Welcome to The University of the Arts Jazz Piano Institute!
A network of educators, students, and professionals sharing ideas about jazz performance practice and pedagogy.

UArts JPI is an outreach program of the piano department at The University of the Arts. We are dedicated to forming relationships with private teachers, community music schools, music stores, school band directors, and others who could benefit from participating in our workshops, receiving our newsletter, or attending performances. In addition to sponsoring a series of free on-campus workshops and master classes UArts JPI will provide a forum for sharing ideas about technique, repertoire, sight reading, improvisation, performance, and anything related to piano practice and pedagogy. Check UArts Jazz Piano Institute on facebook for updates on events planned for the Spring 2013 semester.
Danilo Perez at UArts Taubman Workshop





If you’re a private piano teacher, student, university professor, professional musician, or just someone with a deep interest in jazz piano, we hope that you will become a member and begin to network with us. You can join UArts JPI by emailing us at or by joining our facebook group at: Membership is free. UArts Jazz Piano Institute reflects the mission of The University of the Arts, School of Music to prepare students for careers as performers, composers, educators, and entrepreneurs. It further illustrates the School’s commitment to interact with the larger musical community.
Some of the distinguished jazz pianists who have presented master classes at UArts

Kenny Barron

McCoy Tyner

Mike Garson (pianist for David Bowie)

Uri Caine

Gonzalo Rubalcaba

Matthew Shipp



Our first newsletter features a series of educational articles written by the UArts piano faculty. We hope that you find them interesting and that they might serve as a resource for your own teaching. Please feel free to let us know what topics you might want addressed in future newsletters. We’re looking forward to hearing from you and are excited to begin exchanging ideas. Sincerely, Don Glanden Piano Department Chair contact: Elizabeth Jackson-Murray UArts JPI Project Assistant contact: Piano Faculty: Don Glanden, Tom Lawton, Joshua Richman, AJ Luca Robert Durso, Dave Thomas, Judi Glover, Annette DiMedio The University of the Arts School of Music 320 South Broad Street Philadelphia, PA 19102

Faculty Articles
Tom Lawton - Converting Harmonic Material Into Melodic Material Don Glanden - Fundamental Concepts: Part One: Triads and Seventh Chords Joshua Richman - Playing the Blues AJ Luca - Support and Shine: Advice for Accompanying Singers Judi Glover - Tips to Improving Your Sight Reading


Tom Lawton: Senior Lecturer, The University of the Arts Tom Lawton is a creative composer, performer, and educator who is considered among the finest Philadelphia jazz musicians. He has studied with two Philadelphia legends, the pianists Gerald Price and French emigre Bernard Peiffer. After Peiffer’s death in 1976, Lawton began a long musical association with Peiffer’s legendary bassist Al Stauffer. His varied experience with different musical genres have given him an inclusive view of piano playing and he would rather consider his music "universal" than consider it "jazz." As a first-call sideman he has played and recorded with eminent musicians such as John Swana, Ben Schachter, Bobby Zankel, and Diane Monroe. In 2004, Lawton released his first recording as a leader, "Retrospective/Debut," which featured his talents as a composer, performer, and improviser. It was lauded by All About as a "recording that combines the angularity of Thelonious Monk with a modern compositional edge ... aiming for loftier territory.”


Converting Harmonic Material Into Melodic Material by Tom Lawton
! This is the first of a series of articles dealing with some basic aspects of beginning to improvise, especially for those mainly accustomed to reading written music. I will address two common ways to choose and combine notes, as well as the ways in which line shape, rhythm and phrasing ultimately determine the overall musical effect of these choices. ! Most straight-ahead jazz improvisation is a matter of converting harmonic material (chords) into melodic material (lines). The most basic way of doing this is through arpeggiation of chord tones. See UArts video at: ! For the present, we will limit ourselves to triads. Let's look at a couple of examples from the classical literature, where composers employ the same means as improvisers. Take the notes of the C Major triad: C-E-G. Ex. 1 is the first three bars of the famous Sonatina in C by Muzio Clementi. After sounding the root, the second inversion of the triad descends and the fifth (G) is repeated. The rhythm of the figure makes it all meaningful. In bar 2 the descending triad repeats and this time the G is repeated an octave above, triggering a change in direction which is now stepwise (half and whole steps or scalular). Stepwise motion mixes well with arpeggiation in the creation of varied line shapes. Iteration of the fifth of the triad implies the dominant creating a sense of motion, not stasis even on one chord.

