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Gifted, Grateful, Growing, And Giving

It’s a privilege to share some of the steps that I have taken to bridge the gap between my skill in reading music and my life-long desire to play by ear with a command of the keyboard.
Read our story to learn more.

Please Note: All MP4 videos are now available free of charge as digital files. See Zip files at the ending of each program: Beginning Steps, Bigger Steps, and Advanced Chords.


Beginning Steps

Are you ready to play by ear? Your beginning steps might be a bit slow, but you’ll become more and more confident as you continue to grow. These steps include knowledge acquired through the singing and playing of songs and scales with a keen awareness of pitch. Simple applications of common-tone chording and scale harmonization are also a vital part of Beginning Steps. The final session focuses on rhythm patterns and meter, including mixed meter. READ MORE to learn more about Beginning Steps and to view a free introductory video and your first lesson for free!

Bigger Steps

In Bigger Steps, the “million dollar” chord progressions, used by classic song writers, are learned and applied. These consist of standard sequential chord patterns which are also useful in playing by ear. Confidence is developed as we expand our palette (vocabulary) of chord choices, starting with minor substitute chords and the alteration of these chords to create secondary dominant chords. All of these terms are explained in ways that are easily understood. READ MORE to learn more about Bigger Steps and to view a free introductory video and your first lesson for free!

Advanced Chords

In Advanced Chords, we will extend our knowledge and learn how to use chords that are heard in songs that expand beyond the basics. Jazz chords and chords derived from modal harmonies are analyzed, applied, and transposed to other keys. The final session focuses on creative ways to change to other keys. Throughout these studies, you’ll become increasingly aware of the many ways that a repeated or sustained pitch can be enriched by fascinating chord changes. READ MORE to learn more about Advanced Chords and to view a free introductory video and your first lesson for free!

My Inspiration

My first breakthrough was sparked by a comment by a professor at Oberlin who encouraged us to internalize the pitches of the scale by singing melodies with syllable names, or numbers.  I took him seriously, and before long I was playing melodies of increasing difficult, and in different keys.  Another professor added the missing ingredient:  Harmonizing ascending and descending scales in all keys, singing Roman numerals. We were also required to transpose music by thinking Roman numeral names which work in all keys.  This could seem a bit pedantic to some, but what follows makes this anything but boring.

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