Online Piano Lessons for Adults: Year 4 (Part 6/6)

This is not a beginners course. Refer to Year 3 or the earlier lessons that started here.

The challenges of preparing the pieces for a concert led to a very long gap before returning for a next lesson.

Lesson 62: Nearly 4 Months Gap! (November 13th, 2018)

Returning after a long gap, a first rule was that the concert will be at the end of December at the latest.

1- Kiss the rain: focus on the 2nd page with both hands, very slowly and without the metronome, with pedal eventually
2- Long ago and far away:

  • Step 1: LH only with metronome
  • Step 2: Hands together with metronome
  • Step 3: With octave trills

3- The Entertainer:

  • Challenge is speed without stress
  • Aim for 54-56 = 8th note
  • Note that the repeat for page 2 is to be played an octave higher in the RH!
  • Before playing hands together, review hands separately

4- The Girl from Ipanema:

  • Accompaniment format, with rhythm and notes played: 1 (F) & 2 & (C) 3 (C) & 4 & (C)
  • Be more conscious of the little finger of the RH

5- Dolphin dance:

  • Accompaniment format
  • Put your attention on the I of the II-Vs

Lesson 63: Concert Rules! (November 26th, 2018)

1- Long ago and far away: drop the approaches before beat 1

  • Step 1: only LH pump with 108 = 8th note
  • Step 2: hands together, without metronome
  • Step 3: hands together with metronome at 88-100 = 8th note

2- Kiss the rain

  • Page 1 at 96 = 8th note
  • Focus on page 2 to bring up the speed to match page 1
  • Skipping pages 3 & 4, an artificial ending was included

3- The entertainer

  • Also skipping pages 3 & 4.
  • Pages 1 & 2 at 100-106 = 8th note
  • Interpretation: RH stronger, louder; more lively, despite the slow speed

Rules for the “official” concert

  • At least 2 people listening
  • 3 pieces without metronome
  • Filmed and recorded
  • Before 2019!
  • Do not stop even if there is a mistake, and keep playing
  • Rehearsal on the last class before the concert
  • Think about the next wave of pieces and a second concert in the spring

4- Girl from Ipanema

  • Accompaniment format: 168 = 8th note using a metronome with a different sound on beat 1
  • Theme format: both hands play the theme symmetrically, with iReal Pro

5- Dolphin Dance, accompaniment format

  • Make sure to have only 1 finger moving in the V of a II-V-I
  • Use the pedal in between chords

Lesson 64: Concert Rehearsal (December 19th, 2018)

More advice for the concert:

  • Stay calm, no one will die
  • In case of major mistake, restart
  • But as much as possible, keep playing no matter what
  • Don’t burn out before the concert
  • Small warm up before the concert
  • Concert must be on an 88 notes piano with touch sensitive keys

1- Long ago and far away: it’s going very well

  • Step 1: LH only at 75-80 = quarter note
  • Step 2: Hands together at 54-60 = quarter note
  • Step 3: Without metronome, not too fast
  • Add a left-hand ending: F – C – F

2- Kiss the rain: nice!

  • Keep polishing and make more fluid, especially the start of the 2nd page
  • Practice a lot the ending

3- The entertainer: like a pro! (well, at a much slower speed…)

  • Not too fast
  • Thing along long melodic lines

4- Girl from Ipanema: analyze chords and choose appropriate inversions (positions A/B); trio format in iReal Pro

5- Dolphin dance: also work on inversions

Lesson 65: Fly me to the Moon! (January 10th, 2019)

1- Fly me to the moon: start in Bach format

2- Gymnopédie #1, by Éric Satie

3- A whiter shade of pale, by Procol Harum: accompaniment format, with 7ths unless specified. We’ll focus on the recent version.

