Five Essential Seventh Chords Practice Sessions

Practice Session 4: Playing the Chords to “Night and Day,” “Softly” and “There is No Greater Love”

Objective
To learn the chords to three tunes “Night and Day,” “Softly” and “There is No Greater Love.”
Task
Play the chords to “Night and Day,” “Softly” and “There is No Greater Love” using the five essential seventh chord drill.
Procedure
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As you read each chord symbol of the tune in the notation gallery below, play through the drill to find each chord. For example, the first chord of the tune is F-7b5. Follow the steps of the drill as described below to find the chord:

With your left hand, play the major scale that is the same as the root of the chord. In this case F. Play the scale in the mid-range of the piano where chords sound best.

Play 1, 3, 5 and 7 of the scale together to form a chord. This forms the major 7th chord, Fmaj7.
Alter 7, 3, 5 and 7 again by half step in that order to find the chord you are looking for.
Lower the 7th by half step to get F7
Lower the 3rd by half step to get F-7
Lower the 5th by half step to get F-7b5 (you would stop here for F-7b5)
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Continue to play each chord of the tune in this way. As you play each chord try to memorize the notes of the chord. Pay attention to what each chord sounds like and looks like, e.g. the chord is all white notes, all black notes, pattern of black and white.
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When you have played the whole tune while using the drill go back and play the tune again three more times. With each chorus you should try memorize more of the chords to the tune. The chords are notated for you in the notation gallery below. To turn the page, swipe (on touchscreen devices) or press the navigation arrows on PCs (hover over the notation to reveal the arrows).
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Play the chords to the tune again but this time with the playalong at 80 bpm. If the playalong is too fast you can download the playalong source files and change the tempo using band-in-a-box or a sequencer of your choice.
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Continue to use this drill to play through the chords of “Softly as in a Morning Sunrise” and “There is no Greater Love.”
Chord changes to "Night and Day"
Chord changes to "Softly as in a Morning Sunrise"
Chord changes to "There is No Greater Love"
Self Assessment
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If you played all the chords correctly and in time with no mistakes, move on to the next practice session.
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If you played most of the chords correctly and in time with a few mistakes, try it again at a slower tempo, say 60 bpm. Once you can play it with no mistakes at 60 bpm, increase it until you can play it with no mistakes at 80 bpm, then move on to the next practice session.
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If you played few of the chords correctly and with several mistakes try it again at a slower tempo, say 60 bpm and write out the notes of the chords that you had trouble playing on the lead sheet. Read those chords while you play it again. Erase them as you learn them on the keyboard. Once you can play it with no mistakes and without reading the notes of the chords at 60 bpm, increase it until you can play it with no mistakes at 80 bpm, then move on to the next practice session.
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If you were unable to play any of the chords in time review the lesson. Feel free to ask questions about anything that you don’t understand. Try it again at a slower tempo, say 60 bpm and write out the notes of the chords that you had trouble playing on the lead sheet. Read those chords while you play it again. Erase them as you learn them on the keyboard. Once you can play it with no mistakes and without reading the notes of the chords at 60 bpm, increase it until you can play it with no mistakes at 80 bpm, then move on to the next practice session.
Next Steps
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What Next?
Continue to read through tunes from the Real Book by playing the chords with your left hand and using the drill to figure them out. Start at page 1 and work through the entire book. When you reach the end of the book you will have all 60 chords memorized and will be ready to watch the Rootless Voicings with Added Tensions series of lessons.
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Tips and Exceptions
As you read through the Real Book you will encounter chords that weren’t covered in the lesson. Don’t panic! They are in the minority and easy to figure out. For now, focus on learning the 5 Essential 7th chords. In the meantime beware of these exceptions:

Ignore any chords that you don’t recognize (for example, C6, Cmaj6, C-maj7, C+7, Cmaj7b5, C7sus4, etc.) Write them down or circle them in the book so that you can work on them later. In some cases you may be able to infer their spelling from your current knowledge. For example, Cmaj7b5 is a Cmaj7 chord with a flatted 5th. C6 or Cmaj6 is a C major triad with an added 6 instead of a 7th. C+7 is a C augmented triad with a minor 7th. C7sus4 is a C dominant 7th chord with a 4 in place of the 3.

Ignore the bottom note of slash chords. If you see Db7/Ab just play the Db7. The bottom note is used to indicate the bass note of the chord.
Ignore tensions. Tensions are the 9, 11 and 13ths of chords. They are often preceded by sharps or flats as in this chord: C7#9. Don’t worry about them yet. Play that chord as a C7. Tensions are covered in the Rootless Voicings with Added Tensions lessons.
Triads are chords without a 7th. These are built from the first 5 notes of the major scale. 135 for major, 1b35 for minor, 1b3b5 for diminished, 13#5 for augmented and 145 for suspended (sus). That’s all of them! You can figure these out from the major scales.
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Forge Ahead
When you begin reading through the Real Book it will be slow and difficult and it will be a lot of work. Keep at it! This is important work. Eventually you will find that playing the chords will get easier and faster and you will rely less and less on the drill. As it gets easier for you to play the chords, add the melody to the tunes in your right hand. By the time you reach the end of the book you will be enjoying learning the tunes and will be unaware that when you started the book you couldn’t play any of these chords. You will feel very triumphant when you reach this stage!
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Help!
This is a lot of work. If you get stuck, confused, frustrated or need help for any reason contact me and I will get you through it.