Tuesday, January 8, 2019

A Monthly Technique Plan For Advanced Contemporary Pianists

So...

I crafted this plan to get my technique sparkling this year.  (I assure you that there were no diet or exercise plans in my new year's resolutions, but there are musical resolutions.)

This is a plan that should work for most pianists.  I will start it officially tomorrow and see how it goes.  (I'll report back here with the results).

***UPDATE:  1/13/2019I've been trying the "monthly technique plan" I posted for several days,  and realized that I had some duplicate exercises listed on the original Google doc I posted.  I also thought the organization was not logical enough so I re-ordered the exercises for a more logical flow, in the hopes that this will help me and others to memorize the routine.  So, here is my latest plan.  I will start practicing based on this plan today and update you periodically with edits and progress reports on how I'm doing! I do want to tell you that I already feel more accuracy and technical competency in my playing of pieces.  It's taking me about 45-minutes a day to get through the routine (I suspect this number is a bit inflated due to my interruptions and note-taking while I practice).  My knuckle joints are a bit sore in a tired way, but I'm keeping my pulse on this and will make sure it doesn't worsen. ***

HERE'S THE NEW, UPDATED PRACTICE PLAN FOR ADVANCED PIANISTS AND ADVANCED STUDENTS:  


CLICK THE LINK AT THE RIGHT----------TONAL-BASED PRACTICE SYSTEM:  A KEY A DAY, A MONTHLY SYSTEM TO DEVELOP FLUENCY AND TECHNICAL PROFICIENCY IN ALL 12 MAJOR, MINOR, AND BLUES KEYS

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1eoxHpuhYbo8jXvFylz27CHbuLAdlIc3M/view?usp=sharing


Why is better technique on my bucket list for 2019?  Well, I had a few events lately with difficult passages.  I did practice them, but when it came time to execute the difficult passage during the performance, I was faking it at best.  I didn't get the level of detail in there that I should have.  My fingers just wouldn't fly fast enough for certain technical tasks (rapid trills, trills in thirds, rapid 16th note passages).  I did have a baby a few years ago, and practice has been difficult to fit in, but this is no excuse.  I'm determined to rise early to exercise my fingers!  

Here's what I've spent the better part of a morning on:

Monthly Technique Plan for Advanced Contemporary Pianists

*** Click the link above for a printable version. ***


Here is the plan, at a glance (below).  Focus on 1 key a day, doing the exercises below.  Now...here's a disclaimer alert:  I haven't tried this yet but I will time it this week and report back on how many minutes (or hours!) of your time this will gobble up.

Do you subscribe to this blog, or my YouTube channel?  There's lots of valuable information in both places, and I would highly recommend it if you're into piano, jazz, classical, or piano-teaching!




Sunday, April 8, 2018

Summer Piano Deal: 6-Lesson Trial for Loudoun County, VA

Back by popular demand, our 6-lesson summer trial is back!  Are you hesitant to commit to a long term of lessons but want to see if piano is for you?  Purchase 6 summer lessons for the price of 5, scheduled around your vacations and availability.  And the best part?  You don't have to drive.  I come to you!

Areas serviced:  Purcellville, Hamilton, Round Hill, Leesburg, Ashburn, Lovettsville, Point of Rocks (Tuesdays only).  

To register, fill out the form at http://www.piano2go.com/sign-up

Summer Piano Lesson Deal/ Piano Camp/ Summer Music Camp by Piano 2 Go:  Serving Loudoun County, Virginia (VA)  

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Jazz Jam-Along No. 2 in Eb Blues/ Eb Dorian



Here is my next jazz jam-along, composed about 15 years ago (for real).  It has some pretty far-out 13th chords, suspensions, 11ths, etc.  I just never recorded it until now (thanks for recording this last week, Mike Pugh​).  This is not a stand-alone piece and is meant to be paired with another solo instrument like sax, trumpet, piano, jazz organ, clarinet, jazz guitar - whatever!  Have the other instrument improvise along in Eb Blues or Eb Dorian.  If you teach little kids, tell them to improvise with the black keys and it works!  Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

"Maybe I'm Amazed" as a Case Study in Good Songwriting

The chromatic piano bass walk at 00:55. A simple detail, but an example of what's missing from modern popular music arrangements. I've been trying to figure out what song this little chromatic piano bass walk was in (it was filed in my head but I could't remember what song). I wanted to show my songwriting students so they can incorporate this sort of bass walk into their accompaniments. Well, here it is. It's a chromatic scale from the root to the 7th of a dominant 7th chord. Some say it's cliche. I like it. I want to hear more cool bass walks in modern pop music. This is just one example. The piece flirts with 3 different keys and has chords that confuse the heck out of music theorists (they don't seem to belong, and yet, they work). The chorus is transposed up from the verse and contains 3 different variations of a D chord (D Ma, DMa7, and D7). How's that for variety? Who transposes the chorus anymore? Well some do at the end of the song, but it's less common to go back and forth between keys as Paul does here. Then there's a clear B section that's a definite contrast (I'm not sure modern pop artists know what a true B section is). Also, considering that most modern pop songs only have four chords max, Paul McCartney should be hailed as a pop genius for having 12 different chords in this piece. They are:

1. A
2. D
3. Dm
4. Em7
5. Bb
6. F
7. C
8. G
9. Ab
10. Eb
11. DMa7
12. D7

Wow! That's a lot of chord variety! YES. Study the Beatles if you want to write good songs (this was performed by Wings, after the Beatles broke up). Also study Carole King, Billy Joel, and Elton John. Always look to the classic rockers for good songwriting.

So what makes a good song?

  • MORE THAN 4 CHORDS (ok that eliminates most of today's pop music, true)
  • A CLEAR B SECTION THAT IS SUBSTANTIALLY DIFFERENT, WITH DIFFERENT CHORDS -- THAN THE A SECTION. A BRIDGE IS NICE TOO (C SECTION). Expose your kids to musical theatre....it really helps expose them to clear-cut musical form.
  • SOME 7TH CHORDS THAT ARE NOT GARDEN-VARIETY 7TH CHORDS (ie, not just dominant 7ths, but major 7ths and minor 7ths). Heck, if you can throw a diminished 7th in there, you're a super-hero.
  • COOL BASS LINES AND UNEXPECTED BASS TONES LIKE PAUL'S G/C IN THIS SONG.
  • COOL INSTRUMENTAL FILLS
  • A GOOD INSTRUMENTAL SOLO WITH IMPROV
  • GOOD LYRICS WITH CREATIVE WORD CHOICE (study musical theatre)
  • RHYTHM'S IMPORTANT, TOO, BUT WE'LL COVER THAT LATER....
Lyrics are far less noticeable to me -- because I'm a musician. But a good song must have both.