Advanced Piano Lessons Online: Year 3 (Part 5/6)

Here I continue my advanced piano lessons online with year 3. Please refer to earlier lessons as needed, starting here. The lessons were 90 minutes long.

Lesson 52: Anthropology (September 14th, 2017)

1- Blue suede shoes, Elvis Presley version, with iReal Pro, based on scales improvisation

  • Step 1: RH only. Go up and down the Am and F#m blues scales
  • Step 2: same, with LH = 3+7

2- Augmented scales: A

3- Cantaloupe Island, by Herbie Hancock:

  • Accompaniment mode at 52-56 = quarter note
  • Start to learn the riff on Db7
  • Next time, teacher will play the theme while you play in accompaniment mode

4- Jazz lick, page 1, with metronome on 2 and 4 at 40 = quarter note

5- Anthropology, by Charlie Parker, Chris Potter version, no LH this time, all with iReal Pro:

  • Step 1: only theme with RH
  • Step 2: Bbm blues improvisation
  • Step 3: Gm blues improvisation
  • loop the three steps
  • explore some patterns
  • for section B, use augmented scales

Lesson 53: Billie Jean (October 10th, 2017)

1- Blue suede shoes:

  • Step 1: punch 3+7 on beat 1 with LH
  • Step 2: same, with RH = Am blues in 8th and quarter notes
  • Step 3: same, with RH = F#m blues
  • Listen to bass and drums from iReal Pro

2- Major II-V-I arpeggios:

  • In position A, for the 2 cycles
  • RH = arpeggio from the 3rd, + chromatic step before
  • LH = 1+5, with short delay

3- Cantaloupe Island at 52 = quarter note

  • Step 1: only LH, make sure the F is on the 1 beat
  • Step 2: add RH
  • Vision of how the riff should be: RH = lighter and legato; LH = linked to the return of Gm

4- Anthropology at 70 = quarter note

  • Step 1: RH only for theme, well-assumed, press keys strongly; finish phrases with staccato
  • Step 2: RH only for arpeggio of 1st chord from each bar + chromatic approaches

5- Billie Jean, by Michael Jackson: discover the notes by listening, don’t guess!

  • Step 1: listen to the bass line, discover the tonality (F#)
  • Step 2: for each successive note, don’t touch the piano first, but listen to the note, sing and hold the note, find the note by chromatic steps on the piano and not by randomly trying notes, and then validate that it is the right one, double check
  • Identify 2-3 melodic lines in Billie Jean and find precisely the notes

Lesson 54: Feel it Still! (October 26th, 2017)

1- Blue suede shoes:

  • Step 1: find the notes for the theme by listening to the song
  • Step 2: trio format: RH = theme, LH = 3+7

2- Major II-V-I arpeggio with iReal Pro at 55-65 = quarter note

3- Cantaloupe Island:

  • Step 1: LH only, solidly at 80-90 = quarter note
  • Step 2: hands together at 54 = quarter note; RH well legato, with small jump of the hand, a bit in a drunken style

4- Anthropology at 95 = quarter note, only RH, very loud, but with nuances (legato, then staccato at end), then add 3+7 in LH

5- The Entertainer, by Scott Joplin: analyze the first page with pop/jazz chords, and start to learn the notes

6- Long ago and far away at 48 = quarter note:

  • Only LH for pump, 1 & 3+7
  • Focus on not hesitating at the transitions
  • Next time, teacher will play the theme while you play the pump in the LH

7- Feel it Still, by Portugal the Man: for 2 instruments, discover the notes, and try to play over the track

8- Quiz game on scales

Lesson 55: The Entertainer! (November 21st, 2017)

1- The Entertainer: Only LH at 70-80 to the 8th note on the metronome, focus on fluidity

2- Quiz on all scales!

3- Long ago and far away: LH only, for the pump, with goal of 80 = quarter note

4- Anthropology: trio format at 75 = quarter note

  • RH = theme
  • LH = 3+7, not staccato
  • Try to loop 10 times with iReal Pro!

5- Cantaloupe island: LH only at 72 = quarter note

  • Challenge of relaxing, be zen
  • Step 1: alternate one song pattern with breathing by the nose, and one pattern with breathing by the mouth, looking at the fingers
  • Step 2: same thing, but without looking
  • Step 3: hands together. Very light on the B natural. Softer and legato

6- Blue suede shoes:

  • Continue working on finding the notes of the song
  • Include bits of note patterns found when playing with iReal Pro

7- Major II-V-I progressions: aim for 60-65 speed for changing chords

Lesson 56: Kiss the Rain (December 21st, 2017)

1- The Entertainer: very slowly!

  • practice hands separate only
  • LH at 69 = 8th note
  • RH at 50 = 8th note
  • Loop several times 1st section

2- Long ago and far away:

  • Hands together, very slowly
  • Return to Bach mode instead of the pump, as needed, i.e. LH = bass, RH = theme

3- Anthropology at 85 = quarter note

  • Step 1: theme with more confidence, louder
  • Steps 2,3: add approach by 3rd on 1st chords
  • Step 4: theme
  • Challenge: repeat 3 times

4- Cantaloupe Island, without B natural

  • Concert format, hands together at 76 = quarter note
  • You will be the teacher’s accompaniment

5- Kiss the rain, by Yiruma: very slowly

  • RH = theme
  • LH = bass
  • Prepare for show time!

6- Major II-V-I progressions at 65 = quarter note, with iReal Pro

7- Augmented scales, RH only

Plan for concert in 2 months (which will stretch to several more months before being ready)

Lesson 57: Concert in 4 Classes ?! (January 22nd, 2018)

New challenge starting year 2018: prepare a concert of 3-4 pieces. This challenge will be tremendously helpful with improving your piano skills.

