The Greatest

How Great is Great?

I aspire to be as great as I can be without killing myself.  I have advanced play-by-ear abilities and sight-reading skills and that keeps me happy.  I’m a homebody, love singing and having fun playing for the grade school choir.  However, the time I enjoy the most is when I’m  exploring my massive sheet-music collection discovering new songs.  That’s what I love; reading other peoples’ music; learning their styles; reading the lyrics of gifted pros (pun); and interpreting what the composer is trying to convey so clearly.  I can be a music nerd.  Show me new sheet music and I’m off running; hundreds of pieces played at times.  There’s nothing that rivals the thrill of playing new and unfamiliar music where the greatest songs are ones you never heard before.   When it comes to playing by ear, that’s an ongoing reality.

“You play everything by ear, even the stuff you read”

Reality sometimes preoccupies people with work and lovers and things other than the piano.  There are times when you might not touch a piano for months . . . or even years.  The big question is whether or not you can come back after a long hiatus and still sound like you never left.  That’s the power of knowing chords.  That’s the power of Command.

How do you get that good?

The first thing is to understand that Command really isn’t that good.  As a level, it’s high but really, compared to experienced-others who know chords and play with style, it’s only the first step.

A person in Command might not have great fingering skills but it’s having strong chording skills that puts you in a power-position.  Just like the guitar, if you know the chords, you can play anything.  The concept for the two instruments is identical.  Learn the chords and play for life.

Do you want to be great?  Great enough, for sure.  Never-forget-it great.


Joseph Pingel is a pianist, teacher and musicologist.  Click here to get the free companion book to this blog.

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