Article in The Improper Bostonian September 13, 2005

Deborah Gruber teaches one-session classes, "Instant Piano for Hopelessly Busy People," at the Boston Center for Adult Education and at the Cambridge Center for Adult Education. For more venues, contact her at dgruber@rcn.com or debbie@easypianostyles.com. You can learn a lot of piano - the nonclassical branch, at least-away from the piano itself. As you sit in a classroom chair looking at a picture of the piano keyboard and at easy notations of chords, the class teacher Deb Gruber talks and instructionally tickles the actual ivories. With just some basic knowledge of the notes, and without really reading music, you can get cozy with 12 basic chords: major, minor and those juicily enhanced seventh chords. It's enough for you to start splashing down on them on your own piano, enhancing the melodies of various simple songs like "Tom Dooley", "Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho" and the gratifyingly ornate, merriment-rich "The Entertainer."

Deb has further simplified the process of learning chords by chunking them into four categories (all white keys, all black, etc). She compares seventh chords to yougurt, taking on the flavor of a song - barbershoppy, gritty, bluesy, even wistful. Transposing chords into other keys in various sequences and the tr-la-la embellishment of argeggios add texture. The readable chord skeletons that she uses show piano notes with dots on the pertinent keys; 30 - 45 minutes four times a week of practicing at home can get beginners in the groove. Ray in a day? Almost, baby!

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