It’s two hours before the Christmas party, and someone asks you to play some christmas songs. What do you do? Grab the nearest Christmas fake book, and use these 10 tips for creating awesome piano arrangements on the fly:
1. Add a major 7th chord in the LH for instant jazz. All christmas songs can sound jazzy, and this trick helps even rookie jazzers add it.
2. Add a 1 or 5 note to the RH melody for instant harmony. Whatever key you’re in, adding a tonic and dominant can create a fast harmony.
3. Focus on dynamics. The more phrasing you add, the better the song will sound.
4. Modulate. Switch to another key to stretch out a song.
5. Try out different styles. Try pop, rock, and even country styles to mix up your set.
6. Combine songs. Merry Little Christmas and Jingle Bells together? Yes please. You’ll be amazed what songs can fit together.
7. Use a motif to unify your song. Creating a repeating phrase that plays throughout the song will help make your song interesting.
8. Change up the rhythm. Swing, syncopate the LH, etc. This adds variation, and can make a stale standard new again.
9. Experiment with tempo. Since you’re playing solo, don’t be afraid to create drastic tempo variations. Again, this adds interest.
10. Put an arpeggio on the end. I recommend playing a major 7th arpeggio for a great ending to your track.