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Keyboard Accompaniment III-A

Alicia Morgan
Also available online at http://aliciaskeys2keys.blogspot.com Alicias Open Counseling hours this quarter are: Tuesday 3-4 in Room #263 Wednesday 3-4 in Room #270 Email with questions aliciamorgan@gmail.com

Table of Contents
Keyboard Accompaniment for Singers
Level III The Language Barrier Knowledge Is Power, or Chain of Food

3 3 6 7 10 13 13 13 13 14 14 14 15 15 15 16 16 17 17 18 19 19 20 22 23 23 28 29 31

Keyboard Accompaniment Level III-A FAQ Keyboard Accompaniment Level III-A Syllabus
Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4 Week 5 Week 6 Week 7 Week 8 Week 9 Week 10 Week 11

The Basics
Why Scales? Elements of Scale Work Fingering Metronome Getting Started Practicing Guidelines and Tips

The Next Level: Making Music Out Of Chord Changes

Keyboard Accompaniment Level III-A

Scales - C, F, G First Song Voice Leading Practice Log

Keyboard Accompaniment for Singers

Level III
Alicia's Keys - A Guide To Help Singers Become Keyboard Players, Win Friends, and Influence Musicians (or, Musicians Are From Mars, Singers Are From Venus, and Club Owners Are From Uranus!)

Why do I need to play keyboards? Im a singer. Im already good at what I do. Im never going to be a professional keyboard player; I can always hire somebody who is better than Ill ever be. Ill never be any good, so why should I bother? Plus, I already play acoustic guitar. Its too hard, and I dont want to waste my time learning keyboards when I could be learning something that will make me a better singer something that I can really use. Guess what? Playing keyboards will make you a better singer, and its not only something you can use, its something you cant afford to do without. In this course, my goal is to turn you from a singer into a musician. Why do I need to be a musician? Whats wrong with being a singer? If youre taking this class, youve been singing for a while now. You may have noticed that singers and players dont always see eye-to-eye. Have you ever felt as if players dont respect you? I thought so. Since time immemorial, there have been singers. And there have been musicians. Occasionally their orbits cross, but all too often, they find themselves floating on opposite sides of the galaxy, unable to communicate because they don't speak the same language. (Please note that what I'm about to say is a very broad generalization. There are musicians who understand and appreciate singers, and vice versa, but I would be very surprised if any of you have not noticed this in your own experience at some time or another.) Musicians and singers have many misconceptions about each other. Often, musicians see singers as non-musicians, as people who haven't done the work they've done to learn their instrument. Many musicians are frustrated by what they see as an unfair advantage that

singers seem to have, in that they often are paid more because they are dressed up and out front while the musicians do the heavy lifting, both physically and musically. They do all the work, and the singers get all the attention. And when it comes to humping equipment, the singer is nowhere to be found while the musicians are setting up and tearing down. Often the singers know little or nothing about sound equipment, or even what kind of cord they should use to hook up their mic. Another area of difficulty is when singers have little or no education about the music they sing, such as keys, tempos, time signatures, chord changes, intros, outros, tags, vamps - the language of working musicians. I'm not talking a classical education - just the nuts and bolts of musical communication. It is a language musicians share, and if you don't speak that language, you will be marginalized to some extent. Musicians who are not singers also think that singing is really easy. Now, let me state that there is a difference between someone who sings and a singer. If your guitar player can squawk out "Old Time Rock & Roll", he doesn't see what the big deal is about singing. My definition of a singer is someone who takes their instrument seriously, and has done the work to develop their voice. A real singer has put just as much work into their axe as any instrumentalist - scales, lessons, hours of practice. What is more, the voice is the one instrument that cannot be replaced. A guitar player can go down to Guitar Center and get new speakers if he or she blows out a Marshall stack, but a singer cannot buy a new voice. Musicians have a hard time understanding why a singer can't just sing over the band, and they interpret any requests to turn down as 'diva' attitude. I have learned through hard experience that the bandmates who want you to scream your guts out for them are not going to be there for you when you lose your voice. They'll simply fire you and hire someone else whose voice is not blown out. That 'take it for the team' crap is just that - crap. Are they are prepared to support you when your livelihood is taken away? I didn't think so. So they have no right to ask you to injure yourself so they can play as loud as they want to. There is also and I hate to say it sometimes a (ahem!) gender issue. Ladies, you know what Im talking about. Things have certainly improved from the way things were 30 years ago, but even today there is a preconception that female singers are less intelligent, less knowledgeable and less professional than male musicians. When youre a female singer, its very likely that you are the only woman in the band, and are treated differently than everyone else. Sometimes its special treatment, but more often youre isolated in a way from the rest of the band youre not one of the guys. Its really easy to get a chip on your shoulder when youre constantly confronted with that attitude from the musicians you work with even if youre a player yourself. I carried that chip around for many years, and as a female musician competing in a mans world, you get really tired of being condescended to especially when youre as competent or even better than the guys you play with. When I was starting out there were very, very few high-profile female musicians, and very few working female musicians in general, so I had to try twice as hard to find my place and my respect among the musicians I worked with. Things have come a long way since then, thankfully, and now there are great female players everywhere, but theres still an assumption that, when you get up on the stage

