The AMERICAN MUSIC TEACHER MAGAZINE
Beginning – Diploma. The Keyboard Accompaniment Series by Gayle MacAulay Dunsmoor provides a useful
resource for teaching an important aspect of piano playing, for which there are not many resources. The method
begins at the basics of note reading and works up to accompanying melodies without notation, reading lead sheets
and understanding chord progressions...
The series fits into its own niche by focusing on creating accompaniments to written melodies as well as chord reading.
In all, the series is a useful and pedagogically sound method to teach chords and accompaniment.
Hewett, Musical Director, Composer, Arranger Cirque
de Soleil Jan 2005 – Present
your teaching method. It is such a great idea to
instil the concept of creating a musical
accompaniment instead of simply playing what is on
the page. Kudos.”
The CANADIAN MUSIC TEACHER MAGAZINE
Why Bother with a Keyboard
Accompaniment (KA) Course?
May I suggest some of the following?
To stimulate hearing skills so that sensing chord changes and creating a pleasing accompaniment are instinctive.
- To enable students to read from a ‘Lead Sheet’;
• To play with other musicians confidently.
- To improvise in a performance situation when memory fails momentarily.
- To make harmonic knowledge germane to the playing of music and understanding of the score.
- To provide students with the skills to enjoy the piano after formal lessons are over (when there is little time for regular practice).
All four books are peppered with profound and interesting musical and life quotes from such sourced as Einstein, Pascal and Hugo. ‘Taking the Challenge’ sections are included in each volume. These are folk songs and dances to which the student must add an accompaniment consistent with the exercises in the book. These accompaniments are then evaluated by the teacher in terms of different accompaniments attempted, fluidity of performance as well as the overall impression....
These books help prepare a student for a more rounded musical education in that harmonic concepts become wed to the music itself and taken out of the realm of the purely theoretical. This course also gifts the student with the tools with which to enjoy a life-time of music! They are well worth the effort!
SENIOR, NEW LEARNER (KA Series)
“Each page is a new adventure. The pieces seem so simple, and yet they contain a catch, an ability,
a challenge that must be met by careful attention... My joy of music continues on every page.”
Lorraine Toljanich, ATCL, RMT
I am a Registered Music Teacher with the North Shore Branch of the British Columbia Registered Music Teachers Assn. We recently invited Gayle Dunsmoor to present a
workshop on “Creative Keyboard Accompaniment”. We were all very impressed with her presentation and with the content of her series of books that outline in detail
a practical method for teaching basic chord accompaniment as a means to developing creative hearing skills. Many of us have not been taught these skills as we
studied piano. A series of this nature is long over-due, and we are grateful to finally have the tools to train this important aspect of piano playing and pass
it on to our students.
APTA Publication (excerpts) “News & Views”
by Michele Tamtom: Kindermusik and WunderKeys Educator
KEYBOARD ACCOMPANIMENT (KA) BASICS and MELODY ADVENTURES (MA)
by Gayle MacAulay Dunsmoor
Publisher: QuenMar Music, Canada
KA BASICS (4 books) are a great way to teach and develop the improv technical skills needed to hear
and create organized accompaniments in almost any key.... Upon completing the first three books, a
student should be able to confidently create their own accompaniment to any given melody.... Guided
by a teacher, or as a self-study, this ‘method’ can be in conjunction/addition to other teaching
MA PRIMERS A & B are designed for students with no prior piano or keyboard instruction. These books
are well thought out and include many explanations....There are questions to be answered along the
way as ‘check points’ to make sure the student is absorbing the information.
MA BASICS A & B are meant to be combined as a support for KA BASICS (above). Ms. Dunsmoor states
that “MA BASICS A & B provide a fully arranged reference for many melodies that are ‘melody only’
in the KA BASICS series”.... As with other publications, Ms. Dunsmoor provides clear and concise
of terms and techniques.
MA BOOKS 1 & 2 build on the strengths of the previous MA PRIMERS, BASICS and KA BASICS books....
Ms. Dunsmoor’s method books are thoroughly thought out and her attention to detail in her writing
of original pieces is evident - as is her handling of old favorite melodies.
by Lisa Ng PhD, LRSM; A. Music in Piano Performance; Member ARMTA Calgary.
Book Series: Keyboard Accompaniment
Author: Gayle MacAulay Dunsmoor Publisher:
QuenMar Music, Canada
Keyboard Accompaniment is a new series of method books with a unique and effective hands-on approach to keyboard accompaniment training, a skill that’s often neglected in traditional keyboard lessons. Gayle Dunsmoor with her 35 years of teaching experience guides teachers and students step by step on developing the essential keyboard skills that are necessary to nurture a well-rounded musician. This includes the understanding of keys, anticipation of harmonic changes, application of chord progressions, styles, rhythms, patterns, hearing intervals, sight-reading of scores and lead sheets. The author wittingly blends all these elements in the program while encourages creativity in the students’ learning...
...This is ideally a program that teachers should integrate into the learning process right from the beginning to foster excellent musicianship.
Entire review: visit Alberta Registered Music Teachers’ Provincial Magazine, “Tempo”.