An excellent method to improve rhythm accuracy is to subdivide time on the metronome, referred to later as double time.

Another great trick is to record each hand separately with the metronome, and play the opposite hand to the track

Note that there exist downloadable configurable metronomes, where beat 1 can sound differently, and many other features. This can be very useful.

1- The Entertainer:

  • Step 1: record each hand separately with metronome
  • Step 2: when the recording is nearly perfect, use track to play the opposite hand
  • Learn second page

2- Long ago and far away:

  • Hands together at double time, i.e. 80-100 for 8th notes
  • Add 5th on 3rd beat in LH
  • iReal Pro in Ballad Swing
  • No bass, 3+7 in trio mode

3- Anthropology, as last week + a video

4- Cantaloupe island: practice also in double time, 116 = 8th note

  • Teacher will play the theme.
  • Practice counting beats while listening to the song, to nail down the rhythm

5- Kiss the rain:

  • Also in double time, with 92 = 8th note
  • Practice both hands separately, and hands together
  • Careful not to skip beats!
  • Work on second page

6- Major II-V-I at 65 = quarter note

  • With iReal Pro, RH = approaches by halftone just before beat 1, LH = complete chords

7- Quiz all scales at 75 = quarter note

Lesson 58: Coldplay (February 27th, 2018)

1- Scales: focus on both speed and evenness, aiming for 85-90 = quarter note

2- II-V-I: focus on usage in Anthropology

3- Kiss the rain:

  • LH + pedal for 1st page, listen to the sound
  • Hands together
  • Learn page 2 hands separately

4- Cantaloupe Island at 120 = 8th note

  • Very legato except for 2nd and last groups of notes of main patterns
  • Teacher will play the theme or improvise while you have to provide a stable accompaniment!

5- Anthropology at 70-75 = half note

  • Focus on approaches to the 1st chords
  • LH = 3+7 without RH

6- Long ago and far away:

  • Solo format: LH = only chromatic approaches; aim to slide using black keys
  • Hands together, with RH doubled at the octave
  • Trio format at 90 = quarter note, Swing on iReal Pro

7- The Entertainer at 80 = 16th note, hands together on 1st page, hands separately for 2nd page

8- Look at 2-3 songs of Coldplay, in accompaniment format

Lesson 59: The Girl from Ipanema! (April 11th, 2018)

1- Antique/natural minor scales at 85 = quarter note: Bbm, Fm, Cm, Gm

2- The Entertainer: 1st page at 85 = 16th note, 2nd page at 65 = 16th note, hands together, or 85 = 16th note hands separately

3- The Girl from Ipanema, by Antonio Carlos Jobim:

  • Accompaniment format
  • Use position A for Fmaj9

4- Long ago and far away:

Trio format:

  • Form 1: theme loud and confident + some approaches
  • Form 2: descending arpeggios in A or B position (2 variations) out of 1st chords
  • LH = 3+7

Solo format:

  • RH = theme doubled at octave
  • LH = pump
  • Choose your speed

5- Kiss the rain:

  • Learn 2nd page
  • Careful about your position at the piano
  • More expressive

6- Cantaloupe island:

  • Keep counting to be sure of where you are in the song
  • RH: a little louder

7- Anthropology:

  • RH = approaches
  • LH = 3+7
  • iReal Pro: use altered scales in B section

Lesson 60: All of Me (April 30th, 2018)

For concert, the choice of 3 songs is now: Kiss the rain, Long ago and far away, and the Entertainer

1- Antique scales: Ebm, Abm, Dm, Am at 90 = quarter note

2- All of me, by John Legend (not the jazz standard!)

  • Accompaniment format: loop the rhythmic pattern at 50-65 = quarter note

3- Anthropology:

  • Trio format, RH = blues scales, LH = 3+7 and iReal Pro

4- Cantaloupe island:

  • Theme doubled with both hands; play it with the YouTube track
  • Next time, teacher will play the accompaniment while you play the theme in both hands

5- Kiss the rain: continue

6- Girl from Ipanema:

  • Accompaniment format at 80 = 8th note
  • Include the same rhythm as for Cantaloupe Island.

7- The Entertainer: 2nd page with hands together, without metronome and then with 50 = 16th note

8- Long ago at 54 = quarter note

  • Solo format: RH = theme at octave, LH = pump
  • Aim for fundamental on beat 1 with subtle chromatic approach just before beat 1

Lesson 61: Dolphin Dance! (July 20th, 2018)

1- Antique scales: B, C#, E, F# at 88-90 = quarter note. Focus on 16th notes

2- Long ago and far away: focus on interpretation

  • Longer approach before beat 1, more like 8th note than 16th note
  • Add trill on long theme notes (trill with the note at the octave): first both notes, then oscillate
  • Other exercise: RH = minor blues scales, LH = pump

3- The Entertainer: also focus on interpretation, at 54 = 8th note

  • Careful with little RH finger, so melody can be well heard
  • Repeat the parts as required in the actual form of the song

4- Girl from Ipanema:

  • Step 1: accompaniment format, faster, add a 5th to the chord changes
  • Step 2: learn the theme, playing the theme by both hands together an octave apart

5- Kiss the rain

  • Record hands separately
  • Tie the notes better
  • Teacher will listen to the recordings

6- Cantaloupe Island: also record it. Aim is to jam together!

7- Dolphin Dance, by Herbie Hancock: we will focus on the version by Joey Calderazzo.


Looking forward to your questions and comments!

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