with people that dont know you, if youre female, youre expected to be not as good as a guy. Then when you deliver the goods, everyone amazed which is gratifying, but at the same time, it shouldnt be a big deal! It should be expected. Today I dont have that chip on my shoulder, railing at the unfairness of it all I just do my thing and enjoy what I do without caring whether people have high or low expectations of me, and I have a great time playing no matter what. But even male singers can face this issue, too, if they dont play an instrument. Anyhow, as you can see, this can lead to a somewhat uncomfortable musical experience, with the 'musicians' on one side and the 'singer' on the other. Even if it's your band, if you haven't learned to think like an instrumentalist, it can be lonely and frustrating. If you are perceived as a 'diva' (or 'divo'), the band will not go out of its way to be helpful to you. There will be eye-rolling, whispering behind the hand, laughter followed by sudden silence when they notice you're standing there. This is not enjoyable. At least, not for the singer. The good news? With just a little bit of work, you can change condescension into acceptance and respect. All you have to do is learn to think like a musician. When you do that, a whole new world will open up for you. Players will go the 'extra mile' for you, and actually make your musical experience easier and more fun. Plus, if you can play, you are that much more in control and in charge. You don't have to be at anyone's mercy. You don't have to be dependent on other people to make music. You can work with others, but if need be you can do it yourself. If no one knows the changes to your song, you can play them and have them follow you. It opens up your possibilities. I don't know about you, but I really hate having to depend on other people to do what I want to do. Whether it's recording, or playing live, I like to be in charge of my art. Now, a lot of singers don't think that they should be or even can be musicians. But I believe that if you're a real singer, you already are a musician inside - you just haven't learned the language. The question is only whether you are willing to do the work. That, of course, is up to you. If you are taking my class, you have played keyboards for a few quarters. Some of you are already comfortable with keyboards and have been accompanying yourselves for a while, and some of you have never played before coming to MI. But all of you have the potential to play well enough, not only to accompany yourself, but to play with other people, and even for other people - a great experience in itself. There is a feeling you get when you are part of a rhythm section that you don't necessarily experience as a front person. Being part of a groove, locking in with other players, listening and responding to what they play, is very satisfying. It doesn't have to be complicated at all - often the simplest parts are the best. And it's also nice to be able to let go of the things you concentrate on as a front person - what you look like, how you're moving, how your voice is sounding, is the audience with you - and simply immerse yourself into the music without worrying about anything else.

The Language Barrier

As an MI student, in a school filled with people from all around the world, you are no doubt aware of what a challenge it is to communicate with people who dont speak your language. So what is the solution? There are three options if you want to communicate with someone who doesnt understand you: 1. Get that person to learn your language 2. Find a translator 3. Learn the other persons language The first option is not very workable. If you insist on only using your own language, or think that hollering at the top of your lungs is going to make the other person understand you better, youre in for a rude awakening. You wont do anything but make two people angry and frustrated you and the person youre trying to communicate with and nobody wins. The second option is a little more workable, and is, in fact, what most singers do. Having a translator will get you by having someone, either in your band or outside it, communicate with your musicians for you. Some singers do that their whole lives, and it does work for the most part. But there are drawbacks to this approach. The most obvious drawback is that you are at someone elses mercy. What if that person cant always be there? What if you and that person disagree on how and what you should do, or the band should do? What if you yourself dont know what you want? What if your translator misunderstands you? But I think the main drawback is that you are not in charge of your own music. The band will be communicating with your translator, not you. This naturally creates a divide between you and the people you are playing with. It puts you on the outside looking in. This is a limitation. The third option is the best option learn the language yourself. Let me tell you why.