Example 1

! The opening theme of Beethoven's Piano Concerto #3 in C Minor begins with an ascending C minor triad, followed by a descending stepwise line (ex. 2).

Example 2 !

copyright tom lawton 2012
all rights reserved


! Both of these examples occur over one "chord." Even though no chord, as such, is sounded, the chord is implied through the melodic line and the use of the fifth of the triad conveys dominant-tonic associations even though not enough notes are played from the dominant chord to actually be that chord. ! The easiest way to start improvising is to do it over one chord at a time. Select any major or minor triad. As soon as you can hear it and visualize it, try to find it in any inversion or any other distribution of those same notes (ex. 3). Example 3

! Then make up musical lines using this material or expanding upon it. If you need to play rubato at first, by all means do so. Even in rubato, try not to aimlessly "wander." Try to think in phrases that logically follow one another (ex.4a). Then contrast the broken triadic ideas with some stepwise motion to "smooth" the contour (ex.4b). Specific aspects of note behavior in stepwise motion will be covered in a later article. Example 4

! For jazz, I believe in integrating the rhythmic component from the beginning. The classical examples take their meaning from their rhythmic values at least as much as from the notes. Try a couple of examples using the D minor triad and the D natural minor scale. ! To expand your improvisational experimentation into a metric framework (for now 4/4), start with a couple of "square" examples, where the rhythmic examples are not syncopated. First triadic, then stepwise, then mixed (ex. 5).


"""""""!!Example 5!!!!""""""""""""""

! ! Now use more syncopation. If you are familiar with swing eighth-notes, try that subdivision (ex6). If not, use normal eighth notes but play around with syncopated rhythms (ex. 7). Example 6

Example 7

! These are examples of a type of practicing that combines the cognitive and creative/intuitive functions of the brain. Improvisationally, everything is possible. Therefore the only way to gain control over any one aspect of the "language" is to temporarily isolate a sound or idea and be patient with the time it takes for the conscious intent to merge with the intuition within a given set of parameters. Sometimes, take the risk to think the music first and then about your instrument. Above all, have fun.


Don Glanden: Professor, The University of the Arts Pianist/Composer/Educator Don Glanden has performed in concerts, recording studios, and clubs with many great jazz artists, including: Donald Byrd, Ernie Watts, Eddie Gomez, Terell Stafford, Henry Mancini, Marcus Belgrave, Marc Johnson, Robin Eubanks, John Riley, John Fedchock, John Swana, Randy Brecker, Patti Austin, Tim Warfield, and Dennis Irwin. He has two compact disc releases as a leader, Sudden Life (1994) and Only Believe (1999). Don received a Bachelor of Music degree in Composition from North Texas State University and a Master of Music degree in Jazz Studies from Rutgers University. He is currently a full professor of music at The University of the Arts in Philadelphia, where he heads the Graduate Jazz Studies program and is Chair of Piano Studies for the school’s nationally recognized jazz program. His success as an educator includes many former students currently teaching at major universities, writing for music publications, and touring with nationally celebrated jazz acts. Don’s activities in the area of music scholarship include paper presentations to the American Studies Association and the International Association for Jazz Education, along with the publication of numerous articles in Downbeat, Jazz Improv, and All About Jazz. A leading researcher of the life and career of jazz legend Clifford Brown, Don is the producer/director of Brownie Speaks: A Video Documentary. Don and his wife Jody live in Wilmington, Delaware. They have two sons, Chris and Brad, and two grandchildren, Nick and Ana Julia.


