So you teach theory in a pop piano lesson and you are considering major and minor. You talk about the minor third and perhaps the sixth and seventh degrees in the scale. Perhaps you demonstrate with a major piece and a minor piece. The pop piano pupil looks blank at you. The traditional ‘complete the theory book’ route leaves them getting ticks to answers, but, really, deep down, they simply don’t understand because theory must be connected with sound. Want some more fun? Of course you do and so does the pop piano pupil.
Pop Piano Major Melody in Minor
Take an exciting major piece and change it to minor. The great thing is that this is learning through ‘doing’. We retain knowledge much better when we have to process rather than simply being told.
Expression in Pop Piano Playing
As for expression, have you ever noticed that the minor scale can be far more expressive? The variety of pitches and chords can lead to a much deeper emotional connection. This avenue can allow piano students the opportunity to connect what they are doing more resonantly with what they are feeling. It is so important to help people channel their emotions through their music.
Now connect the work with something relevant to your life or your student’s life. Here’s a connection to a recent England-Scotland football (soccer) match in which the England fans felt highly spirited and confident that they would win. After a 0-0 draw, they felt deflated.
Natural Minor Scale in Pop Piano Lessons
Head and Heart features notes from the natural minor scale in F, using the notes F, G, Ab, Bb, C, Db and Eb. This is great pop piano piece for piano improvisation lessons because it means that you can use a whole range of pitches as long as you have a rhythmic connection with the original.
Natural Minor Pop Piano Cover
Finally, I have another track with my own improvisation on this song on this channel in the Covers folder. Check it out! I add more chords to create contrast with the original, so that when I return to the original theme I can then use the original harmonies and you feel a sense of “return to home”. I use the I, iv, V chords F minor, Bb minor and C major.
Exploring Major and Minor Thirds in Pop Piano Lessons
Rock Around the Clock is that it uses the major and minor third of the scale. When you play it in C, it uses E naturals and Ebs. Those wise observers will recognise that this is because of the Blues Scale. The mixture of minor/major 3rds of a scale, the blues scale and 7th chords makes for a wealth of colour.
Minor Chords in Pop Piano Lessons
Rasputin by Boney M is a great way into minor chords, creating a Russian flavour. In this video, I also demonstration a quick, easy and yet very effective improvisation tip.
Finally, what about the Wellerman Sea Shanty? What a crackin’ tune!
Dr Robin Harrison, The Maestro Online, teaches online and in person (Yarm, Teesside, UK). He is currently offering 25% off for new students.