Associate Professor of Voice, Shenandoah Conservatory Artistic Director of the CCM Vocal Pedagogy Institute
Today I want to share what I believe is an incredible book series for those of you who want to play rock piano or any other contemporary genre you can think of. The books are part of the Hal Leonard Keyboard Styles Series and I have to say I fallen in love with these texts.
I took jazz piano lessons for about a year and had a great time. One of the most important lessons that I learned was that those amazing jazz pianists soloing all up and down the keyboard are not relying 100% on their own creativity and technical genius. They of course study scales, chords, and which scales fit which chords, but they also spend a lot of time transcribing the solos of other artists and playing solos from music that has already been transcribed. By studying the techniques of the greats, the pianist eventually begins to pick and choose licks and techniques that they really like and meld them together to form their own style. This was really interesting to me because I was used to being told in acting classes “don’t copy, make it your own” time and time again. I’ve now come to believe that the only way you can really master a musical style is to imitate as many people as possible, and that is what makes this book series brilliant.
The authors introduce the music theory behind each style and then they teach you how to apply that theory by showing you examples constructed in the style of famous artists from each genre. By imitating others, you begin to get a better hold on the music theory of the style and it’s practical application. I’ve pasted links to my favorite books in the series below. I’d love to hear if you have other books that you find helpful and your tips on mastering style in contemporary genres.