Guide to Piano Styles

Glenn Sutton teaches guitar, electric bass, keyboard, theory and improvisation for over 30 years, he specializes in rock, blues, jazz, Latin, Brazilian, classical, country, and folk.

Piano Styles – Which Style Should You Learn

Introduction

Want to know the best piano styles you can learn? If so then make sure you read on below to find out the very best piano styles to take advantage of. You can find out the very best styles to make sure you can entertain in any environment or for any occasion.

Piano Practice

Studying the piano will often present you with a multitude of styles you can learn – and it’s important to familiarize yourself with at least several of those if you want to play truly good. This will not only allow you to more effectively play anything that comes your way, but you’ll eventually start making your own combinations to make your playing more interesting.

Many contemporary piano styles have their roots in blues, a style which puts an emphasis on major and minor pentatonic scales. Many blues pieces are based on the progression of three chords, commonly known as 12-bar blues. This makes use of the I, IV and V chords of a scale, in order to create the basic foundation for most musical pieces. Rock piano is one of the styles that has distinct roots in blues, and was further developed by Michael McDonald, Jerry Lee Lewis, Billy Joel, Elton John and other famous musicians of modern times.

Another style with similar roots is known as “boogie-woogie” – this was originally a solo piano style, but it progressed into other genres like country-western and gospel. It’s different from blues in the sense that it’s considered dance music, compared to blues which is more commonly associated with sadness and depressed moods.

Rhythm and blues piano is based on blues, jazz and gospel – as the name implies, the main emphasis is on the song’s rhythm. Most R&B pieces have a distinct swing to them, with a strong sense of syncopation.

Next up we have ragtime piano, which also uses syncopation heavily; ragtime is often considered to be the first truly American genre, predating even jazz. Jazz piano, in turn, combines a broad range of styles which are a bit difficult to describe – many piano styles utilize ideas borrowed from jazz, like improvisation.

New age piano is closely associated with less frequent chord changes with other styles – instead, it relies on simpler progressions and polychords. Often, it imitates natural sounds – brooks, wind, rain and other similar elements. A polychord refers to the situation where two different chords are played simultaneously, a technique inspired from earlier classical works by Stravinsky and other composers.

Gospel piano is very similar to blues, jazz and R&B – it puts an emphasis on exotic chords, and commonly has that distinct “swing” feel associated with the above styles. Gospel songs are rather simplistic to listeners, but in reality are quite complex and involved. Syncopation is a major feature of gospel music, as it adds to the general spiritual feeling of the whole sound.

Country and western piano are rooted in the same places like blues piano, with both styles coming out of earlier folk styles – often developed by the poor communities of the era. Many of the earlier country pieces have their roots in Appalachian folk songs, and country/western piano is most notable for its very bright, positive sound with simple chord progressions. Floyd Cramer is a particularly well-known name in this style.

Let’s not forget the classical style, the one with pretty much the most variations to it – classical music is older than other styles, and it’s the style most people learn at first. Most other styles borrow something from classical music, and all of them have their roots in it. In addition, music theory is heavily tied to classical music as well. This is probably the most difficult style to master properly.

Classical may be considered the high-end style of piano music, but this doesn’t necessarily have to be true – many people who’ve gone through classical tutoring have trouble adapting to the overall feeling of the style, and so they move on to other areas. All in all, it’s important to explore everything the piano has to offer in order to find your true style.

Glenn Sutton
Ozzie’s Music
12222 Poway Road,
Suite #27
Poway,
California 92064

Phone 619-306-3664
858-679-6997

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Interview with Glenn Sutton

Introduction to Learning Guitar

Benefits to Children of Learning Piano

Three different ways to play piano

Guide to Baby Grand Piano

Learning to Play the Piano the Easy Way


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