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Improvise Music Theory in Practice

Learn Theory by Improvising with Pro International Level Teachers


Music Theory In Practice | Improvise Music Theory Online

  • Songwriter who wants to just ‘get on and do it’?
  • Want to understand theory, but not by writing exercises?
  • Love understanding music, but want to play it to understand it?

You are in the right place!

Thirsty for high standards with ‘real’ music? Ready to get stuck in TODAY?!

International level musicians and celebrity level musicians teach you all, right here!

Funky Scale Method with Pop & Jazz Improv!

with Mick Donnelly (Saxophonist to hundreds of A Listers)

This is the most fun and exciting way to learn scales that I have ever seen!

Learn scales “by doing” and improvise on them by adding one note at a time; Mick sounds sooo cool!

From Scales to Pop & Jazz Improv

Modes and Major Scales

Natural Minor Scale

The most fun & exciting way to learn scales ever!

Natural Minor Scale

The Minor Pentatonic Scale

Technique & Knowledge: The Scale Exercise

Improv 1: Rhythm & Cumulative Note Method

Improv 2: Developing Coordination – 1 Note Melody

Improv 3: Adding Scale Notes, Same Bass

Improv 4: 3 Notes, increasing rhythmic complexity

Improv 5: Varied Repetition – Phrase Endings

Improv 6: Varied Repetition – Rhythmic Displacement

Improv 7: Starting on Different Beats of the Bar

Improv 8: Structure & b5

Further improv and songwriting techniques.

Modes and Major Scales

Blues Scale

Celebrity Masterclass by Mick Donnelly, who performed with the likes of Sammy Davis Jr.

1. Learn the Blues Scale & Practice Strategies

2. Develop Coordination with Different LH Bass Lines

3. Learn Different LH Riffs

4. Use Different Walking Basses

5. Develop Rhythmic Motifs

6. Use the RH Cumulative Note Method

7. Connect your Imagination (Inner Ear) Via Your Voice to Your Fingers

8. Develop Repetition using Mick D Motifs & Varying Phrase Endings

9. Explore Phrases Starting on Different Beats of the Bar

10. Explore The Pick Up

11. Learn Features of Making Longer Phrase Structures More Effective

12. Develop Tools for Improvisation and Songwriting

13. Exclusive notated Mick D solo

Modes and Major Scales

Major Scales and Modes

Major Scale and Modes

Mick starts with the Ionian Mode (Major Scale). Then we explore Dorian, Phrygian, Lydian and Mixolydian in detail.

Exclusive Mick D Solo

Mick D Practice Method

Improvisation Practice Method: evolving licks, interval expansion, rhythmic variety, embellishments (turns and grace notes)

Scales v Modal Harmony

Crazy (Aerosmith)

Scarborough Fair (trad. & Simon & Garfunkel)

Thriller (Michael Jackson)

I Wish (Stevie Wonder)

Doo Wop That Thing (Lauryn Hill)

I Care (Beyonce)

A Place for My Head (Linkin Park)

Simpsons (Danny Elfman)

Man on the Moon (REM)

Human Nature (Michael Jackson)

Sweet Child of Mine (Guns ‘n Roses)

Making a Classical Melody

with Dr Jason Roberts, winner of a major national USA American Guild of Organists Improvisation competition.

Jason demonstrates on the organ, but this is totally applicable to the piano too.

Extended organ improvisation course

Make a Tune 1: Q&A

Schoenberg was a famous composer who also had a unique perspective on the construction of music alongside a very broad historical knowledge. One of his famous books (these could even be called “text books”) is called “Fundamentals of Composition”. It’s this book that has inspired this series of courses.

“A theme – the “Period” – it’s a closed form, harmonically stable. At the end you feel like you’ve arrived somewhere and it’s time to rest.” Jason Roberts.

1. Construction (Eine Kleine Nachtmusik)

2. Melodic Contour

3. Thematic Skeletons

4. Harmonic Implications & Cadences

5. Modern Variants (Stravinsky)

6. Traditional Variant (Cwm Rhondda)

7. Extended Variant (Mozart K279)

8. Recognisability & the Elements of Music.

Extended organ improvisation course

Make a Tune 2: Sentence Form

This is where the true symphonic magic evolves. You don’t want chorale preludes or fugues? Well, this is definitely the answer for you then! Develop melodies like a late Romantic or early 20th Century composer!

1. What is a Sentence?

2. Beethoven: Piano Sonata Fm.

3. Bocherini: Minuet.

4. Beethoven: Symphony 5.

5. Vierne: Symphony 1, Finale.

6. The I-V Battle – 1st Idea Skeletons.

7. Arpeggios versus Scales.

8. How to construct your own Mini Development.

9. Use of beginning and ends of original phrases to create Mini Developments.

10. Application to Stanford: Engelberg.

11. Jason Roberts Improvisation on Engelberg.

Extended organ improvisation course

Make a Tune 3: Sequences

“When you make a stable theme, it usually ends with a perfect cadence and you feel satisfied at the end, but a sequence is really the opposite of that; you’re trying to build tension, you’re going to far away keys and it’s much more unstable” , Jason Roberts.