REVIEW (entire): by Eric Nyland: BFA, LRCM, CAEA, RMT
With her Melody Adventures (MA) and
Keyboard Accompaniment (KA) series, Gayle Dunsmoor has made a
significant contribution to a seriously under-represented area of
study in formal piano training: practical chording principles and
accompaniment training for beginner piano students. Her ten volume
collection may serve simultaneously as a method book series,
rudiments primer, fundamental tonal harmonic principle handbook,
lead-sheet introduction, and improvisation kick-starter. I have used
her books with a couple of my students and found them equally useful
for beginners and intermediates alike. For beginners, the series can
be used to help secure basic chords and the way these chords relate
to melodies, and for intermediates there are great materials to
assist with the acquisition of “chord grammar” sense, among so much
The series is organized thoughtfully
so that students work through the MA and KA books concurrently. This
allows students to absorb melodic, rhythmic and harmonic ideas first
by learning simple arrangements of tuneful and catchy pieces in the
MA books and then have immediate opportunity to apply those ideas to
their own arrangements of songs in the KA books. Along the way
students encounter numerous charts that explain scale patterns,
chords and inversions, basic standard accompaniment patterns (often
described within a discussion of different musical styles), circle
of 5th relationships, and eventually even early modulation
techniques. A great strength of this series is that under teacher
guidance students may explore a spectrum of complexity in their
accompaniment creations depending on their aptitude and the time
they have spent with a given piece. Exceptionally ambitious and
talented students have room to discover complex textures while those
who might struggle may work with simpler patterns.
As Lisa Ng noted in her glowing
review of this series for the ARMTA publication Tempo, teachers may
even note “there is so much to learn.” For those of us who did not
receive significant keyboard harmony and accompaniment training in
our formative studies, these books open up worlds of possibility for
expanding not only our teaching repertoire, but also our practice as
professional pianists. Despite having completed my intermediate
keyboard harmony through the Royal Conservatory of Music (RCM), I
feel stronger in this discipline having worked through Gayle
Dunsmoor’s books. This is no small praise for a “basic” keyboard
This means that for many teachers,
some time spent working through Ms. Dunsmoor’s books will be a
prerequisite to using them during lessons. The benefit of just a few
hours of reading through these books will give you fundamental
skills to teach keyboard harmony to nearly all of your students, as
well as providing a broader and more fulfilling approach to your own
practice as a professional pianist should the practice of keyboard
accompaniment and keyboard harmony not be among your strongest skill
by Michelle Everett Faunt: B.Ed; B.Sc
Gayle Dunsmoor of Nanaimo BC was motivated to write Melody Adventures and Keyboard Accompaniment as a result of 35 years of teaching experience. She recognized a gap in traditional piano pedagogical approaches relating to teaching accompaniment skills...
She also noticed a rise in the popularity of students taking guitar lessons. She feels that this is because beginning guitar students quickly learn to be able to play chord accompaniments to their favourite melodies...
...Gayle hopes that with the Melody Adventures and Keyboard Accompaniment books, all piano students will learn the skills to be able to confidently play accompaniments to their favorite melodies.
For complete review, visit online ARMTA Impromptu
These books represent a huge amount of work and the simple fact that over 350 of the melodies/songs are original is mind-boggling.
To quote Gayle’s blog on the Clavier Companion magazine site: “Most formal piano keyboard training programs leave the creative area
of the brain untapped”. The keys to the kingdom of creativity are now here.
Kathy Schmidt, ORMTA Thunder Bay, Ontario
This excellent series has 4 books that are best used sequentially if a student/teacher has not had any previous experience with harmonizing a melody... By the end of the series, students will have developed the freedom to express themselves in their own accompaniment style... This is a fantastic series.
Edith Katronis, Realtor
from US magazine, Clavier Companion
I took piano lessons for several years as a child. The experience was enjoyable. However, I did not want to make mistakes and became fearful about doing
anything that was not on the written page and I could regurgitate perfectly. Consequently, I did not try. It was in my later years with Gayle’s books
that I began experimenting and I am finally comfortable creating accompaniment to melodies I enjoy.
Liz Munro, ARCT, ALCM, RMT (Coquitlam/Maple Ridge
Branch of BCRMTA)
I really enjoyed your workshop on March 31/17. Thank-you for the Melody Adventures books I won
as a draw prize. My student, Kathleen, bought KA Basics A and we looked over it together at her lesson.
You have really designed a great course. Your ideas, duet parts and musical shorthand ideas are amazing.
Congratulations on the hard work.
Marcia Meyer: BC Registered Music Teachers’
Ass’n (RMT) North Shore Branch
My piano training comes from many years of
private instruction through the Royal Conservatory of Music (RCM) and the
University of Western Ontario.....
accompaniment ‘instantly’ for a given melody from a
lead sheet was like walking on another planet! Why
was this basic skill not a part of my initial formal
I believe that Gayle,
with her Melody Adventures and Keyboard
Accompaniment books, has truly touched upon the
elements to allow students to train, comprehend and
execute ‘lead sheet’ accompaniment – with ear
training and creative skills being the most
important by-product. It would be wise for anyone in
the piano teaching field, or simply interested in
reading from a lead sheet, to take a concerted look
at Gayle’s methodology books.
Marcia Meyer; RMT