Arpeggios sound great – this is evident in their widespread use throughout virtually all periods of Western music, from Classical Music to present day pop and rock music!
Music students know that they are an essential part of music and must be thoroughly practiced. More experienced pianists can breeze through arpeggios very easily – however, playing arpeggios on the piano requires thorough, repetitive practice and an understanding of chords.
Here are a few tips on how to play piano arpeggios for beginners:
TIP #1: Understand WHAT arpeggios ARE
Firstly, before you start playing arpeggios on the piano, you need to understand what the word ‘arpeggio’ means, and the notes that make up an arpeggio. The origin of the word ‘arpeggio’ comes from the Italian verb ‘arpeggiare’ which means ‘to play like a harp’. It might be useful to listen to what a harp sounds like and you’ll find that harp players either play notes together at once or separately, plucking one string after another.
Playing arpeggios on the piano is similar – you can either play several notes together, forming a ‘chord’ – or playing them separately, breaking up the chord. Therefore, playing an Arpeggio on the piano is actually playing a broken chord! From here on, you probably have realized by now that in order to play arpeggios on the piano, you have to understand what chords are – major, minor, augmented, and diminished chords.
Studying chords requires a lot of reading and guidance from a good music teacher – but for beginners, we usually start play major chord arpeggios first. The easiest one to start with would be the C major arpeggio – for a 3 note arpeggio, that would consist of C, E, G using fingers 1, 3 and 5. For those with a wider stretch, you can try the 4-note arpeggio, consisting of C, E, G, and another C on top of that G, using fingers 1, 2, 3 and 5 respectively. You can play this arpeggio going up and down – that is, you can start playing from Middle C, going upwards to E, G, and the higher C, then moving down from that C again.
TIP #2: Practice slowly first
Playing arpeggios on the pianos requires your hand muscles to get used to the motion. For some people, particularly adult students, this may not be too difficult as adult hand spans are usually quite wide already, making it easy to play arpeggios on the piano without having to move the wrist. Nevertheless, it still requires practice to make sure you’re hitting the correct notes of the chord all the time. You can practice slowly first, making sure each finger can generate the same amount of volume for each note.
For children however, playing 4-note arpeggios on the piano would require having to make leaps on the piano with their hand – that is, having to move their hand position slightly to hit all the notes of the arpeggio. Getting a good piano teacher for kids is absolutely essential for beginners, especially if they want to play any piece with 4-note arpeggios!
TIP #3: Practice slowly first
Practice with both hands – playing arpeggios on the piano can occur on both hands in several piano pieces, so it’s important to practice both left hand and right hand arpeggios. Practice with hands separately first – you may find that one hand is better than the other, and that’s completely natural! Playing arpeggios for beginners may seem daunting at first, but with practice, as with anything in life, you will surely improve! For beginners, 3-note arpeggios are recommended first, especially for children or people with shorter hand spans (a standard hand-span is about an octave, which is 8 notes).
What’s more important however, is finding a very good piano teacher to guide you! Sign up for our one-to-one piano lesson to embark on a fruitful learning journey!