Mella Fausto, Italy

Melody is a bird which flies,
Harmony is the air, the sky,
the wind, the light around it.

 

Nigel James, The University of Sheffield Warrington, England:

Ideally every student should learn to improvise melodies and harmonies. Perhaps the first step lies in developing aural skills which are needed for any true music making?

Gayle:

Yes, most definitely, aural skills as a first step are a bonus! However, you may find that, even though the main objective of the QuenMar books is to train students to create their ‘own’ accompaniment for melodies, the trial & error process finding the desired accompaniment can have a side benefit of considerable aural training!

 

Jane Kristensen Seattle, Washington:

I’m sure I have no creative ability and it would be of no use to try to create accompaniment for melodies at the piano.

Gayle:

I have to disagree. With focus, most everyone can acquire ‘Creative Keyboard Accompaniment (KA) Skills’. However, like any skill, the degree of proficiency can vary. An example could be general math which is most often a compulsory subject on school curriculums. Not all students are math enthusiasts but with practice and focus they acquire some degree of proficiency. My view is that if music math is a compulsory subject (at the keyboard) all students can acquire a degree of proficiency creating accompaniment for melodies. The major benefit of music math is that the aural and emotional reward can be moving and inspirational. It can inspire creativity to a degree that we never knew was there!

 

Dr. June Fileti, UK, University of West London & The International School of Musicians:

I simply love what you are doing. I was completely sidetracked today by your work. Amazing.

Your books are fabulous. What a great way to inspire children.

Gayle:

Thank you. You have made my day!

 

Elizabeth Baird, Toronto, Canada: Music Director, Conductor Composer, Mentor, Teacher.

I think what you do is fantastic and so important.

Gayle:

Thank you. I do feel it is important. Hopefully, more music institutions will include ‘Creative KA Skills’ (at the keyboard) as part of the curriculum, at all levels – the same as for sight-reading and technical skills. It’s important that piano students feel they are well-rounded musicians.

 

E-mail to June Fileti, UK, Dec 31, 2018

Gayle wrote the following in 2018: June, thanks for connecting. Hope you’re doing well. We have been lobbying for examining institutions to recognize ‘Creative Keyboard Accompaniment’ (Creative KA) skills, at the keyboard, as a viable subject and worthy of marks at ALL grade level examinations. The new RCM curriculum is 2022 and we are hopeful to have this adjustment…

All the best in 2019. Happy Examining.

 

Nick Burke, IT Engineering Manager in Manchester, England wrote:

Yes – I was brought up on classical music and completed all 8 ‘Grades’ but would maybe have enjoyed that journey more learning about accompaniment and integrating with bands/group etc. rather than just focusing on individual excellence…thankfully I’ve picked up the right combination now to do both.

 

Maryse S. MYP & DP Music in Mumbai District, India wrote:

Ditto! (Same as Nick, above).

Gayle:

Yes, students should expect keyboard accompaniment skills to be part of their initial training.  Those years are usually the best for the hearing, learning and confidence. Thank you for sharing your views.

 

Ruth Lenher, Merchantville. New Jersey, US – Composer

Thank you so much for all you have done and keep doing all you can to get others to see how beneficial your books are for others, including teachers. You help the teacher go along in the lessons! Actually, you help guide them better than most books I have read! In going over your books, I have to say that you nailed just what all teachers need to keep their students interested in learning piano… I think teachers hold their students interest longer when the student can create something on their own… Teachers may even get more students by word of mouth and/or by students showing others the books… Schools/music institutions should have your books and see how well the students like them. Thank you so much for writing these instruction books!

Gayle:

Your recognizing important elements of the books and how beneficial they can be for others is very much appreciated.

I agree that when students can create something on their own, it can hold their interest longer and possibly make them feel like well rounded musicians.

There is another element of the books that I hope will prove to be beneficial. From my teaching years, I remember how difficult it can be fitting everything into a lesson (especially the higher grades). I, therefore, tried to make the books a self-study.

Although young students generally need guidance, it seemed important that older students should be able to challenge their accompaniment skills on their ‘own time’. Teachers assign the pages/melodies and with the guidance given in the books, they can enjoy what the students produce. Of course, it would be helpful for students to know that their accompaniment skills are recognized & encouraged – possibly with marks at examinations – same as for other important areas of music.

