This second portion of the series I’m writing of resources available for church musicians is focused on the church’s Keyboard Course. You can find it at the following link from the music website of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints:
The course is lesser known. I’ve been teaching actively for five years and didn’t know about it myself until exploring the church’s music website awhile back. I haven’t heard of other teachers that have used it either. Either way, here are the pros and cons.
As for its positives, looking at the Keyboard Course I can appreciate its method of approaching musical concepts at the keyboard as it’s similar to my way of teaching. It teaches you how to play by finger number, then gradually teaches you about the music staff, presenting steps, skips, accidentals, rhythms and so on. I also enjoy how it incorporates church hymns as much as could be possible according to the new concepts it presents. By the time you’re finished with the book, you should be able to play through another of the church’s published resources, “Hymns Made Easy.” Lastly, it’s free! Since it’s available as a download you could even use it from an I-pad or tablet if you wanted.
As for its cons, there are a plethora of other method books out there for only a few dollars each and available from most locations that sell sheet music, including Amazon. With that in mind I’m not too surprised I haven’t seen much use from this book. The entire book is in black and white, so it may come off as a bit boring for younger students. In addition to that, it presents new concepts rather quickly, so it would be more suitable for an adult who is able to focus more than for a child who may find it boring. Lastly, as I’ve said before for the New LDS Organist course, as helpful as this resource may be, it still doesn’t replace an actual teacher. A teacher would be able to help you understand the concepts more quickly and adapt lessons to your individual level. As you approach playing hymns by the end of the course a teacher would be able to help you get the music at an appropriate tempo, so it doesn’t bore or frustrate the congregation. They’d also be able to help you accompany for a congregation, as this can present a new set of challenges.
Still, from an overall standpoint, if you have no resources, no teacher, no piano, and no funds to provide for either of those this would be an effective way of learning on your own if you’re absolutely committed to it, more-so for adults than for kids. If you don't have a piano, you'd be able to take the course to a church building as often as it's open and available to practice on the pianos they have there, perhaps when a family member is in a meeting and you're stuck with one car. After taking this course you could also begin using the Hymns Made Easy to even accompany for your local ward or branch.
Have you used this course? Whether as a teacher or a student I’d love to hear your feedback on this course.
I'm a sacred music enthusiast. I'm one of those people that attends church for the music just as much as the sermon, one of those people that give an evil glare at the people who leave for the congregational hymns, (Ok no, not really).