Introduce Yourself Here! 🌎


(Hayden Hill) #1

Hey PianoGroovers :wave:

Whilst I have gotten to know many students over the last few years, I thought it would be good to have a more formal place where we can introduce ourselves and talk a bit about our backgrounds, our inspirations, and our ambitions.

When new students join PianoGroove, I often ask a few questions so that I can gauge their level, and recommend the best lessons and courses for them to watch. I always find it fascinating how we all share a love for the jazz language despite coming from such a diverse range of backgrounds and occupations!

Below I have shared my professional background, my musical background, and also my current musical goals and aspirations.

I find that when I share my ambitions, it gives me a sense of accountability, which helps to achieve my goals in life. This is why I have shared my current musical goals, and I hope you do too.

Feel free to use my headings/template, or even create your own :sunglasses:

My Professional Background

I studied business-related subjects throughout my education. My university degree was in Business/Economics but I didn’t pursue that path after my studies.

Halfway through my university degree, I spent a year in Amsterdam working in Online Marketing. I very much enjoyed working in the digital industry and decided to combine my passion for piano, with my interest in the internet and digital technologies.

Around the same time, I was searching for jazz piano guidance online, and I found that all online services were either poor quality, or not accessible to the beginner jazz piano student. I then saw the opportunity to create PianoGroove.

Fast forward 5 years. I had graduated from university, worked in Digital Marketing for an additional 3 years at various companies, and then I had all the skills and the experience I needed to launch PianoGroove. I haven’t looked back since! :grin:

My Musical Background

I started playing piano when I was 5 years old. I’m very thankful to my mother for encouraging me to take up the instrument at such a young age. I studied classical piano for 10 years, and then took a short break due to other academic commitments.

Around my late teens, I acquired an old acoustic piano with my student loan. The piano lived in the garage of my student house and I rekindled my love for the instrument. It was around this time that I took a serious interest in jazz piano.

I’ve studied with 3 very talented jazz piano teachers, and I’ve learned unique things from each of them. The insights and styles of these guys have all impacted my type of playing in a unique way which I think is awesome.

This is my goal with PianoGroove; to create an online jazz piano school encompassing a wide selection of styles and genres, taught by the world’s best teachers.

My Favourite Jazz Musicians

Here’s a selection of my favorite jazz musicians. I’m often asked for listening lists from new students, in no particular order, here’s my biggest inspirations.

• Bill Evans
• Chet Baker
• Kenny Barron
• Red Garland
• Wynton Kelly
• Barry Harris
• Hank Jones

If you are new to jazz and want to discover some great music, then check these guys out… you will not be dissapointed! :wink:

Favorite Instruments:

My favourite instruments are:

• piano
• trumpet
• voice
• flute

I’ve listend to a lot of Chet Baker, and I always enjoy playing with trumpet players. The instrument has such character and warmth unlike any other in my opinion!

My Current Musical Goals & Aspirations

I started my jazz piano journey as a solo jazz pianist, and in many ways, I neglected ensemble playing. I always enjoyed the harmonic possibilities of playing solo piano and this is the bulk of my online teachings.

When I did attend a jazz summer school in Manchester UK, I found it challenging to play in-tempo and realized that it’s a very different skill to playing solo.

I’ve been working on this area for around 4 or 5 years and I’m now comfortable playing in an ensemble setting. I’ve partaken in jam nights in NYC, playing with some of the finest jazz musicians on the planet. However, there is still lots of work for me to do in this area - learning jazz is truly a life-long goal - and playing with other musicians has opened up a whole new world in my playing.

Composition Work

I have no immediate desire to compose my own music, but I’m sure this time will come in the future. There is so much to listen to, and take inspiration, from which is currently high on my agenda.

I feel I will know when the time to right to start composing!

My Own Band

I’d like to start my own jazz quartet in future, which I’m excited about. This is definitely in the pipeline, but no date to be announced just yet :grin:


I hope you enjoyed learning about my personal background, and I look forward to reading what anyone has to share.


(Ian) #2

Hi,
I’m Ian Heron, a keen piano player, but lacking the talent to do anything but play for my own pleasure. But I’m rapt in that. I relate this little story, in case there are any others out there with a similar history.

With an academic background in Maths, Physics and Economics, I had a long career as a Defence Scientist, managing Defence Scientists, and a few years as an Australian diplomat in Washington DC. Hardly conducive to a life as a jazz pianist, I hear you say, and I agree. But the love for it has always been there.

Nevertheless, a few years before retirement, I decided to go to a standard piano teacher, to learn something useful on my old Petrof acoustic piano. But I was getting to be a bit too old to start learning scales, etc in the normal way. A 6-year-old girl started about the same time, and (annoyingly) shot ahead of me. I realised that my heart wasn’t into learning scales – too boring.

