As a classically-trained pianist, I realized at a young age the disadvantages I faced when it came time to play other musical styles on the piano. Besides having a good playing technique and fast note-reading skills, I found myself not being able to fake an arrangement or improvise.
When I started to get really interested in pop and jazz music, I couldn’t turn to my piano teachers (all classical purists). So I had to rely on the two next best things — my ears and dad’s collection of vinyl records and music books, which were mainly presented in lead sheet forms. By listening attentively to the music (especially the piano parts), I started to pick out bits and pieces of interesting lines, patterns and riffs, and experimented with these on the piano. I also began to understand more about chords and harmonic relationships, and also the intricate rhythms of each musical style.
And as I began teaching contemporary piano styles to students (most of whom were classically-trained), I discovered that the two musical aspects most overlooked or underdeveloped were: rhythmic sense and harmonic knowledge. Rhythm and harmony, along with melody, are the three main elements in music. Without a grounded sense of rhythm and a rich resource of chords, a melody is but just a dull, unmoving, single-note ditty — especially when performed on the piano.
Hence, this blog is dedicated to everything concerning rhythm and harmony — two important musical elements in every pianist’s playing arsenal.
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