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Developing triad chord fluency

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Like language students who have memorized vocabulary but are not yet conversant, pianists who have learned to construct chords may not yet be "chord fluent." So how do we help our students move beyond music theory worksheets to being able to interpret chord symbols and identify underlying harmonies in literature more easily? One approach involves a...
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Rhythm Boxes, Part 1

W hen asked to teach a music course to undergraduate dance majors, I soon realized that decoding written rhythms does  not come easily to non-musicians. For these students, writing Xs in "rhythm boxes" was easier to understand than learning to read music notation. Later, I transferred the idea to my books and lessons, providing music students ...
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Comping 101 - Accompanying Students

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Accompanying students is an enjoyable way to transfer musicality from veteran to rookie efficiently without so much "teacher talk."  For students, it  • tightens up their sense of time;  • helps them listen while playing;  • enables them to feel more like "real musicians";  • prepares them to play in ensembles;  • and ...
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Introductions

A good musical introduction creates anticipation for the listener by suggesting the key and style of a tune about to be played. ​Ready? Go!  The easiest way to set up a tune is to play a V7 intro chord. This works because it takes advantage of our expectations about functional harmony. Since most tunes begin with the I chord, a V7 chord p...
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