Then I bought my first keyboard from Allans in Adelaide. I explained to the Music Director there (Jenny) that I could easily pick up melodies by ear, but I was lacking the chords to enrich the tunes. I had spent many hours teaching myself Music Theory, and how to read music.

Jenny said that she could teach me the chords, and I spent a long time so doing. She had spent many years as a piano teacher, and played in restaurants. She had a great method (for me), which involved a memory stick. She asked me for a favourite song, which she would play in simple form (eg. starting with the melody in the right hand, and only one note - the root - in the left).

My homework would be to take it home, plug it into my keyboard, and return the following week with it mastered, and recorded on the memory stick. Then, in successive weeks, Jenny would increase the complexity, until I could play the full version competently. To assist me, I would use computer software (Notation Composer) to generate and print-out a score from which to play.

Once one song was mastered, we’d go on to another of my choosing.

I thought it was a great way for the more ‘mature’ person to learn, and to maintain interest.

Just over 2 years ago, I felt the urge to expand to jazz piano. I tried to find a teacher where I live in the Gold Coast of Australia, but there seemed to be no-one suitable. Most of the many online jazz piano websites were likewise unsuitable.

Then, thank my lucky stars, I came across Hayden and PianoGroove. He is a fantastic jazz piano teacher, and I’ve had nothing but great experiences ever since. PianoGroove has been great for enabling an old retired scientist to realise his dream of playing a bit of jazz.


(Hayden Hill) #3

Wonderful, thanks for sharing Ian. I’m always fascinated by your work history… your career in defense sounds much cooler than mine! :grinning:

I think very few PianoGroove students are aware of this…

I received an email from Ian back in June 2016. Ian was using some interesting software to turn midi files into music notation and he sent me a few of my jazz standard arrangements in PDF form.

We then continued to produce these transcriptions based on my arrangements and Ian has contributed to virtually every jazz standard transcription here: https://www.pianogroove.com/transcriptions-scores-midi/ - and also most of the downoadble theory documents on the website were created by Ian.

I know first hand how many students have benefited from these PDFs over the last 2 years. I am always being told how helpful they are for new jazz students. I have Ian to thank for encouraging and supporting the creation of this great feature of PianoGroove.

Myself (and I’m sure many others) are extremely grateful for these wonderful assets :slight_smile:


(Lori Nelson) #4

I remember as a little kid when in my piano lesson my teacher discovered that when she demonstrated the phrase or few bars she was teaching that I picked it up and could play it. However she focused on the fact that I wasn’t reading the notes and missed an opportunity to tailor some teaching to use that talent rather than squash it. However the end result was that I got bored with the lessons and didn’t stick it out.

Later around my mid 30’s I got a piano and started from scratch on my own (this is BEFORE you-tube and there were not many dvd’s, – mostly books.) I took one lesson from a pro, but actually got stage fright just performing at the lesson - and quit. I still noodled around now and then on the piano but with no direction or goal.

Years later, I discovered the fun things on youtube and subscribed to one musician after another, but was either terribly lost in the theory or couldn’t find the tunes I wanted to learn.

When Pianogroove began I was smitten with the lovely jazz ballads and Hayden’s teaching style. It is very unique. YES >> I still skip ahead when my hands figure things out before my brain does and that later comes back to bite me. but the reason I study piano is to enrich my brain and I play piano to nurture my soul and to feed this crazy urge to learn and play jazz tunes on the piano. I have NO performance ambitions but I have found one or two friends who play guitar to jam with now and then, and that is fun. I have surprised myself with what I have learned and retained with Pianogroove.

I am a women’s health (gyn) nurse practitioner in the USA pacific northwest - that spends most free time outdoors: gardening, hiking, fishing, going to music festivals, but when home and indoors love to listen to music ( I love chet baker and bill evans) and to hang out at the piano. Hayden has made this much more fun and enriching.


(Hayden Hill) #5

Interesting thanks for sharing Lori.

I hear many times that students play in their youth and then take a break. Myself included, I took a hiatus for a year or so when I was 16 years old.

Yes YouTube is such as a fantastic platform to discover new things, it has fundamentally changed the way people look for information, guidance, teaching etc…

I think that’s a good thing Lori.

I encourage new students to simply copy the arrangements, note-for-note using the transcription as an aid if necessary.

Whilst this is not in the true spirit of jazz, it at least gets students playing jazzy sounding songs, and the full understanding will come with time.

