The incredible Ted Keaton shot and edited this video of our time in Jamaica.
I miss everyone.
We had enough musicians to split the students into four bands. We noticed that bands didn’t (formally) have a producer. I think there is room for a producer’s course. A producer’s course would look like an advanced musician’s course except that it would not be focused on any particular instrument. Rather, it would look at some of the instruments and be directed toward arranging those instruments into something that serves the song. These producers would then be assigned, one (or two) per band to help the bands deal with various issues, such as:
I would appreciate any thoughts or feedback on this class!
The genius plan of David Loftis was to feature a key signature a day and build from there. Generously, instead of starting with the key of E, which would be easy on guitars, he started in the key of C which would be easy on keyboardists.
This was my curriculum for my beginner keyboard class in Jamaica. Again the goal wasn’t to teach “piano” it was to teach “keyboard” chart playing.
Prerequisite: identify middle C / names of notes
Practice makes PERMANENT: Go slow and even, the speed will come.
I had a few students who were interested in an advanced course, but were courteous enough to sit out of my beginner course. If we had an advanced keyboard course, this would be my suggested curriculum.
Prerequisite: All Major/minor chords, all inversions
Idea Share (we can all learn something from each other)
Intro to Classical Technique (fingering, pedaling, terminology)
I would love to hear feedback on this from any of the veteran or advanced students in Jamaica, or anyone else for that matter. Thanks!
I just wrapped up a week of keyboard instruction in Jamaica at Dave Loftis’ Teach 412 camp, and this was (most of) my keyboard class. I can’t say enough about how hard these guys all worked. They came in not quite sure of a C Major scale, and left knowing all inversions of the I, IV, V and vi chords, as well three octaves of scales in the keys of C, D, G, and A, all with correct fingering.
Most of the students could play this not only with their right hand, but their left hand as well, and a couple attempted with both hands. This is incredible work in 2-3 hours of instruction per day for one week. I couldn’t be prouder of these guys.
There was a choice to make with curriculum: teach notes or teach chords. Since we came with 104 chord charts, I wanted to teach to those. Although I have had 17 years of piano lessons, 15 of them were about notes. So although my personal journey has been grounded in notes, my journey has been one of moving away from them, which ultimately provides a freedom of expression. So the class was not a “piano” class, it was a “keyboard” class.
We applied our new found chording skills to play a song in the key of the day. On the first day, the song was Stronger (mp3). I taught how I would voice the chorus (starting with a 2nd inversion C), and then let each student work out their own voicing for the verse. The amazing thing was that everyone voiced the verse differently, but each was correct. This is what we wanted to teach with the knowledge of chord inversions – the power to play the song the way you individually feels best serves the song.
A few weeks before starting this blog, I called an old friend and mentor (Dave Loftis) to get his thoughts on my newest project. He listened patiently to what I had to say for about 20 or 30 minutes, and then said, “Well, I certainly think it fits your gifting!” Then he said, “I’ve been waiting for you to call me. I have a team going to Jamaica in a few weeks to teach at a music camp and I need a keyboardist. Based on what you just told me, it sounds like there may be some synergy with your new project.”
That’s really how it went down.
So I just finished up an amazing week of camp (that’s me in the dark blue shirt on the left), working side by side with an incredible team of musicians and leaders from the East Coast and Jamaica. It was a ton of work, but the opportunity to build relationships across cultures is such a blessing. Everyone worked so hard, campers and leaders alike.
Dave (middle in red) has dual Jamaican and American citizenship = a Jamerican. He spent ten years of his youth in Jamaica, so he has the Patois accent. I’ve heard his Jamaican accent before, but it was so fun to see the code switching he employs when talking to a primarily American group vice Jamaican group, and how he would throw down indecipherable (to me) lingo to build a little street cred.
Special thanks to Pleasant Garden Baptist Church, NC for their support of this trip. The camp was a continuation of many camps Dave and Teach 412 have maintained since Dave’s dad first started the camp in Jamaica in 1966. Finally, this short-term missions project could not have happened as effectively without Jamaica Link ministries. I now know many of the people in the video that follows.
I am so grateful for this opportunity and for the chance to teach and learn together with gifted musicians who are serving the church in North America and Jamaica.