Pop/Rock Keyboard

Author: Dave Limina   •   Course Code: OPIAN-230

Learn to play authentic keyboard parts in a wide range of pop/rock styles, including rock 'n' roll, R&B, dance pop, classic rock, country, heartland/alt-country, and jam band. Pop/Rock Keyboard provides an in-depth, practical approach to playing pop/rock music in a band and for solo piano. The course explores how to play accompaniment parts and improvised solos, and how to read and interpret contemporary chord symbol lead sheet notation. Each lesson features new techniques taught through video demonstrations of solo piano and full band performances, reading and listening examples, and practice opportunities using album quality play-along tracks. The course includes music examples and techniques from artists and bands such as The Beatles, Elton John, Alicia Keys, Demi Levato, David Bowie, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnnie Johnson, Little Richard, Jamie Cullum, Fats Domino, Maroon 5, John Mayer, The Fray, Aretha Franklin, Peter Gabriel, Stevie Wonder, Adele, Prince, Rascall Flatts, Bruce Hornsby, Steve Earle, The Grateful Dead, Phish, and many others.

The course begins with instruction on triads, arpeggiated keyboard parts, voice-leading, and comping patterns - all of which are bedrock principles of many signature pop/rock songs. From there, you'll delve into dominant seventh chords, blues licks, and call and response techniques. You'll explore the influence of gospel music and techniques specific to sub genres of pop/rock music, focus on how to find the key center for improvisation, and learn the associated phrasing and grooving techniques to advance your improvisational chops. The course ends with performance considerations, including how to combine different pop/rock techniques, how to deal with performance anxiety, and how to work out the best possible practice routine. At the end of each lesson, students will record themselves playing along with band tracks for instructor critique. The course is equally beneficial to beginning keyboard students, or students with classical experience or contemporary jazz style training. This course will fill in any gaps in students' playing, and provide a strong foundation in pop/rock keyboard playing.

By the end of the course, you will be able to:

  • Construct various chord types used in pop/rock styles
  • Voice lead chords through chord progressions
  • Play rhythmic accompaniments that are appropriate for many pop/rock styles
  • Play improvised solos on pop/rock tunes
  • Use the improvisational (soloing) vocabulary used in pop/rock styles
  • Employ quarter note, eighth note, broken triad, and arpeggiated accompaniment techniques
  • Employ dominant seventh chord techniques and blues licks
  • Play minor seventh chords, major seventh chords, and the pop styles that use them
  • Play sophisticated add9 chords and fourths voicing commonly used in pop/rock styles
  • Read and interpret lead sheets
  • Play techniques borrowed from gospel styles, commonly used in pop/rock music
  • Use funky pop and dance grooves and related keyboard sounds and techniques
  • Play country and country/pop accompaniment and solos

Lesson 1: Quarter-Note Triads in Pop/Rock Music

  • Triad Construction
  • Major Scale Diatonic Harmony
  • Major Triads
  • Minor Triads
  • Quarter-Note Rhythms in Pop/Rock
  • Quarter-Note Comping
  • Lead-Sheet Reading Tips
  • Pop/Rock Chord Progressions and Inversions
  • Voice Leading
  • Triad Inversions
  • Quarter-Note Triads

Lesson 2: Eighth-Note Comping Patterns in Pop/Rock Music

  • The Role of the Keyboard
  • Broken-Triad Comping Patterns
  • Eighth-Note Pattern Comping
  • The Left Hand
  • Lead-Sheet Reading
  • Two-Hand Patterns
  • Rock-and-Roll Eighth-Note Techniques
  • Rock-and-Roll Exercises
  • Rock-and-Roll Shuffles Exercises
  • Eighth-Note Techniques

