Accompanying Students 102

Previously, we explored playing a basic (boom chick) stride pattern to accompany students when no duet part is provided.  Now, we’ll consider two ways to enhance and adapt this useful “stock” accompaniment. Passing Note Bass Add variety and momentum to the steady boom-chick of a basic stride by connecting the roots of chords with passing bass notes. Like a meandering traveler, it doesn’t matter which direction the notes move (or even whether they are all in the key) so long as they point toward and arrive at the destination chord on time. In other words, play each chord’s root squarely on the downbeat and don’t fuss too much about the notes between.   Waltz You can adapt a basic stride pattern to waltz time by playing two chords between the bass notes (boom-chick-chick).  Passing bass notes can add a greater sense of forward motion to waltzes as well. Tips: There’s no … Read more…

Jingle Bells Variations

One of the most enjoyable aspects of teaching creative music making is to witness the variety of approaches students take to rethinking a tune according to their own tastes and preferences. Every year around this time, I ask select students to come up with new versions of Christmas tunes. I might throw out a few suggestions to get them started but I specifically avoid guiding them very much at all. The idea is to get them to get them to apply what they’ve internalized from their studies as independent creative musicians. Mashup Here are three different versions of this classic holiday tune as interpreted by my students. 1. Fourteen year old Michael Wade creates new music easily. At some point in almost every lesson, (usually while my back is turned) he’ll launch into his latest composition. Here is his twisted version of Jingle Bells in a minor key with a “jump bass” or “basic stride” … Read more…

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