Online Lessons Make a Merry Little Christmas – Leila Viss

A while back I announced the onset of my online lessons with master improv teacher Bradley Sowash.

I had my doubts but they were vaporized when our first lesson worked like a charm thanks to Facetime. My initial progress was measurable as reflected in this video.

Although I did not record it, my left hand walking bass was top-notch thanks to Bradley’s tips and tricks. I was even able to improvise freely in my RH while my LH strutted with style between chord tones.

Due to a flakey Wi-Fi, the next couple of lessons were not so rosy and what promised to be an hour of enlightenment turned into an hour of trouble shooting. Coupled with the flailing internet was the fact that my available practice time was sparse. Yes, I suffered through the typical plateau and even a valley as all piano students do but today, I’m happy to say I’ve reached another high note.

My treble clef from Pottery Barn decked out for the season.

“Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas ” was assigned but no score was offered, just chord symbols–no lyrics, no notated melody, nothing but chord symbols. Reminder, I’m a gal who adores the printed page.

The melody came to me quite easily and thanks to Bradley’s chord voicing “rules” I managed fairly well. The challenge was mastering open chord voicing–splitting the chord tones between the hands and ensuring the inclusion of the 3rd and the 7th in each chord. After I began to process this new skill, I was asked to develop this tune into the following specific form.

My improv was to follow this outline:

  1. Introduction
  2. Section A with melody and open chord voicing between hands
  3. Section B with melody and LH chords
  4. Section A and Ending with duded up (embellished) melody and open chord voicing between hands
  5. Section A with same LH but RH improvisation
  6. Section B with melody and LH chords
  7. Section A with duded up melody
  8. Ending featuring a sharp subdominant walking down chromatically to the tonic.

Confession: I did not follow the exact instructions of the teacher–sound familiar? :-(

For the sake of time, I created a video that combines a little bit of everything listed above.

I appreciate your understanding and patience if this all seems easy to you. My final “take” took a while to achieve but here it is…and…

Merry Christmas and Blessings to You in 2014!

-Leila

II III II III II III II

~Take lessons now with Bradley at Google Helpouts.

You too, can learn and enjoy playing off the page. If I can do it, so can you.

~Stay tuned for information about 88 Creative Keys–a summer camp for teachers, teens and adults! You won’t want to miss this.

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