The art of faking piano is about approximating an accompaniment part
We do this using our knowledge of harmony and we use rhythms to estimate the basic gist of the piano part for faking!
Why is faking on piano useful?
- If you don’t quite have the skills to play an accompaniment part, you may think that because you’re not a virtuoso pianist, you are limited. So many songs, especially the musical theater genre, are really difficult. By faking you have a lot more repertoire available to you because you will be creating your own accompaniment parts rather than reading the written notes!
- If you don’t have a lot of practice
- I have heard of voice teachers and coaches spending hours and hours each week trying to learn complicated piano arrangements. Unless you’re doing a concert with Audra McDonald you will probably be fine faking some or all of your accompaniments
- If you want to customize the accompaniment part to suit your performance situation high-level professional pianists fake all the time
I myself am constantly customizing accompaniments to suit the situation and I know for a fact that this is commonplace in the industry. It’s a hugely important skill to have
Simplified accompaniment better than the complicated part?
- If you are accompanying a less experienced singer working with a child teen or adult student with more limited experience. Where a simplified accompaniment part works better than a complicated one it will be less acoustically overwhelming.
- If the singer you’re accompanying has a softer voice
- If there is no sound system or if the piano or the room is just naturally very loud, a simplified accompaniment part will really help the singer to feel heard. This is one of those situations where you could adjust on the fly to simplify what you’re doing by faking something a little bit easier so you don’t acoustically overwhelm the singer
- If you are self accompanying, you may want to simplify what you’re playing on the piano. Even a skilled singer pianist can’t always pull off a great vocal performance while they’re hammering away at the keyboard. You will want to create an accompaniment that is full sounding but that allows you to still be present in your vocal performance
My Take on Faking
I have been trained as a pianist for my entire life. I’m a very high level professional pianist and I am used to singing and playing for myself all the time. There are still plenty of times however where I will simplify what I’m playing on the piano so I can really focus more on my vocals.
Faking really makes a difference in being able to give a great performance of a song. Just style back what you’re playing on the piano a little bit simplifying accompaniment parts. It is NOT a cop-out by any means. It’s definitely be a choice that you make and it could be made based on your skill level. It also can be tailored to suit whatever situation that you’re in. Faking is actually a really effective technique that’s very easy to learn.
Faking requires 2 skills:
- The knowledge of chords.
- You need to be able to read chord symbols and be able to play them on the piano. Depending on the style of music, you’ll need to know how to play triads or you may need to know some four-note chords or some seventh chords.
- The knowledge of some rhythmic patterns.
- These are rhythmic patterns you can either hear or rhythmic patterns that you can learn. All you have to do is play the chords in a rhythm that approximates the actual written accompaniment. It truly is as simple as learning to read chord symbols and just play them on the piano. Plus adding a couple of rhythmic variations in order to create an accompaniment part that’s the basics the next level would be adding voice leading adding a bass line
If you don’t have the highest caliber of professional piano skills it doesn’t mean you can’t play most of the songs!!!! Use this technique & you’ll never be in that situation again where you have a student or you know somebody that you’re working with who really wants to sing a song but you can’t. YOU CAN NOW! All you’ll have to do is read the chord symbols and you’ll be good to go.
A Little Motivation:
Piano is a skill that you can have. You can do it and it doesn’t have to take you hours every day to do it! You can actually learn it a little bit at a time with guidance and structure for me!
Faking is a very real skill (see what I did there?) that can have you playing complicated-sounding arrangements that are actually super easy to play.
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