Piano Tutorial Overview
We’ve made available a series of video tutorials on how to play piano in a contemporary church music style. Many pianists have some formal training but don’t necessarily feel comfortable playing from chord charts and lead sheets. This tutorial series is intended to present some helpful principles along with specific examples.
A couple things:
- First, as with all styles of music, the internal sets of rules and patterns we’re following are descriptive, not prescriptive. That is to say, musical styles should be somewhat internally consistent. When I explain in a later video that we almost never play a V7 chord, that doesn’t mean you can’t. It means we don’t. And when a V7 chord pops up, it sticks out – right or wrong – because it’s a departure from the style we use. It’s wise to understand the boundaries and behaviors of a particular musical style so you can make informed decisions about when and how to change them.
- The musical style presented here is admittedly somewhat culturally and generationally bound. That is, it’s the style of music we use at our church and teach to our young musicians. But we’ve sought out a style that we hope has characteristics that are universally desirable: clean textures, rhythm that moves forward but doesn’t dominate, and careful attention to the ways that melodies and counter-melodies work together.
- These tutorials assume a basic understanding of chords and keys, as well as some degree of facility in playing. If you want some basics on chords, read this. If you want to go deeper with music theory, watch these. If you want to learn to play piano… take lessons and practice.
- Finally, it’s helpful to use both imitation and comprehension when learning to play in this style. The first set of tutorials gives you the big picture in three categories (and in this order): harmony, rhythm, and melody. I discuss various aspects of each of these categories so you can apply them yourself. The second set of tutorials is based on imitation: I play songs in the style with occasional commentary. Both are part of the learning process.