JAZZ PIANO WORKSHOP FUNDAMENTAL CONCEPTS: PART ONE Triads and Seventh Chords By Don Glanden One of fundamental truths about developing the ability to play jazz or master any complex activity is that each simple stage in the process must be thoroughly mastered and understood before moving ahead. Bill Evans refers to this in “The Universal Mind of Bill Evans” when he points out the common problem of students who attempt to play like one of the top professionals without laying an adequate foundation. Such students approximate a large and complex activity (jazz improvisation) without having mastered the details of that activity. They inevitably sound like they are playing at jazz rather than playing jazz. I’m reminded of this basic truth every fall when I first meet with my advanced freshman theory class at The University of the Arts. Nearly all of the students will indicate that they thoroughly understand triads, having learned them at private lessons or in high school theory classes. However, their confidence soon dissipates when I begin to ask them to spell the chords very quickly in randomly chosen keys and inversions. Triads are such a basic building block for harmonic understanding that it is imperative that they be absorbed at a level that makes their use intuitive. As students progress, they may discover many advanced applications for triads, including polychords, upper structure chords, and triad pairs. Learning to hear, recognize, and apply triads at a deep level will set the stage for mastering each subsequent step as one develops as an improvising pianist. This article includes a presentation of triads and seventh chords, the basic building blocks of tertian harmony (chords built in thirds). Tertian harmony forms the foundation of most mainstream jazz piano playing. The use of chord extensions (ninth, eleventh, and thirteenth) will be covered in a subsequent article, as will the application of 20th Century harmonic practice to jazz improvisation. The prevailing theory of harmonic evolution relates the development of tertian harmony to the overtone series. Below is an approximation of the naturally occurring overtones that sound above C (2 octaves below middle C). Notice that the first six partials include only notes from the C major triad. Building the seven-note major scale from C identifies the chord members as root, third, and fifth. It also illustrates that tertian harmony features the building of chords in thirds. Because the chords are built in thirds, they should also be spelled in thirds by saying every other letter name, C E G. This will be very helpful when identifying the chord members in all keys.

copyright don glanden 2012 all rights reserved


Below are the four basic triad types: major, minor, diminished, and augmented. As you build the triads in all keys it will be helpful to know the half step formula for each triad type. The half step formula for major triads is 4-3. To illustrate this hold down middle C then count: 1(Db) – 2(D) – 3(Eb) – 4(E). Then hold down E and count 1(F) – 2(F#) – 3(G). This will assure that you arrive at the correct pitches--in this case C – E – G. Root position and inversions are shown for each chord.


Exercise #1 Play the four basic triad types, in root position and inversions, ascending and descending, transposing them to all keys. The exercise should be practiced in both hands with the left hand doubling the right hand one octave lower.

After mastering the four triad types in all keys, the next step is to link them together using carefully chosen inversions to maintain good voice leading. Learn to view the three notes of the triad as three vocal parts or three instruments playing independent lines. Strive to create smooth and lyrical movement when moving from chord to chord. Developing this sensibility with triads will be invaluable as harmonic knowledge increases to include seventh chords and chord extensions. Below is an example of a progression using various triad inversions chosen to maintain good voice leading. Notice that three singable independent lines would become apparent if the top, middle, or bottom voices were isolated.


The left hand accompaniment provided below for Stephen Foster’s “Beautiful Dreamer” utilizes triads in root position and inversions, alternative chord voicings, and left hand accompaniment patterns. Chord voicing is the vertical spacing and arrangement of pitches in a chord. Extensive experimentation with chord voicing and left hand accompaniment is crucial for creating spontaneous piano arrangements. Practice applying these techniques to your favorite songs.


After acquiring a high level of facility with triads, apply the same approach to seventh chords. The construction of seventh chords continues to mirror the overtone series. The addition of a fourth note will yield an additional inversion. Seventh chords may be found in root position, first, second, or third inversion.

