Left Hand Cocktail Piano Techniques: Walking Bass

Have you ever wanted to learn how to play a walking bass style on piano? If so, this lesson offers the beginner an easy strategy for achieving a very nice effect. Once you feel comfortable with this simple approach to walking that bass with that left hand, you can become more and more creative as you develop your confidence.

Walking Bass On Piano Using Chord Tones

Our basic strategy is to use chord tones for playing those bass lines with the left hand. If you are confident with 7th chords on the piano, then you can use them. If your experience up to this point has been limited to playing triads (three-note chords), that's just fine! This left hand piano technique will work well for you. Again, this is a starting point. As you experiment more and more with this, you will become inspired to go "outside the box" and create more interesting left hand lines.

This beginning technique is being demonstrated in this video excerpt of a most popular video session entitled The Nitty Gritty of Piano Creativity, which is about 1 1/2 hours long and is jam-packed with piano styling ideas to enhance your cocktail piano skills (great stuff in this one for all levels, beginners to more advanced).

Why This Walking Bass Strategy Works

So, what makes this concept so easy to get a handle on? Well, imagine this: Let's say that you were blindfolded and asked to open the door to the next room. Although you were not able to see, someone walked you over to the door and placed your hand on the doorknob. Now, all that's left for you to do is to turn and pull... Presto! The door opens. Pretty easy, huh? Well, it's kind of like that with playing these left hand lines using chord tones in the fashion presented in the video above. Once your fingers are situated on the right keys, you won't be distracted by looking for which notes to play. Instead, you can place all your attention on having fun playing those bass lines!

As suggested in the video, keeping the volume low with that left hand will be conducive to more effectiveness. Remember, you are providing a support to what is being played with that right hand. You certainly don't want to overpower it. The lower notes on the piano keyboard are naturally "stronger" sounding on their own, so simply playing them delicately will maintain nice balance in your overall effect.

Beyond Bass-ics

I want to emphasize once again that this is a basic beginning. Creating lines with that left hand using only this strategy can sound great. This, of course, provides an incentive for wanting to continue exploring with more possibilities. Once you experiment with this left hand technique on your own, please send me an email letting me know how you are doing with this, okay? I always love hearing from my visitors!






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