Knowledge Is Power, or Chain of Food

Traditionally, singers (especially women) have been at the mercy of everyone else in the musical food chain. When you are dependent upon other people for every aspect of your musical career, it is easy to be taken advantage of by unscrupulous people. Youve heard the horror stories; you may know someone whos been screwed over in the music business; you may have even been screwed over yourself. (I know hard to believe in this friendly, honest, trustworthy business!) Singers who only sing are dependent upon musicians, songwriters, producers, engineers, agents, managers, investors, record companies, accountants and lawyers any one of whom can take you for all youre worth. The more you know about these aspects of the business, the better chance you have of not being taken advantage of. The more of this you can do for yourself, the more power you have. Singers as a rule have had very little power or control over their own music and careers because of this dependency on others. But its the twenty-first century, and things are changing. Thanks to the innovations in technology, a singer can now be in charge of his or her own artistry. It doesnt take hundreds of thousands of dollars in a huge studio to realize your musical vision. Back in the day, all most singers could do was sing the songs picked for them by the record company, in the style the label decided would be the most marketable and let the label mold their image into something that some suit up the ladder decided would make the most money for the record company. Then, except for a lucky (or smart) few, the resultant profits would get divided up between everyone else higher up on the food chain, and the artist would get what was left over, or sometimes nothing at all, or maybe even go into debt, while everyone else who was feeding off of the artists talent got rich. Now, you can make a master-quality recording on your own computer, and you can decide what you want it to sound like. If your vision is a commercial pop style, you can go that route, but if you have a different style and direction, you can stay true to that and make the record you want to make, and let your sound find its own audience. There are more possibilities for you to be in charge of your music, and not at the mercy of other people who may not have your best interests at heart. But in order to do this, you need to have the skills, and this is where keyboards come in. Learning keyboards can help you: Be a better sight-reader, and have a better understanding of what you already know as a singer. Be a better songwriter putting together and expanding your tool kit. The more you know keyboard-wise, the more choices you have in your songwriting, and the more options you have whether writing alone or collaborating.

Be able to get what you want out of your band, by knowing how to explain your idea and ask for it in a way they understand Do your own work in finding keys, transposing, writing charts, understanding and communicating tempos and grooves, so that you arent asking someone else to do that work for you. If you want something from the band that theyre not giving you, you can show them by playing it. Get the support and cooperation of the musicians you work with youll be on the same team, not opposite teams. And, of course, you can play for yourself if you want to or need to, without worrying that someone else might not be there for you.

All this can be summed up in one word: R-E-S-P-E-C-T, as the Queen of Soul would say. Speaking of Aretha Franklin - not everyone may be aware of this, but she is a great piano player and played on many of her records. Yes, Aretha is a great keyboard player as well as one of the most gifted and influential singers ever. When you get your keyboard skills together, you will experience something that may be new to you youll be treated as one of the band even if youre not actually playing in the band. Theres a camaraderie among players that singers are often left out of, because theyre outsiders and dont understand the language of music. Playing keyboards, even more than guitar, will enable you to understand how music is put together from the ground up, and put you on the same footing as everybody else. You will get the respect you deserve not only because you can play, but because you are speaking to them in the language they understand. Singers who do not play may be just as musically proficient and talented even more so as the band, but the players do not understand it! They dont speak your language - the language of placement and diaphragm control and vowels. They dont understand what goes into doing what you do. They dont get why its so important to hear yourself, or that you can damage your voice permanently by trying to sing over a band thats too loud a voice that you cant replace. But if you can speak their language the language of chord changes, and solos, and measures, of sixteenth-notes and modulations and time-changes, of arpeggios and vamps, then you will belong to the club, and youll find that you will be able to get them to understand your vocal issues better as well. Its all about respect. And the more you bring to the table, the more respect you will get from the people you work with. A lot of the time, the things that bug players about singers (and vice-versa) are valid. The stereotypes are there for a reason, for both players and singers. There are many singers who know nothing about music, who dont even know how to plug in their own microphone, who cant tell you what key their song is in, who cant count, who are basically like little children who expect to have everything done for them. This gives all singers a bad name, and this is something that the rest of us have to work to overcome. If we want respect from the people we work with, we have to earn it. But if you show up with your charts together, knowing your stuff inside and out, being able to set the EQ for your own mic, being able to communicate musically with

your band members and treating them with respect as well you will have people falling all over themselves for the opportunity to play with you, and write with you, and go out of their way to help you. You will understand them better as well. Its like when you go to a foreign country if you dont even attempt to learn the language, people can be very rude and pretend that they cant understand you even if they do; but when you really try to speak the language, people do their best to welcome you and help you out. It is a matter of respect. This is what playing keyboards will give you. Another benefit of playing keyboards is improving your own singing and musicianship. Unlike guitar, the piano is laid out in an organized and logical fashion right where you can see everything. You can understand the relationships between keys, scales, chords and intervals just by looking at the keyboard. You will be amazed at how your sightsinging and ear-training will improve without your even trying simply by being able to play. This is a guarantee. So, do yourself a favor become the ultimate singer by becoming a musician! Youll be glad you did.

