First of all welcome, and thanks for sharing your position and aspirations.
I’ll start by giving you my advice, and I’m sure our other students will give their advice and insights from their own learning journey.
When someone posts in the forum, I get an immediate notification, and then notifications are sent out via email and so there is often a short delay before all of our community members will get the latest forum posts.
Let’s start with reading notation vs. playing spontaneously
I’d say that most of our community (myself included) started with a teacher giving us some musical notation to read. Whether that be scales, arpeggios, preludes, etudes etc…
This is an invaluable stage of development just to understand how to read music. So firstly, I would look at that as an asset, not a hindrance. For students that haven’t had musical lessons before, I want to be able to help them to learn to read music too. This is something I’d like to work on for a future section of our platform.
Anyhow, continuing with our discussion…
The nice thing with lead sheets is that we are given a very limited amount of information; just the melody, the chord symbol, and the note value.
As a jazz musician, you can interpret that however you want to. You can change or embellish the melody, we can substitute chords, and we can add our own bits of ‘jazz language’ based on the recordings we have listened to.
The PianoGroove System Of Learning
In all of our jazz standard lessons, the goal is to demonstrate how to arrange tunes from a lead sheet, and also ‘sprinkle in’ theoretical nuggets of information.
I’d recommend that first you should simply copy what is demonstrated in the arrangements. Then after learning maybe 20 of the arrangements, you will begin to see lots of similarities in the chords, the progressions, and the melodies.
Then I’d recommend that you try to think to yourself:
“What have a learnt in other jazz standards, that I could apply to this one”
For example, take a simple tutorial like the one on Misty:
First watch the lesson and learn the arrangement (both the simple and advanced versions).
Then watch this lesson on inner voice movement:
This lesson should immediately ignite your brain into the possibilities you have available during a performance for major, minor, and dominant chords. Remember you can apply this to any tune you are working on too!
Theory Studies vs. Jazz Standards Lessons
Pure theoretical studies can be a tedious activity, and so I’ve ensured that the PianoGroove syllabus is intertwined with jazz standards so that our students can apply the theory themselves. And then apply it to other tunes you are working on.
I guarantee that with focused daily practice, you will see improvements by following the courses in the PianoGroove syllabus.
I’ll stop there as I don’t want to ramble, but check out the links above, and I hope that will give you some insight into how the development occurs, and how many options you have available to you when playing jazz.
I have tonnes of fun with moving inner voices around when I’m playing. I love visualising the inner lines and that’s what I have tried to share in that lesson. That’s just 1 lesson on the site.
Let me know what you think, and I’ll happily give you some more direction if you like.
I’m sure some other members of our community will be happy to share some ideas too.