  • Choose inversions that minimize finger movement

4- Forrest Gump, the Feather Theme: challenge to find the notes played

5- Theory V of V:

  • It accentuates the temporary movement
  • V/? = 7: this 7th will be related to the tonality
  • Where we arrive is not important, except for the fundamental

Lesson 66: The Saga of Harrison Crabfeathers! (January 24th, 2019)

1- Gymnopédie #1: learn hands separately. LH intuitive and solid

2- Fly me to the mood

  • Interpretation
  • Melody: make it sing; practice with simplified rhythm, e.g. straight 8ths, and simplified melody line.
  • Bach format with chromatic approaches in the bass line

3- Whiter shade of pale: focus on the introduction, in Bach format, solidly. The form of the song is:

Intro: Bach format

Part 1: Accompaniment format

Intro #2: Bach

Part 2: Accompaniment

Part 3: Accompaniment, with arpeggios in RH

Out-tro: To be determined

4- Forrest Gump: Find the notes in the RH = melody and LH = riff, up to 30 seconds from the start

Intro: A D/A B- E/G#

5- The Saga of Harrison Crabfeathers, by Steve Kuhn, theory:

  • Em7: consider that it is a 2 of D
  • direct minor borrowing
  • viewed in D tonality, the Cmaj7 is bVII, or simply C with alteration of F to F#
  • Cmaj7 can be seen as the IV of G
  • Dm7 becomes the 2 of C
  • Bbmaj7 is the IV of F
  • Challenge: Practice in trio format, with even 8ths in iReal Pro

Lesson 67: On Green Dolphin Street! (February 14th, 2019)

1- Saga of Harrison Crabfeathers:

Aim for solo format as a ballad, and trio format with iReal Pro

  • Step 1: Theme, with section C doubled at the octave
  • Step 2: blues scales:Section A: Em bluesSection B: Dm blues

    Section C: Cm blues

    Section D: Cm blues

2- Fly me to the moon at 55 = half note

  • Bach format, with loose theme
  • Include sometimes II-V-I chords in accompaniment format, instead of the theme

3- A whiter shade of pale: For part B, RH = chords played at each quarter note, LH = first chord played on dotted quarter note and 8th note, and second chord played on the same rhythm

4- Forrest Gump: hands separately, with pedal, not too fast, aim for beautiful melody and brilliant sound

5- Gymnopédie: focus on first two lines played together without hesitation at 40 = quarter note, aim to flow, very soft, feminine approach.

6- On green dolphin street, by Mile Davis:

  • Accompaniment mode: RH = 3+7 or maj triads for the intro; LH = bass

Lesson 68: Mirrored Hands Technique (March 7th, 2019)

1- On green dolphin street: use iReal Pro version, accompaniment format

Choices of inversions (positions A/B), low enough, around middle C:

Part A: Ebmaj7 (A); Ebm7 (A); F7/Eb (A) (adding Fundamental F or 0 inversion); Emaj7/Eb (A) with F also; Ebmaj7 (A); C7 (A) (no 13th, start on Bb)

Part B: Fm7 (A); Bb7#9#5; Ebmaj7; Ab7m (B); Db7#9 (B); Gbmaj7; F7m (A); Bb713

Part C: Fm7 (A); D07 (B); G7b9; Cm7; A07 (B); D7b9; Gm7; C7 (B); Fm7 (A); Bb7; Eb6 to replace by Ebmaj7; Fm7 (A) Bb7

2- Gymnopédie: good interpretation, raise pedal between chords, metronome at 90 = 8th note

3- Forrest Gump from score: LH only at 65 = quarter note, aim to be very solid

4- A whiter shade of pale: loop on iReal Pro at 50-65 = quarter note, with or without bass. Follow the true parts of the song

5- Fly me to the moon: Bach format, Ballad Swing on iReal Pro, without bass

6- The Saga of Harrison Crabfeathers: iReal Pro in Ballad Even

  • Step 1: Theme
  • Step 2: Mirror RH = LH
  • Step 3: Mirror RH and LH, but LH plays chords and RH plays random notes from chords (not too random)
  • Challenge: always stay with the track

Lesson 69: Bohemian Rhapsody! (April 11th, 2019)

1- Harrison Crabfeathers: iReal Pro at 95 = quarter note, style = Even 8ths.