Keyboard Accompaniment Level III-A FAQ

1. How do I practice?
Each week you will have a Practice Log which you must turn in at the beginning of the next class. You will practice at least 30 minutes a day 10 minutes on scales, 10 minutes on whatever exercise assignment you have, and 10 minutes on the song the class is currently working on. This is the minimum amount of time you need to put in to progress. You can, of course, practice longer.

2. What if I dont have time?

If you cant find an entire half-hour, you can break up your practice time into 10 minute increments scattered through the day if you like. I know theres a lot on your plate, but dont decide to just bail on practicing because you dont have a lot of time to put into it. You can always manage to get 10 minutes somewhere.

3. Can I just do one or two long practices instead? 4. How do I play my scales?

Thats not a good idea. Its much better to do a little bit every day than a long marathon. It won t stick in your head or your fingers as well. Read The Basics for complete instructions on scale work. Start slow. Only start using the metronome when you are sure of the right notes and fingering. Then start only as fast as you can play correctly. When you can play at a slow tempo correctly, bump up the tempo. If you make mistakes, go back to the tempo that you played correctly.

5. What do I have to do for my mid-term? 6. What do I have to do for my final?

Play the 3 scales you have been assigned in class, with a metronome.

Your final is Week 11. You will be playing and singing a song in class. You cam choose a song, but it must be approved by me according to what level you are playing

at. If you are a strong player and choose a song thats too easy, Ill ask you to pick something else. If you cant come up with something, Ill assign a song for you.

Bring your song in for approval by Week 5 at the latest. You can pick your song as early as you like the sooner you get started on it, the more time youll have to work on it. Your song needs to be accompanied by a chart written by you. Make two copies one for you and one for me. It is 10 points of your Final grade. You will not be graded on the quality of your singing, only of your playing. You will be graded on level of difficulty as well as how well you play, so aim high.

7. Can I leave class early to get to another class?

The class is a hour and a half long. The first hour is class instruction, and its over by 11:50. You can leave then if you need to get to another class. The remaining time is lab or practice time. If anyone wants to stay and work on something I will be there till 12:30 if you need help.

8. What is my grade based on?

Your grade consists of attendance, participation and your final. Attendance is onethird of your grade; each attendance day is 10 points. A tardy (after 5 minutes after) is 5 points; if you come in past 20 after, you are counted absent, but you may stay to work. Your Practice Log is included with participation and is a third of your grade. Your final is the remaining third.

Excused absences will not be deducted from your grade.

Points are deducted for lack of required material, use of cell phones (including texting), sleeping or working on homework for another class.

9. What if I dont have headphones?

If by Week 3 you dont have headphones you will be counted absent and may not play in class.

Keyboard Accompaniment Level III-A Syllabus

Materials required at each class: 1. Damper pedal (check out of the Library) 2. Headphones 3. Manuscript paper ===========================================

Week 1
This week we will be starting on The Basics. Begin working on C, F and G scales First song When A Man Loves a Woman Percy Sledge Homework practice 30 minutes every day, 5 days a week: 1. 10 minutes a day on your scale work 2. 20 minutes a day on Inversion Exercise (major) and song

Week 2
Continue working on Man Loves a Woman discuss any questions or issues about the song. Discuss slash chords, inversions, voice leading Homework practice 30 minutes every day, 5 days a week: 1. 10 minutes a day on your scale work 2. 20 minutes a day on Inversion Exercise (major) and song

Week 3
Finish Man Loves a Woman random students will be asked to play, so be prepared. Look at chapter 5 in Keyboard Voicings - add minor triads to inversion work. Homework practice 30 minutes every day, 5 days a week:

1. 10 minutes a day on your scale work 2. 20 minutes a day on Inversion Exercise (minor) and song

Week 4
Begin new song Beautiful. Assign chapters 8 and 9 in Keyboard Voicings sus2 and sus4, exercise on pg. 45 Discuss playing melody and chords in right hand. Homework - practice 30 minutes every day, 5 days a week: 1. 10 minutes a day on your scale work 2. 20 minutes a day on Sus2 & Sus4 Inversion Exercises pg 45 and song

Week 5
Finish Beautiful, be prepared to play in class. Work on scales in preparation for mid-term Week 6 C, F and G scales, both hands, one octave, with metronome. Submit song for approval for Week 11 Final Project. Homework - practice 30 minutes every day, 5 days a week: 1. 10 minutes a day on your scale work 2. 20 minutes a day on Sus2 & Sus4 Inversion Exercises pg 46 and song

