The practice materials, listed below, are available to purchase and download instantly.

CORE MATERIALS

The core materials are listed first. These materials give you a detailed overview of the theory and practice involved, as well as some basic coaching information. The 15 Steps document is like a mini course: it sets out how to practise and build fluent keyboard skills incrementally with clear explanations, diagrams and video demonstrations. The order of these steps is not written in stone but there are clear advantages to having the skills set out and demonstrated in this sequence. The Concise Model provides deeper explanation of the principles and elements of musical language that you use to express yourself fluently. The core materials are essential for self-directed practice. Come back to them frequently!

PRACTICE MATERIALS

After you have begun by studying the core materials, and trying to practise the skills set out in the first few of the 15 steps, it is likely that you will want more involved, specific and prescribed practice materials, to work more deeply on particular areas or for greater clarity of understanding. So the practice materials provide exercises, studies and guided practices in much greater detail. You can cherry pick these practice materials as you need, at each step. Also, I occasionally add new ones.

MANY HOURS’ PRACTICE AT EACH STEP

Whilst everyone learns at different rates, each step requires many – even hundreds – of hours’ practice, with clear, calm focus and playful, expressive freedom. Deep, embodied understanding only comes after practice. You cannot expect to have a cognitive grasp first. You need to build that practical understanding very gradually. It’s also important to keep practising earlier steps as you advance, like a warmup. If you are struggling, study the materials for the step you are on very carefully with an open mind, letting go of all preconceptions. The ideas are very simple but radical. The copy on this website is also helpful guidance, so re-read it often; and of course there are all the free videos too. Seek and ye shall find!

If you still feel lost, you can always contact me to arrange a 121 coaching session (find out more about my 121 teaching) but my availability is limited so I may not be able to fit you in at short notice. Whilst I’d love to invite you to email me with questions, unfortunately I just cannot offer email coaching. The materials are already generous for the price and do not include a correspondence course. On the other hand, if you spot an error or typo, I’d be very grateful if you would like to let me know!

UPDATES

I will update materials occasionally. You can see the version number shown below in the download title, and your links will give you lifetime access to the most up-to-date files.

BEFORE YOU BUY ANYTHING, please read the content on this website carefully and watch some of my free videos. This is an unconventional learning approach that is not for everyone. But if you feel ready to play with simple principles and elements like a child full of expressive playfulness and intention, then I am excited to share my materials with you!

All the materials are listed below with purchase buttons. You can see the contents of your shopping cart at any time by using the cart icon in the main menu above. The menu shown below the core materials links to the practice materials for individual steps.

CORE MATERIALS

15 Steps

v1.0

This is the closest thing to a course. This download provides explanations of all the skills you need to be musically fluent on the keys, in a simple step-by-step format: a 43-page illustrated document with integrated video links at each step.

 

Concise Model

v1.0

A 22-page illustrated PDF document with some integrated audio links explaining the simple, comprehensive model of rhythmic and tonal “language”.

How to Study and Practise

v1.0

A short PDF document with 4 videos explaining how to approach this training. The way we practise fluent skills is very different from conventional learning, In this download, you will learn how the model forms the basis of your practice and the best way to immerse yourself in the learning.

 

Blockages to Fluency

v1.0

Developing fluency in the language of music can easily be blocked by habitual musical, psychological and even emotional issues. This PDF document and coaching video help you to identify and tackle the most common blockages.

 

Technique

v1.0

Technique is an area of piano playing that can become unnecessarily complex. This PDF document with an embedded link to a video provides a clear and simple explanation of how to employ a free and efficient physical attitude to playing fluently on the keys.

 

Self-assessment

v1.0

It is vitally important to assess the correct criteria as you practise. This short PDF document and video explain how practising requires a specific mindset and a clear understanding of your moment-by-moment goals.

 

FURTHER PRACTICE MATERIALS AT EACH STEP

Step 1 – Chanting the Matrix Mantra

v1.0

A deeper look at the matrix and how to tune into its magic whilst finding the correct focus. A PDF document sets out the main areas to work on to master this vital technique and the practice is clearly demonstrated and discussed in a video.

 

Step 2 – Rhythm

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Instruction on how to improvise and read simple rhythms forming a firm foundation for fluent processing of rhythm presented in a PDF and demo video.

