101 Keyboard Player Tips

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Keyboard Player tip #8: You’re not as cool as any chick on stage no matter what she’s doing; unless you’re a chick. In which case (see tip #57) you’re not as cool as any OTHER chick on stage no matter what she’s doing; unless she’s playing the keyboard, in which case (see tip #85) your band has two keyboard players and is ridiculously uncool, regardless of having two chicks, and regardless of tip #57.

Keyboard Player tip #9: You’re not as cool as the Michael Kamen Orchestra

Keyboard Player tip #10: You’re not as cool as Michael Kamen

Keyboard Player tip #11: You’re not as cool as the London Philharmonic; even though they need sheet music and you don’t. Just deal with it.

Keyboard Player tip #12: You’re not as cool as Lisa Coleman or Matt “Doctor” Fink

Keyboard Player tip #13: The keytar is lame.

Keyboard Player tip #14: No, seriously. The keytar is SO lame. Stop thinking about it. You are not cool enough to pull this off. Put the keytar down. (Unless you are Jordan Rudess, in which case, see tip #99)

Keyboard Player tip #15: Do not play funk harpsichord solos whilst covering songs from the grunge era. This includes; but is not limited to; all songs by Alice in Chains, Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, Stone Temple Pilots, Mudhoney, Green River, Alice in Chains, Hammerbox, Love Battery, The Melvins, Mother Love Bone, Alice in Chains, Skin Yard, Temple of the Dog, L7, Hole and Alice in Chains. (see tip #96)

Keyboard Player tip #16: “Middle C” is a misnomer. Do not be fooled. There are more keys above middle C than below.

Keyboard Player tip #17: You are not as cool as the comedian who opened for you or the MC who just announced your band.

Keyboard Player tip #18: You needn’t look down on all your fellow band-mates who took up playing something other than the keyboard. They did it to look cool and get laid after the show. (see tip #19) Do not fault them simply because you might be a musical virtuoso.

Keyboard Player tip #19: You are not a musical virtuoso. Suck it up and block chords for your band-mates to solo over. They look cool and will probably get laid after the show.

Keyboard Player tip #20: Never attempt to flail or dance whilst playing your instrument. Remember, your instrument is stationary (see tips #13 and #14) and so must you be. (Unless you are Stevie Wonder or Ray Charles, in which case, see tip #99) References cited include, but are not limited to: Flock of Seagulls, EMF, Jesus Jones. If in the past you have striven to imitate these groups or individuals, see tip #94, since you were obviously unaware of tip #96.

Keyboard Player tip #21: Use your pedals appropriately. No one is impressed that you can affect your volume/sustain/pitch without using your hands.

Keyboard Player tip #22: Never emulate Steely Dan, Spyro Gyra, Devo, Jan Hammer, Herbie Hancock or Jean Michel Jarre. (See tips #13 & #14.) If in the past you have striven to imitate these groups or individuals, see tip #94 again, since you were obviously unaware of tip #96….again.

Keyboard Player tip #23: If you are also the lead singer of your band in addition to being the keyboard player, disregard tip #1. You might be cooler than certain other members of your band, depending. (see tips #24 & #99.)

Keyboard Player tip #24: Unless you are Geddy Lee, Freddie Mercury, Ray Charles, Elton John, Billy Joel, Stevie Wonder, or Gregg Rolie; do not attempt to be the lead singer of your band whilst playing the keyboard. It will not make you any cooler.

Keyboard Player tip #25: Never pose in a picture holding your keyboard. It not as cool as you think. If you disagree for whatever reason or have been told differently by the art director or your band-mates, see tip #26.

Keyboard Player tip #26: Never pose in a picture holding your keyboard. No matter what the art director says. Even if every other band-mate is posing with his/her respective instrument; it still not as cool as you think. Remember: you play the keyboard.

Keyboard Player tip #27: Do not attempt to play any instrument other than the keyboard. You will only end up looking foolish and being laughed at by your band-mates. (see tip #28.)

Keyboard Player tip #28: You will always look foolish and be laughed at by your band-mates.

Keyboard Player tip #29: If you are primarily the lead singer of your band (or primarily play any instrument other than the keyboard) and happen to play the keyboard from time to time, you will not look as cool playing the keyboard as you primarily do, but all other tips may be heeded at your discretion. (see tips #24, #27 & #31.)

Keyboard Player tip #30: You are not as cool as the DJ that’s playing between your sets; even though he’s a stupid hack. (see tip #95)

Keyboard Player tip #31: If you play any other instrument AND sing at the same time you are playing the keyboard and do all three rather well; you are Geddy Lee.