Week 6
Mid-term play C, F and G scales, both hands, one octave, with metronome. Assignment begin D, E and A scales, both hands, one octave, with metronome. Begin working on your Final Project when it has been approved. Begin new song Oh Darlin, look at chapter 10 (augmented triads) in Keyboard Voicings Discuss how to practice 1-3-5 bass and triplets in the right hand. Homework - practice 30 minutes every day, 5 days a week: 1. 10 minutes a day on your scale work 2. 20 minutes a day on your Final Project and class song

Week 7
Work on Oh Darlin. Work on new scales D, E and A Assignment look at chapter 13 (dominant 7ths) in Keyboard Voicings Discuss tritone (3-7) shells and rootless voicings. Homework - practice 30 minutes every day, 5 days a week: 1. 10 minutes a day on your scale work 2. 20 minutes a day on your Final Project and class song

Week 8
Be prepared to play Oh Darlin in class. Look at chapter 12 (minor 7ths) in Keyboard Voicings. Assignment Isnt She Lovely. Discuss ii-V change voicings. Homework - practice 30 minutes every day, 5 days a week: 1. 10 minutes a day on your scale work 2. 20 minutes a day on your Final Project and class song

Week 9
Work on Isnt She Lovely, work on Final Project and scales. Homework - practice 30 minutes every day, 5 days a week: 1. 10 minutes a day on your scale work 2. 20 minutes a day on your Final song and class song

Week 10
Be prepared to play Isnt She Lovely. Test on scales D, E and A, one octave hands together, with metronome Review for your Final Project

Week 11
Each student will play their Final Project song for the class. Your Final Project must be accompanied by a chart written by you.

The Basics
Were going to start with the basics. If youre in this class, youve already been exposed to scales. In this class, were going to emphasize them.

Why Scales?
Why do I have to learn scales? We learned them in Level One. Theyre boring and difficult at first, then boring and easy after a while. I want to play songs, not exercises! The reason I want to focus on scales in the advanced levels is because if you first started playing piano and studying theory and ear-training when you got to MI, you were pretty much learning a whole bunch of different stuff at the same time you were beginning piano. While you were learning to play a scale, you were also learning chords, intervals, sight-singing and music theory thats a lot to process in a short time. But now youve been playing longer and have a better idea about what youre doing, so this is where we take your playing to the next level. Ask any serious keyboard player whether they like scales. Most of them will tell you they love scales! And even if they dont love them, they appreciate them. The reason is that scales can help you do anything you want to do on the keyboard. They help your fingers move independently, they strengthen the muscles, and they make it possible to travel up and down the entire length of the keyboard. And there is a big difference between learning to recognize key signatures by eye or by figuring them out, and understanding them at a deeper level in your fingers muscle memory. Muscle memory is one of your most important tools as a player. If you have to think about where every note is supposed to go, and how to play it, you are siphoning off brainpower that can be better used on creativity while you play. You want to eliminate the mechanical aspect of what youre doing so you can concentrate on the musical aspect. That is one of the things that separates the players from the hacks. Muscle memory takes care of that for you. The more work your fingers can do for you without thinking, the more free you are to concentrate on what really counts communicating emotion through your music. Plus, scales can actually be very soothing and relaxing once you get them under your belt and they become automatic. Like knitting, it can be a form of meditation to do something with your hands that you dont have to think about. We are going to concentrate on six major scales in this class C, D, E, F, G, and A. At the end of the first quarter, you will be playing these scales one octave, hands together, to a metronome. At the end of the second quarter, you will be playing them two octaves, hands together, to a metronome. (Piano teacher jargon - Hands together: H.T.; hands separate: H.S.;right hand: R.H.; left hand: L.H.)

