The courses at Berklee are continually reviewed and evaluated so that they consistently reflect today's musical needs. In classes such as Contrapuntal Jazz Improvisation, Improvisational Theory, Piano Accompaniment Techniques, and Survey of Piano Styles, you will learn the history of your instrument, analyze its present-day challenges, and pursue an in-depth study of styles and techniques. Below is a list of all Piano courses for the upcoming semester.
Elements of Jazz Piano
A piano ensemble designed for entering students with strong classical technique but little background in jazz performance. Focuses on comping, improvisation, and development of jazz rhythmic feels. Uses of notated jazz materials for development of rhythmic, harmonic, and call-and-response skills.
Piano Trio Lab
A two-hour lab for Piano Performance Majors that focuses on advanced harmonic and rhythmic studies for the pianist and the rhythm section. Styles include Latin, Brazilian, Hard Bop and Modern. Class focuses on rhythmic accuracy, independence, using the left-hand as an integral part of building up solos, understanding of odd meters, such as 3/4, 5/4 and 7/4, rhythmic comping and the use of rhythmic motif displacement as a comping and soloing technique in various styles. Development of rhythm section language and musical communication with bass and drums.
Afro-Cuban Piano Montunos Ensemble
This course emphasizes rhythmic aspects and the historical context of Afro-Cuban piano montunos. Harmonic vocabulary includes triads and sixth chords in inversions, and A and B standard jazz voicings for major, minor, and dominant seventh chords. Harmonic contexts used in class encompass one chord, I-IV-V-VI-I progression and variations, and standard jazz tunes. All examples are in duple meter.
Odd-Meter Rhythmic Studies for the Pianist Ensemble
A hands-on, in-depth study of odd meters (5/4, 7/4, 5/8, 11/8 and 15/8) using rhythmic speech and counting/tapping of various groupings and accents. These exercises will take place at the piano and away from the instrument and will emphasize repetition to give the student time to internalize the groove of each meter. Through an in-depth study of cross-rhythms, listening to significant performances and transcribing musical examples, students will be expected to produce and perform arrangements of standards and/or original compositions utilizing odd meters.
Synth Techniques for Live Performance Ensemble
An ensemble designed for piano principals emphasizing basic synthesizer programming and performance in a live situation. Focuses on orchestration, patch choices, and playing multiple timbres simultaneously in any synthesizer setup.
Gospel Keyboard Techniques Ensemble
This ensemble will expose the pianist to the stylistic diversity among gospel keyboard performers. Through analysis, transcriptions, and performance, students will gain practical performance experience in playing hymns, traditional gospel pieces, and contemporary gospel music. Focus will be on learning gospel music in the traditional way and will include learning by ear. The student will be exposed to the historical development of this spiritual music.
Accompanying Techniques for the Piano/Vocalist Ensemble
An ensemble for piano principals focusing on tunes in various jazz, pop/rock, and R&B styles. Students will enhance technical skills, such as creating effective intros and endings and performing in several rhythmic styles and feels, as well as learning traits and requirements for being effective accompanists. The course includes self-accompanying for students who both play and sing.
The Piano Style of Thelonious Monk Ensemble
An ensemble for piano principals emphasizing the melodic, harmonic, rhythmic, and compositional innovations of Thelonious Monk. Studies will include listening and analysis of recordings; performance of transcriptions; and detailed analysis of Monk's compositional and improvisational techniques, including his harmonic and rhythmic innovations and treatment of standard tunes.
Rehearsal Techniques for the Pianist/ Band Leader Ensemble
An ensemble for piano performance majors that focuses on practical rehearsal techniques. The student applies rehearsal techniques to duos, trios, and larger ensembles with one or more horns. Focus is on creating arrangements for the band, understanding the role of the bass player and drummer, cueing, conducting, and playing and rehearsing with the band and singer.
New Music Improvisation Ensemble
An ensemble for pianists to study improvisational systems and structures using both traditional notation and other methods such as graphic, visual, or written instructions. Topics include motivic development; varied scales and harmonic materials; dynamic registral and spatial contrasts; and repetition and variation of patterns with an emphasis on listening and group interaction. Students are encouraged to develop their own compositions for performance in class.
Jazz Piano Master Class Ensemble
An advanced performance ensemble for piano principals providing the opportunity to study, analyze, and perform the music of selected jazz pianists in a master-class setting. Transcriptions of materials to be studied will be distributed to provide the basis for faculty-led analytical discussions. The addition of bass and drums will allow for performance in a complete group setting.
Jazz Piano Trio 1
An ensemble for piano students who want to improve their ability to function in an ensemble setting with bass and drums. They will gain an understanding of the role of bass and drums in the rhythm section and learn to interact and communicate with them. Creating arrangements, working on appropriate comping techniques, improvisation, dynamic balance, and other applicable techniques to the jazz piano trio idiom will be addressed.