Workshop to offer pop piano lesson

By Michael McVey

To play piano one usually has to learn how to read music.

But to play piano well, one needs to know how not to read the notes, or at least not to be totally dependent on the songbook. This is the purpose of the Pop Piano Workshop being offered from 9 a.m. to noon Nov. 6 in room 100 of NIU’s Music Building.

“Pop piano differs from classical piano in that the player has more freedom. Instead of reading notes, pop piano involves reading chords, more listening to tones and recognizing them and less reading the written music. In pop piano, you learn to break your dependence on the music book,” explained Paul Rogers, piano instructor for the NIU Community Music School. He also is the instructor for the workshop.

Rogers said students in the workshop would play individual electric pianos in the Music Building’s piano lab. Rogers also said he would lecture on chords, their importance in pop piano and how to play them.

While recommending at least basic piano experience for those participating in the workshop, Rogers said beginners would not be overwhelmed.

“A beginner can feel comfortable in the class. Students will learn how to play many pop tunes. Don’t expect to pick it up overnight. The workshop will give you the skills to get better over time with practice,” Rogers said.

Although advanced students already would know most of what he will present in the chord lecture, Rogers added, they would find the skill of playing without the dependence on written music quite useful.

After making the transition from playing by the book to “playing by ear,” as the skill is often called, one learns to play tunes with smoother and better rhythm. Rogers said many contemporary songs are suited to pop piano rather than classical.

Rogers and his identical twin brother Peter have a strong reputation as both instructors and performers, according to Deborah Booth, director of the Office of External Programs for the College of Visual and Performing Arts.

Many local children and quite a few NIU students have taken lessons with one of the Rogers brothers, Booth said, and have described them as good, patient instructors. Booth’s office handles the administration of the workshop.

The Rogers brothers also have taught piano lessons at Pianoland in Geneva, and often have performed on twin pianos in Chicago-area concerts.

Those wanting to attend should contact Booth’s office at 753-1450, or stop by room 137 in the Music Building for information.

Should anyone miss the workshop next month, Booth said it will be offered again next semester.

“Pop piano differs from classical piano in that the player has more freedom. In pop piano, you learn to break your dependence on the music book.”