On the February 9th post titled Performing Monkeys, I ended the post saying that we taught with the basic idea of creating piano players for life and building their skills. I promised a better list of basic skills every piano player should have. Well, Howard and I have been kicking that idea around a lot for the past two weeks and I finally have the list. So here goes, piano players…..
- Read music fluently. That is, not be able to “figure it out”, but actually to read it like reading a book.
- Learn and perform a piece by memory.
- Have the knowledge and technique to play the scales and chords of each key.
- Know the five standard chord progressions: Basic Harmony, Substitute Chords, Scale Chords, Circle of Fifths, and Chromatic Chords.
- Know the standard musical forms such as Song Form, Sonata Form, and Rondo Form.
- Play by ear – picking out a melody and choosing appropriate accompaniment chords.
- Sort out the melody from the accompaniment and balance the hands to display that.
- Be able to play to a steady drum-beat or metronome.
- Transpose a piece various keys.
- Maintain a repertoire of performable music.
Learn and play from written music of the following eras:
- 20th Century
Fake Book and Improvisation Skills. Use a fake book or lead sheet to:
- Perform a piece using left hand solid chords.
- Perform a piece using various left hand patterns.
- Create and perform an arrangement of a piece using various left hands and right hand embelishments.
- Improvise a piece from a fake book using various left hands/right hands/ and embelishments on the fly.
Modern Popular and Jazz Music Skills
- Improvise on 12-bar blues
- Learn and perform a modern popular piece with modern pop or Latin rhythms.
Sight Reading Skills
- Count the rhythms at sight while playing.
- Sight-read modern rhythms in popular music.
- Recognize the chords at sight including different inversions and voicing of the chords.
Ensemble Playing Skills
- Be able to play along with another person.
- Know how to accompany another musician or singer.
- Play chords within a band or ensemble.
This is the current list of what we think is most important for a good all-around piano player. If you have other additions, we would love to hear your ideas. Please leave a comment.
Til next time,