Elements of Scale Work

When we do scale work, we are not only training our hands, but, more importantly, were training our brains. Dont you hate it when you make a mistake when youre playing, and then every time you play that song, you make the same mistake over and over? That is because your brain doesnt know whether you played a right note or a wrong note. It just assumes that you played what you intended to play, so when it comes to the mistake, it repeats that, too. Your brain is just trying to help! So we will use that to our advantage. The first rule of practicing is: Dont play a mistake! By that I mean, if youre not absolutely sure of the right note, stop yourself before you play it. That way, you will save yourself the extra work of having to un-learn the mistake and then re-learn the correct part. In other words, you have to work three times as hard you have to learn the original part, then the mistake, then the original part again! Whenever you play a note, you are making a neuro-chemical pathway or connection in your brain. The more times you play the same note, the stronger you make that pathway or groove. And when you play a wrong note, you have made a new pathway that your brain thinks belongs there, which means you have to play it correctly at least ten times in a row to erase that pathway and build a new pathway that is deeper and easier to follow. When you go from here to there, there may be a number of pathways, and your brain is going to choose the easiest one. If you think of it as a groove dug into the dirt, you want to dig the correct groove deeper with your shovel, and shovel dirt into the wrong groove so that its not there any more. But if you dont dig the wrong groove to begin with, all of your work can go to strengthening the right one instead of eliminating the wrong one. So when you are practicing a scale (or anything, for that matter), if youre not sure youre going to play the right note, just stop. Figure out slowly what youre supposed to be playing and then try again. The second rule of practicing is: Go as slow as you need to to get it right! Thats really a corollary to the first rule. When you practice your scales, its more important to be slow and correct than fast and incorrect. I dont care how slow you have to go. You can always bump up to a faster tempo when youre sure of yourself at a slow tempo, but if you make mistakes at a fast tempo, youre assigning yourself three times the work. When you practice something correctly enough times, you develop your muscle memory, which is your goal. Muscle memory is your best friend as a player.

The third rule of practicing is: Use correct fingering! I dont know about you, but one of the things I hated most when I was learning to play was fingering. I didnt see the point in it. If I played the notes right, why did it matter what fingering I used? Later on I found out why. If your fingering is wrong you run out of fingers! There you are, playing along youre playing a beautiful melodic line when, all of a sudden, youve ended up on your pinky finger. End of the road. Again, when you play your scales with correct fingering, and it becomes grooved into your muscle memory, you can go up and down the keyboard without having to think about how youre going to get there. The point is to be able to hear something in your head or read something that you want to play and be able to play it without having to figure out the mechanics of it. If you have your E scale down cold, you dont have to think about how many sharps are in the key of E and what they are. Your hands already know that, and theyll play the right notes without bothering you about it.

The fourth rule of practicing is: Use a metronome! Your metronome is one of the most important elements of effective, useful practice. Especially if you play just by yourself, and not as a member of a band, you can slow down and speed up without knowing it. Singers (as a generalization) are not at their strongest when it comes to rhythm and tempo. Thats because theyre usually not required to be! When a singer phrases, a lot of times they will weave in and out of the beat, which is what theyre supposed to do much of the time. But players are forced to keep a steady tempo in a way that singers are not. Thats where our BFF the metronome comes in! Using a metronome when you practice helps you on a number of things. For one, it keeps you honest, and it gives you an idea of where you are starting and where you want to go to, and what your strengths and weaknesses are. When you start your scale work, after working out your fingering and practicing without a metronome to make sure you know where each note goes, you start at a tempo that you can play perfectly at. It doesnt matter if its 40 BPM, or 30, or 10. What matters is that you play it right and in tempo. When you can play your scale ten times without a mistake, then youre ready to take it up a notch. That way you can see your progress in front of you, and have a goal to work towards.

It also helps you with your internal groove, or pocket. As a player, the ultimate compliment is to be known as a having a great pocket. When your rhythm is off, as a singer you can get away with it. As a player you cant. When the groove is not there, even people who dont know anything about music will know that somethings not right. They may not be able to tell you why. It just doesnt feel good. Likewise, when the groove is there, nothing feels better! And, yes, scales can groove and ought to. Anything can groove if you play it right. Your metronome work will get you into the habit of playing in the pocket, whether youre playing by yourself or with other musicians.

Getting Started
For the first half of the quarter, were going to start working on C, F and G. We will do one octave, hands together. Week 6 you will be tested on them. There are a couple of different ways you can approach these scales. The first way is the traditional way, which is to learn each hand separately and then put them together. This is easiest at first. The other way is to practice hands together from the beginning. While it is more difficult at first, youre getting the hard part out of the way at the beginning and training your mind to get used to pivoting your thumbs over at different times. Its up to you whichever way makes sense for you. Normally, Id suggest hands separate, then when each hand has developed muscle memory, go for hands together. First start with your right hand. Look at the scale for fingering. Just put your fingers on each note to make sure you know where they go. Then play the scale slowly, without the metronome. Remember the first rule if youre not sure of the right note, stop! At this point, you dont have to start over; just pause, make sure of the right note, and then play it. Once youre sure of the notes, then get out the metronome and put it on a slow enough setting to where youre comfortable. Again, it does not matter how slow you go. What matters is that you can play it correctly along with the metronome. Do this until youre completely comfortable with the scale in your right hand. Then, do the same with your left hand. When you feel secure in each hand, start on hands together. You will be starting at the beginning again first, check the fingering; second, practice it slowly without metronome, pausing if youre not sure which finger to use or which note to play. This will be more challenging because you will be crossing over the thumb at two separate places your right thumb will cross under first while your left thumb goes under your fingers later. Go as slow as you need to.

