Piano Improvisation Blog

How to Play Lead Sheets on Piano

Posted by Yoke Wong on 5/18/2016 to Piano Improvisation

Many instrumentalists and vocalists use lead sheets. If you've spent any time browsing online music stores, you may have noticed items marked “lead sheets.” On first glance, a lead sheet may look confusing or intimidating because it doesn't have a lot of notes. How are you supposed to know what to play or sing? However, the simple layout offers a number of benefits over traditional musical arrangements, which may open up new doors for your piano playing.

How to Use the Pentatonic Scales to Improvise on the Piano

Posted by Yoke Wong on 4/22/2015 to Piano Improvisation
The pentatonic scales are a great way to learn how to improvise on the piano. As you might expect from the name, a pentatonic scale has five notes. For example, a C major pentatonic scale consists of C, D, E, G, and A or the first, second, third, fifth, and sixth notes of the major scale. Or for F major, the notes in the pentatonic scale are F, G, A, C, and D. As long as you know your regular major and minor scales, you can always figure out your major and minor pentatonic scales. Learning the formula for the pentatonic scale allows you to put together a wide array of note combinations for your piano improvisation.

Classical Music Improvisation

Posted by Yoke Wong on 10/21/2014 to Classical Music
Have you ever used a famous classical theme in your improvisation? Many people have only heard classical music performed in symphony centers and don't think about its potential for improvisation.

Is Improvisation a Gift?

Posted by Yoke Wong on 6/11/2014 to Piano Improvisation
I recently came across a video of a pianist who was improvising on the Oprah Winfrey show. I think you should take a look at the video. What was interesting about this video was Oprah's comment - "Improvisation is a gift."

How can I begin to learn improvisation when I am dependent on reading the notes?

Posted by Piano Teacher on 4/29/2014 to Piano Improvisation
How can I begin to learn improvisation when I am dependent on reading the notes?

To a pianist who is traditionally trained in only note reading, the thought of improvisation brings uncertainty, not to mention sweaty palms. Improvisation can be intimidating. Visual learners need to see the notes on the page. It is hard to let go of the security of seeing the notes.

How to Play "Can't Help Falling in Love" on Piano

Posted by Yoke Wong on 2/11/2014 to Piano Improvisation

Here is the video with three wonderful versions of this hit song by Elvis Presley. Each version adds improvisational techniques that we can employ to our own skill level. Briefly, the three versions can be described as follows:

Three Quick Steps to Compose Your Own Piano Music

Posted by Yoke Wong on 11/7/2013 to Piano Improvisation

Most people think it’s difficult to compose music for the piano. The fact is they weren’t taught the proper way to whip out quick piano music. Here are three steps that will have you composing in no time.

Using Music Theme to Create Spectacular Piano Playing

Posted by Yoke Wong on 10/15/2013 to Piano Improvisation
There are different ways to compose a piece. One common method is to use a theme. The theme can be a repetitive musical phrase or a series of chord progression.

Mother's Day Piano Music

Posted by Yoke Wong on 5/10/2012 to Piano Improvisation

What’s your favorite Mother’s Day classical music?

When you think about music related to mothers, you might think of A Lullaby by Johannes Brahms. Or, you might think of the Mother Goose Suite by Maurice Ravel. But many people, when asked about classical music for Mother’s Day, will pick Songs My Mother Taught Me — either the well-known selection by Czech Antonin Dvorák or the more recent composition by American composer Charles Ives.

Roger Williams & Piano Improvising Techniques

Posted by Yoke Wong on 10/11/2011 to Piano Improvisation

One of my favorite pianists, Roger Williams, passed away this past weekend at age 87. I was fortunate enough to have attended one of his live performances at the Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove, California, in 2007. Even in his 80s Roger still managed to put together a stunning piano performance showcasing his great improvising skills and styles at that Christmas concert.