Over the next several weeks, I will be posting a series of "lessons," following this proposed schedule:
- Week 1: Unlocking Keys
- Week 2: Melodies, Scales, and Number Theory
- Week 3: Let's Talk Chords
- Week 4: Kinetics and Improvisation
- Week 5: Special Considerations and A Few Notes On Style
The first three weeks will be primarily theoretical, and then in weeks 4 and 5 we'll really get practical. Each week there will be exercises provided to help you put the information into practice. The goal of this series is to incrementally establish a foundation of knowledge that allows you to play with confidence and freedom.
What is Freestyle Piano?
Freestyle Piano is a simple, flexible, and creative approach to playing piano. The strict structures of Classical Piano are simply not very well suited to the varying demands of today's worship music. The contemporary worship pianist needs a less complicated and more versatile approach.
Freestyle Piano does not require "playing by ear" (although continuing to develop your ear is always a good idea). There is no Latin phraseology, bellybutton meditation, or quantum physics involved. The primary skill required is counting. To 7.
Where do I begin?
The first thing to do is learn to think properly and efficiently about musical structures. Once we have a firm grasp on the mechanics, we can move to the keyboard and start implementing them.
Memorization is a necessary part of music: you can't escape it. There is a vast difference, however, between memorizing particulars and memorizing principles. In mathematics, instead of memorizing the answer to every problem, we memorize the process - how to find the answer. Music should be approached in the same fashion: while we cannot avoid memorization, we can certainly minimize it.
Memorization plays very different roles in Freestyle and Classical Piano. Classical Piano, like touch-typing, seeks to make kinetic response to neural stimulus automatic, something that is essential for playing complicated compositions. Freestyle Piano, on the other hand, recommends that the pianist memorize the fundamental structures and relationships in chord-based music, and then determine for himself what to play on the basis of that knowledge.
Some of the information will be unavoidably technical, although I will make every attempt to make it as plain as possible. It will be helpful if you can remember that everything is pattern-based. The charts provided should function like multiplication tables, to be used as reference aids until the patterns become ingrained. If all the information begins to seem overwhelming, remember that you can only play one song at a time, and in one key. So take heart. The journey of a thousand songs begins with a single note.