From the category archives:

Gospel Piano

Black Gospel Piano – Its Influence and Its

by Erik Thiede on July 21, 2015

Gospel Formed Today’s Blues, Rock (R & B), Soul And Jazz

One approach to appreciating black gospel piano is to analyze its influence on other forms of music. A major source of musical inspiration is gospel piano, and through investigating its impact, we can recognize the value of its complete application. This is because in the course of history, a variety of musicians adopted the unique characteristics of gospel and used them to form the blues, rock (R & B), soul and jazz that we have today.

Click Here And Learn Black Gospel Music 101!

Ray Charles, Ben E. King, Sam Cooke, And Aretha Franklin

If you listen to the early piano work of Ray Charles for example, you’ll definitely hear black gospel piano. Ray Charles broke free from a Nat King Cole “sing-alike” reputation when he produced music to gospel tunes in 1953. “I Got a Woman” is a prime example of this phase in his career and he didn’t completely abandon the gospel influence until after the mid-1960s.

Gospel music also influenced the Ben E. King and Sam Cooke’s productions. As soul artists, both King and Cooke filled the air with modified gospel songs while Aretha Franklin, the daughter of a church clergyman, demonstrated more success with the style.

Gospel Music Is Church Music

From the 40s to the 50s, black gospel dominated the style of most black musicians, and thanks to radio it grew in popularity. But one of the controversies surrounding its popularity was the fact that gospel music originated from the church and thus considered a sacred entity. “Gospel music is church music,” proponents would say, “so it should stay in the church!”

Although the church audience agreed, the controversy didn’t seem to stop its popularity or its influence on future generations. Mahalia Jackson, the as the Soul Stirrers, Ruth Brown, Faye Adams, the Dominoes, the Midnighters and hundreds more continued to build an identity from the gospel effect.

A Solid Fixation In The Church

Despite it’s widespread use however, gospel music never died out. It went on to influence rock or ‘n’ roll, but it remained a solid fixation in the church. With such a strong impact on the history of music, we’re reminded of black gospel piano’s importance both inside and outside of the church because it has also promoted new interest in it. More and more pianists today express a strong interest learning how to play it.
Still Has A Lot More To Offer

It really is amazing to see how far black gospel piano has come, but there’s another point to consider – namely that we can now apply a past-present-and-future connotation to the music that it shares. Yes, we’ve learned a great deal about gospel piano thus far, but experience has shown it still has a lot more to offer. And that’s why its unique, time-all presence forces us to recognize its critical value and prompts us to accelerate its approaches. For depending on the effects, black gospel piano may yet influence newer styles of music that have yet to be discovered.

Further Gospel Piano Resources:

Click Here And Learn Black Gospel Music 101!


Learning to play black gospel piano chords can be spiritually rewarding, especially if you are employed as the piano player or organist in a gospel style church. This style of music really gets people in the mood to move, shout, and express themselves with great conviction.

It’s a good idea to understand basic chord structures before you begin to study this specialized genre. If you are just beginning to learn piano, or your skills are limited, I’d recommend you play in the key of C because, for keyboardists, it is the simplest key to master.

Click Here For A Complete Black Gospel Piano Chords Guide!

First, you need to know some basic terms when referring to chords. The key you are playing in is the tonic. The fourth step up in that scale is the subdominant. The fifth step up in that scale is the dominant.

The three chord progression of C, F and G will come in handy when beginning to play spiritual music. You will want to add 7ths as well as extended chords such as 9ths and 11ths. Gospel music is very expressive to match the enthusiasm of the preacher and the congregation. Compare the sounds of the two following examples of black gospel piano chords. They are shown here as Bass/Chord:

Style One:


Style Two:

C/C E/C9 F/F7 C/C

I hope you’ll agree, the second example is much more inspiring!

Another device used in gospel music has you matching the bass to the chord; then on the fourth beat, you play the subdominant chord, and then back to the tonic chord. It is difficult to describe in words, but once you hear it, you’ll recognize it. Mix those in once in awhile, but don’t overuse this particular device.

Finally, take your gospel playing to the next level with what is commonly called preaching chords or preacher chords. This is a complex, advanced skill but can be accomplished with memorization of certain elaborate chord progressions. Preacher chords are used when the preacher is in one of his emotional moments; his sentences are more like poetry, he often moans or grunts at the end of each phrase, and the excitement really builds. Your preacher chords are played after each of these phrases to create an audible form of punctuation. They are not intended to be played while the preacher is speaking, but rather to fill in the gaps.

Here is a relatively simple chord progression you can learn to back up a preacher. For this example, I’ll use the key of C.

Your first chord is the tonic 7th (C7). Play the first inversion (begin your chord on the E key). The bass is C.

Your second chord is the subdominant 7th (F7). You don’t need to move much here; begin the chord on E flat. The bass is F.

Now play the tonic diminished. Your thumb doesn’t move, so build the chord from there. The bass is the tonic’s diminished 5th note, or Gb.

The fourth chord is the subdominant again, but this time, play it over the dominant bass, G.

Repeat this progression, or vary it. How about that? You’ve got a great start to your side career of playing black gospel piano chords!

Further Gospel Piano Resources:

Click Here For A Complete Black Gospel Piano Chords Guide!


Taking Advantage Of A Free Gospel Piano Lesson

June 30, 2015

Skills Improve With Practice If there’s one thing that most musicians can agree on, it’s that their music gets better with practice. And so it is with gospel piano music. With a free Gospel piano lesson, you won’t only play Gospel better, but you will communicate with your audience better. All evidence for success seemingly […]

Read the full article →

Gospel Piano Lessons – How To Play Gospel Piano

May 31, 2015

Beginning gospel piano lessons can require a lot of commitment. If you don’t have the time and would like to learn the basics, print this page, set it up between you and a piano or electric keyboard, and get ready to play gospel in a few short moments! Gospel music certainly differs from popular forms […]

Read the full article →

Black Gospel Piano Lessons – An Introduction the Art of Creating Spiritual Music

May 22, 2015

1) Understanding Its Characteristics Can Effect The Way That You Play Certain traits attributed to black gospel piano lessons help distinguish them from their closest relatives: jazz and blues lessons. All three of these music styles share similar characteristics, but gospel tends to incorporate rhythms from a cappella music more than jazz or blues. And […]

Read the full article →

Spiritually Preparing For Gospel Piano Lessons

May 1, 2015

Gospel Differs From Blues And Jazz Because Of Spiritual And Historical Connotations If you’ve ever listened to blues music and jazz piano, then you must have noticed the similarities that both genres share with black gospel piano lessons. Quite often, the most significant difference between gospel piano and blues or jazz is the tempo, pitch […]

Read the full article →

What’s Inside The Gospel Piano Lesson (And Why…)

March 14, 2015

Grasp The Characteristics Of Gospel Music And Its Methods Become Almost Natural Crossing many cultural barriers, black gospel still draws crowds from those who seek to benefit from its strong allure. As a gospel pianist, you must ensure that you can lift your audience’s spiritual awareness with the necessary skills. But of course that’s easier […]

Read the full article →