Below is a comprehensive chart showing eleven 7th chord types. The chart includes four columns: Column 1: The notes in the chord and its name. Column 2: Commonly used chord symbols. Column 3: The half step formula. Column 4: The traditional classical term based on the identification of the triad type and the specific interval from the root to the seventh.


copyright don glanden 2012


Exercise #2 Play the eleven seventh chord types in root position and inversions, ascending and descending, transposing them to all keys. The exercise should be practiced in both hands with the left hand doubling the right hand one octave lower.


In addition to triads and seventh chords, sixth chords should also be practiced before proceeding to ninth, eleventh, and thirteenth chords. The example below shows root position and inversions for major and minor sixth chords. Exercise #3 Play major and minor sixth chords in root position and inversions, ascending and descending, transposing them to all keys. The exercise should be practiced in both hands with the left hand doubling the right hand one octave lower.

Two chords that are found frequently in contemporary popular music are shown below. C (add2) is perhaps the most common of the “added note” chords. It is built by adding the second scale degree to a major triad. Csus (suspended) indicates a triad with the fourth scale degree replacing the third. The fourth is most often treated as a non-harmonic tone resolving down by step in the subsequent chord. Transpose both chords to all keys as was done in the previous examples.


Joshua Richman: Senior Lecturer, The University of the Arts ! Pianist and composer, Joshua Richman received his Bachelor of Arts degree from William Paterson University in 2008. In 2010 he completed his master’s degree studying jazz piano performance at The Juilliard School. He has studied privately with piano legends such as Mulgrew Miller and Kenny Barron, and classical piano with Gary Kirkpatrick. ! He is a two-time winner of the ASCAP Foundation Young Jazz Composer Award. Along with leading his own trio, Joshua has performed with Terell Stafford, Peter Washington, Kenny Washington, Harry Allen, Tim Warfield, Charles Fambrough, Byron Landham, Steve Laspina, Bill Goodwin, Ben Wolfe, and Justin Faulkner. ! He was the pianist for Anthony Rapp and Stephen Sondheim at the “Sondheim on Sondheim-In Words and Music” event at William Paterson University. Joshua has performed nationally and internationally as a member of the Juilliard Ensemble.


Playing the Blues by Joshua Richman
! ! ! ! ! ! ! !! !
! For those who have never played jazz before, it can be an intimidating thing. But with some guidance, any musician can do it. Many jazz tunes feature numerous, advanced chords and difficult rhythmic patterns. However, there is one form of jazz that is much simpler--the blues. Yes, there are more advanced and in-depth forms of the blues, but the most basic version is quite simple and can be taught to any competent musician with a decent theory background. ! I am a big believer in practicing major scales. They can not only be used as a vehicle for improving technique and discipline, but they are also extremely significant for learning advanced theory. For me, much of playing and understanding jazz is having a grasp on the theory behind it. And most, if not all of the theory can be traced back to major scales. ! As I mentioned before, most jazz tunes have a pretty healthy number of chords. The basic blues form that I am writing about however, has only three. And better yet, they are all the same type: dominant seventh chords. Dominant seventh chords are four-note chords that consist of a root, a third, a fifth, and a seventh. One might ask, “What does this mean?” The answer is simple--refer back to the major scale. A root is the same thing as a 1 (the first note of a major scale), the third of a chord is the third note of a major scale, the fifth of a chord is the fifth note of a major scale, and of course the seventh of a chord is the seventh note of a major scale. I’ll go ahead and teach you a C blues. The first chord of a C blues is a C dominant seventh chord (C7). The root (1) would be a C. The third (third note of a scale) would be the third note of the C major scale (E). The fifth is the fifth note of the C major scale (G), and the seventh is the seventh note of the C major scale (B). However, one slight alteration needs to be made now. The notes that separate dominant seventh chords from other types of seventh chords are the thirds and the sevenths. A dominant seventh chord features a major third and a flatted seventh. The major third of a C7 is the same as the third note of the C major scale, which we determined was E, so we are all set there. We know that the seventh note of a C major scale is B, but we also know that the seventh of a dominant seventh chord is flatted. Therefore, all we do is “flat the seventh” by lowering the B by a half-step, making it a B flat. Now, the C7 is spelled with a C, E, G, and Bb. The next step is to figure out how to spell the other two chords in a C blues progression. ! The other two chords in a C blues are F7 and G7. In combination with the first chord of the C blues (C7), you have I, IV, and V of the key of C. This theory can be applied to a blues in any key; a blues will always consist of I, IV, and V of a given key. When figuring out the notes of the IV and V of a C blues (F7 and G7), follow the same steps we used to figure out how to spell a C7. ! Eventually, you will figure out that an F7 is spelled F, A, C, and Eb, and a G7 is spelled G, B, D, and F natural. The next step is to play all three chords in the blues progression. The C blues progression is most commonly played over a 12-measure form that is repeated indefinitely. The progression looks like this:
copyright joshua richman 2012 all rights reserved


