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Course 6: Inspirational Improvisation - Piano

Teacher: Greg Howlett
FREE: Test your knowledge of inspirational improvisation - piano!

Become a Versatile Church Pianist:


Also available on DVD. Inspirational Improvisation will teach you to improvise church music effortlessly. Each of the nine steps in the course will move you toward the point where you can play beautifully without written music. Based on solid theory and supplemented with plenty of examples and homework assignments, this video series takes a unique approach to teaching important skills to church pianists.



Lesson 1. Understanding Foundational Chords and Function

"Recognize the six common chords used in all church music"


In this lesson, you will learn the six chords that are most often used in church music. You will learn
how to play them using any key as the root. You will also learn how to quickly identify them when looking at written music. Lastly, you will learn the basics of how chords move (interact) with each
other.


Lesson 2. Adding 7ths

"Change boring three note triads into four note chords"


In this lesson, you will learn how to change triads into four note chords by adding the 7th. You will be able to quickly choose between the major 7th and minor 7th for each of the diatonic chords in any key.


Lesson 3. Minor Chord Substitutions

"Easy chord substitutions that will dramatically improve your sound"


In this lesson, you will learn some basic chord substitutions where minor 7th chords are substituted for major chords. You will also learn about the very important ii - V7 - I cadence.


Lesson 4. Adding Color Notes

"Implement 9ths, 11ths, 13ths"


In this lesson, you will learn what color notes can be added to different chords. We will discuss 9ths, 11ths, and 13ths, and how they can be voiced into chords to give them more depth.


Lesson 5. Voicing

"Play the notes in a chord on the piano in a way that sounds sophisticated"


In this lesson, you will learn how to voice complex chords in ways that sound good. Voicing refers to the position of the notes in a chord on the keyboard. Voicing is an often ignored topic but is very important. In fact, certain chords will “work” or “not work” based on the way they are voiced.


Lesson 6. Step Progressions

"Replace entire chord progressions in a song with your own harmony"


In this lesson, you will learn how to completely replace the existing harmony in a song with your own. You will also start learning how to play lead sheets.


Lesson 7. Technical Treatments

"Easy things you can do to make your music more interesting"


In this lesson, you will start learning how to give contrast to your arrangements using technical treatments, such as arpeggios, low-register melodies, patterns, scales, rhythmic variety and inner voice movement.


Lesson 8. Hooks

"Develop themes that can be incorporated through your music to tie it together and make it unforgettable"


A hook is a short passage of a song that catches attention and is often repeated and used in various ways through the song. Hooks are used to catch the ear of the listener, to provide an idea for a pattern that can be incorporated through the song, as an introduction, as an ending, as an interlude (between verses or phrases), to aid in transposition, and to bridge a change in style.


Lesson 9. Feeling

"Add emotional content to your music"


Just as most communication is non-verbal, most of what happens in music takes place outside of what you see printed on a piece of paper. A worthwhile goal in music is to try to achieve a "natural" sound. Achieving a state in your music where it sounds "special" is the result of countless tiny decisions that affect every key you press. To be natural and special, these decisions have to be made subconsciously—from something deeper than the intellect.