Harmony is all about learning how the sounds in music behave. There are predictable patterns – certain melody notes have a tendency to move to other melody notes, chords fit together in certain patterns to make a progression. Keyboard harmony studies all the principles of written harmony, but is played on the piano instead of written down on paper. Students hear what they are creating and can instinctively tell a good melody from a poor one on the first hearing. It is easy to catch errors when we hear what we are creating.
The study of harmony provides a deeper understanding of the music around us. Keyboard harmony develops well-rounded, functional musicians with many transferrable skills:
- improved ear training ability
- ability to play by ear
- ability to improvise
- improved analysis of melody, harmony, and structure
- stronger memorization
- ability to transpose
Keyboard harmony courses may be substituted for the Levels 9, 10, and ARCT written harmony theory co-requisites in the Royal Conservatory of Music exam system. Students preparing for a keyboard harmony exam play a 20-minute exam during the practical sessions in June instead of writing a three-hour exam in the May theory session.
Even if you are not preparing for an exam, study keyboard harmony to develop your musicianship skills!