Lesson 3: Arpeggiated Keyboard Parts in Pop/Rock Music

  • Major Right-Hand Comping Arpeggios
  • Minor Right-Hand Comping Arpeggios
  • Incorporating the Left Hand
  • Two-Hand Comping Arpeggios Across Chords
  • Major/Minor Arpeggio Exercises
  • 2-Hand Arpeggios
  • Lead-Sheet Reading
  • Arpeggio Patterns

Lesson 4: The Dominant 7th Chord and Blues Licks in Pop/Rock Music

  • The Dominant 7th Chord
  • Dominant 7th Harmony
  • Dominant 7th Rhythmic Exercises
  • Blues-Based Rock-and-Roll Comping
  • Rock-and-Roll Technique
  • The Blues Scale
  • Blues Scale Construction
  • Blues-Scale Licks The Pentatonic Scale
  • Pentatonic Scale Construction
  • Pentatonic Licks
  • Lead-Sheet-Reading
  • Call and Response Techniques
  • Improvisation
  • "Mustang Sally"

Lesson 5: New Chords and Styles for Pop/Rock Keyboard

  • Progressions Using Maj7, Min7, and Sus4 Chords
  • The Major 7th Chord in Pop/Rock Music
  • Major 7th Chord Construction
  • The Minor 7th Chord in Pop/Rock Music
  • Minor 7th Chord Construction
  • The Sus4 and Sus2 Triads in Pop/Rock Music
  • Sus4 Triad Construction
  • Dominant 7th Sus4 Chords in Pop/Rock Styles
  • Dominant 7th Sus4 Chord Construction
  • Lead-Sheet Reading
  • Chord Progressions Using New Pop/Rock Chords
  • 8-bar Progressions
  • Chord Types
  • "What's Going On?"

Lesson 6: Gospel Influences in Pop/Rock Keyboard Playing

  • Listening Exercise: Gospel Influences
  • The 2 Minor Triad
  • 2 Minor Triad Theory and Construction
  • 2 Minor Triad Skillbuilding
  • Gospel Walkdowns
  • Gospel Walkdown Theory and Construction
  • Gospel Walkdown Skillbuilding
  • Gospel Walkups
  • Gospel Walkup Theory and Construction
  • Gospel Walkup Skillbuilding
  • Gospel Pentatonic Fills in Octaves
  • Gospel Pentatonic Fills Theory and Construction
  • Gospel Pentatonic Fill Skillbuilding
  • Gospel Drop-2 Voicing Technique
  • Gospel Drop-2 Voicing Construction
  • Gospel-Drop 2 Voicing Skillbuilding
  • Lead-Sheet Reading
  • Gospel-Influenced Pop/Rock Songs

Lesson 7: Funky Pop/Rock Styles: Dance, R&B, and Groove

  • More Dominant 7th Grooves in Pop/Rock Music
  • Dominant 7-Based Keyboard Parts
  • Mixolydian Triad Construction
  • More on Dominant 7-Based Keyboard Parts
  • Syncopated "Pocket" Grooves: Time Placement in Pop/Rock Music
  • Eighth-Note Syncopations
  • Sixteenth-Note Syncopations
  • Pop/Rock Clavinet Technique
  • Two-Hand Clavinet Technique
  • Lead-Sheet Reading
  • R&B and Dance Grooves
  • Playing Parts
  • "Evacuate the Dance Floor"
  • "Emotions"

Lesson 8: Country Pop/Rock

  • Country Music
  • Traditional Country Pentatonic Fills
  • Slip-Note Construction
  • Slip-Note Pentatonics
  • Country Pop/Rock Comping
  • Country Pop/Rock Melodic Scale Fragments with Drone Notes
  • Scale Fragments Construction
  • Applying Country-Flavored Licks and Comping to Pop/Rock Tunes
  • Lead-Sheet Reading
  • "She Thinks I Still Care"
  • "Take Me There"

Lesson 9: Pop/Rock Improvisation

  • Improvisation
  • Using the Major Scale and Pentatonic Scale in Improvisation
  • Finding the Key Center for Improvisation
  • Grooving and Phrasing
  • Determining which Solo Material to Use
  • Lead-Sheet Reading
  • Soloing Expectations