For some time when I was starting out with jazz, I was playing things that I didn’t understand, I just knew that I liked the sound of them :grin:

Yes I remember you shared your musical space here: https://www.pianogroove.com/community/t/music-room-where-do-you-thrive/205/4

It looks like a lovely place to relax and immerse yourself in music!


(Gerald F Ahearn) #6

Hi! – My name is Jerry. I retired down here to Costa Rica almost 7 years ago and will be 72 in September. In terms of my formal background, I was a child of the 60’s and 70’s, moving from Boston, MA to Berkeley, CA and lived in many yoga institutes – and even a tree hut or two – over my 12 years there! From an educational standpoint, I have separate Master’s Degrees in British Poetry and Comparative Religion, and taught both Biblical Greek and tutored Hebrew at the graduate level. I also did work in Syriac, Aramaic and a bit of Coptic, as well as several years each of Pali, Sanskrit and Classical Chinese.
After grad school, I became a political activist for about 7 years in the area of human rights and domestic violence, spent several of those years playing classical guitar and riding my bicycle in the early mornings on a daily basis in the Berkeley Hills, as well as running a non-profit print shop. Around 38, I finally grew up, moved to NYC and eventually became a head estimator at Toppan Printing Company of America, Ltd out of Tokyo. At that point, I began to study ballroom dancing VERY intensively at night and on the week-ends in NYC with various regional, national and world champions from both Europe and the United States. It was lots of fun, with a steady mix of weekly socials, black-tie formal events, competitions and even an occasional evening or two each year at the famous Rainbow Room in Rockerfeller Plaza on their rotating dance floor! At age 53, I qualified as 3rd in the U.S. on the NDCA points circuit as an adult amateur in Rumba, Cha Cha, Samba, Merengue, Mambo, Foxtrot, Waltz, Viennese Waltz and American Tango. After that, I switched over to the International style and studied with several former world champions in Latin and Standard.
After retiring, and breaking my collarbone in a
boogie-board mishap at Manuel Antonio several years ago, I calmed down a bit and took up digital photography, Bb-Clarinet, Alto Sax and, more recently, Jazz Piano. Even though I speak moderately decent Spanish according to the Ticos, no one down here wants to play with a 71-year old “viejito”/gringo, so my goals are somewhat modest. I simply want to play solo piano Standards from the Big Band era fairly well as a hobbyist. At this point, I play Clarinet considerably better than Sax or Jazz Piano, have a repertoire of about 50 jazz and classical pieces, but feel that the next 6 months or so could really bring a BIG breakthrough on Jazz Piano. Hayden’s explanations are incredibly super-clear, I study 6 to 8 to 10 hours a day – no exaggeration – and Pianogroove certainly looks like the right place to expend/develop my creative energy!
By the way, I have a web site on Facebook that is totally dedicated to the natural beauty and cultural customs of Costa Rica. There are over 5,000 photos of orchids, exotic plants, animals, butterflies, hummingbirds, botanical gardens, parades, sunsets, volcanoes, cataracts, street graffiti, historical hotels., etc., etc. The site is totally “public” and strictly “non-commercial”. Feel free to enter, press the button for “photos”, and you will be taken to an area with about 95 albums that you can enjoy and share with your friends and relatives! Since there is another fellow on Facebook with the name of Jerry Ahearn, take a look at my Pianogroove photo first before trying to locate the site.
Well, that’s it in a nutshell and, as we say down here in Costa Rica – Pura Vida Siempre! – Jerry Ahearn


(Lori Nelson) #7

Wow you have accomplished so much! After seeing those photos, I better put Costa Rica on my bucket list.


(Hayden Hill) #8

That’s awesome Jerry! I’m always amazed by people who play multiple instruments… the piano keeps me busy enough!

I can see why you have such an interest in Latin styles with your extensive ballroom dancing experience. I just searched the “Rainbow Room”, I hadn’t heard of it before and it looks like one classy venue!

I visited the “Top Of The Rock” when I was in living in Brooklyn earlier this year. I rarely went into Manhattan in the daytime, as the jazz events are all at night time/early hours of the morning, but this was one exception when my girlfriend was visiting.

Here’s a snap I took at the top. I had no idea the building was also used for dancing events.


That’s real dedication Jerry. I have done the same at points in my life.

Make sure you spend at least 1 of those hours just listening to jazz. Making note of things you like in terms of solos, make note of little things you like such as melody embellishments, perhaps part of a solo etc…

Then spend as much time as you can transcribing the little things that you identified.

Transcription is hands-down the fastest way to improve. Even if you just did 30 minutes transcription per day, it would transform your playing in a year’s time.

For harmonic studies (chords, voicings, progressions etc… ) the PianoGroove video lessons and downloads will give you all you need.

