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Improvising and the Pattern Play Series

by Bruce Siegel on October 31st, 2011

Do you want to learn to improvise? Do you need help in teaching improvisation to others?

If the answer is yes to either question, you may be interested in the Pattern Play series of books by Akiko and Forrest Kinney, which I talk about here. (Under Myth #1.)

The course’s first lesson or improvising format, which they call “World Piece,” has been a hit with my students–not to mention that I’ve been having fun messing around with it too.

Here’s a clip of me doing just that (recorded on my Ipod Touch, with me humming in the background).

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To help you understand what you just heard, this first lesson in Book 1 has the left hand playing a simple pattern of open fifths (the notes Gb and Db to start), while the right hand improvises on the black keys only. In my recording, I started with a slightly harder left hand rhythm than the Kinneys suggested, and got more complex from there. Here’s the left hand pattern I usually use with my beginning students:

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

In the past, I’ve often used a scheme similar to “World Piece” for teaching improv in the key of C, but the Kinneys’ idea of staying on the black keys makes sense, since that makes it child’s play to stay within the pentatonic (5-note) scale.

On their publisher’s site, the Kinneys share with you their own improvisation on World Piece (without my melody, of course.) Compared to what you just heard me play, it couldn’t be more different, though it sure is nice.

2 Comments
  1. Nancy permalink

    I just subscribed to Doctor Keys. But I have an iPad and Judy found out your audio files require a flash drive which my iPad will not support . What do I do now?

  2. Bruce Siegel permalink

    Nancy, my course doesn’t contain any audio files at all, so I’m a little confused. It’s all video, and the videos are definitely iPad compatible. The lessons are all accessed through this page:

    http://www.doctorkeys.com/chord-piano-lessons/list-videos-topics.html

    Are you referring to the audio on this blog, as in this post, for example? Perhaps you mean a flash plug-in as opposed to a drive. If so, the plug-in should be easily available for free. But just to clarify, the scattered audio files on my blog are not part of the course.

    Please let me know if I can be of help in any way. (I sent you a separate email, so you can reply directly to that.)

    Thanks!
    Bruce

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