Lesson 10: Pop/Rock Ballads

  • Musical Skills and Ballads
  • Pop Ballad Comping
  • Add9 Triads and Chords
  • Add9 Triad Construction and Skillbuilding
  • Pop/Rock Progressions Using Triad Inversions
  • Descending Line-Cliche Progressions
  • Ascending Line-Cliche Progressions
  • Using Fourth Voicings in Pop/Rock Ballads
  • Fourth Voicing Substitutions
  • Lead-Sheet Reading
  • Ballad Speed and Difficulty
  • Pop/Rock Ballad Performance

Lesson 11: Heartland Pop/Rock Keyboard and The Art of the Jam

  • Jam
  • Jam Band Styles
  • Heartland Pop/Rock
  • Heartland Rock Grooves and Sounds
  • Vintage Keyboard Sounds
  • Workshop: Lead-Sheet Reading

Lesson 12: Pop/Rock Performances: Putting It All Together

  • Performance
  • Combining Pop/Rock Techniques
  • Pop Ballads and Classic Rock
  • Playing Melodies in Pop/Rock Styles
  • Pop/Rock Etudes
  • Peformance Anxiety
  • 8-Bar Solo
  • Further Pop/Rock Practice Techniques
  • Classic Pop/Rock Keyboard Performances
  • "Let It Be"
  • "One and Only"

Dave Limina

Author & Instructor

Dave Limina is an Assistant Professor in the Piano Department at Berklee College of Music, where he received the Most Valuable Contribution to the Performance Curriculum Award in 2001 for his work in developing the Hammond organ program. An experienced session keyboardist, composer, and arranger, Dave has performed with Ronnie Earl and the Broadcasters, Lori McKenna, Duke Robillard, Paula Cole, Mark Murphy, Robert Lee Castleman, and the first national touring company of the Broadway musical Rent. He received Boston Music award nominations for his work with Courage Brothers, Ronnie Earl, and Mighty Sam McClain. He played keyboards on Michelle Willson's Wake Up Call, which was a Boston Music Awards winner in 2001. Dave does extensive session work in Boston and New York featuring his piano, Hammond organ, and vintage keyboard playing. He is the author of Hammond Organ Complete (Berklee Press) and the instructional video/DVD Accelerate Your Keyboard Playing. He is a monthly contributor to Keyboard magazine of Japan.

Prerequisites

Completion of Music Theory 101, Berklee Keyboard Method, and Getting Inside Harmony 1, or equivalent knowledge and experience is required.


Recommended DVD

Accelerate Your Keyboard Playing by Dave Limina, Berklee Press/Hal Leonard


Software Requirements

  • A basic audio recording tool that will allow you to record yourself playing with a background track and save the recording in MP3 format. You will have a tool to use for this purpose inside the learning environment. Alternatively, you can use software like Audacity or GarageBand

Mac Users

  • OS X 10.9 Mavericks or higher (click here for system requirements)
  • Latest version of Google Chrome

Windows Users

  • Windows 7 or higher (click here for system requirements)
  • Latest version of Google Chrome

Hardware Requirements

  • Students may use a variety of keyboards for this course: acoustic piano, synthesizer, digital piano, or MIDI computer keyboard
  • A built-in microphone or an external microphone plugged directly into your computer (via built-in ports or an external audio interface)
  • 2 GB RAM (4 GB recommended)
  • 500 MB hard drive space
  • Speakers or headphones
  • Webcam
  • Internet connection with at least 4 Mbps download speed (http://www.speedtest.net to verify or download the Speedtest by Ookla app from your mobile app store)

Comments

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  • Level
  • Duration
    12 weeks
  • 3-Credit Tuition
    $1,479
  • or
  • Non-Credit Tuition
    $1,229

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