The course materials are available below to purchase and instantly download. The core files are the most important to study first and then you can get the practice materials at each step, as you need. The 15 Steps sets out the course and is essential and may even be sufficient for some people. The Concise Model provides deeper explanation of the principles and elements. Make sure you study all the core files first before cherry-picking the practice materials as you need.

It is necessary to complete all the steps, mastering each one in turn. Everyone learns at different rates but each step will require many – even hundreds – of hours’ practice. It is also always good to practise earlier steps even if you have progressed quite far along the course. If you are struggling, read the materials carefully with an open mind, letting go of all preconceptions. The ideas are simple but radical. Use the copy on this website and the free videos. 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 might not be able to fit you in at short notice. If you write to me with questions, I will probably be unwilling to enter into an email discussion: the materials are inexpensive and do not include email coaching. On the other hand, if you spot a typo (red and blue notes are the ones I occasionally miss) please do let me know!

Updates to materials happen occasionally and your links will give you lifetime access to these.

The legacy course is available HERE. It uses a more conventional, modular, prescriptive system, following a set scheme of work. Some people may prefer this approach but as I am no longer developing it, there will be no future updates.

 

 

CORE COURSE FILES

The 15 Steps

This is the core of the course. This download gives you the complete course in simple step-by-step format: a 47-page illustrated document with integrated video links at each step.

See below for further practice materials at each step.

The Concise Model

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

A short PDF document with 4 videos explaining how to approach this course. 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

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.

Fingers, Hands, Arms and Technique

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.

Good Practice and Self-assessment

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.

PRACTICE MATERIALS

 

Below you will find lots of practice materials –  studies, sight-reading practice, patterns and other coaching materials – to work on specific things at each step. These will be updated and additional materials added from time to time.

STEP 1 – How to Chant the Matrix Mantra

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 Practice

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

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

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 Fluently on 3- and 4-Key Blocks

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 – Read Fluently Using 3- and 4-Key Blocks

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 the Harmonic Blocks

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

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

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

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

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 – Improvise Harmonic Blocks on the Butterfly Areas of the Keyboard

To practise mapping and tagging the harmonic blocks over these larger areas of keyboard map requires clear focus and a playful, expressive approach. This practice resource – PDF and video – explains how to improvise fluently using the harmonic blocks.

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

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

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

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 7 – Exercises on Relative-Major-Minor Blocks over 12-key areas

In this PDF and video you practise reading and playing exercises to develop your skills with the relative-major-minor pairs of harmonic blocks over the small 12-key areas of the keyboard map.

STEP 7 – Exercises on Relative-Major-Minor Harmonic Blocks on Butterfly Areas

In this PDF and video you practise reading staff notation as you play exercises to develop your skills with the relative-major-minor pairs of harmonic blocks on the 2 butterfly areas of the keyboard map.

STEP 8 – Improvise on Pentatonic Blocks

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 – Read Pentatonic Blocks

This PDF explains clearly how to read simple pentatonic tonality, with 24 short studies for you to practise.

STEP 8 – 3 Extra Pentatonic Studies

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 – Mapping the 29-Key Area of the Keyboard Map

This PDF sets out the practice you do in order to successfully map the larger 29-key area of the keyboard. This is a very important skill to develop moving forwards.

STEP 9 – Improvising on the 29-Key Area

This PDF sets out the practice you do in order to successfully map the larger 29-key area of the keyboard. This is a very important skill to develop moving forwards.

STEP 9 – Reading Harmonic Blocks on the 29-Key Area

This PDF explains how to recognise the harmonic blocks spanning a larger area of the staff and read shapes over them. It has lots of reading practice studies.

STEP 9 – Read and Improvise Pentatonic Blocks on the 29-Key Area

In this PDF, you will learn how to recognise the nested structure of the pentatonic blocks spanning a larger area of the keyboard map and the staff and to improvise and read musical shapes on them. There are 12 sight-reading practice studies.

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

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 10 – Improvising music using 5 Regular Rhythmic Matrix Structures and All Rhythm Cells

Once you are familiar enough with the new matrix structures and all the rhythm cells you are ready to improvise and read using them. This PDF provides instruction for improvisation practice and 7 sight-reading studies.

STEP 11 – Improvise on the Nested Structure of the Diatonic Blocks

The diatonic blocks have a beautiful structure of 6 harmonic blocks. This PDF provides clear instruction on how to improvise using this intricate tonal structure.

STEP 11 – Read Diatonic Blocks

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

STEP 12 – Improvise Using Auxiliary Notes

In this PDF, you learn how to improvise using auxiliary notes, which provide a great deal of tonal richness, both melodically and harmonically.

STEP 12 – Read Auxiliary Notes

This PDF how to read music that contains auxiliary notes effortlessly and fluently and provides 14 sight-reading practice studies.

STEP 13 – Improvise over a Larger Area of Keyboard Map

In this little PDF, the big step of playing on a much larger area of the keyboard map is tackled, with clear explanations of how to approach your practice to master this skill.

STEP 13 – Mapping Patterns over a Large Area of Keyboard 

This PDF sets out notation of the harmonic blocks over larger areas of the staff (and keyboard) with lots of practice patterns to help you develop the skill of mapping larger areas of the keyboard map.

STEP 13 – Sight-reading

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

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 Subdivision

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

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

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

STEP 14 – Cross Rhythms

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.