-step instructions and sheet music to go with it.
Pay close attention to whether the notes fall on downbeats or upbeats and really make sure you hit it in the right place. Articulations are very important: a good rule of thumb for swing articulations is that quarter notes get played short and eight notes are played legato (connected). And last, don’t forget to swing those eighth notes! That’s not notated in the music, so you’ll just have to watch the video to get the feel.
Once you have the melody down and can play it with a swing feel, try to really lock it in by playing with the metronome on beats 2 and 4, like I do in the video.
Step 2: Left hand alone. The left hand uses “shell voicings” which are basically ways to play a chord that don’t utilize every note in the chord – sometimes they only have 2 notes in them! The voicings I use in this arrangement are either root + 3, root + 7, or root + 6.
In the arrangement of Beautiful Love I recently wrote for the Shed, I used some voicings that spanned a tenth in the left hand and I got a lot of comments that that was too big of a stretch. Understandably so, a 10th is not easy for all to reach. Well…the people spoke and I listened. You’ll be happy to know that these voicings are much easier to reach, spanning a 7th at most.
Step 3: Put it all together. Again, try it with a metronome on 2 and 4.
Step 4: Embellish the rhythm. Here’s where the fun starts. Get creative – first keep the right hand as is and just play around with the rhythm of the left hand. Then once you are comfortable with that, start to embellish the right hand. Switch up the rhythm, heck, go crazy and add a few notes here and there. Watch the video for inspiration.
Step 5: Improvisation over the Shell Voicings. Shell voicings are great to use in your LH while you improvise. They provide just enough harmonic and rhythmic support without being such loud and full voicings that they take up all the sound. They really let the right hand sing without getting in the way. No matter what your level of experience is, give it a try. If you are new to improvisation, stick to using Bb major scale or even a G minor pentatonic scale just to get a feel for it.
There ya have it…Autumn Leaves in 5 easy steps.