C7 F7 G7

C7 F7 F7

C7 C7 C7

C7 C7 C7

! Play through the chord progression several times until you begin to feel comfortable and get a sense for how the form should sound. Most pianists will now begin to feel good about things, yet will still feel like it doesn’t sound quite right yet. This is because chords in root position generally don’t sound too great. They will be seeking jazz piano voicings that not only will enhance the sound of the chords, but will limit unnecessary movement. Let’s explore some voicings: ! To find a simple, yet effective voicing for the first chord of a C blues (C7), all you need to do is get both hands ready. In your left hand, play the root (C) with your 5th finger and the flatted seventh (Bb) with your 1st finger in the octave right below middle C. In your right hand, play the third (E) with your 1st finger, the fifth (G) with your 2nd finger, and the root (C) with your 5th finger in the octave right above middle C. Play these notes hands together. You’ll notice that this chord sounds good, but still might be looking for more. This is probably because the fifth on a dominant seven chord is important, but not nearly as important as the other notes, and often sounds bland. To fix this, substitute the thirteenth for the fifth. Now don’t freak out-the thirteenth is essentially the same note as the sixth. In fact, all of the extensions of seventh chords (the ninth, eleventh, and thirteenth) are essentially the same as the second, fourth, and sixth. All you have to do is subtract 7 (13-7=6). So when substituting the fifth (G) for the thirteenth (A), you now have your right hand playing E, A (third finger), and C instead of E, G, and C. When playing both hands together now, you’ll notice this voicing probably sounds a little better. ! Now you might think you’re done, but hold on--you’re not quite there yet. While you can apply the same steps you used to find your C7 voicing to figure out your F7 and G7 voicings, you will still be doing a whole bunch of jumping around. Let’s figure out how to move from our C7 voicing to a good F7 voicing. Keep your hands on the piano and play your C7 voicing. The roots of these chords should be the lowest note in our voicings, so move the root of the C7 (C) up to the root of the F7 (F). Now that we’ve taken care of the root, and we know the fifth is not really that important, we are left with the two most important notes from this point: the third and the seventh. The third and seventh of an F7 are A and Eb, respectively. Our thumb in our left hand is still on a Bb from our C7 voicing. Which note, the third (A) or seventh (Eb) of the F7 is closest to a Bb? The answer is the third of the F7 (A). Therefore, slide your thumb down from the Bb to the A. Your left hand is now playing an F and an A above it (the root and the third of the F7). This leaves your right hand with the responsibility of playing the 7th of the F7 (Eb). Slide your thumb in your right hand from the E to the Eb. You now have the root, third, and 7th of the F7. We could end here, but let’s fill out the voicing a little bit. Your third finger in your right hand is on an A, but you are already playing an A in your left hand. So let’s move from the