1. What is a Sequence?

2. How to use the Circle of 5ths

3. Creating 2 Part Imitation in a Sequence

4. Creating 3 Part Imitation in a Sequence

5. Adapting and extending famous examples

6. Liquidation

7. Chromatic Choir Warm Up Method (V-I)

8. Chromatic Bass: Secondary Dominants

9. Beg, Steal, Borrow


  1. Start with the I-IV-V Chords (the 3 chord trick) with fun real songs,

    simultaneously create nice accompaniments.

  2. Then consider ii-V-I Gospel style.

  3. Finally add the ii-iii-vi minor chords and you have most of the vocabulary that you need.

Chords with Pop, Gospel and Classical Embellishments

Mark Walker Gospel Pianist

From 1 Chord to Funk Bass

Mark Walker, Korg keyboard player to The Jacksons, Westlife, Simply Red, Will Young, 5ive, All Saints, Anita Baker, Gabrielle and others is a genius teacher!

This course starts at a level that all can appreciate – which notes fit well under a C chord.

The Walker Walking Bass is studied next, mostly using notes of the chords and adding some embellishments as we steer to the next chord.

‘Mark’ed Funk creates some dynamic rhythmical elements and some amazing playing. Don’t worry, some structured exercises will get you there.

Elevated Gospel includes a few more triplet patterns and some inspired patterns.

This course comes with fully notated transcriptions and slowed down tracks for you to follow Mark’s exceptional playing.


Journey Hand in Hand – Parallel 3rds

An introduction to simple classical improvisation, just using 3rds.

Travel through a range of keys, explore upper neighbour notes, lower neighbour notes, turns and scales. Real world examples from Bach, Beethoven, Handel and Mozart. Improvise away!


Journey Hand in Hand – Parallel 6ths & 1st Inversions

Starting with parallel 6ths, explore decorations, keys, scales, suspensions, modulations. Move on to 1st inversions, suspensions, modulations, real world examples and structured template improvisations in the style of famous composers.

Pop Piano Course

I-IV-V & Pentatonic Scale – James Morrison Undiscovered

Marcus Brown, keyboard player to Madonna, James Morrison and many more takes you through I-IV-V and the Pentatonic Scale in this famous song.

Marcus invented the short piano solo moment on the original James Morrison Undiscovered single. He tells you all about it and, through the course, you will also cover:

(1) Thinking of the sound/music first, then placing it “in the key”.

(2) Plagal, perfect, interrupted cadences

(3) 3 chord trick

(4) Gospel/soul elements

(5) Sus 4 chords

(6) Rhythmic pushes

(7) Pentatonic scales

(8) V11s (Dominant 11ths)

(9) Chord voicing: connecting piano parts to melody

(10) Enhancing your musicianship tasks

(11) Improvising, composing, songwriting inspired by features of this song.

(12) Published sheet music is inaccurate for this song – find some specific corrections in this course so that you play the song how Marcus would.

organ masterclasses

Twinkle Twinkle: Taking Your 1st Flight (I-IV-V, Theme & Variations)

Sietze de Vries is an organist who went viral due to his online improvisations and tutorials. He has a fantastic teaching method that applies to piano just as much as it does to organ.

Laying the Foundations

One Note

One Chord: The Triad


Texture: Broken Chords, Fanfares, Different Manuals

I-IV-V Chords

The Theme

Complete the Song, Play by Ear!

One Hand Harmony

Twinkle RH Harmony, LH Bass

Transposition (Different Keys)

The Variations

Variation 1: Triple Ripples

Variation 2: Semiquaver Toccata

Variation 3: Put Your Foot Down

Variation 4: LH takes the Melody

Variation 5: Pedal Solo, 2’

Variation 6: Walk the Bass

Variation 6b: Where Ya Walkin’ To

Variation 7: Change that Metre!

Bonus Material to Explore

organ masterclasses

Twinkle Twinkle Brain Gym (add ii-iii-vi, create a Chorale Prelude)

Here we explore the relative minor key and its i-iv-v chords and discover that they are chords ii-iii-vi in the relative Major.

Twinkle is now reharmonised with chord I, ii, iii, IV, V and vi.

Add suspensions, explore the minor.

Your first Chorale Prelude will now form.


Root Positions, Chords I-vi#

1.Switch to the minor: ii iii vi

2.Same Note, 2 Different Chords

3.Renaissance Dance & Modalism

4.Same Note, 3 Different Chords

Movement Through 3rds

5.Romantic Era 3rd Shifts, Mendelssohn Wedding March

6.Sequences through 3rds

Chorale Preludes

7.Old 100th Chorale Prelude

Adding the Polish



10.The Full Combo

11.Additional Melodies to Explore

Piano masterclasses

Now You have Some Chords, Create some Riffs and Licks!

Celebrity pianist to Madonna takes you through Pop piano licks, piano riffs, voicings and grooves and you apply them using John Legend, Dolly Parton, Ben E King, Ed Sheeran, Rihanna and James Morrison.