But for improvisation, soloing, rhythm, developing a strong jazz feel etc… you must listen and transcribe.


Wow that’s the most colourful album I’ve ever laid eyes on. :star_struck:

Likewise @LoriNelson - I’d also love to visit Costa Rica!


Thanks for sharing Jerry… and as we have spoken about in other threads, Latin tutorial expansion is on my agenda so leave that with me :slight_smile:


(Hayden Hill) #9

Jerry where in Costa Rica are you?

According to TripAdvisor this bar in San Jose runs a jazz jam every Monday:

Again according to TripAdvisor, every Tuesday night, this bar runs a jazz jam night:

You should definitely call them to ensure the jams are running before heading down.


It funny, no matter where I have been in the world, I have always found live jazz and people to play with. Last year I spent a few months in Hanoi, Vietnam whilst I was saving to rebuild the PianoGroove website.

I found nightly live jazz music where I could get on stage and play myself. Here’s the bar. - really great place with talented local musicians.

You will be surprised Jerry… I think wherever you are in the world there will be jazz events going on. The music pervades most cultures and societies in some shape or form!

If you are interested in jazz jams, be sure to check out my upcoming course on “Playing In A Jazz Band”: Upcoming Course: Playing In A Jazz Band

This will give you all of the information you need to play in an ensemble setting. At 71, you have plenty of time to get comfortable with jazz jamming. A different skill entirely to playing solo piano, but just as enjoyable.

Perhaps you could even grace the stage with your Alto Sax!


(Gerald F Ahearn) #10

Hi Hayden! – The Rainbow Room at Rockerfeller Plaza was THE place for Fred Astaire and Swing Bands during their heyday. Now it has been purchased by private owners and no longer offers dancing to the general public. It used to cost $600.00 to $750.00 per couple per night (PLUS tip!) – a bit steep by any standards – but the food was excellent, the view spectacular – just like your photo – the memories unforgettable and the dancing superb in black-tie only to a 20-piece live Swing Band! I live in Escazu, Costa Rica and am aware of El Sotano in San Jose. Unfortunately, the events are usually late at night until the wee hours of the morning. My former Sax teacher invited me there once, but it’s not in a safe area at night and I would only dare to play my clarinet. There are some GREAT, high energy, 10-piece salsa bands and Sax quartets in the area. Charlie Rivera and his Son de Pueblo band feature Charlie’s very hot Latin Jazz trumpet. Madera Nueva plays excellent live Mambo/Salsa. The jazz venue in Escazu is also a well-known, late-night event and I am usually fast asleep by the time the place opens! Playing solo jazz piano is really a very good option for me. I’ve learned over the years that Costa Ricans don’t like it when you can dance their style better than they do or play and dance Latin rhythms fluently. I guess Gringos just aren’t supposed to do that! The same thing goes for my Facebook site. Late in 2016, Facebook told me that my site is among one of the most popular in the world for orchid viewing, but the Ticos who claim to appreciate orchids very seldom are willing to visit the site. Not to worry! I just do whatever I feel is best for me at my age and leave it at that! You cannot please everybody. Today, I gave my hands a rest and listened to Spotify and several of your piano Standards. I also watched several of your theory videos on UST’s and cluster voicings. Last night, I slowly worked through all the UST option formulas on the piano for Major, Minor and Dominant 7th chords using your UST cheat sheets. It all makes quite a bit of sense and sounds beautiful. I also like the “So What” and Herbie Hancock voicings, but find that my hands just are NOT large enough for the Kenny Barron chords! – there goes my last chance for jazz piano fame!
As far as pieces are concerned, “Tenderly”, “Tune Up”(my voicings!), “Autumn Leaves” (ballard style) and “These Foolish Things” are coming along just fine. Your web site truly is a great inspiration for me! – Pura Vida! – Jerry.


How To Learn Upper Structures
(Hayden Hill) #11

Awesome thanks for sharing all of this local knowledge Jerry.

I completely appreciate that the late night aspect of jazz jams can be a challenge.

When living in NYC, I had to recalibrate my body clock as the earliest you can perform at some jazz jams is 2am!


(Ana) #12

Hi Hyden.I, m psychoanalyst.I never had piano lessons. I learned read sheets and harmony here.When I was 6 years old my mother bought a grand piano to decorate our living room.I came back from school I sat at the piano and played. In a short time I got a good ear. I already played music with both hands. When I was 15 years old my mother sold the piano. I stayed many years without having piano and stopped playing. Last year I bought a small keyboard and I met piano groove by youtube . But I’ve always heard a lot of jazz and bossa nova.I’m from rio de janeiro and when tom jobim made it girl from ipanema I was 7 anos. So … i always listen bossa nova and samba.I have learned many with hyden. My favorite players are: Bill Evans, Keith Jarrett, Brad Mehldau, herbie hancock and mccoy tyner. My only pretension musical is to amuse myself when I get home from work. I love making voicings


(Hayden Hill) #13

That’s wonderful Ana. Having good ear skills is very important… particularly for jazz piano, so it’s great that you have developed that at a young age!