A to a G (the second, or ninth of an F7). Your fifth finger is on a C (the root of a C7, and what do you know--it also happens to be the fifth of an F7!) Based on what I said earlier about the fifth sometimes being bland, you can move the C to a D. However, in this case, I like the C. This is most likely because we have a common note from the C7 to the F7, and that note is in the top note of each voicing, giving us a strong sense of melody. So let’s leave the C there, leaving us with an F7 voicing of F and A in the left hand, and Eb, G, and C in the right hand. Practice moving from the C7 voicing to the F7 voicing. ! When you are ready to move on and find a good voicing for the G7, think about this: how far away are the roots in the IV and V chords? The answer is a whole step. Therefore, we don’t need to find a whole new voicing for the G7. We can use the same one we used for the F7 because it’s only a whole step away. Move each note in the F7 voicing up a whole step. You will then learn that our G7 voicing will feature G and B (root and third) in the left hand, and F, A, and D (flatted seventh, ninth, and fifth) in the right hand. Congrats! You are finished with the voicings for a C blues. Practice playing the progression with these voicings. ! Students will now want to learn how to improvise. While this can be scary and intimidating to beginners, it really is pretty simple to improvise on a blues. One scale works for the whole progression. How can this be possible? The answer can be explained in two ways. One way is very complicated and time consuming, so we won’t go there. The other answer is that it just sounds good. Always trust your ears when playing jazz. Some questions just don’t have legitimate answers. For instance, in tonal harmony, a dominant seventh chord is an unresolved sound. It does not feel settled; it instead wants to resolve to another chord. However, in a blues, the only chords in the whole progression are dominant sevenths, and yet it feels settled. This is the phenomenon of the blues. If dominant seventh chords can feel settled on a blues, then one scale can work for the entire progression. ! This scale that I speak of is the blues scale. It features the root, sharp ninth (looks like a minor third), fourth, sharp fourth, fifth, and flatted seventh. The scale you would improvise with on a C blues is a C blues scale. It is spelled C, D#(Eb), F, F#, G, and Bb. Some notes will sound better than others on each chord, but they all work. For those notes that might invoke too much dissonance for you, simply avoid them or don’t hold them for too long. But this C blues scale does work for each chord in the progression, and you can sound very good improvising using only this scale. Experiment with different octaves, rhythms, and melodies using the notes in the scale. Sooner or later, you’ll sound like you know what you’re doing! ! The blues is a very easy chord progression to learn. It has only a few chords, and one scale can be played over these chords. Above all else, the blues should be played with a great deal of emotion and feeling. More than other jazz forms in most cases, the blues is a great vehicle for expressing emotions like sadness, anger, happiness, nostalgia and more all at the same time. The phenomenon of the blues is an amazing thing. Good luck, and have fun!


AJ Luca: Senior Lecturer, The University of the Arts AJ Luca received her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Jazz Studies from The University of the Arts. Equally passionate about music and theatre, she has performed in various venues throughout the Philly area and NYC as a pianist, singer, and actor. AJ’s time at UArts has also afforded her the opportunity to represent the school internationally at festivals, conferences, and performances in Italy, Japan and South Korea. In the summer of 2012, AJ released her debut EP of original songs, Sunshine Sessions, produced by Grammy winner Scot Sax. Several of her original tunes have been featured on WXPN's "In the Round" with Helen Leicht and on WRTI's "The Bridge" with J. Michael Harrison. Combining her love for jazz, acting, and songwriting, AJ had the opportunity to create and perform cabarets for three consecutive seasons of Qunice Productions’ “Full House” series at the Society Hill Playhouse. As keyboardist/backup vocalist for country singer-songwriter Liv Devine, AJ has opened for Joe Nichols, Little Big Town, and Wynona Judd. AJ is a member of the self-arranged a cappella group The Dolls, who became worldwide You Tube sensations in March 2012 with their kitchen-utensils-as-percussion version of Adele’s “Rumour Has It.” As musical director, composer, pianist and singer, AJ performed with the Hear Again Radio Project for three seasons in the Philly Fringe and at Philadelphia Plays and Players. Some of her favorite theatrical roles have been Brigitta in The Sound of Music (Nat’l Tour), Louisa in The Sound of Music (Walnut Street Theatre), and Jasmine in Aladdin (MTI/Disney Theatricals at the Atlantic Theatre, NYC). In addition to performing, AJ enjoys sharing her love of music with others as a piano and voice teacher at The Music Workshop, and as a piano faculty member at UArts.


