Arranging Tip for the Pianist’s Left Hand: Broken 10th & Variations


The Broken 10th device most likely got introduced during a Nocturne by composer Frédéric Chopin. It’s a very rich sounding accompaniment for the pianist’s left hand, made with only the root, 5th, and 3rd of a chord. (If you take the 3rd out of the middle of a close position triad and transpose it up an octave it is now called the 10th.) Pianists with large enough hands may be able to play the 10th solidly as a chord, but those with smaller hands fear not – the video below shows 2 handed “cheating” ways to play walking 10ths, plus some lovely ways to break up 10th chords in a variety of rhythmic patterns.

When practicing the broken 10th, make sure you are first warmed up at the piano, use the pedal to help connect the notes if you have small hands, and swivel on the middle note (5th) of this LH device with a relaxed motion:

The next tips are related to the broken 10th, but are a bit more complex and modern sounding:

Now take a listen to this flute/piano duet of Water Is Wide. My daughter Melody Collins opens this tune using a left handed flute (everything is backwards on this instrument)! After my piano solo she switches over to improvise on her regular flute. Melody is a ballet dancer and exercise coach by profession, who felt she wanted to balance out her body with an even musical workout for both sides! Good thing playing solo piano can be an even body workout for both hands, right?




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