I am also a big fan of your favourite players! :slight_smile:


(Randy) #14

Hello, i am a student in china,and learned jazz for 2 years,i really like your teachings, i can’t use too much english,but i really want to thank you for your videos.i


(Hayden Hill) #15

Welcome Randy!

and thank you for the kind words :blush:

Great that you have been learning jazz for 2 years.

2 years is a good amount of time to understand the basics, like 251s, chord extensions, perhaps some altered harmony.

Here are some Intermediate level courses that I think you will enjoy:

Altered Harmony & Upper Structure Triads: https://www.pianogroove.com/jazz-piano-lessons/altered-harmony-upper-structure-triads/ - this is a nice area to study and it will make your dominant 7 chords sound rich and colourful.

Suspended Harmony: https://www.pianogroove.com/jazz-piano-lessons/chord-substitution-reharmonisation/ - another one of my favourite courses. Sus chords are fun to play!

I hope that you continue to enjoy the videos.

If you have any questions, I’m happy to help out :slightly_smiling_face:


(Scott Walker) #16

Hi. My name is Scott. I’m a vocalist in Canada [Toronto]. I was lucky enough to record an album with most of the Boss Brass many – many! – years ago. I continue to sing, usually in cabaret settings with piano and maybe bass. Not much of a pianist, but I like to write my own arrangements and find this course really helpful in creating charts for real piano players. Also, I would like to gradually get to the point where I can play to accompany myself now and then. http://www.scottwalker.ca


(Hayden Hill) #17

Hey Scott, I just checked out your site… you have a fantastic voice!

I think that’s a very realistic goal to learn to sing and play.

I’m sure you’ve already checked out Lyndol’s course on Accompanying Singers: https://www.pianogroove.com/jazz-piano-lessons/how-to-accompany-singers/ -

Much of what Lyndol plays when accompanying herself is basic triads and 7th chords. Sticking to these ‘pillars’ of the chord is the best place to start. Perhaps start by copying the way she voices and arpeggiates her chords. She uses lots of inversions.

We cover a number of useful exercises in the lesson on Triads, & the lesson on 7th Chords. You should add these exercises to your practice routine to get comfortable visualising these important chord structures.

Both of those lessons are in the Foundations Course: https://www.pianogroove.com/jazz-piano-lessons/jazz-piano-foundations/

I think you will feel a lot of freedom to accompany yourself once you can invert and arpeggiate triads and 7th chords in all 12 keys.

Thanks for introducing yourself and if I can help with anything you’re working on, just let me know :sunglasses:


(Scott Walker) #18

HI, Hayden:

Thank you for the quick response; and the compliment. ALWAYS appreciated.

I have checked out Lyndol’s course. But your site is kind of like an all-you-can-eat buffet. I want a bit of everything. I just went through your Herbie Hancock m11 video. Love that sound! Want to do it.

Also loved the chart on MIsty. The 13th voicings are superb. Love to do that.

I know inversions and can play them pretty well. It’s adding movement to the playing – arpeggiating, I guess, so I’m not just plunking out the chords – that I find a challenge.

I want to become a better player by taking advantage of all the things your site offers. But how to start? Where to begin? What path to follow? Those are the things I find challenging.

Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

Cheers,
Scott


(Hayden Hill) #19

My pleasure Scott… I’m happy to help out.

haha that’s a nice analogy :grin:

Understood.

Firstly, most of the material is geared towards solo piano performance, and so whilst this is great for playing on your own, much of it will not be transferable to accompanying yourself. This shouldn’t dishearten you, just understand that much of the techniques are suited to this setting… playing solo.

You also have a lot more freedom in this setting to change the harmony, add in lots of the rich voicings and substitutions I teach. Whereas, when accompanying yourself, you should focus on the core pillars of the chord - just as Lyndol advocates in her brilliant lessons.

What I’m going to do Scott…

Give me a day or so and I will create some separate threads in the forum that give students a ‘road map’ to work through the material.

I do often send this out to new students, but it would be nice to have it all in one place so it can be accessed and referenced at any time.

I’ll notify you when it’s done. Cheers!


(Scott Walker) #20

Thanks again, Hayden. A road map would be great.
Scott