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Re: Best way to learn pop piano?
Grandman #2631608 04/09/17 01:47 PM
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The Shinn course is a long term project. This course is quite short by comparison and is something that Shinn really doesn't delve into. I have a variety of interests. In fact, right now, I am involved in a couple of threads in the acoustic guitar forum that are discussing arranging pop tunes for solo instrumental guitar, because I do that too.

This particular course seems to me to be a means of becoming proficient enough within a couple of months, to be able to play with, and for, other people. It isn't so much a shortcut, but a means to build enough of a certain kind of skill that is directly applicable to this kind of activity. For many people, this would probably be of more interest than the Shinn course.

Tony


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Re: Best way to learn pop piano?
FrostyKeys #2631878 04/10/17 11:24 AM
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The course arrived today, so it only took a couple of days to get here. I ordered the course and both the rhythm and chord supplements. The rhythm supplement was included, but the chord supplement is on back order, so they included a note to say that. This is a good sign, since otherwise I would have thought they forgot to include it.

I have watched the intro and some of the lessons and looked through the books. This is a very well done course. In terms of quality of materials, it is on par with Duane Shinn, except that the videos in this course are much higher quality (not content, but how they look since the Shinn videos are transferred from older VHS tapes).

The rhythm supplement consists of a book and a CD demonstrating the rhythms. There are a lot of rhythms in a bunch of different styles in the supplement. A different notation is used here than in the main course books. Here, they use a simplified format that looks sort of like standard music notation, but is made specifically to teach these rhythms. I think it is a worthwhile add-on.

My initial impression of the course itself is that you can't miss. David Higginson seems to take great pains to make sure you know EXACTLY what to do, how often, and when. As I get into the course, I can post more. However, I think that DMD's assessment is accurate, and I really appreciate his bring the course to our attention.

As for the Duane Shinn course, I am planning to take a break from that and give this a go. It is not a long term study as the Shinn course is, but is apparently intended to get you up and running playing tunes in a reasonable amount of time. That will allow me to begin to play with other people sooner than later.

Tony



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Re: Best way to learn pop piano?
FrostyKeys #2631956 04/10/17 03:25 PM
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Mmmh,
I'm at the 2nd Duane Shinn Method Book and getting a bit bored, even if I still struggle with most of the pieces, taking quite some time to complete each one of them.

BUT, I'm trying to resist the temptation to try another method.
Beside Higginson, as I said in my previous post I'm intrigued by the Rod Russel one.

Tony please, do update on your experience once you start.

Ah, so many piano methods, so little time smile

Last edited by Stopparde; 04/10/17 03:26 PM.
Re: Best way to learn pop piano?
FrostyKeys #2631995 04/10/17 05:00 PM
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The David Higginson method is relatively short, so it is just taking a break from Shinn, rather than going off altogether. With the Higginson method, the only extra things to buy are the two supplements for $19.95 each. Isn't the Rod Russel method requiring that you are constantly paying for stuff?

Tony



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Re: Best way to learn pop piano?
FrostyKeys #2632027 04/10/17 07:27 PM
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yes, the rod russel system is 32 lessons , two lesson a month for $30 a month for 16 months.

Maybe I can ask if he ships everything at once.
I could request the 1 dollar trial for lesson 1 &2 but I found lessons 5 and 6 on an auction site for $5 plus $3 shipping, should be here by Friday. Hope it will give an idea of the material.


Re: Best way to learn pop piano?
FrostyKeys #2632053 04/10/17 10:04 PM
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Yes, that is a lot of money, but then so is the David Higginson course at $269.

I think that it really comes down to a given teaching style matching your learning style, and the intent of the course matching your goals. If you have that, then the cost is of lesser importance.

The David Higginson course is very step by step with very detailed instruction and the goal matches my goal, so I am happy with it.

I hope the Rod Russel materials meet your requirements.

