Keyboard harmony and improvisation: popular music
Time: 19:00 - 20:30
This course will be delivered online. See the ‘What is the course about?’ section in course details for more information.
This course has now finished
Course Code: ME261A
Duration: 12 sessions (over 12 weeks)
What is the course about?
If you have practical keyboard skills of Grade 5+, this course will introduce you to skills of improvisation. Ideal for pianists with little experience in this area, or those who require new ideas, structure and supervision for to develop their existing improvisation skills.
This course is taught with a maximum of 15 per class.
This is a live online course. You will need:
- Internet connection. The classes work best with Chrome.
- A computer with microphone and camera is best (e.g. a PC/laptop/iMac/MacBook), or a tablet/iPad/smart phone/iPhone if you don't have a computer.
We will contact you with joining instructions before your course starts.
What will we cover?
- How to create a satisfactory melodic shape and to understand and balance musical phrases
- Development of aural ability as an aid to realising musical imagination
- Understanding of the function of key and of chord patterns within a key
- Understanding a simple structure as a basis for improvisation
- Ability to add rhythmic interest to your improvisation
- Different styles of music and improvisation.
What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...
- Improvise a simple 8 bar melody
- Improvise using major scale modes as a tool
- Structure an improvisation and explore the harmony of a chordal accompaniment
- Play confidently without music.
What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?
At this level you need fluency at the keyboard to a Grade 5 standard. You should have had at least four years structured tuition and be able to coordinate both hands comfortably. A good knowledge of key centres and chords is essential.
You need to be able to follow written and verbal instructions in English and engage in class discussions.
How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?
- All courses use Google Classroom to share materials and messages, including any homework tasks.
Your tutor will teach though a variety of techniques:
- tutor explanation and demonstration
- short revision videos and audio files
- group playing and individual demonstration tasks
Sessions will also include aural skills and theoretical study. To make good progress, you will need to practise regularly: preferably 20-30 minutes every day.
Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?
Please bring notebook, manuscript paper and pencil. The tutor will provide material via google classroom.
When I've finished, what course can I do next?
This course comprises of three terms across the academic year (September to July). At the end of the course you may wish to consider one of our other piano courses for students at grade 5 and higher, or you can repeat this course for more experience at this level.
You may also be interested in developing your skills in harmony and improvisation through Pop piano or Jazz piano course, or playing with others in Chamber music ensembles, or Jazz harmony and ear training. Or you may wish to join one of our Piano workshops or Keyboard harmony and technique to study classical repertoire and structures: please read our blog Choosing a piano class at City Lit to help you choose the right level. You can also contact the Music Department for advice.
You may wish to support your learning through a focus on reading, writing and hearing music and musical patterns. For more details about musicianship and music theory please visit our blog: Musicianship and music theory at City lit which lists our full sequence of musicianship and music theory classes.
Simon has been working as a musician for nearly forty years, initially solely as a performer with occasional composition, and then more latterly in education. After a mainly classical music training, he studied music at Goldsmiths College. His first job was at the Laban Dance School as an accompanist for contemporary dance, which required extensive improvisation, an experience that proved very useful training for his subsequent work as a keyboard session player in live performance and recording studios. In 2000, Simon became involved with adult edu0c.12ation, and started working at City Lit teaching jazz, pop and classical piano and theory, and also as a community musician and workshop leader for Trinity College of Music, working with all ages. He has taught on Jazz Summer Schools for the Workers Music Association and Music for People, worked as accompanist and workshop leader for Mbawula, a South African Township choral project, and set up a weekly Jazz club in Hackney. Simon runs a successful private teaching practice in addition to his City Lit classes.
Please note: We reserve the right to change our tutors from those advertised. This happens rarely, but if it does, we are unable to refund fees due to this. Our tutors may have different teaching styles; however we guarantee a consistent quality of teaching in all our courses.