Saturday, 17 January 2009

Color Chord Improvisation

This method is called Color Chord Improvisation” (CCI).

COLOR brings the art of life to the forefront. Think back to the times when you saw a rainbow. Those experiences linger within us even now. Our thoughts are romantic, happy, enthusiastic, imaginative, tranquil, sorrowful, passionate, daring, and refreshing. We feel young again. We are lost in our dreams. The hours pass in a flash. We have the urge to run to the end of the rainbow. We laugh until tears start rolling down our face.

The same happens when we sit still waiting for the sun to rise. Our eyes do not want to blink. The fiery ball is going to pop up any second. Every moment needs to be captured. We stare intently. The sky is painted a myriad of colors. Oh, the energizing colors of dawn! We are revitalized. We try to hold back our tears.

You, too, can experience such magical moments on this journey of learning to play hymns colorfully with flair. Songs are painted with chords of rainbow colors. Each color chord has its own distinctive quality of sounds. When splashes of color are added, they add sparks to our music. When old hymns are dressed up with contemporary color sounds, they bring out a fresh flavor. We feel uplifted.

Have you ever watched a painter move his brush across the canvas? The brush strokes of a good artist are swift and sure. He chooses appropriate combination of colors to make the picture blend in harmony. Different colors create different moods and atmosphere. He uses light and shade to create depth and dimension in the images. Like a painter, I show you the broad strokes of music. I also show you the details of colors in the actual application. Like a painter, you need to learn how to choose different color chords to harmonize your music into a beautiful masterpiece. Discover what these colors are and how different combinations of color tones can bring excitement to your music! Your piano playing will never be the same again!

CHORD playing is my main emphasis in the CCI method. You will learn many chords. There are the basic black and white triad chords, color chords, color chords with extensions and fancy alterations.

Here is a chart of color chords that are associated with the C chord:








C major


C minor


C two


C suspended

Csus2 Csus4

C six


C minor six


C augmented



C diminished

C o

C o7

C major seven


CM9 CM11 CM13

C minor seven


Cm9 Cm11


C seven

C7 C7/6

C9 C9/6




C13 (-9 -13)

C13 (-9 +11 -13)

C13 (+9 -13)

We use a variety of chords to express different musical ideas. The CCI method leads you to play advanced color chords quickly so that you do not need to plough through years of studies. Chord substitution and reharmonization techniques will be explored.

Many frustrated pianists are unable to translate complex chord symbols straight away onto the piano. I’ve bridged that gap for you by providing keyboard diagrams to help you visualize what color chords look like on the piano. What is seen in your mind can then be easily translated into your fingers. My approach helps you find chord color tones effortlessly, so that you can tap into the secret of playing in the flow.

IMPROVISATION is the art of creativity which makes all songs come alive and fresh. You can indeed play a song a hundred times, yet play it differently each time.

Don’t you love it when you watch people improvise freely at the piano? And don’t you envy people who just sit down at the piano and play music off the top of their heads? I had often said to myself, “That will never happen to me!” I always had this burning desire to improvise, but how? I always thought this is only for the gifted. Wrong! My CCI method will help you see things in a new way.

Life without improvisation is dead. Improvising is something that we are engaged in every day. Every time we speak, we are actually improvising. We speak spontaneously. We don’t speak from a prepared speech. We say whatever our minds direct us to say. We can also say the same thing in different ways depending on our mood, and how we want to emphasize our ideas. Our words are often painted with accents, dynamics, and variations of pitch. Playing piano is similar to speaking. Tap into the power of improvisation to express yourself freely at the piano.

For a long time, piano teaching has routinely focused on playing exactly note-for-note in the music composition. But playing piano is not cloning a piece of music. Think for a moment. Who would ever want to live a carbon copy of someone else’s life? Yet oddly enough, we think the correct way to play piano is to follow exactly someone else’s score and play them note-by-note. Living is an art. So is playing the piano. We are unique individuals. Playing the piano should reflect our unique voice and character. But why is it that our minds go blank when we play without a score in front of us? The thought of creating music at the piano frightens us. Why? We have been misled into thinking that the correct way of playing the piano is to play exactly what others write on music sheets.