  • Careful at little finger of RH
  • Step 1: Mirror LH and RH: LH = chords, RH = nice melody from chords
  • Step 2: Mirror LH = RH, always with the same rhythm, e.g. for 2 measures in 3/4: 8th note silence; tied 8th note + quarter note; tied 8th note + quarter note + dotted half note

2- Bohemian Rhapsody, by Queen:

  • Challenges: rubato, mix classic and pop/jazz, interpretation
  • Accompaniment format
  • Intro: give start note to singers, of Bb doubled at octave and let resonate
  • Chords on beat 1 and let resonate. Inversions in parentheses:
  • Bb6 (0) use 5 fingers, doubling Bb | C13 (A) | F7 (2) Cm7 (0) F7 (2) | Bb (0) Cm7 (B) Bb (0) | Gm (0) played on beats 1,2,3,4 | Bb7 (2) | Eb (1)

3- Forrest Gump: increase speed to 110-120 = 8th note, hands separately; lively theme

4- A whiter shade of pale: jam with the tune, concert version

5- On green dolphin street:

  • Challenge to jam together, you will accompany, teacher will play theme or improvise
  • practice with iReal Pro, and invent an interesting walking bass: 1+5+8

6- Gymnopédie: concert version!

  • No metronome
  • Flow with the piece
  • Listen to how the chords resonate
  • Focus on interpretation, emotions, meditation
  • Listen to 2 different versions and use that as inspiration
  • Loud enough

Lesson 70: Forrest Gump Feather Theme (May 9th, 2019)

1- Forrest Gump: focus on hand independence, 2 different feels in each hand

  • Step 1: learn by heart the theme up to and including the pattern of 6ths
  • Step 2: Feel the rhythm; LH: bounce
  • Step 3: Let the melody float over
  • Challenge: keep the same feel in the LH no matter what the RH is doing

2- The saga of Harrison Crabfeathers: iReal Pro with Ballad Even

  • Form 1: Harmonized theme with 3rd or 4th below, taken from notes of underlying chord; use your ear to ensure the notes sound good
  • Form 2: Play “rational” chords, i.e. replace IIm7 chords with Imaj9 in RH and IIm9 in LH; and replace IVmaj7 with Imaj9 in RH and IVmaj9 in LH

3- On green dolphin street: iReal Pro in Swing style at 85 = quarter note

  • Step 1: Only LH very loud, 1+5 or approaches
  • Step 2: Only LH chords in trio format, and add bass on iReal ProTry intuitive rhythmsBounce with the track, feeling the 1 beat

4- Bohemian Rhapsody: analyze the chords

5- Improvisation theory table: aim to flow, between intuitive and rational and between “in” and “out”:

In = tonal, pleasant, expected

Out = atonal, dissonant, hard, unexpected

Rational = thought about, concepts, looking at your hands

Intuitive = reflexes, by ear, without looking

Lesson 71: La Cumparsita Tango! (May 30th, 2019)

1- La Cumparsita: Bach format

2- Bohemian Rhapsody

Intro: chords played with rhythm of the melody

Part A = chords played on all beats

Part B = chords played with rhythm of the melody

Part C = chords played on all beats

Part D = Riff: Bb in bass, arpeggio of Bb in RH with last notes G, F, doubled at octave then same with G, with last notes A, G

Part E = chords played on all beats

3- On green dolphin street: trio format, RH = theme + octaves, LH = chords

4- The saga of Harrison Crabfeathers: trio format, with targeted harmonies

5- Forrest Gump

  • Speed up the theme in 6ths, make it automatic
  • Find a speed for the whole piece
  • Focus on the difficult section

Lesson 72: Copacabana! (August 13th, 2019)

1- Quiz on II-V-I. Given a I, play the II-V-I. Major/minor b9, #9.

2- Piano man, by Billy Joel: write down the score from a chord function table

3- Nocturne in Eb, by Chopin

4- Copacabana, by Barry Manilow: accompaniment mode, choose positions A or B; bass in quarter notes, 1+5, punchy.

5- Uptown girl, by Billy Joel: start E chord in position 1.

6- Speed exercise on 2 scales: Em blues and Am harmonic


This completes the lessons I took over 4 years.

Any feedback would be very much welcome!

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