Keyboard Player tip #32: If you choose to sit whilst playing the keyboard, you will not look as cool as any other member of your band.

Keyboard Player tip #33: If you choose to stand whilst playing the keyboard, you will still not look as cool as any other member of your band. Unless said other member is a keyboard player who is sitting (see tip #85) in which case you will look either as cool as or cooler than he/she depending on whether or not he/she is a chick and whether or not you are a chick (see tip #57). Algebraically stated in the 4 basic Sedentary/Erect Gender Specific Correlation Polynomials:

If:

a = seated keyboard player
b = standing keyboard player
x = chick
y = dude

then:

1.) (a + x) > (a + y);

2.) (b + x) > (a + x);

3.) (a + x) = (b + y)

4.) (a + y) = (b + x) / 鈭?/h2>

Keyboard Player tip #34: Do not use a standard pentatonic blues scale to solo over a honky-tonk chord structure. It just doesn’t work. Trust me. (see tip #94)

Keyboard Player tip #35: Never transpose your keyboard. Do not pander to the inadequate equipment or musical illiteracy of your band-mates. If the song is in e flat and they cannot play the song in e flat, then they cannot play the song. (see tip #36.) Although if you pay heed to tip #87 you will not need to bend over backwards to accommodate whatever your band-mates want you to do.

Keyboard Player tip #36: Always bend over backwards to accommodate whatever your band-mates want you to do, even if that means transposing your keyboard (which you should only have to do if you ignore tip #87). Remember, you play the keyboard. You are NOT the person the fans are there to see.

Keyboard Player tip #37: You ARE cooler than the roadies, but only when you’re on stage. Once you step off stage, you are not as cool as the roadies.

Keyboard Player tip #38: Do not draw out long, single note/chord intros when you are the only one playing. No one wants to hear that nonsense; no matter how many effects or layers you have on your tone and no matter how much you think 渋t increases the anticipation of what’s to come?

Keyboard Player tip #39: You are the only one who knows what song is next on the set list. Remember this and cut your band-mates slack when they screw up or change the set order in the last four bars of a song without telling you. (see tip #97.) Remember, you play the keyboard.

Keyboard Player tip #40: Learn to use your left hand.

Keyboard Player tip #41: Do not rely on effects, harmonizers, pitch bends, ribbons or arpeggiators to compensate for your inability to play. It is an affront to the musical prowess of keyboard players as a whole. But remember that those who choose to heed this tip will not be as cool as those who choose to ignore it.

Keyboard Player tip #42: You do not need more keyboards than you have hands. If you have four keyboards, you better have four hands. Stop showing off the money you’ve spent on equipment. Youe wasting valuable stage space that could be used for something cool; like a guitarist. (see tips #2, #4 and #5.)

Keyboard Player tip #43: Do not wear superfluous wrist or headgear. It draws attention to you which draws attention away from everything else on the stage; which is what everyone came to see.

Keyboard Player tip #44: Classical virtuosity and technical skill do nothing to improve your rock star prowess. Though Chopin kicked ass, if given the choice, most people would rather watch Kiss than Chopin.

Keyboard Player tip #45: Be mindful of your hair. If it too long, it will get in your eyes and you won be able to brush it away whilst blocking chords for your band-mates to solo over. If it too short it might not be enough to absorb all the sweat forming from the stress youe under trying to make sure every note is played correctly (see tip #46), and you must not under any circumstances wear a headband. (see tip #43.)

Keyboard Player tip #46: You are the only one on stage who cares that every note is played correctly. Don let this lead to anxiety. Realize that no one else; on stage or in the audience; has any idea what notes are actually being played. Theye all there to get one or both of two things: drunk and laid.

Keyboard Player tip #47: You are not cooler than Charlie Dominici. I know. I know. But have you had even a brief stint with Dream Theater? (see tip #99.)

Keyboard Player tip #48: The only thing not cooler than you is the one particular individual in the audience who actually IS there to see you. Do not, under any circumstances, make eye contact with this particular individual. It will only swell your ego and make you feel as if you are above your station. (see tip # 92) It will also make this particular individual feel connected with you on a visceral level which is just creepy. (see tip #49.)

Keyboard Player tip #49: If the one particular individual in the crowd who IS there to see you is a hot chick, relish this experience. It will not happen again and should not even have happened once. This is your single shining moment to feel cool. Take it in. But do not let it distract you from the job at hand. (see tips #19 & 36.)

