Berklee Keyboard Method

Another class that I took during the Fall Quarter of 2019 was the “Berklee Keyboard Method”. While I have “played keyboards” for years, what I was able to do was all self taught and rather limited. I knew just enough to bring my ideas for songs to fruition. This was my first formal training for the keyboard and I’m really happy that I took the class. 

A lot of ground was covered in just twelve weeks. We went over: reading parts in the treble clef/bass clef/grand staff, different hand positions, walking bass lines, melodies that moved between clefs, accidentals, hand independence, major and minor triads and their inversions, harmonizing melodies, voice leading, various chord progressions, left and right hand chords as the other hand played melodies or bass parts, left hand chord shells (Root + 3rd or 7th), seventh chords using just 3rds & 7ths, as well as some extended chords (9ths & 13ths).

Each week typically had two performance assignments to be submitted where you performed a keyboard part live via video recording. No editing, no quantizing, just the real thing. At times this was really challenging for me as I didn’t have much experience reading from the grand staff and was still developing my hand independence. 

The approach that ended up working for me was to start early in the week learning the pieces at _super_ slow tempos, like 40 bpm. This gave me enough time to interpret the grand staff, get my hands in the right place and play the parts correctly. Once some muscle memory was established I could start moving the tempo up. Towards the latter part of the course I was able to increase the tempo to performance speed within the same day. Wasn’t perfect but once I had accomplished this I knew that I could refine it over the next couple of days. 

Now I still don’t consider myself a keyboard player but I have a better understanding of and facility with the instrument which is something that I wanted for a long time.