Holistic Teaching in Pop Piano Lessons
The structure and pedagogy within The Maestro Online pop piano lessons continues to evolve. The more videos are created for the online courses in the library, the more the strategy is refined. Ever since discovering the Kodaly philosophy and fusing it with jazz improvisation and pop music, The Maestro Online obsession with teaching methodology has intensified on a weekly basis.
Using Chart hits to Learn Piano: Starting with the Ear
Not all online pop piano or organ pupils are confident singing in front of others, but those who use their voice or bodies to consolidate key concepts gain quicker results. Solfege (the do-re-mi system) is an obvious starting point, but it isn’t the only concept as it’s merely a starting point. Inner hearing, training the mind to hear music in the brain is far more important. Simple exercises can help with this such as omitting particularly pitches or chords and hearing them in your head whilst playing others.
Simultaneous Hearing of Parts – Popular Piano Melody & Bass
An absolute winner, in terms of pupil progress, is the ability to hear two or more things clearly in the mind at the same time (such as bass and melody); this undoubtedly creates a higher level of musicianship. How do you force yourself to hear more than one thing at once? Well, a simple strategy is to play bass and melody whilst singing along with the bass. You can sing along (a) with solfege so that you relate each pitch to the tonic or key note and (b) with absolute pitch names (ABCDEFG) so that younger learners recall the letter names of different notes more quickly. The second level to this strategy is to play the melody and sing the bass part to solfege and letter names without simultaneous playing the left hand or organ pedals. Playing one part while singing another really enables pupils with regards to hearing two parts at once and, more importantly still, means that they notice mistakes in several parts or voices much more quickly.
Piano Chords: Teaching from Chord Progressions
Teaching chord progressions is really key, not just in online pop piano lessons, but also classical piano, organ and vocal/singing improvisation. The use of recurring patterns allows the brain to allocate more resources to creativity. Certain patterns become more routine and are easier to recall.
Pop Piano Improvisation Patterns: Pop Piano Accompaniment
Once the patterns are established then more advanced concepts can rapidly be taught. Popular piano accompaniment styles include the use of inversions, textures, different accompaniment styles (from Alberti Bass to Boogie Woogie, ACDC, Ballads and Arpeggios), added pitches such as 6ths or 7ths, walking basses or blues notes. These Left Hand textures then become routines and the whole piece begins to sound like an established cover version with the student choosing their specific style and creating accompaniments based on their own characters, opinions and emotions.
Learn Piano Improvisation with Pop Melodies
It’s now only a small step towards melodic improvisation. Simply by placing the right hand in chord positions, notes ‘fit’ with the left hand. This improvisation can rapidly be extended by incorporating scale patterns and blues notes. This is when scales really ‘make sense’. They are no longer a theoretical exercise that pupils learn simply to pass an exam. Rather, pupils are now learning scales because they fit in their piece and they are useful. What are these pupils also learning? They are learning theory in practice, theory through doing and theory with understanding.
Play Piano by Ear – Pop Without Dots!
This week, two teenage online pupils made fantastic breakthroughs. They were both exploring Sunday Best by Surfaces (a little promo video by The Maestro Online here). Both of these pupils are reluctant note-readers and reading from notation for them is a complete turn off. However, they have been producing a selection of their favourite songs and we have then been sorting through them to find which are most suitable for their level of ability.
Pop Piano Course Structure
We learn the bass first, because this is the ‘grounding’ to the piece, add the melody, then fill it out with chords. Both pupils were also previously reluctant to improvise because they felt they were scared of making mistakes, insecure because they felt that they might not like their playing, or scared that they couldn’t keep going. This week, they both improvised for at least 5 minutes at the end of our 1 hour lessons. Both they, and I, were extremely proud. We love these breakthrough moments! One pupil said, “You have made me free”. That was a great moment! She described the lessons as creating a ‘framework’ rather than ‘rules’. Hurray for creativity!
If you would like to see a little pop music lessons clip discussing chords and how to create a Pop Piano Cover on I Can See Clearly Now with a Rock n Roll twist in style and a few bluesy notes, visit this youtube link.
The Pop Piano Courses Online Library
And now you can learn online with skills-based pedagogy through the new Pop Piano Courses Online Library. These courses teach pop-rock songs and integrate many skills. You don’t just copy as per a youtube tutorial, you become an all-round musician. Library members can also request courses specifically for their favourite songs and skills. Library membership gives you access to all courses for one monthly fee and there is no long-term commitment required.
Celebrity Pop Piano Masterclasses
Next, you want some polish! Celebrity Pop Piano Masterclasses are the answer. We have some stunning courses in the library in collaboration with musicians who have played for mega-stars such as Madonna, Whitney Houston, Gabrielle, James Morrison and more besides. These courses include gospel piano, ii-V-Is in pop piano, funk bass lines, pop piano voicing and so much more besides.
Visit the Pop Piano Lesson Library – try some Free Sample Courses and view All Pop Piano Lessons on offer.
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