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Pianist’s Survival Guide: Leadsheets and Chord Charts

Overview

Knowing how to play from a leadsheet or chord chart is a tremendously helpful aspect of musical literacy. This practical, hands-on class demystifies leadsheets and chord charts for keyboard players from all musical backgrounds. Students will learn the difference between leadsheets and charts, learn the language of all the common types of charts, get lots of practice creating musical parts from charts and recordings, and learn how to create their own charts.

Prerequisites: Familiarity with triads (and basic 7ths helpful); basic keyboard proficiency.

Materials provided by instructor.

Tuesdays 8:15 – 9:45 pm

9/18 – 11/27 (10 weeks) no class 11/20

Jennifer Jolly • $415

COURSE DESCRIPTION:

Knowing how to play from a lead sheet or chord chart is a tremendously helpful aspect of musical literacy. Keyboardists from amateur to pro are often asked to play from a chart, and possibly for a tune they’ve never heard before. This practical, hands-on class demystifies lead sheets and chord charts for keyboard players from all musical backgrounds. Students learn how to read and interpret all the common types of charts across a wide range of musical genres. Class members will also get lots of practice creating musical parts from charts and recordings and will learn how to create their own charts.

COURSE OBJECTIVES:

Students will gain literacy and confidence in reading, playing from, and writing the various types of charts commonly encountered in musical settings from amateur through professional.

 

COURSE PREREQUISITES:

Familiarity with triads (and basic 7ths helpful); basic keyboard proficiency and reading skills.

 

REQUIRED READING/MATERIALS:

Access to Internet needed for Dropbox folder. Bring manuscript paper and pencils to class. Other materials provided by instructor.

RECOMMENDED READING/MATERIALS:

Helpful but not required: music notation program such as MuseScore or other freeware, Finale Notepad, etc. (This can be obtained after the class begins.)

 

COURSE OUTLINE:

 

Week 1

Introductions and course overview.

Distinguishing amongst lyric sheets, road maps, chord/rhythm charts, lead sheets, sheet music, scores, etc., and examples of each.

Review of chords and form terminology (AABA, D.S. al Coda, etc.) as needed.

Chord symbols as used in lead sheets and charts.

“Road map” info.

Developing a vocabulary of “default” parts and stylistic literacy for different musical genres.

Thinking like an arranger; “realizing” an arrangement.

Tools for playing from a lead sheet: apply to Tune #1.

 

Week 2

Q&A.

Ways to write and format a lyric sheet.

Apply tools for writing a lyric sheet on your own and share next week.

More tools for playing from a lead sheet: apply to Tune #1.

Tools for playing from a chord/rhythm chart: apply to Tune #2.

 

Week 3

Q&A.

“Workshop” student lyric sheets.

Further tools for playing from a lead sheet: apply to Tune #3.

More tools for playing from a chord/rhythm chart: Tune #2.

 

Week 4

Q&A.

Apply tools for playing from a lead sheet to Tune #4 on your own and share next week.

Further tools for playing from a chord/rhythm chart: apply to Tune #5.

 

Week 5

Q&A.

“Workshop” student realizations of lead sheets (Tune #4).

More playing from charts and lead sheets.

Apply tools for playing from chord/rhythm charts to Tune #6 on your own and share next week.

 

Week 6

Q&A.

“Workshop” student realizations of chord/rhythm charts (Tune #6).

More playing from charts and lead sheets.

How to write your own chord/rhythm chart (from “minimal” to “full”).

 

Week 7

Q&A.

More: writing your own chord/rhythm chart.

“Workshop” in class.

More playing from charts and lead sheets.

 

Week 8

Q&A.

How to write your own lead sheet.

“Workshop” in class.

More playing from charts and lead sheets.

 

Week 9

Q&A.

More: writing your own lead sheet.

“Workshop” lead sheets in class.

More playing from charts and lead sheets.

 

Week 10

Final Q&A.

Final “workshopping” of student charts/lead sheets.

Online resources.

Review and shared reflections.

 

Jennifer Jolly (piano, keyboards)

B.A. UC Berkeley. Keyboardist, melodica player, vocalist, composer, and educator (keyboards, world music, improvisation). Specialty in New Orleans R&B, African, Caribbean, blues, soul/funk, rock, Americana, jam bands, country swing, Cajun/zydeco, groove/percussive and improvisational music. Currently performing with Zulu Spear, Babá Ken Okulolo & Friends, Big B and His Snake Oil Saviors, The Jolly Gibsons, and several reggae/ska, blues/R&B, and Americana groups; frequent sub with Tom Rigney & Flambeau. Current accompanist for choruses, churches, and musical theater productions. Previous performance credits include Phil Lesh, Kotoja, Barbara Dane, and Hot Links. Long-time faculty instructor at the CJC, Cazadero Family Camp, after-school programs, and private studio. Secondary instruments include steel drums, flute, and percussion.

 

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