 

Step 2 – Overcoming Speech Rhythm Habits

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Our karaoke sense of music is rhythmically very faulty. We tend to make musical rhythms into lumpy speech rhythms. These irregular rhythms are weak approximations of musical rhythms with real flow and structure. This PDF and video set out practices to help you challenge and overcome these tendencies.

 

Step 3 – Introduction to Keyboard Mapping

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The linear, alphabetic sense of the keyboard causes very slow processing and an unmusical approach to navigating the keys. To be fluent, we need to know instantly and effortlessly where all the sounds live in the keyboard map. This document and video introduce you to the most musical and efficient way to map the keys fluently.

 

STEP 4 – Improvise on 3- and 4-Key Blocks

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The idea of blocks of keys that work together with a resolved tonal centre is very important to grasp. This PDF and video introduce and explain how to add tonality to the rhythms you can improvise and play fluently.

 

STEP 4 – Sight-reading 3- and 4-Key Blocks

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The skill of reading simple rhythms fluently (step 2) must already be established, then reading shapes moving around the blocks is easy to add on. The tendency to read individual notes must be challenged and overcome. This PDF and video explain how to read tonal shapes.

 

STEP 5 – Learn and Map the Harmonic Blocks on 2 12-key Areas

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The 12 major and 12 minor harmonic blocks are the most important elements of tonal “vocabulary”. To build tonal fluency, you must know them instantly and effortlessly. They are an inextricable part of keyboard mapping. This PDF and video explain how to map and fully internalise all the harmonic blocks.

STEP 5 – Improvise on the Harmonic Blocks

v1.0

Using the structure of the harmonic blocks to add tonality to rhythms is quite an intuitive process. In this PDF and video, ways of practising this effectively are explored in depth to help you discover rewarding and musical ways to work on this key skill.

STEP 5 – Use the Sustain Pedal

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Using the sustain pedal is a very useful skill. It is a way of processing harmony that helps the musical ear connect to harmonic progression. It is a tricky skill to master in the beginning. This video and PDF explain how to practise pedalling effectively.

STEP 5 – Reading the Harmonic Blocks

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Before we do any staff reading, seeing the harmonic blocks as configurations are reading tonal shapes that “walk” on them is an essential skill. This resource – PDF and video – set out how to practise giving up reading separate notes once and for all and embrace a very simple and intuitive practice of reading shapes through harmonic blocks.

STEP 6 – Mapping the 2 Butterfly Areas of the Keyboard

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To map larger areas of the keyboard, we need to think of it iterating in a nonlinear way, fully aware of its symmetric interlocking structure. The 2 butterfly areas are the first vital step in expanding your map of the keys and blocks, This practice resource – PDF and video – shows you how to approach working to develop this vital skill.

STEP 6 – Read Harmonic Blocks on the Butterfly Areas of the Keyboard

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Reading the staff is a simple process when you don’t try to process individual notes. You must know the positions of the harmonic blocks within the staff structure and recognise musical shapes “walking” through them. This PDF and demo video set out how to practise developing this fluent reading skill.

STEP 7 – Improvise on Relative-Major-Minor Blocks

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To be tonally fluent, you must understand the pattern of relationship between all the harmonic blocks. At step 7, we explore the first relationship between a major and minor block. These 12 pairs are not difficult to remember as long as you play them with authentic musical expression. This PDF and video help you practise your improvising skills on these pairs of blocks.

STEP 7 – Read Relative-Major-Minor Blocks

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This PDF and video help you to practise reading music built on relative-major-minor pairs of harmonic blocks, so that you develop the skill of hearing the score in your imagination as you play the music effortlessly on the keys.

STEP 8 – Improvise on Pentatonic Blocks

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Pentatonic tonality is an important tonal flavour in many musical genres. The earthy pentatonic tonality is generated by using the pentatonic blocks – 12 5-key blocks that govern the way we use the harmonic blocks. This PDF sets out some simple practices to develop your sense of pentatonic tonality as you learn the simple structure of the 12 pentatonic blocks plugged into the keyboard map.