Support and Shine: Advice for Accompanying Singers By AJ Luca

As both a pianist and a singer, I know what it’s like to be an accompanist and I know what it’s like to work with an accompanist. Both sides of the singer/accompanist relationship present challenges -- and opportunities for a great musical partnership. In order to have a strong musical partnership, even if it’s only for one performance, it’s important to establish an atmosphere of trust. Being onstage as the center of attention as a vocalist is an extremely vulnerable position. The human voice has a tremendous communicative power. I believe that audiences connect to voices even more closely than to instruments because the voice is universal—everyone has one and uses it to express emotions and ideas. Because the voice is such a powerful tool, the singer generally gets the glory when things go well—and the judgment when things don’t go well. The vocalist needs to know that you, the accompanist, are protecting his best interests. Communicate! Ask for cues and count offs, always ask questions, find out what the singer wishes to accomplish through the song. Let the singer know that you know he knows what he’s doing, and you want to have all the information possible to help accomplish his goals. Unless you are giving a duo performance, the most important thing to remember when accompanying a singer is that it’s not about you. This seems like an obvious point, but it is easy to get caught up in the moment while playing and forget that you are there to support the singer’s vision, not your own. Within the vocalist’s vision, be creative! Your being there to support the singer doesn’t mean that your contribution has to be bland or boring. Practice being economical and tasteful. Feel free to try chord substitutions or interesting rhythmic patterns. Just be sure you always serve the melody. Unless the vocalist tells you that she wants to go for a certain sound, be clear harmonically and rhythmically. Be aware of extensions or alterations in your voicings, making sure that they don’t clash with the melody. Even singers with great ears and highly developed musicianship skills can get confused if they hear notes that conflict with the melody. A practical way to be creative without interfering with the singer is to play very simply (just chords/bass/whatever you’re doing to lay down the rhythmic and harmonic foundation) while she is singing a phrase, and then fill during the gaps between phrases. This keeps things interesting without being unnecessarily busy. When I’m singing with a pianist, I always appreciate this approach because it makes me feel like the accompanist is enjoying making music with me and adding some of himself to the song, without getting in my way or competing with my expression of the melody. Singers are communicators. Your role is to do everything you can to help the singer communicate her message to the audience.
copyright aj luca 2012 all rights reserved


Great accompanists allow themselves to get lost in the song. They are able to get inside the singer’s mind because they are constantly following and listening. Follow the vocalist wherever he goes—even if he goes to back to the bridge instead of the A section or does the form differently than in rehearsal. You won’t gain anything by refusing to follow the singer if he makes the decision to do something different than what was rehearsed or just makes a mistake (which happens to everyone eventually!) In order to make sure that your reaction time is as quick as possible in case these situations occur, be aware of everything the singer does. Always be listening for changes in dynamics, phrasing, etc. If you demonstrate that you are locked in with the singer, following and listening, he will know that you are trustworthy and he will be confident in expressing the song with freedom and excellence. An image that helps me get the most out of the accompanist-singer relationship is to think of a beautiful diamond ring. It’s really all about the diamond, but the stone needs the appropriate setting in order to show its full brilliance. The setting provides for the diamond its foundation and context, and it makes the stone stand out and shine even more brightly than if it were on its own. Different combinations of stones and settings make unique and striking rings. You are the setting; the vocalist is the diamond. You are the foundation that gives the singer the freedom to shine…so be who you are, and enjoy providing a solid foundation for the diamond you are supporting.