Keyboard Player tip #50: No one else on stage knows the difference between a Phrygian and a Mixolydian mode. (Unless you’re on stage with Brian Holt.)

Keyboard Player tip #51: Understand that although the rest of your band is comprised of guitarists, vocalists and percussionists; in addition to covering all piano, organ, harpsichord, brass, wind, string and synth parts; you will at times be expected to cover guitar, vocal and percussion parts as well.

Keyboard Player tip #52: Do not worry that out of a light tree consisting of 48 individual bulbs, only one of them is directed at you. This only reflects the appropriate degree of importance you play in the stage show. (see tip #92) And always remember the Rock Stage Light Tree Postulate (RSLTP):

If Z= number of lights per tree, Y= number of trees, and X=lights required for non-keyboard-playing band members, then Z times Y will always equal X plus 1.

Keyboard Player tip #53: Do not worry that in a 5 piece band utilizing 18 monitors, you don get one. The standard Rock Monitor Theorem applies:

If x = available monitors, y = monitors required for Lead Singer + Lead Guitarist, and z = number of all other non- keyboard playing band members, then y will always equal x-z. (see tip # 92)

Keyboard Player tip #54: Your lead guitarist is most likely your friend. Hang out with him as much as possible; if for no other reason than just to get the leftover groupies that will surely abound. Plus, hel likely be the best partner for songwriting given the fact that most guitarists are passionate and have some sort of inner pain or overwhelming degree of creativity they feel the need to express. Either that or he’s a ball-cap, flip-flop wearing, frat-boy hack who was told he was good at guitar by some college chick at a party, and he took it to heart. If the latter exception is the case, quit your band immediately and question your motives for ever having joined in the first place.

Keyboard Player tip #55: Classical theory emphasizes the correct horizontal progression of multifarious single-note parts. Generally, to the melody in the upper part is added first a bass line and then two intermediary lines to complete the chords in four-part harmony terminating with cadences; avoiding some chord inversions and favoring others; maintaining an orderly and audibly melodic conjunct, contrary or oblique motion of each part relative to the others in order to arrive at unity of texture by evasion of incongruous intervals, parallel fifths and octaves etc. (see tip #56.)

Keyboard Player tip #56: If you ever recite the tip you just read to any of your band-mates or fans, you will be instantly kicked out of the after-party and scorned as a complete loser. But you should be used to this by now. (see tip #28.)

Keyboard Player tip #57: If youe a chick, youe automatically cooler than most any other keyboard player who is not a chick (see tip #99) unless said keyboard player is on stage with you (see tip #85) or is standing whilst you sit (see tips #32 & #33). Keep in mind, 淐hick?does not necessarily trump 渒eyboard player?so tips #1-7 still apply, but the Chick Musician Axiom also applies: “Any chick playing any instrument is automatically cooler than any guy playing the same instrument; regardless of skill level.” And you can probably disregard tip #56. Chicks rarely, if ever, get kicked out of the after-party.

Keyboard Player tip #58: Do not worry that out of all the fans desiring autographs from your band, the only ones wanting yours are nerdy guys wearing your band T-shirt. These are actual musicians and potentially other keyboard players. Embrace them. They are your people.

Keyboard Player tip #59: Wear leather pants whenever possible. Expensive, custom-tailored leather pants. Own at least 12 pair so you won’t run out whilst they’re being dry-cleaned. Spend exorbitant amounts of money on said leather pants. Trust me. This may be your only way to look slightly cool and get slightly laid; though tips #1-7 still apply.

Keyboard Player tip #60: Less than 12% of all sound engineers you encounter will be capable of running more than one keyboard in stereo. (see tip #42) Accept this and work around it. I mean come on. How badly do you really need to utilize the oscillation function of a rotating Leslie or the additive waveform synthesis of a Hammond organ? (see tip #56.) Seriously. Get over yourself and see tip #92.

Keyboard Player tip #61: When matching your lead guitarist in a solo situation using thirds; major or minor; everyone else in the band will likely assume that youe simply playing the same intervals, just up 3 or 4 half-steps. (see tip #89) Do not look down on them for this. To all other members of your band, music is simple. ang instrument. Get Laid.?That is all. They do not understand the subtle complexities of modal shifts and harmonic scales. This is left up to you. Relish it, but do not expect any recognition or appreciation.

Keyboard Player tip #62: Liberace. (see tip #96)

Keyboard Player tip #63: Youe not as cool as the bouncers. They have 渟ecurity?on their shirts. You probably have fancy swirly colors, extraneous frills and glitter on yours; seeing as how you spent a minimum of $273 on each shirt.

