Starting Your Own Performing Keyboard Ensemble

Putting Together Your Own Performing Keyboard Ensemble

             The arrangements I have written for the electric keyboard ensemble utilize anywhere between 3 to 7 independent parts, that can be played individually or easily doubled.  The audio samples below are mostly Finale “play back” files using either a: drum loop audio file, a Finale “Drum Groove” file, or pre-set percussion and orchestration style from one of the performing keyboards.   In a few of the examples only the piano tracks have been extracted.   The variety of audio files presented should demonstrate how the component parts of the ensemble come together, even for students with limited music performance experience.

          In deciding what songs to arrange for the keyboard ensemble, I look for songs that have: very basic two and three note melodies, repetitious rhythm and supporting part patterns, and very limited harmonic structures that can easily be re-created and performed.  This is very important since most of the students that join my ensembles have no prior piano playing experience.  The Performing Keyboard Ensemble concept also places a large emphasis on the teaching of improvisation and applying these skills in performance.  All but two of my arrangements have some kind of "vamp" or solo section utilized or inserted into them.  I also incorporate a unique way of presenting the concept of improvisation to young students that works great with electric keyboards.  I claim that I can "teach anyone to improvise and sound good in 60 seconds", which for the most part is an accurate statement.   That, along with my "secret weapon", allows me to use many of my very basic arrangements with the students at Goodwin Elementary School.  Most of these songs can be played by students at the middle school level and almost all at the high school level.  If you teach general music and are looking for something that will excite your students about music, and/or will prepare or recruit additional students for your instrumental program(s), this just may be the solution you are looking for.

               If you would like more information about the keyboard ensemble concept, or if I can help you anyway, please feel free to contact me.  If you would like more information about the keyboard ensemble concept, or if I can help you anyway, please feel free to contact me.  Note: Several other arrangements have already been posted on the Goodwin Elementary School web site on other pages.  We call our ensemble the “Kickin’ Keyboards”.  Below are the URL links where they can be found, including our Thursday after school “jam sessions”.

Richard Moon

Note: Goodwin Elementary School
N. Charleston, SC    or

The "New Kids on the Block"  New arrangements released for 2015

"Higher Ground"    By: Stevie Wonder

"Natalie"    By: Bruno Mars

"It's A Long Way To the Top If You Want To Rock and Roll"   

"My Sharona"    By: The "Knack"

Oldies But Goodies / Blasts from the Past

"What Can A Keyboard Play?"    A Parody: "What Does A Fox Say?"
By:  Ylvis  (Vegard & Brad Ylvisaker)

"I'm Havin' A Bad, Bad Day"  From the movie "Despicable Me"
By: Pharrell Williams

"Billie Jean"  By: Michael Jackson

"Grenade"  By: Bruno Mars

"We Got The Beat"  By: The GoGos

"Ain't Nothin' Wrong With That"  
By: Robert Randolph and the Family Band

"Peter Gunn"  By: Henry Mancini

"Don't Bring Me Down"  By: The Electric Light Orchestra
Also used in the recent movie "Planes"

"Take Me To The River"  By: Al Green  /  The Talking Heads

"Enter the Sandman"  By: Metallica

"Thriller"  By: Michael Jackson

For additional arrangements, click here.