Basic Piano Music Improvisation Technique for Hymns

Music improvisation is kind of like losing weight. You see other people successfully doing it but you can never really get it down quite right. I admire those great pianists who can turn an ordinary, boring hymn into a complicated prelude. I’ve always wanted to learn how to do that. I figure, anyone can learn how to play precisely what is printed on a music score. But not everybody can add embellishments and grandeur to a plain piece. When people want me to play a hymn, often they also add, “Can you make it sound cool too?” They just don’t know how much I long to make it sound “cool.”

improv_church.jpgWhen I ask these accomplished accompanists the secret to their talent, they usually tell me, “I don’t know how to explain it. It just happens.” It seems that learning how to improvise is something that just gradually occurs little by little until one day you play something and you realize what you played is not what is on the music score. I wish somebody could actually think, pinpoint, and explain what happens when they improvise and share that knowledge to thirsty musicians like myself.

Luckily, I once had a piano teacher who was close to that point. She accompanied her church every week with grandiose, glorious, complicated fluff all from just reading off the church hymnbook. There is one secret that she taught me that made a world of difference in the hymns I play for my church. I like to call it the “left chord inversion sequence.”
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June 25th, 2007 | 9 Comments | DDR, Miscellaneous, Money, Music

“Take Me (Baby) or Leave Me” Jonathan Larson’s Rent Piano and Guitar Chords

takeme_rent.jpgI just lost my virginity … that is, my Broadway musical virginity. Until recently, I’ve never seen a musical in my life. In line with my things to do article, I wanted to do fun things that were more unconventional than the typical movie. So, what was to come in town but Rent?

As my first Broadway musical – before many more to come I’m sure – the band, tight vocal harmonies, acting, and dancing dazzled me. It was filled with so many elements that appealed to people young and old. The next week after watching the musical, I searched for songs from it that could be played on the piano. I found two. One of the hallmark songs of this music is, of course, the Seasons of Love. The other one was the duet “Take me (Baby) or Leave Me” sung by the characters Joanne and Maureen.
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May 4th, 2007 | 2 Comments | Chords, Music

Identify a Song by Humming the Tune or Tapping The Rhythm

It happens to us many times. You hear a song on the radio that you want to download on iTunes when you get home. The problem is that you don’t remember any of the lyrics (or you couldn’t understand any of the lyrics) to type into Google so you can identify the song.

A similar situation happened to me. It was a song I always remembered hearing in the 90s. They always played that song at CVS/pharmacy where I work. But I just couldn’t understand a word the artists were singing. When you are faced which such an annoying dilemma, there are three services online that you can turn to.
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February 28th, 2007 | 8 Comments | Internet, Music, Reviews

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