Chord Symbols: add2 or add9? (includes my video on using added ninth to chords)

Hi everyone!  I received a question online today (on my YouTube channel), an excellent one, and one which is subject to debate.  The question is in response to one of my videos about using add9 chords on piano.  (A link to the video is included below.)

I thought I would share the thread here:

VIEWER: Isn’t the D in Cadd9 supposed to be an octave higher? I guess I’m just confused as to why it isn’t Add2 instead.

ME: Hi Jordan, this is a very good question, and one that is subject to debate. Technically, the voicing of these add9’s that I am using here are really “add2”. In general practice however, add9 is favored in chord symbols found in sheet music, and is meant to imply add2 or add9, depending on the voicing choice of the player. It’s interesting to note that add9 chords played on guitar have the ninth tone on top sometimes, and sometimes the 9th is not the highest tone, often depending on ease of finger positions. This is also true in a piano player’s choice of voicing. Again, to recap, add9 technically has the 9th as the highest tone in the voicing, as you indicated, but when using chord symbols, add9 is preferred for either one.

 VIEWER: That definitely makes more sense. Thanks for the clarification.
ME: Certainly, your question is much appreciated! Two other interesting points: A very popular, jazzy left-hand voicing for the MINOR 9th chord (as in Am9) — which, by the way, is NOT an add9 chord, because it also contains the 7th (I talk about that difference in the video) — is this, using Am9 as an example: G, B, C, E, where the root is implied, and can be played before or after the first cluster (or covered by the bass player). I bring this up because here you can see that the “9th” is not the top note in that particular voicing. (You might try that out, it sounds very cool!) Another thing: In my full two-handed voicings in the video, such as Cadd9, left hand plays C and G, and the right plays C-D-E-G. On close inspection you will note that the 9th (the D) is actually voiced far above the root (the left-hand C). But that is not mandatory to voice add9 that way, just a certain nice-sounding choice.
 Here is the video lesson which prompted the question:
 See ya soon!

Learn about the Major pentatonic scale, and its cousin, the “Relative Minor” pentatonic (video lesson)

Learn about the Major pentatonic scale, and its cousin, the “Relative Minor” pentatonic scale (a video lesson). The relationship between any major scale (or key) and its relative minor scale or key is explained here as well, in terms of traditional music theory.

Video: Pentatonic scales, Major and Minor

“A Study in Blues Piano” Course Coupon (starts now, offer expires 3/31/2018)


Coupon Expires March 31, 2018: Here’s a handy dandy discount coupon for my “A Study in Blues Piano” on Udemy: Lifetime access for just $12.99. (List price is $29.99.)

The Course at $12.99 (coupon is automatic)

or use coupon code 88KENT when purchasing.

Please share this with your musical friends!

Expires March 31, 2018 so act now! 



If you miss the coupon window, the course can be accessed using the link below. Sometimes Udemy sets their own temporary discounts, so you could get lucky!

The course at regular price ($29.99)


Openings Now for 5 or 6 Piano Students (Private Lessons)

Hi folks, I have new slots for five or six students, in or near Huntington Beach, California.

I’m offering lessons in Jazz, Blues, Rock, Pop, Folk, etc., piano or keyboards.  Sorry, no slots are currently open for classical piano, although if you want to learn to read music as part of your “pop” studies, we can do that.

Levels taught: Beginner, intermediate, advanced.

Lessons are 45-minutes, once per week.  In-home lessons are available.

Please call:


for more information!


Beethoven’s Für Elise – Slow-motion video for reference

Here’s a slow-motion demonstration of the notes to Beethoven’s Für Elise.  Shown here is the most well-known first section of the piece.

This is not a performance video.  Meaning, you can’t take cues from this video on the phrasing, dynamics, tempo, pedaling, etc.  However, many people find it useful to have a reference like this, especially those who play by ear, and are simply trying to acquire the notes.



A Good Way to Learn All Your “Thirteenth” Chords (by Pattern, NOT by Rote)

Hello again, piano people!

Todays’ post is about learning “thirteenth chords” on piano. In this video, you will learn a good way to learn and retain all twelve of the standard 13th chords without resorting to rote memorization.  In my experience,  I discovered early on that learning scales and chords by rote — that is, note-by-note, without any understanding of the patterns they all have in common — is the worst way to go.  Learning the underlying patterns that consistently define all scales and chords is absolutely where it’s at!


More on “Fourth Chords”

Ain’t life grand? As in grand piano?

Here’s a follow up to my recent post about “Fourth Chords.” I made this second video to give more insight regarding how “fourth chord” shapes can be superimposed over various roots, to create refreshing voicings for standard chord types, such as major, minor and dominant seventh chords.  The goal here is to focus on the practical side of putting these shapes into use!

Video: Fourth Chords, Part Two

Learn a 12-Bar Intro for Blues — Plus the Start of a Solo

Hey Blues people!  Wassup from the OG (Old Guy). Let me show you this nice 12-bar opening, to get your jam started. I’ve also included something to get your improv going after the intro.

The Blues Piano Crash Course (first 5 lessons)


NOTE:  You can buy this entire course here The Blues Piano Crash Course++

You might be interested to know that the information in the first two lessons below was shared with me when I was fourteen years old, at a time when I knew zero about playing piano.  I did have seven years of drumming experience by that time, however.  The guy who showed me this stuff was a drummer as well.  Since I had the advantage of good two-handed coordination skills on the drums, and the additional advantage of piano being a percussion instrument, I was able to go home that afternoon and start seriously jamming on my parent’s piano.  My dad came home from work that evening and he said, “When did you learn how to play the piano?”  I’ll never forget that day! After about a year, I was playing keys in a band.  I started taking formal piano lessons, and eventually I got a college degree in piano and general music.  In other words, Blues was the beginning of my entire career as a piano and keyboard player.

What does all that mean for you?  Assuming you already play either a little piano, or another instrument, there is enough raw material in this post to get you seriously going on blues piano.  On completion of the first few lessons below, you will already have enough information to start sounding like you actually know what you’re doing.

As with all other video-based lessons on this site, it is not necessary to read music.

“Music is like magic.  If you convince the audience, you are a success.” — Me

Lesson One:  The Blues Scale

Lesson Two:  A Left-hand Groove

Lesson Three:  Five Must-know Riffing Devices

Lesson Four :  The Classic “12-bar Blues” Progression

Lesson Five:  Coordination Practice

NOTE:  You can buy this entire course here:

The Blues Piano Crash Course++