The Real School of Music Blog

Education Video Series: Creating a Keyboard Part for the Police

Written by Jim Zaroulis | June 15, 2017


The video is part of our Education Series, providing tips and advice to musicians, educators, and students. 

In the first video of this series, we outlined some basic ideas on how keyboard players can choose sounds that work for rock bands when there was no keyboard part in the original song. 

In this video, lead piano instructor Jim Zaroulis builds on this concept by sharing his approach to creating a keyboard part for the iconic Police tune, Message in a Bottle. In finding an interesting sound, or 'auditioning a sound,' Jim opts to create a soundscape and an atmosphere that has an initial brassy attack followed by a string sustain. His musical approach is to play in the higher range to avoid interfering with or diminishing Andy Summers' guitar part.  Jim's sound selection and musical choice work beautifully here. 

Jim's key points are: 

  1. adding a keyboard part to a rock song is a great opportunity to explore the sounds and capabilities of the keyboard. 
  2. your sound choice and musical approach should be guided by a focus on enhancing the song, not finding your way into the song. "If you think that you may be playing too much, you probably are." 

Now it's your turn to get creative! Pick your favorite song from The Police, explore your soundbank, and focus on creating a part that adds to and enhances the song. You want your listener to think, 'I like this version! It sounds different from what I remember, but I'm not sure why."