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EKS Songbook Level One  The First Time – Rock

Songbook Level One

Understanding the chart

Download and print out the score, so that you can refer to it as you follow the keyboard chart.

'The First Time'

You have learned many skills through your study of Level 1 Keyboards. It is time to start putting it all into practice by playing a song.

This songbook is designed to help you learn to play a song, whilst following the music from a keyboard chart. A keyboard chart, or keyboard guide, is the music session keyboard players are given to follow when they are asked to perform a tune; be it live, or in a recording session.

To do this, you need to prepare yourself. Go through the chart, step by step, looking at each section and understanding what the chart is asking you to do.

Step One

The first thing you will see is the name of the tune, ‘The First Time’, and the names of the composer and arranger. The title is the important one as, if you had a number of songs to play, it is essential that you play the correct one!

Step Two

At the top left hand side, before the tune starts, you will see the note '4 Clicks'. This means that you will hear four clicks before the tune starts. This will help count you into the song.

Step Three

Next is the time signature, ‘C’, which is the sign for ‘common time’ and means there are four beats in each bar. This is familiar territory for you.

Step Four

The first thing you play, in Verse 1, is a six bar pattern using whole notes and half notes. This generates quite a relaxed feel, and you will realize later that this contributes significantly to the way the track builds dynamically.

This pattern is repeated. There is a ‘beginning of the repeat’ sign at the start of bar 1 and the ‘end repeat’ sign at the end of bar 6. You play bass notes in the bass cleft with your left hand, and triads in the treble clef with your right hand — which is a feature of the entire piece.

You will need to study the triads carefully, to see how the triads are formed, as inversions are used throughout the piece. This helps to create smooth sounding chord progressions with economy of movement.

Step Five

After you have played the Verse, you are then ready to move into the Chorus.

The first thing you will notice is that there is a change in rhythm: the right hand plays a mixture of quarter and eighth notes.

An additional challenge here is that the left hand is playing a different rhythm from the right hand part. So, this section works your rhythmic coordination skills quite hard.

Bars 16 and 20 have specific rhythms that you need to follow very closely. Because the rest of the band play the same rhythm at these bars, you need to lock into that rhythm very tightly. Listen carefully to those bars to get the full effect.

Step Six

Verse 2 begins at bar 20. Notice that you have entered a section that has repeats. Find the end of the repeat at the end bar 26, so that you know where you are going.

Although the chords are exactly the same as in Verse 1, the inversions are different: to create a different feel, sound and emotion. So look carefully at your chord progressions through this section.

Step Seven

Chorus 2 varies from Chorus 1. More urgency in the track is created by adding an eighth note rhythm to the right hand. Again, at bars 36 and 40, you are following a band rhythm, so work on playing the rhythm very tightly.

The second half of the Chorus has a change of rhythm, and there are more inversions of the chords to manage. Take time to work them out and practise your hand movements.

Step Eight

The second Chorus is followed by the last Verse. This takes you to the end of the song. Once again, the chord inversions have been adjusted for dramatic and rhythmic interest — using quarter, half and whole notes.

The third verse is not repeated, and the song is finished by playing the chord of C, on a whole note, in the final bar. The end of the tune is marked by ‘Fine’, which means ‘finish’.

Step Nine

Now, watch and listen to the multimedia files and follow the chart through a couple of times. Once you have done that, have a go yourself. You can play with the keyboard player, or mute the keyboard track so that you can play with the band on your own.

Remember to:

  1. Concentrate.
  2. Count.
  3. Look at the chart as you play.
  4. Cycle the difficult bits and practise them.
  5. Slow it down to a tempo at which you can read and play.
  6. Have fun.

Next: The First Time keyboard score