Fallin Alicia Keys Piano Licks: How To Solo For A Hit

fallin alicia keys pianoWant to learn some “Fallin'” Alicia Keys Piano Licks?

You’re in the right place.

In this lesson, you’re going to learn some licks and techniques from a live performance of “Fallin”.

These techniques will get your solo piano playing in great shape and wow your audience.

Let’s get started.

How To Play “Fallin'” Alicia Keys Piano Stride In 6-8 Time

First off, you need to get your left hand in shape to pull of this song.

In the solo section of the song, Alicia plays this nice stride piano figure in 6-8 time:

fallin alicia keys piano

All that she has going here is a i-V chord progression: Em7(9) and B7(b9).

Interestingly, she makes use of a classic stride piano move: playing the root note first followed by a rootless voicing.

Since Alicia’s playing in 6-8 time, she plays the root notes on beats 1, 2, & 3 and then plays the rootless voicing on beats 4, 5, & 6.

First, we have our Em7(9) starting with E in octaves followed by G-B-D-F# as the rootless chord.

Second, our B7(b9) chord has B in octaves and then F#-A-C as the rootless voice.

Before moving to the licks, practice playing these chords in a stride fashion with the left hand.

Once you get a hang of it, get ready for some right hand action.

How To Play An Ascending Alicia Keys Piano Run

Here’s a simple ascending “Fallin'” Alicia Keys piano lick you can start with:

fallin alicia keys piano

As you can see in the example above, it’s a simple E minor scale run at 16th notes starting from E to C. After that, it shifts to an 8th note idea D-G-G.

This lick borrows a lot from classical and romantic composers. It’s straightforward and it’ll help you launch into another contrasting idea moving in the opposite direction.

Here’s a clip of Alicia playing the lick:

To play this easy and fluidly, here’s a suggested fingering:

Using the standard five-finger position helps you play with more accuracy and confidence.

You can even learn this lick faster if you already how to play a minor pentatonic scale.

Since we’re talking about the five-finger position, how does it actually help?

One Important Piano Fingering Principle

Incidentally, the five-finger position is one of the best ways to play accurately.

Here are a couple of reasons why:

  • It’s easy to position your fingers over any triad plus the 2nd and 4th.
  • Consequently, this assigns your fingers to specific notes. For example, if you use a five-finger position over an E minor triad, you know for sure that fingers 1, 3, & 5 have E, G, &B, then fingers 2 & 4 are over F# & A
  • You can also come up with interesting patterns using the five-finger position.

Now that you understand why the five-finger position is very important, let’s look at another Alicia Keys lick.

Why Contrastic Melodic Ideas Are Important

This next “Fallin'” Alicia Keys piano lick follows a different contour from the previous straightforward ascending line.

Moreover, what we see here is a rising and falling pattern. This ultimately allows Alicia to descend to lower ranges in an interesting fashion.

Here’s the transcription with some recommended fingering:

fallin alicia keys piano

To make it faster for you to learn, listen to how Alicia Keys herself pulls it off:

The contrast in direction in this lick creates variety and excitement in the solo.

In keeping with the same theme, let’s look at another lick that Alicia uses in this song.

How To End A Fallin Alicia Keys Piano Solo Elegantly

At the end of the solo, Alicia plays a simple yet elegant sounding lick over two bars:

fallin alicia keys piano

Here’s a clip of Alicia Keys playing the above example:

By modifying the rhythm a little bit the Alicia Keys way, you can make a simple run sound elegant.

A Few Final Tips For Mastering “Fallin'” Alicia Keys Piano Licks

To really go further and make Alicia’s vocabulary your own, here are a few things you can do:

  • Learn the licks in all 12 keys.
  • Try out the lick in various chord progressions. Consequently, adjust the licks as necessary to fit the chords.
  • Create variations of the lick. Use the licks in various key signatures and adjust to fit.
  • Improvise over various songs and use the licks.

I hope you enjoyed this lesson on some of Alicia Keys’ licks.

If you have any comments, questions, or suggestions for the next lesson, feel free to leave a comment below.

Have fun practicing!


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Mark A. Galang, OTRP, MAM-MT(c)

Mark Galang is one of our contributors at FreeJazzLessons.com. He loves teaching all styles of music especially jazz, blues, rock, classical, and Christian music. Mark is also a licensed occupational therapist in the Philippines that combines music therapy intervention with occupational therapy.