Keyboard

The piano (and its contemporary descendant, the keyboard) have played a crucial part in all forms of Western music. With its substantial range of notes, and vast potential for melodic and harmonic interplay, the instrument has remained a mainstay in diverse genres like classical music, gospel, R&B, jazz, and film music.

Even within the primarily guitar-driven landscape of rock music, innovative players like Jon Lord (Deep Purple), or Jordan Rudess (Dream Theater) have managed to make the keys an irreplaceable component of their respective band’s unique sound. Composers across the board frequently prefer to compose on the piano or the keyboard, because it is able to carry the key aspects of melody, rhythm and harmony simultaneously and allows them possibilities that are either impossible or obscured on other instruments. As an electronic, digital instrument which functions on samples of actual acoustic sounds, the keyboard is perfectly suited to sync with most of the radical innovations taking place in musical and recording technology today. Learning the keyboard can have huge theoretical and physical benefits for the serious musician. Apart from a grounding in how music works, playing the keyboard also cultivates dexterity with the fingers that can be effectively transfered to playing any other instrument. All this and more, makes the keyboard an excellent choice both as a primary or a secondary instrument.

Foundation

The Piano/ Keyboard course is aimed at complete beginners, music industry pros, producers, songwriters, DJ’s, electronic musicians and Classical piano students. The main aim here is to generate a fair level of comfort on your instrument after 10 weeks at Nathaniel. If you have been playing for a while, this course would still help you to build up core concepts, start composing and play with a band

Introduction to the Piano
In these sessions, we prepare ourselves to learn one of the most diverse instruments in history by figuring out what it can and cannot do, along with all the tools essential to being a solid piano/ keyboard player

Role of the Keyboard

  • Demonstrating Melody, Harmony and Rhythm
  • Exploring the range
  • Evolution with Technology
  • Use of the keyboard in Multiple Genres

 

Understanding the skills required to play

  • Independence (Finger and Hand)
  • Finger Strength
  • Mind to finger transfer
  • The approach to making music on the piano
  • Physics and Mathematics basics related to sound and music
  • Ear Training
  • Theory
  • Notation

 

Exercises

Being a capable musician is about the ability to play what comes from the mind. Hence, the fingers have to be capable enough to handle long passages, chord changes and maintaining accurate tempo. The keyboard is a more than capable “Percussion” instrument and hence the skills of syncopation and independence become very crucial. “Ear Training” is essential for composing, improvising and collaborating with other musicians.

Technique

  • Posture rules
  • 5 finger patterns to build up agility, flexibility, strength, speed and control
  • Composing and Transcribing melodies on different signatures
  • Spider Exercise
  • Czerny and Hanon classical exercises
  • Playing scales
  • Crossing over exercises
  • 5th chord exercises
  • Chord playing techniques using full, broken chords and arpeggios
  • Practicing chord inversions
  • Basic styles and progressions on the piano : Rock n Roll, Blues, Country, Reggae, Waltz and Ballads
  • Developing independence of hands
  • Working with accents and syncopated phrases
  • Playing melodic and rhythmic patterns via notation and grid-based approach

Advanced

The Piano/ Keyboard is for students who already have a level of confidence, theoretically and technically on the instrument. They would have to present their skills at an audition where they will be tested on various musical concepts and exercises. Level 2 is also for students who wish to learn advanced music theory, develop the harmonic and rhythmic ear, discover music from various cultures and learn contemporary styles of keyboard playing. Focus is also on music technology, recording concepts and MIDI programming as the student desires.

Intermediate Rhythm

  • Swing, Triplets, poly-rhythms and advanced time signatures
  • Creating Bass Lines
  • Treating the keyboard as a percussion instrument
  • Creating your own grooves and studying great rhythm creation methods
  • Accenting and Syncopation
  • Rhythm styles of various genres (Funk, Country, Latin….)

Finger Exercises

  • Holding a groove while playing a tune
  • Keeping notes constant while moving others
  • Constant bass exercise
  • Practicing Chord Inversions
  • Augmented and Diminished practice. Shifting from normal to weird
  • Playing tune and harmony in one hand
  • Playing melody with arpeggios
  • Polyrhythms
  • Styles: Rock n Roll, Country, Reggae, Blues, Flamenco, Latin, Waltz, Swing, Classical, Folk, Ballad playing, Grid based approach, Improvisation
  • Arpeggio exercises and patterns for Right and Left hand
  • Syncopation exercises for funk, metal, reggae and rock
  • Blending on Sus, Dominant 7th, Augmented and other fancy chords

Intermediate Harmony

  • 4 note chords (Sevenths, Sixths and more)
  • Blues Form
  • II – V – I progression
  • Circle of Fifths for harmony
  • Travelling between scales
  • Chord resolution
  • Using notes of the chord to compose melodic patterns
  • Advanced Chord Inversion practice to become comfortable with chord changes
  • Creating harmony on the fly
  • Guide tones and common tone voicing

 

Voicing

  • Theory of Soprano, Alto, Tenor and Bass
  • Reading and analyzing 4 part music
  • Analyzing voices via church hymns, orchestration and choir
  • How to use voices to enhance melody
  • Composing your own arrangement

 

Improvisation
Musically, improvisation is the act of writing a song while performing it. Improvising is a little more complicated than an imaginative children’s game. Though it is a highly creative and flexible technique, it requires great skill on the part of the musician. A musician involved in an improvisation must have a detailed knowledge of chord structure and complicated scales and modes. Exercises include improvising bass riffs in the left hand using only two to three notes, use a pre-determined series of chord changes and improvise to create new melodies and harmonies, jamming along to a constant riff in the bass line and rearranging popular songs.

Using Chords

  • Styles: Rock n Roll, Country, Reggae, Blues, Flamenco, Latin, Waltz, Swing, Classical, Folk, Ballad playing, Grid based approach, Improvisation
  • Arpeggio exercises and patterns for Right and Left hand
  • Syncopation exercises for funk, metal, reggae and rock
  • Blending on Sus, Dominant 7th, Augmented and other fancy chords

Exercises

  • Covering all elements of music at the same time on the piano
  • Playing scales over multiple octaves
  • Octave playing- Broken, Flamed, Voiced
  • Modern Devices- Crushed Notes, Flams, Triplets, Trills, Fluttering, Vamping, Arpeggiate, Fills
  • Finger independence exercises
  • Jamming on the Blues and Pentatonic scales with various embellishments
  • Popular licks and riffs used for contemporary styles like funk, blues, folk and country
  • Following the Melody with harmony and vice-versa
  • Ostinato bass patterns

Study of Different Sounds
A modern day keyboard can have sounds including acoustic and electric pianos, organs, orchestral instruments and monster synths. A different approach to these various sounds is required to get the best results. Study concepts of pitch bending, layering multiple sounds, studying the role of each sound, applying specific techniques to each sound for a wide repertoire of music.

 

Song Analysis

  • Song Structure
  • Scale recognition
  • Figuring out chord patterns
  • Learning chord changes via bass line and emotion
  • Rhythm recognition
  • Working out Riffs
  • Creating Motifs and patterns
  • Styles- Gospel, Reggae, Latin, Blues, Country, Pop Rock, Folk, Funk

When you learn the rules of music, they give you a solid platform to confidently express yourself as an artist. Every new concept is like entering into another musical adventure. You will discover the nuances of vast musical cultures and study the harmony, melody and rhythms in detail. And of course, we will also help you break all the rules!

Music Theory is important for any musician. Firstly, the ability to communicate ideas between musicians becomes simpler to do with one common language of notation. Secondly, a vast knowledge of music theory broadens and sharpens your skills as a composer. We will realize that after studying the theory of music, we enter into a huge world of permutations and combinations of notes, rests, chords, beats, sub-beats and amazingly enough, all of them sound really cool and remind us of songs we have heard before, innovations or an entirely new musical creation.

Scale Theory

  • Forming and applying the Major Scale using multiple approaches
  • Circle of Fifths
  • Minor Scales, Blues, Pentatonic and scales from other cultures
  • Transposition

 Intervals

  • Melodic vs Harmonic
  • Perfect, Diatonic and Chromatic
  • Inversion of Intervals
  • Ear training to appreciate and recall intervals
  • Upper third and Lower third usage in harmony

Rhythm

  • Meter, Beats and Sub-Beats
  • Accenting and Syncopation
  • Tied Notes and Rests
  • Putting it all together

Chord Theory

  • Diatonic Triad Formulation
  • Classification of Chords by emotion
  • Implementing popular chord progressions
  • Visual recognition of chords
  • Chord Inversions
  • Rules of Harmonization
  • Voicing and SATB (4 part Harmony)
  • Composing Harmony given the Melody
  • Composing Melody given the Harmony
  • Blues Form
  • Basics of Voicing
  • Circle of Fifths for Harmony

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