I’m Bradley Sowash, co-founder with Leila Viss, of 88 Creative Keys workshops and webinars. I’m here to answer frequently asked question about our summer workshop in Denver, CO.

How will attending an 88 Creative Keys workshop increase my creative confidence?

At 88 Creative Keys, we understand that, especially for classically trained musicians, there is often an element of fear in learning to improvise. Through a mix of accessible hands-on techniques and a nuanced understanding of the emotional risks involved, we help pianists rediscover their natural inclination to create. We take extra care in setting a friendly, encouraging and supportive tone so participants feel free to explore and share new ways of making music.

How are the 88 Creative Keys workshops different from the webinars?

In a word: interaction. Whereas our webinars conveniently offer great instruction on micro-subjects in the comfort of your own home, webinars are necessarily one-way presentations with limited time for questions. In our workshops, pianists and teachers enjoy the encouragement that comes with interacting with peers all day long.

Many things we do are just not possible online like playing in large and small groups, participating in “off bench” activities, and rubbing shoulders with master teachers. And then there’s also the social piece. More than a few friendships have begun at 88 Creative Keys workshops over meals and happy hours where the chance to talk shop and compare notes leads to some quite lively conversations indeed!

Who is this year’s guest teacher?

Every year, we strive to add enriching additions to our offerings. This year, we are pleased to welcome our friend and colleague, Debra Perez, as a guest teacher. Debra brings a wealth of experience in helping students discover their creative voices in group settings. A pioneer in the area of recreational music making, Debra has a wonderful ability to make everyone feel successful regardless of their ability levels or prior experience with improvisation.

I’m a music teacher. What will I be able to teach after attending an 88 Creative Keys pedagogy workshop?

In just one intensive day at 88 Creative Keys, you will understand creative pedagogy principles, feel more confident teaching creativity in groups, learn to combine scales and chords with improvisation, know how to teach from my books, integrate today’s best teaching technology, improvise accompaniments for your students on drums and piano, and jam on lead sheets. You’re going to love it!

I’m an alumni. Why should I come back to an 88 Creative Keys workshop?

Several of participants return year after year. This summer, they will learn:

  • More piano improv skills in our new “Digging Deeper” track for experienced improvisers.
  • Master tips and tricks to playing Blues styles.
  • Recharge their creative batteries
  • Make new friends and hang out with other returning participants.
  • Revel in our new location.

What do I need to practice before attending an 88 Creative Keys workshop?

Here are four things to help you prepare:

  1. Chords are integral to keyboard improvisation so spend a little time reviewing your chord knowledge and practicing familiar chords on the piano.
  2. Read The Full Scoop On Chords and complete the integrated pencil practice worksheets. This interactive ebook/video will be provided beforehand.
  3. Compose a simple 12-bar blues following the directions in a video that will be also be provided beforehand.
  4. If you sign up for a private lesson, think about a specific topic you’d like to address so you can make the most of your time.

What activities will equip me to improvise, arrange, and compose?

Our days are jam-packed. For an overview of what to expect, please see the schedule at 88creativekey.com. You will leave having mastered a few new skills but also understand how to continue your creative journey after you leave.

How does 88 Creative Keys use tech-tools to boost creativity?

88 Creative Keys workshops are totally wired. You will play a state of the art digital piano, learn from carefully prepared projected slides, and experience today’s best music education tech tools. Leila has been writing about apps in her book, blogs, and magazines for years.

Along the way, she’s pinpointed the ones that are most useful for fostering creativity. I’ve become an expert on notation and backing track programs. We won’t just show you what’s out there, we will show you how to use them.

Where do I learn more and/or register?

You will find all you need to know at 88creativekeys.com. If we missed something, it’s easy to contact us from that same website and we always reply promptly.

We look forward to getting to know you this summer’s workshop in Denver, CO. Until next time, enjoy your creative music-making journey.