The Course

How to Use The Sudnow Method Course

The key to success with the Method is not just "practice" but "directed practice":

  1. Practice every day, even if it's only twenty minutes, for the first two to three months at least.
  2. Stick with small chunks of learning - don't get ahead of yourself.
  3. Get some feedback - from other students (via the forum or otherwise) or even an outside teacher
  4. Prepare for setbacks - Have a plan for getting back to regular practice or refreshing your interest when it feels like things aren't going well. This may be the most important lesson: be supportive to yourself!


There are three broad phases of study available to you here:

Phase 1: This phase uses dot songs to introduce the basic concepts

Phase 2: In this phase you'll learn how to create your own voicings from chord symbols

Phase 3: Introduces you to some advanced concepts and opens the door to more material available in the Members Club

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Phase 1 - Getting Started

PLEASE NOTE: This page describes the course but the links are not active. Students can navigate to the active version from their 'Student Resources' page from their account page.

No one likes to follow strict instructions (your teenagers aren't the only ones!). However experience has clearly demonstrated that the students who do exactly what we suggest in these first four steps, in particular, have the best chance of success.

1. Use this link to print out a version of the cards used in the original seminar. You can use them for reference points as you listen to the seminar but don't be concerned right now with memorizing or even understanding everything on these cards.

2. Listen to the Weekend Piano Seminar's that you should have downloaded from your original email when you bought the course, preferably over a 2-3 day period at most. Don't memorize anything. Listen straight through. If you gain an overall sense of things while missing various details that's fine.

3. When you're through listening (not before please) you must begin the simple exercises with scales (described on Sat AM) and start at once on your first "dot tune", Misty (described on Sun PM). You need to listen well enough to set out on these two tasks: scale drills and Misty. If you're not starting to work on Misty within a couple of days of listening to the CDs, you're in trouble already. This is true if you've played for ten years or never. You can wait 'till you finish listening to the CDs, though it can be useful to have the "dot song" in hand during at least the last track of the Sunday PM session. Read on, so you know what's coming. Then download Misty

4. ALL students, beginners or not, should devote at least their first three weeks solely to these scale drills, to Misty, and nothing else (at a piano).

Additional resources:

A. Dot Songs - David writes - at length - about the evolution of his thinking about dot songs. (Note: Three Dot song "books" are available as part of the Members Club or as separate purchases)
B. "As Time Goes By" - a second dot song for you to learn (See #1 in Phase 2).
C. "Over the Rainbow" - more dot song work
D. "Someone To Watch Over Me" - a beautiful Gershwin tune from the musical Oh Kay!
E. Notation - Notes on scale spelling conventions and understanding the treble clef notation
F. Listening to Others - David presents some thoughts on picking a "piano hero"
G. Picking Out a Melody - Suggestions on how to improve your skill at finding melodies
H. Using the Pedals - Thoughts on proper pedal use

I. Frequently Asked Questions - Culled from the student forum, Suds answers students' questions
J. Student Play - examples of Sudnow students' playing - email if you'd like to contribute


Phase 2 - Creating Your Own Voicings

After you have "Misty" comfortably in hand you can start thinking about how to look at fake book charts and write your own fractions and harmonizations. Here are some resources to help you.
First, go back to the cards you printed out in step #1 above. Starting with card #11, review the basic voicing rules (go back to the Saturday PM and Sunday recorded sessions if you want).

1. Once you've got your hands on "Misty" - David talks about some of the challenges in learning "Misty", how to practice, and the transition from "Misty" to "As Time Goes By" to "Danny Boy"
2. "Danny Boy" - A transitional dot song, some of the dots you'll have to fill in yourself. The exercise helps you find the color tones on the scales - and you learn a great song!
3. Looking at the Keys - Here David discusses the transition to doing your own voicing and creates a "workbook" to give you some experience figuring out voicings.
4. Voicing analysis - There's a lot of good information here on dealing with atypical situations - refer to this often when you find yourself stuck.

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Phase 3 - Advanced Topics

As your interest, and abilities, grow, you may be interesting in these topics. There are more resources for the advanced student as part of the Members Club.

1. Diminished chords - Definition and substitutions
2. Flat five substitutions - Often referred to as "tritone substitutions"
3. m7b5 Chords - Or "half diminished" - why you have to play the b5
4. Polychords - What they are, how to construct them
5. Slash chords - The rationale behind the notation
6. Sustained minor chords - Thoughts on internal voicing when minor chords span one or more measures


The Members Club

If you have purchased access to the Members Club you should already have access on your student page ('Member Resources' link) to the additional written and recorded material from David Sudnow on a variety of great topics - if not, sign up now at the Sudnow Store. You'll gain access to 30 additional dot songs, a dozen audio "chats" where David takes apart a different songs to demonstrate various topics and lots of other thought-provoking writing by David. (None of the Members Club material is required to master the Basic Method.)

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