Music sheets have their values but try to free yourself from depending on music sheets. Throw away the crutch. Improvise. You can do it. You must be involved in the playing. When your whole being is involved, your personality will come out. Your character can’t help but shine through. Your piano playing comes out fresh and alive because you are in the music, not someone else.

Be present when you play. Let go and enjoy the process of creativity. Be open. Be willing to take risks. Be vulnerable. Be transparent. Dare to be different. Learn to fly into new uncharted territory. I do this all the time.

Improvisation is difficult only because you block this possibility even before you give yourself a chance to start. Wrong thinking stifles inspiration. You freeze your creativity by saying, “I don’t know enough. I am not good enough. I am not ready.” You will never be ready with this kind of internal dialogue.

When will you be ready? You are ready the moment you sit in front of the piano.

That’s all there is to it. This is the approach I want you to take when you follow my lessons. You don’t need years of piano lessons to improvise. You can start even as a total beginner. Play intuitively. Let the music within you bubble out unhindered. All my beginning students are shocked to discover they can start making their own music right away. It works. You must let go of all self-criticism and let the music lead you. This is not something you can learn by reading a book. Even my video demos are only one of the many possible ways of presenting the music across. You must connect to the music and play in the moment. Don’t stifle your creativity. Let your intuition take full rein. Your piano playing will take off like a breath of fresh air.

Improvisation is the first step to composition. Composition is a sophisticated word for writing your own music. When we were in school, we learned to draw our own pictures. We learned to write our own stories. We even wrote poetry and haikus. But did we ever write our own music? Never! Nobody, not even our music teachers, ever encouraged or taught us to make music! It seems to be an area that’s off limits, reserved for the gifted Mozart and the talented few. We were always taught to learn someone else’s music and sing someone else’s song. The idea of composing paralyzes us. Yet, oddly enough, we all made our own music and sang our own songs in our cribs. We were already enjoying our world of music. From the beginning, we were born with this gift of creativity.

In my CCI method, I deliberately include a section on free play to rekindle this unattended gift. I provide a framework with guidelines to develop your improvisational creativity. There is a composer in all of us. It is about playing spontaneous music that is fully original. Our deepest fear is not that we feel inadequate. Remember, we were born with the capacity to create. Our deepest fear is that we don’t know where that art of creativity may take us. We feel insecure when we move into unknown territories. We feel vulnerable. We feel we are not in control anymore. Similarly, we are afraid to put too much passion into our life, into our work, into our relationships, into anything. We want to remain in the safety zone of moderation to cover and protect ourselves where no one can come in to criticize us or judge us. This is where the majority of the crowd prefers to snuggle down. Dare to launch out to experience the freedom of creativity.


My CCI method seeks to empower you to become a God-pleasing musician. A good pianist is one who is able to deliver a thoughtful and powerful spiritual message to those listening. Your life needs to be in harmony with the Lord. Be a spiritual person and let God’s glory be manifested through your playing. Always remember that your piano is your instrument of service and that you are communicating a message at a deeper spiritual level.

Music is a living experience. Do not be detached. Let music touch you. Your heart will then be grabbed to hear the various color sounds, like the T*H*U*M*P*I*N*G of the heart. It is like falling in love all over again, feeling its magic and all its extreme rainbow colors of contrasting emotions: joy and sorrow, love and hate, calm and turbulence, longing and aching, hope and excitement, disillusionment as well as surprising fulfillments.

Let your favorite hymns burn within you.

Let God’s Spirit move in you.

Can’t stay neutral anymore.

Not I, nor you.


  1. Sounds GOOD, I like it.
    Thankyou for sharing. Where can i buy your book?

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

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