4 minutes reading time (869 words)

Level Up Your Gigs: Artist Pro Tips

Great tips for live performance.

When a talented musician gives you good advice about music it can instantly transform your playing. We’ve heard many great tips from our artists over the past year. They range from practical applications to conceptual approaches. Each artist generously offered great insights into what it takes to perform at a high level.

Dan Rouse

Philadelphia-based keyboardist Dan Rouse has worked with Jennifer Hudson, Patti Labelle, Hoodie Allen and was musical director for the Village People. Dan is a leader in the Philadelphia music scene, coordinating gigs and jam sessions in different venues around the city. He gives back by mentoring younger musicians, teaching them valuable skills to help them establish themselves.

In the podcast below, Dan talks about how he got started and the importance of the jam session. He discusses how he began first by observing, then finally sitting in and getting noticed by an older established musician.

“No one can hire you if they don’t know that you exist.”

Neil Tankersley

Neil Tankersley is music director, keyboardist, singer, and songwriter from Gainesville, Georgia. He was born into a family with a rich musical heritage and began playing piano and singing at an early age. In 2002, North Point Community Church in Atlanta became a home base for Neil where he played an important role as a vocalist, keyboard player and percussionist for over 12 years. Currently Neil plays with award-winning country artist Luke Combs. Neil discusses his role in the band in this excerpt from Behind the Synth.

“I want to know what everyone else is playing so I know where to be.”

Larry Goldings

Jazz pianist and organist Larry Goldings is one of the most sought-after musicians on the scene today. His organ trio with Peter Bernstein and Bill Stewart was recognized in the New York Times as "the best organ trio of the last decade." Goldings' musical inspirations draw from a lifetime of absorbing jazz, pop, funk, R&B, electronic and classical music. He’s performed with Jim Hall, Maceo Parker, John Scofield, Steve Gadd, Jack DeJohnette, Pat Metheny, Michael Brecker, Sia Furler, John Mayer and since 2001 has recorded and toured with James Taylor. Larry is a rare talent in that plays piano and organ equally well. In the video below (starting at 17:25) Larry discusses his approach to organ and piano, offering insights on articulation and how he deals with the differences between instruments.

“I’m somewhat of a percussive player on the piano, or at least I can be, because I like Monk and Duke and people coming out of that…I find that pianists who go to organ sometimes are too legato on the organ, and that can sap the time feel if your touch is too legato.”

Live with Larry Goldings, Blake Angelos, and the Yamaha YC Keyboard

We are live with Larry Goldings, Blake Angelos, and the YC Family of Yamaha Keyboards.

Posted by American Musical Supply on Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Nick Semrad

Nick Semrad has performed and collaborated with such artists as Cory Henry and the Funk Apostles, Miss Lauryn Hill, Donny McCaslin, Bootsy Collins, Louis Cole (Knower), Bilal, Gabriel Garzon-Montano, Meg Mac, Terrace Martin and many others. Nick’s “Artist Notes” series here on YamahaSynth.com shares thoughts about musicianship. Each article contains valuable ideas to help keyboardists play, think and feel better.

The Importance of Soloing
The Importance of Ear Training
How to Learn to Play in Every Key
The Act of Comparison
How Should I Practice?

Matt Johnson with Nick Semrad

Matt Johnson is a seasoned keyboardist who came up in the vibrant London soul scene. He’s performed with Duffy, Newton Faulkner, Will Young, Nolween Leroy and many others. In 2010 he became the keyboardist for Jamiroquai.

Matt discusses the importance of sound, the goal of becoming an authentic and unique musician and the value of paying attention to all the aspects of music in the special edition of Behind the Synth hosted by Nick Semrad.

Matt offers this advice:

“Pay more attention to sounds and parts and melodies rather than learning all the licks. There’s just so many great players that can do all that stuff, and it’s lovely to be able to do that, I just think spending time trying to find you own unique slant on how to play the keyboards is a great thing.”

Luke Smith with Nick Semrad

UK-based keyboardist Luke Smith started his musical journey in the church playing drums at age 9 before switching to keyboards at age 11. His cousins introduced him to reggae, soul and jazz guiding Luke’s development into one of the UK’s most renowned session musicians. In 2006 he became the keyboardist for international superstar George Michaels.

Nick and Luke had an engaging discussion about important aspects of being a keyboardist apart from playing in this special edition of Behind the Synth.

“You have the sonic end of it (playing keyboards), like getting all the sounds I have met a lot of musicians that practice all the playing things, and they don’t think about that kind of stuff.”


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