In today’s Imagine piano tutorial I’m going to teach you one of the most recognizable piano riffs of all time.
Inside this lesson you’re going to learn how to play the intro riff to Imagine.
You’ll explore the 3 different chords that are featured in this particular lick.
Also, you’re going to learn a very useful chord pattern that you can use in tons of other songs.
Sounds like a good time right? Great! Let’s jump right into your Imagine piano tutorial. Get started now!
Imagine Piano Lesson: Video Tutorial
Watch this 4 minute video. I’ll walk you through step by step how to play the famous Imagine piano lick.
Special note! Make sure that once you’ve finished watching this tutorial that you scroll down. There are some added tips that will really help you master this lick and improve your piano skills too.
Learn Imagine Faster Than Ever With These Tips!
Tip #1: You’ve Got To Know These 3 Chords
Great! You’ve completed watching the video tutorial.
You should have noted that there are 3 different chords featured in this classic intro phrase.
Let’s learn how to play them. For your convenience here are the notes written out.
Chord #1: (C chord) – Left Hand: C Right Hand: C E G
Chord # 2: (CMaj7 chord) – Left Hand: F Right Hand: C G B
Chord # 3: (F chord) – Left Hand: F Right Hand: C F A
To get these chords under your belt you should practice each chord so it feels automatic and super easy to play.
Tip #2: Don’t Miss This Little Guy
Now, do you see anything interesting about any of these particular chord voicings?
If you picked out that (Chord #3) was in 2nd inversion then go ahead and give yourself a pat on the back.
Being able to recognize chord inversions is a great thing. They’re incredibly useful from a hand efficiency perspective.
Plus, they’re essential for you play rock and pop piano on a high level.
Note! Inversions are an easy way to add variety to your basic chords. So, be sure to start using them in your own tunes if you haven’t already.
You and your audiences will really enjoy how they sound because they lead so smoothly from one chord to the next.
Ok, now that you know the chords featured in this Imagine piano tutorial let’s discover your next tip.
Tip #3: How To Break Up These Chords Like A Pro
One of the cool features of this riff is how Lennon breaks up the chords.
You’ll definitely want to model the pattern that he does.
Basically he’s taking a full chord and playing the top 2 notes and then pivoting off the bottom note.
This is a phenomenal way to create forward motion instead of playing block chords all the time.
Now, that you understand how to break up the chords let’s jump into how to nail the rhythm. It’s ultimately all about the rhythm so do not ignore this section!
Tip #4: How To Lock In Your Rhythm
Now, something that I always urge my students to do is to count the beats out loud.
Whenever you’re learning a new lick or tune always count out the beats. Your rhythm skills will thank you in the long run if you do.
So, how do count the beats in this lick?
Let’s run through the timing together.
Chord #1 – C chord
- Beat 1 – Left Hand: C Right Hand: E G
- AND of 1 – Left Hand: C Right Hand: C
- Beat 2 – Left Hand: C Right Hand: E G
- AND of 2 – Left Hand: C Right Hand: C
- Beat 3 – Left Hand: C Right Hand: E G
- AND of 3 – Left Hand: C Right Hand: C
You can clearly see when writing the beats and chords out the top to bottom arpeggiation pattern and the pivoting motion working together. Pretty cool right?
Now, on beat 4 you move to the next chord in the progression. This is a CMaj7 chord. Here’s how you play it.
Chord #2 – CMaj7 chord
- Beat 4 – Left Hand: C Right Hand: G B
- AND of 4 – Left Hand: Still C Right Hand: C
After playing your CMaj7 chord you move into your final chord of the progression.
Pay special attention…
You’re now back to beat 1 of the next measure!
Chord #3 – F chord
- Beat 1 – Left Hand: F Right Hand: F A
- AND of 1 – Left Hand: F Right Hand: C
- Beat 2 – Left Hand: F Right Hand: F A
- AND of 2 – Left Hand: F Right Hand: C
- Beat 3 – Left Hand: F Right Hand: F A
- AND of 3 – Left Hand: F Right Hand: C
After you’ve done playing your F chord you’re almost back to the beginning of the riff.
There is just 1 move left.
Tip #5: How To Play That Classic Imagine Fill
On beat 4 of the second measure you’re going to play a famous little run.
This get you back to the top of the phrase.
Written out it the little motif looks like this:
- Beat 4 – Left Hand: F Right Hand: A
- 16th note after Beat 4 – Left Hand: F Right Hand: Bb
- AND of Beat 4 – Left Hand: F Right Hand: B
To put it more simply….just go up chromatically from A to Bb, to B in your right hand.
Congratulations! You’re back to the top of the phrase with your C chord coming in on beat 1. Pretty simple right?
Again, counting out loud is vital to figuring out the rhythm of these chords and also really helpful with figuring out this little fill at the end.
It’s time now to bring everything you’ve just learned together. Be sure to try playing it in front of friends or family, everyone will enjoy this classic lick!
If you enjoyed learning this riff as much as I enjoyed teaching you then let’s take your piano skills a step further now…
How To Expand Your Piano Skills Even Further
I want to help you become a monster piano player. So, let’s take a look at some additional piano lessons for you to explore
If you enjoyed this Imagine piano lesson then I know you’ll also really enjoy this Let It Be Chords Lesson.
You get to learn how to play one of the most iconic melodies in pop music history!
But there’s still so much more…
You should also check out this Piano chords tutorial. Inside you’ll learn how to add the 9th to your standard chords and make them twice as interesting!
Also make sure you check out this exciting and fun Take On Me Piano Lesson. If you like anything 80’s this one will be a blast.
If you want to explore another rock icon then I also encourage you to check out this Purple Rain chords tutorial. I’m a huge fan of Prince and had a lot of fun teaching the chords to that song.
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Until next time enjoy your piano practice.
If you have any questions or comments about this Imagine piano lesson or the video tutorial above please leave your comments in the comments section below. Thank you!