All the best with your composing, and a ‘special thanks to you’ for the encouragement and understanding of the need for the QuenMar books.

 

Cheryl Tsui – Piano Teacher in Sydney, Australia

Thank you so much! I took a look at the book you wrote – Melody Adventures, Basics B.

I really like how you’ve incorporated keyboard harmony into it. I can’t wait to use this resource for teaching!

Also, what age group and level did you design this book for?

Gayle:

That is a very good question.

With the music fully notated, levels can vary from one country to another (or one music system to another). The Melody Adventures (MA) series really depends on which books suit the student’s technical ability and the student’s level of understanding. Following the completion of MA PRIMER A & B, it is open to teachers/students – MA BOOKS 1 & 2; BASICS A & B or a blend of these books. Whichever order, it is hoped that the MA series allows a smooth transition to ‘Keyboard Accompaniment (KA)’ with students creating their ‘own’ accompaniment for melodies.

As for the level of a student’s creative KA ability, this is for music institutions to incorporate/establish.

Gayle – a Clarification

The difference between KEYBOARD HARMONY & KEYBOARD ACCOMPANIMENT

KEYBOARD HARMONY: a choral style – soprano, alto, tenor, bass (or a variation).

KEYBOARD ACCOMPANIMENT: encompasses all styles. Choral is one of the styles.

______________________

 

Leona Francombe: Author, Pianist, Composer Brussels, Belgium

Thank you for connecting! Your method for opening up the world of harmony and accompaniment are wonderful. As a pianist myself, and someone who has always taught these concepts, it’s great to see such an organized approach.

If you have time for a little reading, please check out my new novel “The Universe in 3/4Time”.

Gayle:

Thank you for leading me to your novel, “The Universe in 3/4 Time”. You have an amazing gift for using imagery, as well as, evoking sensations often emitted from sounds/music and touch.

The story revolves around a piano with mysterious inscriptions found on a street in Brussels. Considerable intrigue follows and includes a very questionable murder!

As for understanding music’s relationship with the Universe, a few paragraphs stood out for me! Page 76. Zar, a music student at the Brussels conservatoire, speaks – “Remember what Plato said: ‘Music is a more potent instrument than any other, because rhythm and harmony find their way into the inward places of the soul.’ The soul of the universe is made of musical concord, too.” Page 145, “Everything on Earth has its own resonant frequency… a window; a bridge. Even the human body… I believe that sympathetic resonance exists between two like-minded souls. Which proves, I think, Plato’s point: That is, that Music and the human soul are both aspects of the eternal.”

Yes, I too, believe that sympathetic resonance exists between like-minded souls. BRAVO, for your insightful and captivating novel.

Leona Francombe

I’m deeply touched that you took time to read my novel…. I’m grateful for the words you posted, and hope that others will volunteer their comments.

Your work echoes many of my own efforts years ago… You’ve really brought to light a pressing need in musical education today and your approach is incredibly enlightening. It’s good to see that other educators and students are following your lead. Heartfelt thanks again for your support, and for sharing wider musical horizons.

Gayle:

You are most welcome! It does seem to me that you have touched on a whole area of music that most musicians are not aware exists: Page 314 of your novel – “Kepler calculated that the ratio between a planet’s minimum and maximum angular speeds – that is, when it’s farthest from the Sun and closest to it – corresponds (more or less) to our musical intervals here on earth.” (major & minor third; a fifth). “Beauty and harmony hold the secrets of life… of our place in the universe.”

In your novel, the ‘Kepler Trio’ discusses ‘defining moments’ in their music career. I remember the sensation discovering the 7th chord! It was G major chord with an added F. I’m thinking that the sensation I experienced was the day I may have entered what is referred to as: “The Music of the Spheres”!

I truly believe that music aligned my life! It would be wonderful to hear ‘defining moments’ from other musicians….

 

Amy Boyes, ARCT, Licentiate, Trinity College (UK), Vice President of ORMTA, (Ontario Registered Music Teacher’s Assn.); Examiner, Royal Conservatory of Music (RCM)

From Review of ‘Melody Adventures’ (MA) – the 6-book introductory series leading to Keyboard Accompaniment (KA). To view the entire review, see page 26 in the ORMTA Fall 2021 magazine, “NOTES”

  • Rudimentary information
  • Whimsical Characters
  • Tendency to use a “shorthand” often combining universally accepted analysis notation with notation unique to the series.
  • Shorthand includes i+5/9 Arpeggio with an E minor tonic triad augmented 5th and an added ninth. The score shows a C, not a B sharp, as the augmented fifth. Perhaps this be better notated as Em(6)
  • Score layouts are not completely polished; an accent over a pedal marking, crescendos over a slur… Fermatas are applied to one hand but not the other.
  • Song lyrics’ syllables are inaccurately divided, for example “fi-re” instead of “fire”. Other “mistakes” include incorrect explanation of rhythmic accents in cut time, some dominant chords written as dominant 7th chords and incorrect placement of signs and symbols
  • Noble intentions.

Gayle replied

Rudimentary information: yes, along with hundreds of other books, the Melody Adventures (MA) books give rudimentary information. However, the MA series also incorporates ‘keyboard harmony’ and ‘keyboard accompaniment’ (KA) knowledge, so students can be very well prepared for KA – creating their ‘own’ accompaniment for melodies.

Whimsical Characters: the reference to the ‘whimsical’ characters is appreciated. Students, of all ages, love them (and the storyline). The imagery evoked is generally appreciated by students’ and, most often, reflected in their performances.

Tendency to use “shorthand”.

  • It is true that signs, symbols & abbreviations are often a shorthand and unique to MA & KA. Since they are generally short, not key-specific, easily recognized & understandable, they are very helpful. The fact is that some signs & symbols HAD to be created as there were often no universally accepted notation to describe what was happening! Examples are: the ‘chromatic drop’ with the symbol ↓↗ or V(7) with the bracket indicating the 7th is optional.
  • Writing the books, I have become aware that even though something is universally accepted, it does not necessarily mean it is correct or effective! For example, a TONE. Engineers and physicists tell us a tone is a sound. How can one take a sound, cut it in half and expect it to be a semi-tone? Fortunately, some universities/ teachers are now using the word ‘degree(s)’ to replace ‘tones & semi-tones’. I chose Chromatic Step (CS) which is, universally accepted!

Augmented 5th

  • in any key, the augmented tonic triad has the 5th raised 1 CS. For keys such a Cm, Dm, Fm,Gm, Bm, etc, the raised 5th conflicts with the key signature. As well, the raised 5th often returns to the 5th and that requires an accidental – two unnecessary accidentals that can make the score slower to read! In the KA series, this issue has been addressed.

The suggestion for the Em triad:

if the ‘e’ triad is with a C (not B sharp) and notated ‘Em6, the C would be C sharp – 2 CS up from the 5th and no longer an augmented triad.

Score layouts: the first two items do not seem to be an issue! As for the Fermata or Pause sign, it would be difficult to do a pause with the RH note(s} and not expect the other hand to have a pause, as well! How would the hands hold the rhythm, together!? Treble and bass clefs are an item! They are often referred to as a grand staff and they are held together with a brace!

Song lyrics’ syllables: the hyphenation was to allow fire to fit the music (fi-re) – this often occurs in multi-syllable songs.

Incorrect explanation of rhythmic accents in cut time. I would, very much, appreciate knowing the ‘correct’ explanation! I believe mine to be correct.

Dominant chords written as a dominant 7th. It could be that the 7th was on another beat in the measure – maybe with the other hand? Frankly, general comments are not too helpful.

Incorrect placement of signs & symbols. The correct placement of signs and symbols is an important issue. Again, it would really help to know where these ‘incorrect’ placements are situated.

As for my ‘noble intentions’: I just want students to have the means to develop their creative piano skills (at the keyboard). It would be wonderful if creating accompaniment for melodies could be recognized and encouraged in the same way as sight reading, performance, interpretation and technical skills. Hopefully, the signs and symbols (and universally accepted rules) will not make us lose sight of what is best for the students.

Three entire MA BOOKS are available for FREE DOWNLOAD on this site:

www.quenmar.com

 

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