Keyboard

keyboard

Introduction

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.

Level 1:

The Level 1 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
Essential Music Theory

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.

Notation
  • The Musical Alphabet
  • Understanding the universal language of music
  • Bars and Time Signatures
  • Notes and their time values
  • The Grand Stave
  • Notes on the stave and Ledger Lines
  • Rests
  • Sharps and Flats
  • Beats and Sub-beats
  • Curved lines and dotted notes
  • Signs and Italian terms
  • Tones & Semitones
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
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
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
Ear Training
  • Training the ear to perceive relative pitch
  • Practicing intervals
  • Detecting chords and chord progressions by listening
  • Cracking the scale and meter
  • Critical listening to identify key elements in songs
  • Transcribing music by listening
  • Learning, Composing and Jamming songs
  • Like any course at Nathaniel, students are given a hands-on approach to playing the instrument in a real-world scenario
  • Jamming with a drummer, bassist and other instruments
  • How to blend in with the band
  • Structural analysis of songs of various genres
  • Learning your favorite songs on your own
  • Basic ingredients of songwriting and composing music
Level 2

The Level 2 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….)
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
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
Level 3
Advanced Harmony
  • 9th, 11th and 13th chords with their alterations
  • Creating the harmonic structure for an entire song
  • Buildup, Filler and Enriching Harmony
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
Composing
  • Making a motif (melodic and rhythmic) and riff
  • Generating harmony at the spur of the moment
  • Creating bass lines
  • Turn arounds
  • Playing in odd time signatures
Songs of Different genres
  • Studying great country, blues, rock songs and breaking it down rhythmically, harmonically and theoretically
  • Hymns and Classical Music
  • Playing popular ballads and improvising on slower time signatures
  • Building dynamics and expression into playing
  • Interpreting songs in your own style and developing a creative approach to playing
Additional Topics
Music Production

The keyboard with software always pushes itself day after day with advancements in technology. It would be found in almost any music production house as a MIDI controller and external synthesizer. Study basic concepts of MIDI programming, loop based music, editing your music and using virtual instruments housed within your recording software. Also learn how to set patches and get the best tone out of your instrument for a specific task.

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.

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