The good thing about getting through the first scale is that you will already have the motions down in your hands which are the same for many (not all) of the scales. Its really all downhill after that. The hardest part is knowing when to cross with each hand. The first scale well work on will be C. Some people think that C is the easiest scale of all, because if you only play white notes you cant mess up. This is not true; it is the hardest scale of all for that exact same reason. Since you cant tell by the sound whether youre using the right fingering, its really easy to use the wrong fingers, and then end up on your 5th finger without ending up in the right place in the scale. Its easy to do a right and left thumb-cross at the same time, when theyre supposed to be at different times. So beware of C. The next scale is F, which has its own challenges. There is a special fingering rule for any scale that has a Bb (or an A#) in it and that is, in the right hand, the fourth finger is always on Bb. In the left hand, it is the second finger that is always on Bb. With F, that means that in the right hand, instead of crossing after the third finger like in most scales, you cross after the fourth finger and then end up at the top of the scale (at the F) with your fourth finger, not your fifth. You dont use your fifth finger at all in F but only in the right hand! In your left hand, you use the same fingering as in the other white keys, because your second finger naturally falls on Bb that way. So its a little bit tricky. Once you have C and F mastered, G is a piece of cake. Nothing to it.

Practicing Guidelines and Tips

1. Spend at least 10 minutes every day on your scale work. Use a timer or watch. 2. Your left hand is usually your weakest hand; work on whichever is your weakest hand first. Then the other hand will be no problem. Stay with the pace of your weaker hand when you practice HT. 3. Visualize! Did you know that you can get almost as much benefit by practicing something in your head as you can by physically playing? It cannot substitute for physical practice, but if you want to supplement your playing, play it in your head. Visualize your hands playing the notes; visualize which fingers are doing what; think about what the chord changes are and how your hands would play them. Youre doing the same thing in your brain creating a neuro-chemical pathway. Try it and see. Remember were training the brain more than the fingers. 4. Its better to practice a short time every day that a long time every once in a while even five minutes is better than nothing. Dont avoid practice because you dont have an hour to spend. 5. Play on your fingertips, not on the flat part of your fingers. Keep your wrists level and your fingers curved. 6. If you have a problem area in your practicing, or a difficult part, take that part by itself and slowly work the bugs out of it dont play the whole piece until you work out the tricky parts. 7. If theres something that you dont understand, or doesnt make sense to you, or you need help with something, dont hesitate to ask! Ask me, ask other people in your class, go to an Open Counseling. My goal is to help you be the best musician and player that you can be and Im always glad to explain or clarify; and if I havent made something clear, I need to know so that I can help you better. 8. Be patient with yourself. 9. Remember that you have to get through the sucky, boring part of The Basics in order to get to the fun part of playing piano. Being able to play the piano is incredibly satisfying and rewarding, but a lot of people just cant get beyond the boring part, and so never get to the fun part. And once the boring part is over with, its over! Then the real magic happens. Give yourself the gift of piano!

The Next Level: Making Music Out Of Chord Changes

Keyboard Accompaniment Level III-A
Youve been playing for a while now. You know how chords are put together. You know major, minor, dominant 7, minor 7, major7. You know sus2, sus4, augmented, diminished, half-diminished you may know 9ths and 13ths. You understand the theory. Its now time to take it to the next level. As you know, there are many different ways of playing the same chord or series of chord changes. Some of them sound good, and some of them not so good. When people are beginning to become players, often they will start out using the easiest way they know to play chords the major triad. While there are some styles and some musical situations where this is appropriate, most of the time it just screams amateur! My goal in this class is to show you ways to play the exact same chords and sound professional. The good news is, its no more difficult to use better voicings than it is to use basic, childish ones. Its just a matter of finding out what they are, and applying them to your song. Different voicings, different kinds of chords, are used in different styles of music. In jazz, for instance, you often use chord extensions, such as #9th and b13th chords, with all sorts of alterations to give it a more complex and sophisticated sound. However, if you were to use jazz voicings in a country song, you wouldnt be hip youd be incorrect. A 6 or dominant 7 is about as complex as youd get. Country uses lots of sus2 and sus4s. More extensions do not suit the country style. Its important to learn what kind of chords and chord voicings are appropriate to what style youre playing. Different kinds of chords induce different feelings in the listener, as well as other factors such as register how high or low on the keyboard you play. Theres a big difference in emotional content between chords that are played below middle C, for instance, and the exact same chords played 3 octaves higher. Theres an emotional difference between low, thick, close-together voicings and high, sparse, spread-apart voicings. Volume, intensity, speed, even keyboard sounds, all elicit different emotions when you apply them to the same chords. Were going to explore many of the different things you can do to a basic chord or set of changes to take them from boring to musically and emotionally interesting. Heres an overview of some ways to change basic chords around:

