Piano for Pleasure

This may sound obvious, but perhaps not to all musicians. I discovered years ago that in terms of playing pleasure, I am able to get more satisfaction playing the piano than guitar. I’ve decided the reason is due to simple math. On the piano, I can play rich chords with 10 fingers whereas on the guitar, I’m limited to 5.

If you’ve ever played either instrument, you can probably relate to the notion of rich sounding alt-chords like Em7b5, or G13. There’s just something about playing along to a tune that calls out a G7 and knowing a few substitution chords that will give the song a more rich sound. This is really what the ‘Real’ Books are all about. Jazz standards are chock full of chord substitutions and they are a true joy to play. For the guitar player, it helps separate you from the pack a bit and that’s satisfying in its own right.

What I learned later however, is with the piano, you not only play the rich sounding alt-chords, you have options on the base line as well. It’s really just simple math. Having 10 fingers at your disposal, you have the chance to give the chord so much more on the low end plus the high end.

I had headphones on one night while I was playing a Jazz Standard. I forget which one, but it was probably either Misty or My Funny Valentine. The headphones allowed me to crank up the sound and get lost in what I was doing. I still remember, every time I hit one of those alt-chords on the piano, so absolutely amazing in its sound, I got a pleasurable feeling and had to do it again. I couldn’t stop and I knew deep down that while I was a guitar player at heart, the piano actually gave me more pleasure to play. If only I could read music better!

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