A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

~Ecclesiastes 4:12

Chord: two or more notes played together at the same time to create harmonious sound.

I used to teach my students that the best way to improve piano playing ability was to get their chord knowledge to the point where they didn’t have to think about what they were actually playing. Fingers have a memory, and when practiced enough, eventually they will just automatically play an F#m2 without you even having to think about what that is. It can be a frustrating and painfully slow learning process, but over time it works wonders. I’ve seen it happen. ‘The Sheet’ became my miracle working scale technique whenever my students hit a rut.

One day when I was going through my billions of music books, I stumbled upon, ‘The Sheet.’ Just for humour sake, I sat down at the piano and I began to play as fast as I could from one chord to the next. Sometimes I burst out laughing thinking about how ridiculous the mix of chords sounded played together (and my husband actually asked me what on earth I was playing), and at other times I was pleasantly surprised to discover a few chord progressions that sounded rather nice together. Progressions I would have never thought to actually put together. Voila! A new technique of songwriting began (seriously, I use this technique when I’m trying to get out of my own self-plagiarizing ruts).

C7 Fm Fsus4 Ab Db6 Ebsus Fm A A/G# C#m E D Db Eb Eb7 Dmaj7 Amaj7 F#add9 F Dm7 Bb F Fsus2 C/F Eb Bbm Fm Bmadd11 Fm/Ab Gbmaj7 Db F#5 E6 Gmaj7(b5) B C  Amaj7 Dmaj7 A E/g# Bm Dsus2 F#m7 Ebadd9 Ab Bb F Fsus4 Abmaj7 Gm7 F/A C F A Fm7/Bb Ebmaj7/G Fm7/Ab Gm Ebmaj7 Csus4 C Dm7 Bbmaj7 G Am A C Cm Em Fm Fsus2 F D7 Bbadd9 Eb Bb Esus4 F Ab Abmaj Fadd9 Am C Em C/G E Bb F C Dm G D Bm A F#m D Asus G Em7 A G2 Bm G Bm G A2 G2 A/C# C G Am F Gsus D7sus C/E Am7 C Dsus A D C2 D/F# D A F7 F#m E D A E D A F#m E C#m Amaj7 E/G# B/D# A C7 Fm Fsus4 Ab Db6 Ebsus Fm A A/G# C#m E D Db Eb Eb7 Dmaj7 Amaj7 F#add9 F Dm7 Bb F Fsus2 C/F Eb Bbm Fm Bmadd11 Fm/Ab Gbmaj7 Db F#5 E6 Gmaj7(b5) B C  Amaj7 Dmaj7 A E/g# Bm Dsus2 F#m7 Ebadd9 Ab Bb F Fsus4 Abmaj7 Gm7 F/A C F A Fm7/Bb Ebmaj7/G Fm7/Ab Gm Ebmaj7 Csus4 C Dm7 Bbmaj7 G Am A Cm Em Fm Fsus2 D7 Bbadd9 Eb Bb Esus4 C Ab Abmaj. 

Piano

‘The sheet’ got me thinking…

Chords are a lot like people. There are millions of different combinations and progressions one could put together to create a variety of sound. Some people, when placed side-by-side, make beautiful music together. Others should probably stay as far away from each other as the bass clef is from the treble. They don’t blend. They are in totally different keys and sound a lot like a badly played diminished chord. While, some will never know the masterpiece they could create with someone else until they are shuffled, tested, tweaked, practiced and challenged at lightning speed. That’s what I love about songwriting. Sometimes it’s beautiful. Other times it’s not. But you don’t get to the beauty until you dig through the mistakes. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve stumbled upon a great riff by my fingers simply slipping.

I have all kinds of people in my life. Some ‘chords’ I make beautiful music with. Other ‘chords’ make me cringe and shutter and make me never want to ‘play’ with them again. But as a songwriter, I’m aware that every chord in and of itself is beautiful. There is absolutely no note, when played by itself, that doesn’t sound right. The challenge for all songwriters is finding the right complimenting notes. Once you find the right complimenting notes, you can start building your chords. THEN you can find complimenting progressions, making you well on your way to composing a great song.

Is this not a lot like life?

No ONE person is bad. No ONE person is wrong. No ONE person is useless. Every single person has a purpose in life’s orchestral arrangement; the challenge is to surround yourself with other complimenting notes so your life creates beautiful chords.

There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.

~1 Corinthians 12:4-6

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With a million things to do and not enough hours in the day to get it done, it's easy to zone out and slip into autopilot in order to survive. But perhaps life is not about adding more things to your already lengthy list, but rather, about pausing in the midst of it all to consider if what you're doing is really important.