Tony


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Re: Best way to learn pop piano?
FrostyKeys #2633329 04/15/17 07:12 PM
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Tony B,
I would love to hear how this course is going for you.
On you tube he has what I guess is lesson 2. Seems good enough. I like that it is step by step. I'm close to pulling the trigger but I want as much info as I can get. Thanks.

Re: Best way to learn pop piano?
FrostyKeys #2633414 04/16/17 08:55 AM
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You can return it for a refund if you don't like it. Sometimes you just have to jump to get to a new place. There is no risk involved here, so why wait if you are interested?

My interest is in solo piano. the last 12 lessons focus on that. David Higginson (DH) says that not all tunes are suitable for playing solo, and that most professionals accompany singers. I can't say I agree with that, after having been to piano bars, malls that hire a pianist, and having a collection of well over 20 CDs of cocktail paino by Jim Haskins.

However,on thinking about it, he may well be right. When I played in a band that did supper clubs, resorts, etc. We went through a lot of tunes to find those that worked for our particular instrumentation and skill level. I am sure all those types of players I mention here do the same thing, so on thinking it over, I am sure he is right about that. According to him, not all the tunes in the course are suitable for solo, and he has picked those that are, and presented them both as accompaniment earlier in the course and as solos later in the course.

His approach reminds me of the CAGED system on the guitar. Rather than me explaining it here, google it. There is plenty of information about it all over the internet. Where it is relevant in comparison in this course - it is a series of standard chord forms that you modify to get any other chord. That is what DH's course does for the piano, though the course explains HOW and WHY the patterns, how to use them to make real music, and has the rhythms to make the patterns come alive. that is a lot and the focus is on playing, using what is being taught.

You start with the basic 6 note chord form - three notes in each hand - 1 5 1 | 3 5 1. From there you only have to move one or two notes to get the minor and dominant chords. DH also covers most other chords with similar movements. The system works very well and once you learn it, I am sure you can expand on it any way you want so you don't always have to play 1 5 1 in the left hand, for example.

DH explains everything and makes sure you understand it before moving on. He tells you EXACTLY how to practice and know when you can move on.

So, the "patterns" are really the chord forms. You apply rhythms (arpeggios, etc.) to these forms to make the music come alive. The chords themselves are easy enough once you get the basic idea, if you know anything about music and how chords are built, which he does explain. It is the rhythms that you would want guidance on, and he gives you that very well too. He has his own notation system for that, which simplifies and focuses on what he is teaching.

You have two books - the song book and the lesson book. You also have 4 DVDs with all the video lessons, and a CD with all the songs played so you can hear them. He either sings along or plays the melody on another instrument so you readily hear the accompaniment you are to play and how it fits in the song.

You watch the video explanation of the lesson and follow along in the lesson book and then play through the song in the song book, using what you learned. You should have been already listening to the song on the CD prior to the lesson so you know how it should sound.

Each song introduces new chord patterns and new rhythms, so you go through all of the patterns and rhythms in the course (not the supplements) by the time you finish the course.

The song book is really a fakebook, with the melody and chords. I think the purpose of the song book is so that everybody is looking at the same thing, with the same chords, in the same key. The tunes are presented just as they are in any fakebook lead sheet with the chords above the melody line, expecting you to do what you want with that information. The chords are not dumbed down, as they often are in such courses. That is a good thing. You are learning what you should be learning to be able to handle any song.

I like the course. You are never in doubt as to what you should be doing. I think DH gives enough guidance about everything he is teaching so the average person should be able to learn all the skills being taught. Some people seem to need more, based on some comments I have read here, but I don't understand why.

When you have finished the lesson on Silent Night (the first song), he says that you can now go and learn to play it as a solo with the melody starting at lesson 61. However, he then says you should finish up through lesson 8 before starting that because you need the sustain pedal, and lesson 8 is all about that. So do pay attention when he gives suggestions.

