Piano 3

Course Number: MUS-116DL Credit Hours: 2

Course Description

Piano 3 builds on skills learned in Piano 1 + 2, expanding basic piano skills to include compositional concepts and methods, which are developed and considered through application at the piano. Topics from corresponding levels of Ear Training/Theory 3 are still being applied to the piano. Piano 3 focuses on natural minor scales and chord progressions, modes of the major scale, and understanding when and why to use harmonic minor. Students harmonize a given minor melody with diatonic chords and learn appropriate voice leading. Finally, students continue with more advanced concepts of how to accompany a lead-sheet melody, using seventh chords with appropriate voice-leading. Prerequisite: Piano 2.

Kait Dunton

KAIT DUNTON is a Los Angeles based composer & pianist with an unconventional approach to composition and to the piano trio, best expressed by her genre-pushing super group, trioKAIT. Kait has produced and released three albums of original compositions, with a fourth featuring her equally out-of-the-box arranging style. Her third record, trioKAIT, made the Huffington Post’s list of “The Best Jazz for 2015” and was featured in Downbeat Magazine as well as on JAZZIZ Magazine’s 33⅓ Anniversary CD. Her second album, Mountain Suite, features master interpreters Peter Erskine, Bob Mintzer, John Daversa and Darek Oles.

Classically trained, Kait now works primarily in jazz and contemporary genres, maintaining a balanced career of performance, composition and education. Her enthusiasm and love for music radiates as much on the stage as in the classroom. A Pasadena native and an alum of Polytechnic School, Kait holds a Master of Music degree from the University of North Texas, and a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from USC’s Thornton School of Music.

Find Kait on:
Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | SoundCloud

Week 1:

  • Natural minor scales with i-iv-v-i progressions — Sharp Keys: a, e, b, + f# minor // Flat Keys: d, g, c + f minor
  • Scale fingering: compare to major scale fingering (except for f# minor)
  • Diatonic i, iv + v chords in natural minor
  • Practice scales hands separately first and then together
  • Discuss parallel and relative major/minor relationships
  • Transpose a major melody to its parallel minor and relative minor


Week 2:

  • Modes of the major scale
  • “Scarborough Fair”
  • Prepare for Test #1

Week 3:

  • Diatonic triads in natural minor — Flat Keys: D-, G-, C-, F- // Sharp Keys: A-, E-, B-, F#-
  • Discuss: Natural vs. harmonic minor and the importance of the major V (harmonic minor is more thoroughly explored in Piano 4)
  • The i-iv-i-V-i progression
  • Modulating etude


Week 4:

  • Harmonizing a melody using diatonic triads from natural minor along with the major V chord
  • Practice for Test #2


Week 5:

  • Diatonic 7th chord scales in relative keys, e.g. G major chord scale and E minor chord scale + their similarities
  • Diatonic chord scale progressions in relative keys
  • Lead sheet reading & analysis: melody + chords of “Autumn Leaves”
  • Playing 7th chord progressions using good voice-leading techniques
  • Transpose the [A] section of “Autumn Leaves” into a new minor key

Hardware & Equipment Requirements:

This course will require you to use a piano or keyboard to play through musical examples.

You will need:

  • Access to an 88-key keyboard or piano (must be in the same location as an Ethernet-based internet connection and your computer for testing purposes)
  • Webcam
  • Audio Technica ATR2100-USB Microphone
  • Desktop or laptop PC or Mac with speakers, running the most up-to-date versions of Google Chrome or Firefox (see “Software Requirements” for more info)
  • Printer, so that you can print out music examples used in the course or an iPad or similar device
  • Metronome (or metronome app)

Software Requirements: