Here are some good piano improvisation courses designed for the church pianist.
I’d encourage you to compare both the content, value, and instruction with Hymnprovisation.
Both Greg Howlett’s course and Rudy Atwood’s Gospel Piano Techniques come on DVD, which is a fabulous helping tool. Eventually, we at Hymnprovisation would like to add DVDs to our teaching materials. However, it is extremely costly and I do not yet have the funds to make that happen. If you want to donate to that, I am happy to accept! I am working toward online videos at the moment.
Several of the courses listed below will cost you over $100 which is a great value for what you get! However, for half that cost and less time invested, you can get Hymnprovisation and learn how to be a proficient, confident accompanist, being able to effectively apply improvisational techniques. You will learn tricks and tips and all the things I had to learn the hard way over 20+ years, that will dramatically improve your playing!
That being said, I recommend any of these resources to someone looking to learn to make their hymn-playing more dynamic.
Hymnprovisation -Chris Dortignac $50 (Includes shipping)
More than 200 -pages with lots of examples for you, this book doesn’t tell you to play a specific style but instead gives you ideas to work with, and encourages your own creativity to take it from there!
- Equivalent of 80-100 Piano improvisation lessons.
- Written in plain English for the lay person to understand.
- Walks you through everything from how to apply scales and chords, as well as substitutions, left and right hand techniques, what to do in emergencies, 6 ways to transpose easily, and a whole lot more!
- Spiral-bound so you can work through it at the piano.
No DVD to supplement.
Church Pianist Package- Greg Howlett $119-139
BIG savings through 12/31/17.
Use coupon code 2017christmas30 to save 30% on all instructional courses and packages (download and DVD versions)
- Greg is an fantastic teacher, with top-notch video to go along with the lessons.
- Great Value!
- Many other lesson courses are also available through his website.
- Excellent material for any pianist!
- Usable for nearly any type of church music.
- Sitting through video sessions for 7 hrs.
- Greg’s playing style is more solo or background music than evangelistic or congregational accompaniment (this could be PRO or CON. NOTE: I base this off of his recordings and the arrangements I have played of his).
Gospel Piano Techniques-Rudy Atwood Book $40 DVD $40 ($80) or $9/mo or $99/yr on Embassy Media without book.
- Good foundational theories on accompaniment for Evangelistic Hymn-playing, by “The Dean of Gospel Pianists.”
- Video shows keyboard and music at the same time which is helpful.
- I learned a lot from this series many years ago.
- Teaches how to expand to using the whole keyboard.
- Written by an excellent congregational accompanist.
- Filmed many years ago and somewhat dated.
- Tells exactly how to play a given song rather than challenging you to get creative.
- Many who learn this style get stuck in it (You don’t have to though)!
Hymnprovisor Series- Majesty Music Roughly$37/level (not incl. shipping). There are three books for each level, and there are three levels ($120+)
- This is a very thorough series. If you love studying, get these books!
- Each level has a book of “applied arrangements” where they have applied the theories taught.
- Excellent for beginners. Each level contains a workbook, Preludes and Congregational Accompaniments, and Solos of Meditation and Worship, which are essentially the techniques discussed in the workbook written out for you.
- It is easy to get stuck playing the music they provide rather than creating your own.
- More details than necessary in my opinion.
- Written from a more technical and classical standpoint.
- Uses a lot of technical terms.
- More or less tell you the formulas for improvising instead of simply presenting ideas for your creativity to run with.
- Not Spiral Bound. Books have hard time staying open on piano.
HYMNPLAYER SERIES- Praise Hymn (written by Joe Swaim and Flora Jean Garlock) $20/book. There are 4 books. I haven’t yet seen these in person.
- Excellent supplemental arrangements are available, which clearly show application of improvisational theory.
- Spiral bound books
- 4 levels at $20 ea.
- It is unclear online, exactly what is included in each level.