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Learning and practicing piano arpeggios are part of an important exercise routine for all pianists. But what is the best way to practice them?
Here's a free piano lesson where you'll learn some effective piano exercises as well as get helpful practice tips to roll those arpeggios!
Below you will learn about fingering and get tips on how to practice arpeggios. You can also print free (PDF) exercises and sheet music with arpeggios.
In classical piano technique, arpeggios and broken chords are studied as separate technical challenges:
So, arpeggios are broken chords, but in classical piano technique they are chords played over a larger part of the piano keyboard. The name comes from the Italian word for harp; Arpa.
What you create when playing arpeggios is a harp-like sound by spreading out a chord, played note by note (or broken), over one or several octaves.
is a broken chord too, but in classical piano technique, arpeggios and broken
chords are studied separately, since they have different technical challenges:
This pattern can also be played in different ways and with inversions. Usually, this is what is called to play an arpeggio.
Playing large arpeggios like this needs more practice since it is harder to do.
A good book for your library is The Complete Book of Scales, Chords, Arpeggios & Cadences. It gives you all you need and is a good reference book that all serious pianists should have.
However, after all is said and done... broken chords are arpeggios, and arpeggios are broken chords! : }
It's like etudes and exercises- they mean the same thing but the names are used as a description of different types of piano playing technique. Etudes are more like piano pieces, and exercises are more like technical exercises.
The difficulty for pianists when playing arpeggios over several octaves is to make the sound even and fluid.
Since you have to move your hand using the thumb-under motion and move your arm laterally, the difficulty is to avoid making “jerky” movements.
For smooth playing, it is first of all important to use correct fingering. This makes it easier for the hand to move as fluid as possible.
There are 12 major and 12 minor triads (3 note chords). In the root position, where notes are spaced only thirds apart, they can be organized in 6 groups of black and white key patterns.
Tip: If you practice all arpeggios in each group at a time, you'll learn the patterns faster!
Here are the groups: (W=White key, B=Black key)
A. With the right hand use fingering: 123 1235
For the following triads (Groups 1, 2, 4, 5, 6):
B. Use fingering: 412 4124
For the following triads (Group 3):
C. Use fingering: 231 2312
A. With the left hand use fingering: 542 1421
For the following triads (Groups 1, 2, 4):
B. Use fingering: 532 1321
For the following triads (Groups 2, 4, 5):
C. Use fingering: 214 2142
For the following triads (Group 3):
D. Use fingering: 321 3213
For the following triads (Group 5, 6):
Here are some really great thumb exercises to use before playing arpeggios.
They will help “loosen up” your thumb and give greater security when making lateral changes.
Regularly practicing these exercises will also make it easier to play arpeggios fast.
(From a text in the public domain. To download the free complete pdf, go here.)
Broken chords are easy to find in numerous compositions. Arpeggios are used in etudes and in some piano repertoire, but usually on more advanced levels.
Czerny wrote a few etudes that are not too hard but still use a lot of arpeggio movements. You can get all of Czerny’s op.849 in a good edition here: Czerny Etudes op. 849. I suggest you start with the Etude nr. 15, it is a very nice etude with lots of arpeggios for both hands. And a great workout!