This wonderful piano riffs masterclass by Marcus includes

1. The Country Lick

2. Simplification of this Lick

3. 4ths & 2nds

4. Anchor Notes and Voicing

5. Clave Rhythm

6. Samba Rhythm

7. Rhythmic Restylisation

8. Musicianship Skills

9. Long Term Structure

10. Improvisation and Songwriting

11. Stand By Your Man (Dolly Parton)

12. Stand by Me (Ben E King)

13. Umbrella (Rihanna)

14. All of Me (John Legend)

15. Perfect (Ed Sheeran)

Mark Walker Gospel Pianist

ii-V-I Gospel with Mark Walker

Mark Walker, Korg pianist to The Jacksons, takes you from simple ii-V-I progressions to advanced embellishments.

1. Locking in with the groove.

2. The II-V-I.

3. Funky bass line.

4. Right hand Gospel octave and triad solos.

5. Licks you’ve always wanted.

Plenty of notation and exercises starting from simple skeleton scores right through to Mark’s epic solos.

Mark Walker Gospel Pianist

Pop Piano Licks, Circles by Billy Preston, Full Studio Backing Track Inc

This course is great for beginners and advanced alike. It includes pop licks and starts with the simplest of pop piano textures, but also features some amazing advanced improvisation licks on Will it Go Round in Circles by Billy Preston.

A FULL band backing track is provided, created by Mark for you in his studio, to allow you to develop your RH solos over the top, as if playing in a band.


9 Ways to Harmonise a Scale – Partimenti Course

Classical composers used formulas known as “Partimenti” or “Schemata”. Here they are with plenty of real-world famous examples to create the ultimate Classical piano/organ improvisation course!

Play a scale in the left hand. What could you create over the top?

Examples from genius famous composers.

Structured mini-improv exercises in the style of the genii.

Percussion tracks that help you create 4 bar phrases and 16 bar sections.

By the end of this course you’ll be improvising fluently!

Classical Counterpoint and Larger Forms

Extended organ improvisation course

Scherzo and Minuet Forms

Now Jason takes the work done thus far and creates extended forms including Minuets, Scherzo’s and from there you can create any structure that you want.

You will be amazed at the music that you can now improvise and how great it sounds!

Musical freedom awaits!

Organ Lessons and Masterclasses

2 Part Counterpoint

2 Part Counterpoint


Parallel 3rds & 6ths

Contrary & Parallel Motion: Stéphane Solo 1

Changing Time Sigs & Subdividing Beats

Ornamented Head of Theme

Imitation: Stéphane Solo 2

Minor: Incorporating Bach

Countersubject & Character

Subdominant: Stéphane Solo 3

Ternary Form and Relative Minor: Stéphane Solo 4

Modulation to the Dominant: Stéphane Solo 5


Organ Lessons and Masterclasses

Extended Chorale Prelude, Early Trios and Fugal Textures

Help, my piece is only 30 seconds long!

The answer is here! Sietze takes The Old 100th as his theme.

Create a variant of the 1st phrase.

Create sentences that form episodes in between phrases of the main tune with consistent 4 bar structures.

Add suspensions and ornaments.

Consider bass lines.

Explore inversions.

Finally, develop more advanced counterpoint such as trios and fugue-like textures.

From Ditties to Pieces!

Episodes & 4 Bar Phrasing

Key Structure & Modulations

Combining Chorale Prelude, Keys, Episodes

Inversions to improve Bass Lines

2 Part Episodes for Trio


Trio Theme Entry

From 4 Part Chords to 3 Part Counterpoint

Manuals only Trio, Melody in the Middle

Strong Bass Lines Promoting Counterpoint

Beg, Steal, Borrow, Bach the Guru

Organ Lessons and Masterclasses

3 Part Counterpoint & Trios

3 Part Counterpoint

3 Part Canons

3 Part Texture with Simple Parallel 3rds 

3 Part & Parallel 3rds:   Stéphane Solo 1 

Trio Sonata with Pedal Solo:   Stéphane Solo 2 

Circle of 5ths 1: Vivaldi Influenced 

Circle of 5ths 2: Arpeggios

Circle of 5ths 3: Parallel 3rds 

Circle of 5ths 4: Root Position Triads 

Circle of 5ths 5: Root Position Triads Bach & Purcell 

Circle of 5ths 6: Contrary Motion & Parallel 6ths 

Circle of 5ths 7: Vivaldi Concerto Dm Op. 3 Chords

Circle of 5ths 8: Vivaldi Concerto Dm Op. 3 Intervals

1st Inversions: Parallels 

1st Inversion 7-6s: Ascending

1st Inversion 7-6s & 2-3s: Descending 

1st Inversion 4-2s  

Root Position 4-2s 

9-8, 7-6, 3-4-3: Bach  

Complete Improvisation:   Stéphane Solo 3

Organ Lessons and Masterclasses

4 Part Counterpoint & Fugues

4 Part Counterpoint



Invertible Counterpoint

Episodes and Modulations

Stretto to create excitement

Tonic Pedal Points

Dominant Pedal Points

Inverted Pedals


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