Do you have students who perform regularly with a worship band or in a traditional service at their church? Since many of the skills required for church playing (lead sheets, improv, modulations, etc.) fall outside of the “traditional” piano curriculum, it can be difficult to find curriculum and resources to use with students. I’m always excited and grateful to find web resources that help fill in the gaps!
James Stevens, Professor of Music at Welsh College, has put together a wonderful website with a variety of improvisation handouts and guides. His resources cover a range of improv and arranging topics – from how to read a chord chart, to playing by ear (I LOVE his “Draw a Circle on the Circle” handout), and many ideas for creative variations pianists can use when composing, improvising and arranging. This site is a treasure trove of information!
In addition to the free improvisation resources, there are also two volumes of original piano solos on the site that can be downloaded as PDF files. Dr. Stevens kindly sent me a copy of his latest book, Romanza of the Heart, which he describes as set of “romantic piano compositions for relaxation and contemplation.” I spent a very enjoyable (and relaxing!) evening playing through the compositions. They’re written at a late intermediate to early advanced level, and would be a wonderful collection for high school or adult students who enjoy flowing, lyrical piano music. (Click here to listen to sample recordings on Amazon.)