Keyboard Player tip #64: A solo played with two hands is twice as good as a solo played with one. Do not fall prey to the illusion that one-handed soloing looks cooler than two-handed soloing. How often does a guitarist solo with just one hand?

Keyboard Player tip #65: The only acceptable displays of emotion during a performance are those expressing either so angry!?or his kicks ass!?Do not appear happy. Do not appear sad. Do not appear fervently zealous or ardently overcome with desire. Do not appear morose, despondent, ecstatic, blissful, euphoric, passionate, exultant, pensive or dejected unless any of these emotions can be expressed to the degree at which you appear to be angry or kicking ass.

Keyboard Player tip #66: Always carry band-aids or some sort of generic equivalent first aid bandage. A cut to the thumb or index finger whilst setting up gear (see tip #67) can lessen the awe-inspiring power of your solos and chord blocking. (see tip #94)

Keyboard Player tip #67: Always set up your own gear. No matter how many times you explain it to the roadies, they will invariably get it wrong. They can afford neither the time nor the effort required to correctly set up your gear. Their effort has been spent making sure the lead guitarist has all 7 guitars in tune. And their time has been spent noodling on all 7 guitars, forcing them to require retuning.

Keyboard Player tip #68: Your bass player is your friend. Don belittle him by letting him know that you can play his entire repertoire with only your left hand. (see tip #40) Bear in mind that hel always be one of two things: Either the coolest and most well-grounded member of the band, or the most raucous, wild, drunken-stage-idiot you’ve ever met. Either way, stick with him. Itl be amusing to watch his interaction with other band members and fans. Bear in mind, there are always exceptions.

Keyboard Player tip #69: Youe not as cool as the bartender or any of the wait-staff. They provide booze. You provide chord blocking for your band-mates to solo over. (see tips #19 & #92)

Keyboard Player tip #70: Your ears move more quickly than your eyes. Learn to play by ear; as opposed to simply reading sheet music; and your fluidity and melodic anticipation will improve dramatically. (see tip #56)

Keyboard Player tip #71: Always practice right before bed. Short-term memory is transferred to long-term memory during sleep. (see tip #56)

Keyboard Player tip #72: As pretentious as it sounds, the notes you don play are just as crucial as the ones you do.

Keyboard Player tip #73: You likely have a better comprehension and overall cognizance of pitch than anyone else on stage (unless you’re on stage with Scott Joshway). Don’t begrudge your band-mates for this. To them music is about looking cool and getting laid. Things like pitch play no part: pun intended.

Keyboard Player tip #74: Noodling is for guitarists. You are above this. During sound check you should simply block chords when asked to. If you need to check a solo patch, do so whilst drawing as little attention to yourself as possible.

Keyboard Player tip #75: Keep a towel handy. You will sweat. Keys with sweat on them tend to become slippery. Slippery keys lead to wrong notes. Though be sure to turn your volume down when wiping sweat from your keys. Trust me. (see tip #94)

Keyboard Player tip #76: Do not expect to receive your remuneration in a timely fashion. If your band has a manager then he probably doesn even know your name. If your band doesn have a manager then youe likely forced to rely on the lead singer to disseminate financial compensation to the band members; in which case: don hold your breath. His head is likely so far up his own ass that he getting feedback from his colon. Unless you are the lead singer. In which case, you are likely reliant on the lead guitarist to disseminate financial compensation to the band members since no one trusts the keyboard player with money (see tips #42, #59 & #63); in which case, don hold your breath. He likely too busy getting laid after the show.

Keyboard Player tip #77: Don begrudge guitarists for always wanting to write songs in either f# or e. E is easy due to the amount of open strings used to create an arpeggio. F# is popular since it allows them to peddle on the open e string whilst further proliferating the abundance of blues scales in modern Western music. Either way, know both these scales backwards and forwards. Youl have plenty of private time to practice on your own while the rest of your band is getting laid after the show.

Keyboard Player tip #78: Always carry at least one good stereo direct box, but do not tell the sound engineer until he’s admitted that he conveniently does not have enough DIs to run you in stereo. That way the sound engineer won conveniently not have enough DIs to run you in stereo. (see tip #60) If you have two keyboards, then carry two. (see tips #42, #60 & #94)

Keyboard Player tip #79: Get a ribbon controller. Trust me.