Right Hand: 1. Using patterns: Alternating the notes in the chord Arpeggiating the notes in the chord Using passing tones in arpeggios and alternating chord notes 2. Voice leading between changes 3. Playing melody at top of the chord Left Hand: 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. Play octaves in left hand Play root and 5th Play root and 7th Arpeggiate the notes in the chord Walking bass, boogie-woogie bass

Both Hands: 9. Use dynamics for contrast or emotional impact 10. Change style or groove 11. Change octaves 12. Change keyboard sound 13. Change rhythm 14. Use 2-handed voicing 15. Open up voicings 16. Close voicings 17. Use extensions (7ths, 9ths, 11ths, 13ths) according to how they work within your style. 18. Combine all of the above! Lets start with a basic C triad. Pretty basic, pretty boring. What can you do with it? You can use a pattern - alternate the notes of the chord in the right, with the root in the left hand: You can use an inversion and alternate the notes: You can arpeggiate:

You can alternate between thirds, and add a passing tone (D and F):

Or, suppose you want to go from C to F. Often a new players first instinct is to play this: Unless there is some pressing stylistic reason, its much better to voice-lead than to move your hand from root-position triad to root-position triad. Its not precisely wrong, but its definitely cheesy. Sometimes cheesy is a choice, but most of the time voice-leading gives you a much better and smoother sound, as well as being easier to play since your hand stays in the same position rather than jumping all over the keyboard. When you play chord changes, analyze for voice-leading and common tones. Pretty soon youll be able to visualize and recognize all of the inversions of each chord, not just the root position. This will take you way beyond cheese-ball, and its the easiest thing you can do to grow up your playing.

The next thing you can do to add interest is use extensions dominant 7ths, 9ths, 11s, 13ths major, minor, flatted, sharp, augmented, slash chords. You wont usually play all the notes in the chord the root and 5th can be left out in the right hand (or left out altogether if another instrument is covering the bass), leaving the notes that determine the tone color such as the 3rd and 7th and the other extensions. Heres our C chord, but lets add some color and make it a dominant 7th:

Its still root position, with all four notes of the chord. These are all ways to play a C7 chord. You can switch it around and play it any of these ways:

The first measure uses all four notes; the second loses the root but keeps the 5th.

Here, we take away both the root and the 5th, leaving you with the 3rd and the 7th. This is still all the

information we need to know that it is a C7. This type of voicing is called a 3-7 shell. Its often used in the left hand to indicate the chord type while the right hand is soloing or adding other color tones. The interesting thing about 3-7 shells is that they can tell you a large amount of information using only two notes. The 3rd tells you whether its major or minor, and the 7th tells you what the quality of the major or minor is. And if you voice-lead along with using 3-7 shells, you can play all kinds of chord changes using only two fingers, and stay within half an octave the whole time. Your hand stays put. This is an example using simple blues changes:.

Here is another example, using the verse to the Norah Jones song Dont Know Why:

One way you can make simple changes more interesting is to play the melody in your right hand along with other notes from the chord, while playing the root in your left, such as in the intro to Christina Aguileras Beautiful:

How about the left hand? When youre accompanying yourself without a band, the usual use of the left hand is to supply the root and maybe one other note, or to play a bass pattern (depending on what kind of music youre doing.) Often octaves in the left hand are all you need while playing chords, melodies or solos in the right. One mistake that many new players make is to play triads in the left hand in the lower register. Triads in the left hand starting below C or D below middle C dont usually sound good. I wont say its always wrong there are some players who choose that thick, dark, muddy sound for dramatic emotional effect. In fact, I wont say that anything is wrong all the time every rule is made to be broken, as far as Im concerned. But I will say that you need to know the rules before you break them, so its a choice instead of a mistake. Once you go below the C below middle C, your best bet is a two-note left hand octaves, root/fifth, root/sixth, and root/seventh.

Scales - C, F, G

First Song Voice Leading

Practice Log