Learn To Play Gospel Piano
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Note: Instructions to access booklet is provided inside the case as "WHERE'S MY BOOKLET?"
This inspirational course in gospel piano has been specially designed for novice and intermediate players. West Virginia's First Lady of Gospel Music teaches powerful arrangements of traditional spirituals and hymns, complete with melody, harmony notes, chords, runs, turnarounds and left-hand bass lines. Two hours of instruction! 2-DVD SET * INCLUDES MUSIC * LEVEL 2/3
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Many pianists are taught to learn only what's on the page, to "hear with their eyes", so may find it challenging to learn in this manner, where it's all live - she shows this, then that, then goes back and puts them together. But press on, and you'll be rewarded. If you're used to a more vernacular form of music (e.g., rock, folk music) that's passed along orally/aurally, it'll probably be much easier for you. But what I like about this is that you get it all - the video, the commentary, and the printed notes. We all need to find our own way in, and I think she's given us all the chance to find ours here.
Let me first talk about the lessons themselves, before I say more about Ethel. In the first lesson she starts out with single note melodies and then builds up from there, teaching tons of tricks along the way. The first three song lessons advance in difficulty within each lesson and then across the lessons. In other words, for each song she presents a simple version, then a more difficult version, then an advanced version. And overall the lessons tend to build on each other and develop your skills with progressively more interesting ways to play. Along the way Ethel makes it clear by example that there is no one single way to play a song, but rather that you have choices in terms of the style and level of embellishment you wish to add to a tune.
Another thing I really like is the accompanying .pdf booklet of transcriptions. The transcriptions are for the most part very accurate and reflect what she plays on the DVD, almost exactly as she plays it. (eg first single note melody, then more embellished, etc) I have been able to do most of my practicing without having to constantly pause and rewind the DVD--I simply watch each lesson a couple of times and then use a printout of the transcriptions to practice, referring back to the DVD only for tricky passages.
On the topic of practice, if you're like me (beginner to intermediate player), you're going to need a LOT of practice. You need to have a fair amount of hand independence to play this music, so this is not for absolute beginners. I've had to practice a lot to come even close to the sound I want, but the results have definitely been worth it. I'm playing better than I ever have in my life. I certainly can't play at a professional level, but this DVD points the way very well and it inspires me to keep at it.
Next, I've gotta talk about Ethel herself. What an amazing musician! I also think Ethel must be a genuinely wonderful and caring person, and she is surprisingly open to sharing so many masterful piano playing techniques. I feel fortunate that she has shared so much. Her approach is intuitive and easy to follow, and it does not rely too heavily on music theory, although she does allude to chords/etc that you can use if you like to think that way.
Lastly, I should add that I also started out using Harrison's "Gospel Keyboard Styles" book and found it helpful initially to use both of these resources at once. The Harrison book gave me patterns and theory that I used for practice drills, and the Caffie-Austin DVD gave me a less theoretical approach with very beautiful playable songs. But once I got going, I'm relying much more on Ethel's DVD--it just inspires much more and teaches a more complete sound. I have a feeling that if I keep working diligently for a few more months, I might be able to play Gospel the way I really want to.
I enjoy this DVD so much. I play it everyday. I have to stop and replay the runs
but that's alright I'm getting it. Her style of playing don't need to die out. I wish I had
this a long time ago. I'm so happy with this DVD. I would love to meet her in person and
thank her for doing this for Homespun Video. Her style is what I grew up hearing in the Apostolic Church of Kentucky. I can't say enough about her.. I wish she would make another video. I've learned alot from her. I'm not that good, but If I stick with it, I believe I can get close to playing just like her. Again, she is the best.
If you have any interest in this subject whatsoever, I'd advise you to buy this pronto.
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