Everything he says about how to get the chord forms smoothly into your hands, how to practice, etc. is stuff I have seen in other courses, so the advice on learning is solid, time tested, commonly given, and known to work. I have not found anything outlandish or weird about this course. It teaches what it says it teaches, and is obviously geared toward teaching yourself.

In addition to the main course (sounds like a meal), I ordered both supplements - the rhythm and the chord supplements. These provide many more chord forms and rhythms, with the claim being that with these supplements, you are prepared to handle any music you encounter.

The chord supplement was back ordered. There was a note in the box that told me this so I wouldn't wonder if they forgot to package it.

The rhythm supplement has a CD with it so you can hear how the various rhythms should sound. The supplement covers a range of styles and quite a few rhythms, and just gives each rhythm briefly. By the time you finish the course, that is all you should need. There is some text for each rhythm and they represent 1, 2, or maybe 3 rhythms on a page. If there is more than one on a page, the extras are variations of the first one. There are 78 pages of these rhythms in the book, along with a preface explaining that it is the rhythms that give the chord patterns life. The notation for each rhythm is quite clear and is again a simplified notation system that focuses on making clear exactly how to play these. This isn't another course, but instead, an extension of the rhythm part of the original course.

I am sure that the chord supplement will be similar, but does not come with a CD. I have no idea when it will arrive, but considering that it only took about 3 days for the main course and rhythm supplement to arrive, they will ship it as soon as they have it, and they said they would not charge extra shipping for it.

I don't have an opinion as to whether they should have provided the supplements in the course, but I know that I always tend to want the whole banana, so I order the extra stuff. To me, it is worth having these, but to somebody else, it may not be. Since the course plus the to supplements are all these folks offer, why not get it all? some courses have endless stuff to order and you are left wondering what you are missing out on if you don't get it all. It costs an extra $40 to get the supplements, so I say just do it.

Overall, I agree with DMD's assessment of the course. I like the fact that it is clear, concise, and doesn't nickel and dime you with having to buy endless arrays of product line to get the course.

I hope that helps.

Tony


Last edited by TonyB; 04/16/17 08:59 AM.

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Re: Best way to learn pop piano?
FrostyKeys #2633420 04/16/17 09:19 AM
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If I were to sum up what this course provides, it would be this...

Many of us have gone from course to course, finding that this course takes way too long and with too much detail to go it alone for that long, that course dumbs it down too much so when you finish, you really haven't learned anything of value, and the rest seem to fall somewhere in between, but none seem to hit that sweet spot where you spend a few months at it and then are able to play for and with other people in some capacity.

This course hits that sweet spot. It doesn't try to cover too much, and doesn't dumb down what it teaches. It gets right to it, teaching chords and rhythms, much as you would learn to play guitar. Obviously, many folks spend years learning the intricacies of the guitar, fingerstyle, jazz, classical, lead, etc. But when they can strum a number of chord types and apply rhythm, they can play with other people while they are spending time really learning in depth.

This course does that, as well as teaching you to put a melody on top of those chords so you can play solo. There is far, far more to learn than this course provides, but it get you up and running so you can play with others. You can choose to stay where you are with what you learned in this course and be quite content, or you can choose to continue to hone your skills with other courses.

Tony



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Re: Best way to learn pop piano?
FrostyKeys #2633657 04/17/17 08:39 AM
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Tony , quick question if i may.
How do you voice the chord,when the melody note is say middle c, or lower, and therefore sitting in the middle of the voicing, not at the top?? i know DH says his way works lowdown, but i'm struggling not to get too muddy a sound. With sudnow from what i remember,you omit some color tones, although i'll have to get his stuff out to see what he said.
for example, the song My Funny Valentine=
Chord = C min, melody note= middle c
Obviously the starting point for the voicing is 1,5,1 flat3,5,1.
Is it a case of moving the melody up?How do you incorporate it with the voicing?

Thanks for any help.

