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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This course will focus on the recordings and improvisations of Keith Jarrett, Herbie Hancock, and Chick Corea. Students will analyze and learn compositions and improvised solos of each pianist, and will perform one transcription of each pianist's solo or trio improvisations. Through in-depth discussion around the melodic, harmonic, and rhythmic devices employed by those pianists, students will also learn to utilize those devices in their own improvisations, and how those concepts apply to the music of today.
This is a course for piano principals in which the live solo piano improvisations of Keith Jarrett are studied in detail. Studies include listening and analyzing live recordings such as: The Koln Concert, The Sun Bear Concerts, The Solo Concerts: Bremen/Lausanne, and La Scala and their corresponding transcriptions. In addition, students are required to transcribe performances and provide detailed analyses of their transcriptions and of Jarrett’s improvisational techniques and musical influences, including classical, blues, pop, jazz, and avant-garde styles or genres. An underlying goal of this work is to help students find their own voices. By listening to and analyzing Keith Jarrett’s live improvised solo piano concerts, students not only learn the style of his music, but they also have the chance to reflect on their own musical backgrounds, discovering their own sound and voice in the process. Jarrett’s music serves as a role model for students’ musical and life journey.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.