My Favourite Videos of Late


Jazz? Liszt? Techniques?
I think I'll have to make these kinds of posts quite often because YouTube is hideous when it comes to notifying subscribers.  Do remember my Video Management Website which you can join and use for free.  There, all videos are available in special playlists, plus you can make your own in your own Watchlist.  It also has links to my recent blog articles and online e-shop.

Recently, I've been responding to subscriber requests ranging from Barry Harris' Jazz 6/dim theory scale to becoming a virtuoso with specific technical exercises, with some other stuff throw in between.  No matter what your piano journey, you'd do well to spend time in all my videos because I make sure to 'generalise' the content and encourage viewers to personalise whatever I propose.  So even if you're not interested in learning a Liszt piece, the process of mastering 'a score' away from the piano is the take-away, no matter who the composer was, or even if you don't want to become a virtuoso, do the exercises but much more slowly for a little workout.  It's all for your benefit, after all.

I'll begin with this video on refining dynamics:

It's quite boring and shows a lack of finger control if every note that you play is the same volume.  This video hopes to correct this monotony by giving you some exercises using simple chords and scales (personalise, as always!) to let you experience how it feels to play certain notes louder than others, across both hands and all ten fingers.  I explain that you are to identify the loudest and softest volumes you can play, settle in the middle and get used to modifying up and down from that point.  I demonstrate using Liebestraum which you may enjoy.

Next, I propose a chord-duo idea:

Chord games are always a great opportunity to discover and try out new chords; it's a bit boring only and always using major and minor triads or only the b7 chord.  The idea is to pick any key, choose two degrees of the major scale (because you'll transpose the idea later), then two chord types.  You are to play them in as many ways as possible by alternating between them - I give many demos of this.  Once you're satisfied in that key, take the same major scale degrees and chord types, choose a new key and repeat!  Very good idea for major scale reinforcement too, which is paramount above all else.

Why not learn a Liszt piece?

As I said in the intro text, it's not about wanting to leant this piece, it's understanding the importance and benefits of learning the score in your mind (which means mastering it, fully, every 4-12 bars or so via your internal piano visualisation) and then going to the piano without the score in sight... because you know it already! This is about reducing conscious interference and just playing without distraction.  If you can keep this up, you'll learn a whole song very quickly and never need to look at the score.  You'll also know it fully which is very satisfying.  Of course, the piece needs to be on your internal jukebox first because: if you can't play it in your mind, you can't possibly hope to play it at the piano.  Next parts are linked in the comments.

This beautiful symmetrical concept is worth your time:

Barry Harris' discovered that if you play a major scale but throw in a b6 too, you get two chord types: the 6th (1 3 5 6) and the whole diminished (2 4 b6 7).  They use all the notes of the b6 scale.  Once you see these two chords interlocked, you can play the inversions of the chords separately (1 3 5 6 / 3 5 6 1 / 5 6 1 3 / 6 1 3 6) / (1 4 b5 7 / 4 b5 7 2 / b5 7 2 4 / 7 2 4 b6).  Then, you can jump around between them... in any key!  Certainly something to understand because not only can you enhance your jazz sound, it's just even more major scale mastery and fingers-on-keys-playing-sweet-chords time!

Finally, I propose a collection of 10 virtuoso techniques:

Don't be scare by the word rapidity or virtuoso.  These techniques are more about eyes-closed precision and endurance than being able to play them super fast.  The fast bit only comes in if you want to see how high you can chase the metronome!  It's satisfying when you can do these quickly with your eyes closed, not just because of the speed but the lack of conscious interference, finger control and precision.  A very recommended set!

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