If you are a beginner in piano playing, one of the musical pieces that you will have to encounter is the Chopsticks. The Celebrated Chop Waltz, or popularly known as Chopsticks is a simple waltz that is often played by beginners.
This piece was written by Euphemia Allen and she composed the piece during her teenage years, beat that? It also has some arrangements for solo or duet. Learning how to play Chopsticks on the piano is very fun and enjoyable, you won’t get bored!
There are a gazillion ways to play Chopsticks on the piano and if you are a beginner, you will find it a little bit tricky. So, you really have to get on to the details. Don’t worry because I will be here every step of the way. If you want to learn how to play Chopsticks on the piano, read on!
Some Piano Playing Tips for Beginners
Before I teach you how to play Chopsticks, here are some tips that could help you grow into becoming a fine pianist. You want to get better on this, right? Don’t stop reading!
Tip 1: Understand How Music Works
There are a lot of people who say that you don’t necessarily have to know music within its core and you could just play it by hear. This is a lie! Well, at least it’s far from the truth. Although there are a lot of individuals who are ‘gifted’ with musical inclination and intelligence, this is not the way you want it to be.
This is why you really have to know, understand and play the music by heart. Meaning, you have to learn and understand how scales are made, how chords and progressions are created and so on.
This is not only for you to enjoy but also for you to become a better pianist. Who knows? You might be the next Beethoven.
Tip 2: Know the Patterns, Don’t Memorize
There are a lot of people who ask professional musicians on what they do to memorize thousands of songs. The answer is very simple: they don’t. Shocking, right? You see, musicians especially pianists don’t necessarily memorize the songs that they play.
They understand and master patterns of these songs. For instance, some dozens of songs have the exact same pattern and while regular people become amazed of pianists who could play thirty songs without a copy of the piece, the pianist is smiling at the back of his brain because what he mastered is not the stuff in the song the its patterns.
Tip 3: Listening is Key
Just because you can’t play by ear doesn’t mean you aren’t a genius. Well, at least you can be one. The secret is listening. Can you hear a tone that goes up or down? Does it sound sad? Happy? Or scary?
Talk about blues chord which is rich in soul. All of the chords have emotions alongside with them. A major chord would sound happy and a minor would… sound sad, correct. Diminish chords sound scary and spooky while soulful-like feels are achieved by dominant chords.
Tip 4: Master Intervals
You should know, that musical intervals are the distances between notes. Intervals that are short are manifested in unisons, seconds or thirds while the larger ones are fifths, sevenths and so on. Two kinds of intervals include melodic and harmonic.
The former are distances between single notes that are played consecutively. The latter, on the other hand, are distances between notes that are played simultaneously. If you master these things, you could be able to hear what makes a song as it is!
How to Play Chopsticks on Piano
Preparing before Playing
Now here, we go to the real deal. Before you play the Chopsticks, you have to remember some of these things in order for your piano experience to become fun and effective.
Step 1: Place Sticker Notes
When you are a beginner and you find it hard to memorize which note is which, you could place a marker or a sticker for each key to show you the not that these keys hold. However, you have to be very careful not to damage your piano and NEVER right anything on it.
Step 2: Print the Music Sheet
There are tons of music sheets for chopsticks that you could find online. It is necessary for you so that you could play the piano while learning. But, when you memorize the piece anytime soon, you will not be needing it anymore but it could help you to at least refer to something.
The Tutorial with the Step by Step
If you feel that you’re ready, then let’s start playing!
Step 1: Hand Positioning
The first thing that you should do is to position your hands and turn them sideways over your home keys. You have to see to it that your pinky is closest to the piano. Remember, the original thought is that the movements of your hand will resemble a chopping motion is some sort. That’s precisely why the piece is called chopsticks!
Step 2: Fingers on Keys!
Now, you have to place your fingers on top of the keys. Make sure that your left pinkie is on the F key and the other pinkie is placed in the G key. If you feel like it, you could use notes or the stickers that you put on the keys before playing especially when you haven’t memorized the keys yet.
Step 3: Get Your Timing
To perfect this one out, try to think of a ticking clock- tick, tock, tick, tock. And with this, you count from one to six. Repeat it to yourself 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and every time you get on to three, that’s where you go to the ‘tock’. This would do the magic.
Step 4: Play the First Measure of the Song
Once you get an idea of the timing, play the keys E and G six times using your pinkie. If you don’t get this instantly, you could practice again and again. There’s no need to rush!
Step 5: Second Measure
Before proceeding, make sure that you have practiced and mastered the first measure. The second measure is played by moving your left pinky to the left where the E key is located.
Keep the other pinkie on the G as you move the left one. Using the same rhythm in the first measure, play the E and G keys six times. Then try to see if you already can move from the first down to the second measure.
Step 6: Move to D and B
Now this time, move your left pinky to D and the right pinky to B. Remember, this part of the song is a little bit complex so you have to really pay attention. Then, play the D and B keys on the same tick tock rhythm you did in the first two measures.
Step 7: Octave Part
After the previous step, the next thing you have to do is to move your fingers to C. Both of them should reach the C key however, instead of six, play the C key for four times only. Now you might be wondering what the last two notes are.
Step 8: The two Remaining Notes
The remaining notes should be also played by both pinkies. After striking the C key four times, left pinky should play both D and E keys while the right pinky plays B and then A.
Step 9: Start From the Top
If you have understood the above mentioned steps then you’re good to start again on top.
Step 10: Practice!
Last thing to remember is to practice. If you want to be a good piano player someday, you have to be consistent with your trainings and practices.
Learning by watching this video
Playing chopsticks is one of the easiest pieces there is for the piano to be played. If you have questions, inquiries or anything that you want to say, feel free to comment below. I hope you enjoyed this tutorial.
Don’t forget to practice and become better, okay? See you on to the next tutorial!