STEP 8 – 3 Extra Pentatonic Studies

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Studies that you can read and play fluently can help you find improvisation ideas. In fact when you are fluent in the language of music, you become like a sponge, absorbing ideas of music you play and hear. These 3 pentatonic studies – in PDF scores and also MP3 audio files for you to listen to – will help you deepen your sense of pentatonic tonality.

STEP 9 – Improvising on the 29-Key Area

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This PDF explains how to approach improvising musical shapes and patterns across the 29-key area using harmonic blocks. It points you to the correct focus and helps you to spot any potential pitfalls as you play freely and expressively.

STEP 10 – 5 Regular Rhythmic Matrix Structures and All Rhythm Cells

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This PDF document sets out 5 regular rhythmic matrix structures and all the rhythm cells. There are clear instructions on how to improvise rhythms (i.e. rhythm only – no harmony or melody yet) using these rhythm cells and matrix structures as you chant the relevant mantras. Familiarising yourself with theses rhythmic elements is a very significant area of study.

STEP 11 – Read Diatonic Blocks

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This PDF provides instruction on how to prepare for reading music in the diatonic blocks with 14 sight-reading practice studies

STEP 13 – Sight-reading over Large Area of Keyboard

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To read music that covers large areas of the keyboard requires that we read ledger lines – positions above and below the main staff. This PDF provides instruction on how to practise this with 7 sight-reading studies.

 

STEP 14 – 2 Layers of Rhythm

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Step 14 covers lots of rhythmic permutations and complexities. The ability to process 2 layers of rhythm is vital for a fluent pianist. This PDF provides practice exercises to master this skill.

 

STEP 14 – Rhythmic Subdivisions

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The way that 12 rhythm cells interact within the matrix in a nonlinear way is explored in this PDF. How to process and read rhythm cells in all their subdivisions is clearly set out with lots of practice exercises.

 

STEP 14 – Syncopation

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Syncopation is not so difficult when understood clearly in terms of rhythm cells in the matrix. This PDF provides lots of practice exercises and clearly explains how to approach this technique.

 

STEP 14 – Grace Notes

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This short PDF explains how grace notes work and provides 2 practice exercises to read and play.

 

STEP 14 – Cross Rhythms

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In this PDF, you will learn some simple techniques to play cross rhythms effectively with clear understanding.  It provides 7 practice exercises.

 

STEP 14 – Irregular Rhythmic Matrix Structures

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Irregular matrix structures and time signatures are easy to do as long as you have a clear sense of the structure and choose the correct mantra. This PDF offers 6 practice exercises for you to read and play to master this skill.

STEP 15 – Chromatic melodic auxiliary notes

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This resource – PDF – explores the use of chromatic auxiliary notes for increased melodic tension or colour. It provides guidance for both improvising and reading practice with 4 studies.

STEP 15 – Changing diatonic block cycling through the tonal matrix

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The technique of cycling through the tonal matrix is explored in this PDF as you learn how to change diatonic block fluently, understanding the tonal relationships clearly. There are lots of notated practice patterns to help you with sight-reading and to guide your improvising practice.

STEP 15 – Chromatic harmony

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In this PDF, there are lots of notated harmonic progressions with chromaticism of different kinds for you to practice. How to approach this practice is explained clearly so that your improvisation and reading skills will expand to include a grasp of chromatic harmony.

STEP 15 – More tonal cycles with chromatic harmonies

v1.0

This PDF provides more tonal cycles for you to develop your sense of complex tonal relationship but in these exercises there are chromatic harmonies included. The notated exercises are designed to develop your improvisation and reading skills.

STEP 15 – Chromatic tonality in a jazz-blues-pop style

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Chromatic harmony is not just for complex classical or jazz styles. The exercises at Step 15 are not designed to be genre specific at all but you will notice that different tonal inflections can point towards different musical styles and genres. In this PDF, there are short, tuneful practice exercises that use chromatic tonality in a very accessible way common to many popular genres.

STEP 15 – Studies

v1.0

This PDF contains a pack of 12 studies – one for each diatonic block – that bring a particular kind of freedom in your playing style. The playing idioms used are transferable across a range of styles and they give you the opportunity to practise playing the keys in a way that has a deep expressive connection and the beginnings of real virtuosity using the rhythmic and tonal fluency that you have acquired through completing the steps.