Moving from One Chord to Another

by Michael Boyce
(Perth, Western Australia)

My teacher has given me these three right hand chords to play with a blues walking bass line that goes from C-F-C-G-F-C.

He has written the chords as C = E G A C, F = Eb G A C and G = F A B D.

My problem is when I try to move from the G chord to the F.

Because my third finger is too thick to just play the F chord by moving my hand to the left,

I have to move it to the left and forward to play the G and A keys of the chord.

When I do this, my fingers keep getting all tangled up in the black keys that I have to reach across to play this chord.

Is there any easier way of doing this or is it just a case of practice, practice, practice until I get it right?

Maria's Answer:


Great exercise, and a nice "jazzy" chord sequence!

Yes, everyone has some trouble moving directly from this G chord to the F chord at first. Don't worry.

Yes, practice will solve it as you will try and try, and get more and more comfortable actually being tangled up with the black keys. Yes, really!

You could also try a quick fix, and use another fingering for the G chord. I assume you use finger numbers 1-2-3-5 for the other chords?

It's super easy to move from the F chord to the C chord since you only move one key, E to Eb with your thumb. Then, moving to the G chord you'll need to move all your fingers.

But try changing the fingering to 1-3-4-5 for the G chord. This means you keep your 3rd finger "stuck" between the black keys :) and only move your hand slightly.

(If your 3rd finger really gets stuck- try rotating it slightly).

It's also good to practice different chromatic exercises; (moving from one key to the very next a semitone lower or higher)
so you get more used playing on the black keys.

For example; practice playing a triad (a basic 3 note chord) a semitone higher (or lower) each time for one octave. In this way you have to move through all the black keys.

It's easy to get too "comfortable" playing mostly white keys, but playing with black keys will actually improve your hand position much more.

Finally, when working with my students dealing with the same issues; moving from white to black keys in for example chord progressions and scales, I try to help them see the hand movement as being "diagonal" through the black keys, up and down, and not "square".

It's not a movement first to the right or left and then straight "inward" on the keys, but, with as a small movement as possible, sliding diagonally up and right, or down and left in as a straight line as possible.

I hope this helped.
Happy Practicing!

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