Re: Best way to learn pop piano?
FrostyKeys #2633664 04/17/17 09:45 AM
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Hi Tony
Can you tell me which songs are included in the David Higginson songbook? Thanks in advance!

Re: Best way to learn pop piano?
bobby89 #2633668 04/17/17 10:01 AM
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Originally Posted by bobby89
Tony , quick question if i may.
How do you voice the chord,when the melody note is say middle c, or lower, and therefore sitting in the middle of the voicing, not at the top?? i know DH says his way works lowdown, but i'm struggling not to get too muddy a sound. With sudnow from what i remember,you omit some color tones, although i'll have to get his stuff out to see what he said.
for example, the song My Funny Valentine=
Chord = C min, melody note= middle c
Obviously the starting point for the voicing is 1,5,1 flat3,5,1.
Is it a case of moving the melody up?How do you incorporate it with the voicing?

Thanks for any help.


I have not yet started working on a solo of one of the course songs. However, as a guitar player arranging for solo guitar, and considering what David Sudnow taught, all of that experience says to either rais the melody an octave or, if that is too high, then transpose it to another key. You really don't want the melody down around middle C. That gets to be just too low for the chords underneath.

Hopefully, today I can get to voicing a complete solo in the David Higginson course. However, regardless of what he says, I stick with what I said above and would do that with the Higginson course too.

Tony




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Re: Best way to learn pop piano?
btcomm #2633671 04/17/17 10:06 AM
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Originally Posted by btcomm
Hi Tony
Can you tell me which songs are included in the David Higginson songbook? Thanks in advance!


Before buying the course, I googled for further info, and found an old thread in these forums from 2008. Here is the information taken directly from that thread:

These are the 13 songs included in the course songbook. It is these songs that the lessons specifically address -- song by song.

Silent Night
Today
Try To Forget (An original D. Higginson tune)
A Time For Us (Romeo & Juliet Theme
Take Me Home, Country Roads
There's a Kind of Hush
Color My World
Love Story
By the Time I get to Phoenix
Rose Garden
Can't Help Falling In Love
The Sweetheart Tree
Lost Without Your Love

Each of the tunes is arranged for an appropriate rhythm. These are the rhythms specifically taught (1 rhythm for each tune w/some rhythms taught for multiple tunes)
3 Beat Arpeggio
3 Beat Arpeggio (w/ variation)
3 Beat Repeated Chords
Country
Soft Rock 1
4 Beat Triplet Arpeggio
4 Beat Arpeggio
4 Beat Repeated RH
Soft Rock 2 + 4 Beat Arpeggio
4 Beat Triplet Arpeggio w/ variations
2 Beat Repeated RH

A few other rhythms are additionally graphically described.

Me again...

The books have not changed from what that thread took place, so the information still holds. Unfortunately, the guy who started the thread seemed to be really struggling with being able to play the chords for some reason. I am not having that difficulty, so the course is moving along just fine for me.

Tony


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Re: Best way to learn pop piano?
FrostyKeys #2633673 04/17/17 10:15 AM
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Of the various courses I have collected over the years, the David Higginson course seems to be the most straight forward. Many courses seem to wander all over the place, without really going step by step from start to finish, but instead being more like a smorgasbord of piano techniques and information.

The exceptions, in my mind, are the Sudnow course (which I think would work much better for many folks as a follow-on to this David Higginson course), and two courses that seem much more professional than most - Piano With Willie (where you take the home school piano course as the foundation, and then pick and choose the shorter courses of study that focus on more advanced playing), and Duane Shinn' 52 week "Crash Course", which is (in my opinion) the closest home study course to traditional weekly lessons - telling you exactly what to do and when, week after week.

By itself, I think the David Higginson course is really good for getting you up and running with real results quickly, but is rather limited in its scope. In my opinion, this is a good thing, and probably one of the reasons it works so well.

This course is great to take a break from the long term commitment that Duane Shinn requires, and can be a good way to get you playing the piano reasonably quickly so that a course such as Sudnow moves more quickly because your hands already "know the shape of the keyboard" well enough to not need 6 months to get "Misty" and then similar tunes into your hands. The overall process would go easier as a result of having been playing already. He even says that on his recorded seminar (not about David Higginson, but about prior piano experience in general).

Tony



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Re: Best way to learn pop piano?
TonyB #2633691 04/17/17 11:00 AM
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Ok thanks Tony, that was pretty much my thinking, move the melody up.
The DH voicings do sound good,and when the melody is higher, you can voice straight off the bat.

Cheers

Re: Best way to learn pop piano?
FrostyKeys #2633787 04/17/17 03:09 PM
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Well, I ordered it. Between Tony and DMD I feel confident that I made the right choice and if not I can always return. But I hope I don't have to.

Some things I am curious about if anyone knows,

How do inversions work into these patterns?

How does it handle intros, endings and bridges, especially recognizable ones like Billy Joel, or Elton John?
Thanks.

Re: Best way to learn pop piano?
FrostyKeys #2633793 04/17/17 03:21 PM
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Originally Posted by FrostyKeys
Well, I ordered it. Between Tony and DMD I feel confident that I made the right choice and if not I can always return. But I hope I don't have to.

Some things I am curious about if anyone knows,

How do inversions work into these patterns?

How does it handle intros, endings and bridges, especially recognizable ones like Billy Joel, or Elton John?
Thanks.


The "patterns" are really nothing more than various voicings which can also be termed as inversions. There is nothing new there. It just shows you exactly how to utilize those inversions while playing music.

You get intros, and endings (I do not recall bridges) but they are very basic and I would not assign a name like a Billy Joel or Elton John intro or ending. They are just very beginner style intros and endings.



Don

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Re: Best way to learn pop piano?
dmd #2633841 04/17/17 04:39 PM
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Originally Posted by dmd
Originally Posted by FrostyKeys
Well, I ordered it. Between Tony and DMD I feel confident that I made the right choice and if not I can always return. But I hope I don't have to.

Some things I am curious about if anyone knows,

How do inversions work into these patterns?

How does it handle intros, endings and bridges, especially recognizable ones like Billy Joel, or Elton John?
Thanks.


The "patterns" are really nothing more than various voicings which can also be termed as inversions. There is nothing new there. It just shows you exactly how to utilize those inversions while playing music.

You get intros, and endings (I do not recall bridges) but they are very basic and I would not assign a name like a Billy Joel or Elton John intro or ending. They are just very beginner style intros and endings.



Sorry, I didn't see the question until now. It is as DMD said.

One thing I was REALLY impressed with is the lesson devoted to using the sustain pedal. That s the absolute clearest and best explanation I have seen. For that lesson, I suggest you read the lesson in the book first and then watch the video. It will be so much more clear.

This guy knows how to teach, and (in my opinion) few do. His explanations are very clear, and step by step. The text and video support each other. He doesn't try to bite off to much in this course.

The one thing that I have seen complaints about is his coverage of how to play the pieces as solo with the melody on top. He does rush through these lessons. I think he could easily have made two or more lessons out of, for example, the lesson on playing Silent Night as a solo (which I am going through now). However, the important thing is that he doesn't skip over anything. It is all there in the lesson.

Lesson 60 is on how and why to transpose a piece to another key. Lesson 61 is an overview and demonstration of playing a piece as a solo. He uses the tune "Tammy", which most my age (63), or so, will recognize even if we don't immediately recognize the name.

The song is not a part of the course and he is only trying to show the overall concept before getting into individual tunes.

Then, the next lesson is how to play Silent Night as a solo. He does go measure by measure and all the information is in the lesson, so he didn't short change anybody. The only issue really is that he fits the whole thing into one lesson and it goes by quickly, so you would have to keep going over a small section to really get it. That takes patience, but at least all the information is given in the lesson, so it is worth the effort if you really want to learn it.

The more I work with this course, the more impressed I am with both the overall course and the teacher. There are "teachers" and then there are teachers. We all saw that in college, the "good" professors and the ones who just provided an information dump for you to figure out. David Higginson is one of the "good" professors. He spent time preparing this course and clearly cared about its impact on potential students.

By the way, lesson 60 on transposing uses a chord wheel that does not come with the course. I believe you can buy it from Creative Music as an add-on. However, you don't need it.

Here is an easy way to transpose on paper, and it is pretty much what the wheel does anyway.

1. Write down two lines of notes, the top line is the scale of the key the piece is currently in, and the line below is the key you want to transpose to:

Example:

C D E F G A B C (original key of C)
F G A Bb C D E F (transpose to key of F)

2. Substitute the chord listed in the top row with the chord listed in the bottom row, so for every occurrence in the lead sheet of E, you will substitute A. We are talking about the chord named by the root of the chord. The type (maj, minor, dominant, etc. doesn't change). Do this for all the chord symbols in the lead sheet.

3. You can do the same for all the notes in the melody. For every occurrence of E, substitute A, for example. Do this for all the melody notes in the lead sheet.

That is all you are doing with the wheel, so you don't need to buy it. I use this method all the time when arranging for guitar, to get the melody on the top two or three strings so I can fit the harmony and bass line below it. it only takes a few minutes to do it by hand on paper. If you are using software, then it is probably just a mouse click.

Tony


Last edited by TonyB; 04/17/17 04:41 PM.

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Re: Best way to learn pop piano?
FrostyKeys #2633860 04/17/17 05:59 PM
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In a few weeks we should start a thread like the Alfred's one in the ABF forum checking in on our progress and supporting each other.

Re: Best way to learn pop piano?
FrostyKeys #2633910 04/17/17 08:05 PM
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Originally Posted by FrostyKeys
In a few weeks we should start a thread like the Alfred's one in the ABF forum checking in on our progress and supporting each other.


You can do that, but I don't think it is necessary. All these other courses (and I mean ALL) seem to become a slog after a while for various reasons, and external motivation is really necessary. At that point, you tend to start to lose sight of why you started down this path in the first place, and need other folks to remind you so you stay motivated.

By contrast, this course is fun. I think it takes a really good teacher to pull it off, and DH did that. The course is its own motivation because you make quick enough progress to keep interest up, and you can readily see how what you are doing fits into the goal of the course.

There is a sort of "fly in the ointment" with this course though (nothing is perfect...). When you get to the solo songs, instead of each being given at least two lessons, the whole song is done in one approximately 5 minute lesson. All the information is there, but he assumes that you REALLY know the chords and can readily therefore jump into what he is doing to put the melody on top.

Also, he has a few lessons on songs that are not in the course, standards. He goes through them partially and quickly to show you how to apply the material to most any song and play it with the melody on top. He even has a lesson on how to play a stride left hand and apply it to playing a solo.

He really covers a lot of ground in 72 lessons, and he couldn't do it if he went through everything so slowly. I could never see the point in various courses, of the teacher repeating stuff over and over, when the student can do that on the DVD or audio player. I personally like the fact that DH understands this and was able to spend the video time wisely.

You have to have patience to go over and over small parts of these last lessons until you get it. He does go measure by measure on the solos, but does so fairly quickly, talking through each while you look over his shoulder.

Now that I have seen the later lessons, I am especially impressed with this course. There is a LOT of material, a lot of ground covered, and I truly believe we can be playing like that within a few months of really focused practice and application. This is because the ONLY skill set you are learning is how to play songs on the piano.

Yes, the course is a bit on the expensive side, but you really do get your money's worth. The course doesn't teach anywhere near everything that Duane Shinn does, but what it does teach is how to quickly play accompaniment or a solo from a lead sheet and make it sound really good. As far as I am concerned, that is EXACTLY what I want to be able to do!

Tony



Roland V-Grand
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