Creative Practising Using Keyboard Harmony

Learning advanced piano music from the ground up!

With the vast repertoire available to pianists, the bulk of our time spent at the piano tends to centre around learning the pieces we yearn to play and on developing the required technique. Unfortunately, this means that many essential elements of musicianship such as ear training, theory and analysis are often neglected.

Keyboard harmony is an ideal method of combining these elements of musicianship into one activity. It brings theory to the keyboard and makes analysis a practical tool for learning and understanding music. It also trains the ear to hear inwardly what we see on the page and when applied to piano music, provides pianists a powerful tool for practising, interpreting and memorising.

In this two-part workshop series, Peabody professor Ken Johansen gives a hands-on overview of how to develop keyboard harmony skills. Ken will show how these skills can be used to practise more creatively, memorise more effectively and have a better understanding of what’s happening in the music we’re playing.

The first part will feature demonstrations of key concepts and skills and will be followed with exercises that can be practised after the session and applied to your own pieces. Participants will then have the opportunity to submit pieces they are playing and to work with Ken in applying the concepts presented to them.

Workshop content

  • Overview of keyboard harmony skills
  • Ways to make music theory practical and useful
  • Recognising patterns
  • How to make reductions to learn pieces from the ground up
  • Using harmony to aid memorisation
  • The influence of harmony on expression and interpretation
  • Demonstration of how to apply these concepts within the context of pieces you’re playing!

How it works?

The first session will take the format of a lecture with demonstrations of various concepts and skills. Practical exercises will be provided after this session to assist you in learning and developing these skills.

The second session will feature demonstrations of how the material presented in the first session in the context of further examples from the repertoire. You will have the opportunity to submit pieces for possible inclusion in this session and if your piece is selected, the further option to work directly with Ken on applying the concepts.

Who it’s for?

This workshop is primarily aimed at advanced pianists and teachers. However, intermediate pianists will also likely benefit from it.

If you are planning on submitting a piece for consideration in the second session, then this ideally needs to be a piece you are either about to start or are in the very early stages of learning. The emphasis in these workshops is on effective methods of learning from the outset and not on finessing performances of pieces you can already play!

Ticket options

The sessions will be recorded in and all ticket holders will receive a link to view recordings shortly after each session. Therefore, if you are unable to join us live, you will still be able to watch the workshop recordings and try out the practical exercises at your convenience. Tickets for both sessions cost £50 (£30 for Online Academy subscribers) and can be purchased here or by clicking on the "Buy" button below.


Workshop sessions & dates

Part 1 (06 Apr 2024 @ 15:00 BST (GMT +01:00))

Part 2 (27 Apr 2024 @ 15:00 BST (GMT +01:00))

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