I began teaching my piano students chording and they encountered challenges with minor 7 chords. So this is my way to make it easier. For some reason it’s hard to see and think a minor 7th visually. So change the way you look at it. The minor seventh chord is actually just a version of the I chord and very similar. It just adds a bass note a third below. C#m7 is just an E chord with a C# in the bass. An E chord is pretty simple to play and remember. But C#m takes some mental gymnastics.
Let’s use c#m7 for example since it’s frequently used when playing in the key of E and is spelled (C#EG#B)
- Play the 1st note of the chord in the left hand (c#)
- Take the 3rd (E) and think of it as a major E chord made from the 3rd, 5th, 7th (EG#B)
- It’s easier to think of c#m7 as E/C# for piano and even beginning guitarists can play this chord as an E since the bass and piano are carrying the C#
- I often write these substitutions above the minor 7 chord until the chord becomes friendly
- Common chord substitutions are
Am7 –A in the LH and C chord (CEG) in the RH
Bm7 B in the LH and D chord (DF#A) in the RH
C#m7 C# in LH and E chord in RH (EG#B)
Gm7- G in the LH and B chord (BD#F#) in the RH
Dm7 is D in LH and F chord in RH (FAC)
Em7 is E in LH and G chord in RH (GBD)
If you haven’t tried it, see what you think. My students and I typically find it easier.
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