Here's a riddle: What do you break to fix? Answer: bland blocked chords.

​Whether improvising teacher accompaniments or helping students dress up ho-hum arrangements, broken chords are a very useful trick to have in your bag. Broken chords sound great with lyrical, long-note melodies that beg for a busier accompaniment. They are also particularly well suited to tunes in 3/4 time because the three notes in triads easily convert to three beats. For example, instead of playing Amazing Grace as written below…

…you or your students could convert the written blocked chords to improvised broken chords.

​As students progress, you can demonstrate how to play extended broken triads.

​Advanced students may enjoy exploring open broken chords.

​Mixing open and closed triads creates wonderfully full accompaniments.

​Next time, we'll look at broken chord patterns in common time. Until then, enjoy your creative music-making journey.

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