Keyboard Player tip #80: Subsonics dwell below 25Hz. Expansive cuts help reduce tone muddiness in the 300-500Hz range. In the 3-5 kHz range, tone definition and enunciation can be augmented with even a slight boost due to corresponding delicate human ear sensitivity. Sharp cuts above 15-18 kHz can make your tones less brittle and much warmer. (see tip #56) Bear in mind that none of this matters at all in a typical band scenario.

Keyboard Player tip #81: Practice using a metronome. Your meter, though likely better than most drummers (excluding Tom Meadows), is not as perfect as you think it is.

Keyboard Player tip #82: Most jazz is pretentious crap. Trust me.

Keyboard Player tip #83: Contextual dynamics and other fluid articulations are equally as important as the actual duration and velocity of the notes played. (see tip #56) Be sure to play these appropriately. No one will notice when you do, but theyl sure as hell notice when you don.

Keyboard Player tip #84: 淐hord Progression?is a misnomer. A chord 渟tructure?typically has three methods of resolving to its root: Progression, Elision and Retrogression. (see tip #56) Know this, but don expect anyone else to.

Keyboard Player tip #85: Nine Inch Nails is the only band cool enough to have more than one keyboard player. If you are not in this band, you’d better be the only keyboard player on stage.

Keyboard Player tip #86: Be as fluent in classical piano as you are in the blues. Although these are not exclusively disparate styles of playing, they address spectral ranges which will do nothing but enhance your overall skill. (see tip #56)

Keyboard Player tip #87: Know your scales.

Keyboard Player tip #88: Know your fingerings.

Keyboard Player tip #89: Know your intervals.

Keyboard Player tip #90: Know your triads.

Keyboard Player tip #91: Know your chord inversions. They define the atmosphere of a chord and allow it to express more than the mere root triad can convey. (see tip #56)

Keyboard Player tip #92: Know your place.

Keyboard Player tip #93: Your drummer is your friend. He probably the most fun member of your band. Hel have the best stories to tell and hel likely have access to most varieties of booze and/or drugs; and hel know the best ways to enjoy them all in a pinch. Again, there are always exceptions.

Keyboard Player tip #94: Learn from your mistakes. But remember tip #28.

Keyboard Player tip #95: DJs are all stupid hacks. Though you are not cooler than they (see tip #30), they possess no musical skill and have no place in any musical scene whatsoever. You can press lay?just as well as the next guy. And so can the next guy. Plus, they wear those needlessly conspicuous headphones and act like theye using them for something other than drawing attention to themselves. (see tip #43) All this considered, they will still probably get laid after the show; if not during; since what they do requires neither proficiency nor concentration. Hitting play is much simpler than playing a hit; but suck it up and see tip #92.

Keyboard Player tip #96: Learn from others?mistakes. But still remember tip #28.

Keyboard Player tip # 97: Your lead singer is probably not your friend. He is likely too insecure with his musical prowess and you; being a keyboard player; ie. the most intuitively pure and yet most highly refined breed of musician; will intimidate the hell out of him. He is likely paranoid, narcissistic, schizophrenic, histrionic, anxious-avoidant, passive aggressive, bipolar or any number/combination of all. Some might say this is what makes him a good front man. Others might say this is what makes him an asshole. Either way, it what makes him change the set order in the last four bars of a song without telling you. Despite this, his ability to appeal to the lowest common denominator will likely draw crowds; thus inflating his head to the point where he has no peripheral vision and therefore no idea you exist. Be thankful. He providing you with an audience.

Keyboard Player tip #98: Don ignore your ring finger. It is the weakest and requires the most attention.

Keyboard Player tip #99: None of the previous tips apply to Jordan Rudess, Rick Wakeman, Ray Manzarek, Trent Reznor, Billy Powell, Jonathan Cain, Stevie Wonder, Elton John, Gregg Rolie, Derek Sherinian, Billy Joel, Michael Pinella, Ray Charles, Kevin Moore or Keith Emerson. If you are any of these, thank you for reading, but disregard everything you have just read.

Keyboard Player tip #100: The most commonly used chord structure is I-V-vi-IV (and derivations thereof). Pay attention to all pop music and you will discover that 90% of so-called rtists?use this structure. It is fundamentally perfect and allows for innumerable varieties of melodic interpretations and harmonics. You will never go wrong writing a song with this chord structure. However, if you rather be considered a 渕usician?than a 渟ongwriter? never use this chord structure.

…and remember the best quote ever:

“Say what you want about us, but I never aspired to be a musician. I aspired to be a Rock and Roll star.

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