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Creative Chords for the Creative Student

Editor's Note:


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Rebecca Pennington's plans on using Creative Chords Keyboard Improvisation Method by Bradley Sowash (reviewed in the January/February issue of Clavier Companion) with one of her students:


Creative Chords by Bradley Sowash was mentioned in the January/February 2016 issue of Clavier Companion. In looking through this book, I realized that I have the perfect student who would benefit from this course. I am going to begin working with an adult student who is a busy mother of four little boys. She is a wonderful singer with wonderful musical instincts and has some basic piano skills. Though her training is not in music, she is finding herself working more and more with children, refining and coaching their acting and musical theater skills. As she moves into this path she feels limited by her keyboard skills and wants to improve at the piano so that she provides basic accompaniments for her students and generally augment her own musical understanding. 


Creative Chords really is the perfect method for her. I believe it will begin at a place that is right where she is. She has a rudimentary understanding of music reading and notes. She will be able to read the beginning tunes and exercises. At the same time, there is enough theory background to fill in any holes she may have from gaps in her previous study. 


As a singer, I believe the use of common tunes will appeal to her. The focus on keys and chords will be just what she needs to build her understanding of music theory in a way that is accessible to her quickly. The text has so much information that I know she will be able to do quite a lot on her own. At the same time, it is presented in a way that is easy to understand. 


I also thinking the improvisation aspect will appeal to my student. The “Your Way” sections appear right from the beginning and guide the students to make small changes to embellish the printed arrangements. My student is great at improvising and finding harmonies with her voice so I know this will be fun for her and help her to gain freedom in exploring and improvising at the piano. 


I especially like the “Checklist” section at the end of each chapter. I think this is perfect for an adult (or any older student really) who is motivated to take charge of his/her own learning. There is a review quiz that allows students to see what they know or what they may have missed. 


Of course, this won’t be the only text I am using with my student. I would like for her to play solo pieces, as well as work on technical skills. In the FAQs at the beginning, Mr. Sowash also recommends that it not be the only text used. I do think, however, that it will be a wonderful core part of my student’s study and am glad to have it at my fingertips!

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This site is created by the faculty of the New School for Music Study, a division of the Frances Clark Center for Keyboard Pedagogy.

February 13, 2018

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