Robert Estrin - piano expert

The Best Piano Exercises (Part 3) - Broken Seventh Chords

Learn how to play all seventh chords as arpeggios

In this video, Robert shows you how to play all seventh chords, in any key, as arpeggios. These exercises will teach you basic "patterns" that you'll be able to apply to any kind of repertoire.

Released on July 9, 2014

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DISCLAIMER: The views and the opinions expressed in this video are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Virtual Sheet Music and its employees.

Video Transcription

This is and and I'm Robert Estrin, your host. Today is another series of technique videos, building your technique without having to learn devious exercises, just patterns that you can instantly figure out and work on to develop your technique and strength. Today's exercise is broken 7th chords. As long as you know all your 7th chords, you can play them in all keys as arpeggios. Why just do major and minor triads as arpeggios. You can do all your 7th chords in arpeggios and what a great way to build your technique, not only that you'll find that when you come to a passage of music that incorporates broken 7th chords, you already have the technique mastered from doing this exercise in all keys. So, we start with the major 7th chord then the dominant 7th chord, the minor 7th chord, half diminish 7th chord and diminish 7th chord. Now, why that particular order? The beauty is that in each chord, there's only one note that has to change. So, if you have a C Major 7th chord, you go to dominant, the top note goes down to B flat. Go to minor, the 3rd goes down to E flat. Half diminished, the G goes down to G flat and fully diminished, the B flat goes down to B double flat. So, one note changes each time that you have a new 7th chord. But you play it up in arpeggios all the way up and down the keyboard in four octave like this.

And notice I went on to the D flat and then you could do all the 7th chords on D flat, then on D and you go through all your keys until you're really comfortable with them. Eventually, the speed will be so quick that you can go through all 12 of your keys in just a few minutes and boy, you got a lot of fluidity in your technique. I hope this has been helpful for you. Try it out, let me know how it works for you. Once again, I am Robert Estrin here at and See you next time.
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Comments, Questions, Requests:

Jim Bennett on August 28, 2021 @1:37 pm PST
Is the fingering for the right hand for all of these arpeggio simply 1234, 1234, 1234? And I assume the fingering for the left hand is 5432, 5432, 5432. Is that correct
Ken Cory on April 19, 2018 @12:24 pm PST
A good chord to add to this regimen is the minor-Major 7th. It's an important chord in itself, but it also participates in two more chords: the 13#11 and the aug#9
Robert Estrin - host, on April 20, 2018 @12:40 pm PST
I'll try that out - sounds like a good addition!
marilyn * VSM MEMBER * on August 20, 2014 @11:48 am PST
I have appreciated your exercises online. I am accompanying a praise team at our church and the director often wants me to make a short key change between verses of a song going up a whole step, but with a descending bass line do you have an exercise or pattern I can use in all keys so this is more natural for me?
Robert - host, on August 23, 2014 @3:30 pm PST
Modulating to different keys can be accomplished simply by playing the dominant 7th chord (V7) in the new key. So, if you were in C major and wanted to modulate up a whole step to D major, you would play an A7 and resolve to D. So the bass line would go from C, down to A and up to D. Hope that helps!
Duke Goodwin on July 10, 2014 @6:19 pm PST
Hi would like to have some discourse on using 4 th intervals in melodic structures
Duke Goodwin on July 10, 2014 @6:17 pm PST
Hi just thought that you should have included the sus 4 arppeggio; to me the usefulness of this chord and arpeggio in contemporary music is unsurpassed in importance.
Robert Estrin - host, on July 11, 2014 @1:17 pm PST
There are countless possibilities for arpeggios! You can expand the basic 7th chords with rich harmonies including 4ths, 6ths, 9ths, 11ths, and 13ths. You are welcome to share anything you come up with.
Benjamin on July 9, 2014 @5:29 am PST
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