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In the last lesson I told you that I would explain what I meant by a 1-4-5 progression. In order to do that let's backtrack a little to when we learned the C major scale. In learning the scale, we gave the notes names. The notes can also be numbered. The first note of a any scale is its root. In our case, the first note is C. If we count from C we'll get to seven when we get to the B note. The scale repeats itself at 8, which is the same note as the root, but an octave higher than where we first played it. Chord progressions are given as numbers so that it is easier to transfer them into any scale. Our 1-4-5 progression is made of the chords based on the first note, the fourth note, and the fifth note of our C Major scale. Those notes are C, F, and G. Chord progressions are normally given using roman numerals and that is how they will be represented for the remainder of the lessons.
Now that you know what our I-IV-V progression is and how to play it, I am going to teach you a simple song. Going as slowly as you'd like play a C chord twice, followed by an F chord, the C chord twice again, followed by a G chord, and finished with a single C chord. Play around with that set of chords for a little bit. You can add variations, such as playing the left hand note twice instead of once before moving on to the next chord, or playing each individual note of the chord separately instead of all at once. When you feel comfortable with the song you can begin to experiment with simple melodies.
You may be wondering how one even begins to experiment with melodies. We've all heard toddlers pounding away at toy pianos and making horrible noises; how can you be sure what you play will be pleasing to the ears. The truth is, I've already given you the secret. The notes in a scale automatically complement each other, and the notes of a chord automatically sound well with that chord. Play the song again. This time use your left hand to play the root as before, but with your right hand instead of playing the chord or playing each individual note of the chord in order, play the notes of the chord in any order that appeals to you. When you find a pattern, or melody, that you like, continue through the chord progression and play that pattern of notes with the notes that make up the chord you are playing.
In just a few short minutes you have went from looking at a piano keyboard and wondering where you start, to learning where Middle C is, the C Major scale, a few chords, a chord progression, and finally a simple song. As you learn more scales and techniques you will be able to expand on what you've learned and create more complex music. So, play around with what you have learned today. Get comfortable moving between the chords that I have taught you so far and then come back and see what I have in store for you in the next lesson!
Watch Part 1 - Learn To Play Piano.