I’m excited to launch the 2017 PianoGroove Christmas Competition. This is mostly for fun, but also to encourage students to step out of their comfort zones and create their own jazz piano arrangement.
The challenge is to create an arrangement using a lead sheet from the Christmas Real Book.
Christmas tunes are perfect for creating jazz piano arrangements.:
- The melodies are simple and memorable
- the harmony tends to stay diatonic to the key that the tune is written in
- The melody lines are perfect to reharmonise with passing chords, substitutions, altered chords and much more!
Scroll down for the competition entry details, prizes and judging criteria:
Pick a tune from the Christmas Real Book
Over the next month, create a solo jazz piano arrangement
Create a video of yourself playing the arrangement. Extra points for a ‘Chirstmassy’ setting!
A poll will be created with all of the entires and the PianoGroove community will vote on the best arrangements.
Three prizes are awarded to the winning arrangements (1st, 2nd & 3rd Place)
The 3 winners will receive both a PianoGroove Pro subscription and a Spotify Premium Subscription.
12 month PianoGroove & Spotify Premium Subscription
6 month PianoGroove & Spotify Premium Subscription
3 month PianoGroove & Spotify Premium Subscription
note: if you are already on a PianoGroove annual plan, we would just extend your renewal date for the prize period.
The submissions will be judged on the following criteria:
Melodic Phrasing - don’t just play the melody exactly as it’s written on the lead sheet… listen to a bunch of recordings to find melodic inspiration. Piano recordings, other instruments, vocal versions… you can find
Use Of Passing Chords - get creative and harmonise those lonely melody notes with passing chords.
Intro & Outros - a great jazz piano arrangement will contain an intro and outros to create a full and complete performance.
Christmas Setting - This is not the primary focus but it should be taken into consideration… try to set up a festive scene or make yourself look festive… It’s Christmas after all!
Annotate & Upload Your Lead Sheet - as an example, here is my lead sheet from the recent Christmas lesson: Merry Little Christmas.pdf (423.3 KB) … excuse my handwriting
You should get into the habit of annotating lead sheets with your chords and voicings… this will also help other students see your choices and learn from your arrangement!
I will also be taking part but of course, I won’t be winning any of the prizes
I’m back at my parental home in Manchester, UK, for Christmas, and we conveniently have an upright piano next to the Christmas tree which will be the perfect setting for my video
This competition is all in the spirit of festive fun and also to encourage more of a PianoGroove ‘family’ vibe here in the forum/community area.
Learning to arrange a lead sheet from scratch can be challenging, but with each one it becomes easier and easier.
Remember to listen to as many recordings as possible on YouTube/Spotify. My aim with this competition is to encourage students to take the first steps towards creating their own arrangements.
Over the next few weeks, I will be adding tips, pointers, and referencing PianoGroove lessons with how they can be applies to Christmas lead sheets.
It’s PianoGroove’s 2nd Birthday next week which means I will have been teaching some of you for 2 years (even longer if you started with my YouTube tutorials).
One limitation of teaching online is that I don’t get to hear you all play.
I receive lots of comments and emails telling me that you like the tuition and are seeing big improvements, but this competition will finally give me the opportunity to hear you play which I think is awesome
- Before buying the hard copy, check out the Christmas Real Book contents here
- The Christmas Real Book Hard Copy can be bought here (This is UK Amazon)
- If you’re a Scribd user, you can download here
If anyone has any questions with the competition we can discuss in this thread