Play Piano by Ear

I teach a keyboard program called Music for Young Children. One of the building blocks of this program is the introduction of left hand (LH) harmony chord structures early on in training. ¬†We teach the young student to listen for the “colors” of I, IV and V7 progressions in their music.

If young students aim to succeed in today’s music business, learning how to play freely with rhythmic patterns and chord structures on the piano is key. All styles of music including blues, jazz, country, rock, ragtime and contemporary pop use rhythmic patterns and harmonic chord structures in their music. Classical music, on the other hand, is the one style of music that doesn’t benefit as much from this type of learning because there is not nearly the same amount of repetition involved. Here, the musician relies heavily on sight-reading the composition for interpretation.

As a parent, I always wanted my children to learn freedom at the piano. Freedom to express themselves how they wish, with the knowledge of chord progressions and rhythmic patterns. This is how I learned as a young child from my grandmother. I took classical lessons where I learned how to sight-read, but it was my beloved grandma who taught me how to free myself from the sheet music and play by ear.

Rhythmic patterns will free the young student from the music book, and help lead the way to improvisation. In my studio, students learn how to read lead sheets and make their own  accompaniment to their favorite songs.

 

 

 

How to Sing Better…

If you have tried to learn how to sing better by reading information online, or by purchasing online products, then you have noticed that a lot of the information out there differs and it can be confusing. How is a singer suppose to know what is actually going to help them sing better? I have outlined some points below that may help.

Compare singing well to having a body that is in good shape. A good singer would be like a fit body. There are various shapes and sizes of fit bodies. Some are short, some are tall, some are muscular while others are not so. But, they are all “fit”.

Getting fit with singing means balancing your low voice, with your middle voice, with your high voice. In other words, a strong and consistent voice through your entire singing range….much like a fit body would have the correct balance of lean muscle versus fat content.

Where things get confusing is when we bring “style” into the concept of singing.

Consider this. Let’s say some fit people focus on their biceps, while other fit people focus on their chest. Then there are some fit people who work harder on their 6-pack, while others still work overtime on their back muscles. The one thing the all have in common is that they are first and foremost…fit. They look good everywhere, but some look extra muscular in a certain area.

If you use this analogy with singing, then you realize that every good singer must be fit first. Again, this means being able to ascend and descend through their entire singing range without strain or breaks. Once a singer is fit, then they can sing in any style they choose from classical to rock. This enables the singer to get “extra” fit in some areas.

Before you rock out, you need to know that you are singing well through your bridges, and then you learn to style in rock. Rock singing can be very damaging on the vocal cords, so being fit and staying fit is absolutely necessary. If you are a classically trained singer then you may be more fit in your upper register, but you may want to style in another genre of music. Blues, jazz and pop singers all have a stronger chest tone in their middle voice, while classical singers generally have more head tone in their middle voice. These differences are all about style.