Judi Glover: Senior Lecturer, The University of the Arts Judi Glover is a graduate of Glassboro State College, now known as Rowan University, with a degree in Classical Piano Performance. In addition to classical studies at GSC, she took private lessons in jazz piano, improvisation, and arranging, with Tom Lawton, Gerald Price, Al Stauffer, Bill Zaccagni and Manny Albam. Judi began private studies at the age of 10, first focussing in classical music, but later being introduced to jazz by her brother, trumpeter Dennis Wasko. She immediately fell in love with the music of Chick Corea, Bill Evans, Herbie Hancock and Oscar Peterson. This influence led to jazz studies with John Coates Sr. during her high school years. She also studied oboe and xylophone, and was accepted on both instruments by the New Jersey All-State Regional Ensembles. As a performer, she travelled extensively for 4 years while working on Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines. Other performances include showroom work at Bally's Grand Hotel & Casino and the Claridge Hotel & Casino in Atlantic City, NJ. She also has been the pianist in musicals including West Side Story, Man of La Mancha, Anything Goes, Kismet, Legally Blonde, and State Fair. In addition to working in various sized ensembles from solo piano to 17-piece big bands, she has written vocal arrangements for several Virginia-based High School Ensembles. Teaching experience includes private piano lessons at the New Jersey Schools of Music in Medford and Haddonfield, and Blessed Sacrament Regional School in Margate, NJ. Judi has been a piano accompanist at UArts since 1998 for instrumental and vocal classical recitals.


Tips to Improving Your Sight Reading Skills by Judi Glover

One of the many facets to being a successful working musician is to be proficient at sight reading. I have found this to be very helpful in several musical settings; from reading a show for the first time, to accompanying vocalists or instrumentalists, to sitting in with a big band. It is a skill which can be improved upon by incorporating sight reading into daily practice routines. Dedicating a small amount of time each day to sight reading is the best way to improve your skills. When choosing material, pick pieces that are slightly below your repertoire level. Trying to sight read Chopin Etudes would probably not be a good place to begin. And do not think that you have to read an entire piece: instead, pick a smaller section, such as 16 or 32 bars, and do this with several pieces. Try to vary the composers and styles as well. Composers such as Bach, Mozart and Bartok would provide hours of sight reading practice. The main objective of sight reading is to play through the passage without stopping when mistakes occur. Try to keep going without correcting your mistake. Before beginning to play, make a mental note of the clef signs, key signatures and time signatures. Look closely at the music for repeated phrases or rhythms. If passages occur with scales or arpeggios use proper fingering if none is given. If fingerings are suggested, use them. Look at the music in different perspectives. Try to look at it vertically and horizontally. For example, vertically would be to look at a group of notes from top to bottom to see if it spells out a particular chord. Also, do you see an octave in the left hand, or maybe a fifth? Identifying intervals quickly is very helpful. Do you see notes in the right hand closely stacked together, and if so, does it spell out a chord? The faster you can see the notes and how they are arranged will lead to more success when reading something for the first time. A horizontal perspective would be linear: look to see if a group of notes is a scale, or a passage in thirds, or an alberti bass pattern. Look for an arpeggio, or a phrase that may be repeated in a sequence. Watch out for accidentals, and pay attention to phrase markings, dynamics, and staccato or legato passages. As you assemble your choices of music to sight read, try to vary key signatures and time signatures, and play several different genres of pieces. Here are some suggestions that may be helpful in choosing your selections: J.S. Bach Chorales or selections from his Notebook for Anna Magdalena Bach; Clementi Sonatinas; Mozart Minuets or Sonatas; Chopin Preludes, Nocturnes or Waltzes; Schumann Album for the Young; Bartok’s Mikrokosmos (they are short pieces in 6 volumes that progress from simple etudes to advanced technical studies).

copyright judi glover 2012 all rights reserved


Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful