How to Teach Technique, Timing and Theory All at Once


The pressure

As teachers, we feel pressure to successfully teach our students to

  • play with a steady pulse
  • learn a scale with proper fingering and hand position
  • comprehend theory by showing proficiency in tests and exams.

And, all of this within a short 30-minute lesson!

The solution

There is a way to alleviate the time crunch by creating activities that combine these tasks-- timing, technique and theory--into exercises at the keys. It's called grooving your theory.

When studying jazz piano with Bradley Sowash, he assigns scales. These are not the typical scale assignments. His systematic routine called Squared Scales, requires the pianist to play scales in various rhythms, tapping the left toe on beats 2 and 4 while playing with a backing track. Whoa--talk about multi-tasking!

Ever since I began this routine in all the keys around the circle, my scale playing has improved immensely. I confess, I hadn't played scales in years so there was plenty of room for improvement, but I also excelled because I enjoyed the challenge of aligning my technical and theory skills to a beat.

The results

Although just the idea of bundling technique, theory and timing into one lesson assignment may be valuable enough, there's a specific reason why Bradley advocates this method. With all these skills locked into a beat, it provides the foundation for improvisation.

The idea

It got me thinking that this lesson curriculum bundle which ignites freedom at the keys should be anuse iReal Proaround the circle of keys essential part of lessons for my own students from day one. Not just for those at the age of Ms Leila!

This thought is what prompted my recent post Use iReal Pro to Circle the Keys.  While writing the article, it dawned on me that the connect between teaching and grooving theory to improvisation cannot be clearly communicated through mere words. It really calls for a presentation or even better, a webinar.

Therefore--you knew it was coming--Bradley Sowash and I will be holding our second webinar called Groove Your Theory for just $49.

The sales pitch

Bradley and I make a unique combination: one died-in-the-wool improviser and one by-the-book typical studio piano teacher. Together we team up as

  • One who systematically outlines what he's discovered from years of improvisation. (Bradley)
  • One who simplifies and clarifies his findings. (Leila)

We're a team that seems to work given that our first webinar was successful beyond our wildest dreams (Top Pop Tips) and that we are holding our 4th annual 88 Creative Keys workshop this summer in Denver.

Good News! If you are joining us this summer, register for the work shop here and the Groove Your Theory webinar is free. In addition, the $49 webinar is free for all 88 Creative Keys alumni.

The details

When you groove your theory it means combining it with technique and timing. These skills develop a sturdy canvas on which to create.

Bradley Sowash and I will show you how backing tracks can turn typical theory lessons and technical drills into dynamic activities that instill a steady pulse AND trigger creativity beyond the page.

You'll learn how to use apps and software to create backing tracks for interactive lesson plans, innovative group activities and guaranteed home practice.

The webinar will include

  • The BEST way to create your own lead sheets in iReal Pro.
  • A bunch more ideas of how to use iReal Pro to teach and build theory, timing and technique simultaneously.
  • Grand staff notation of the drills included in the webinar.
  • Numerous resources and additional apps and software that help you reinforce theory and create backing tracks.
  • Specific exercises designed by Bradley Sowash that he uses at every lesson to enhance technical skills. Then he'll go the next step and demonstrate how these fundamentals are the foundation for developing red-hot improvisational skills for you and that of your students.
  • Ways to motivate students to excel.
  • Tips for those who teach group lessons. You'll learn how to incorporate ideas into your plans AND summer camps! (To learn more about how to set up group lessons and summer camps, follow this link.)
  • A jam-packed, well-organized handout.
  •  iReal Pro charts designed by Leila and Bradley.
  • Time for your questions.

 The registration

Get your groove on by registering below. Just push the play button to sign up now. Can't wait to see you there!

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