Introduce Yourself Here! 🌎

(Hayden Hill) #21

@scott32627 - I’ve published a Beginner Syllabus / Roadmap here:

I will do the same for Intermediate, Advanced, Improv & Blues… we have more Improv & Blues courses in the pipeline.

(James Lambie) #22

My name is Jamie and I live in the often very soggy (but very picturesque) Scottish Borders in the UK - just down the road from Edinburgh and the Lothians, which is where I was born and brought up. I guess my route into being interested in learning jazz is a slightly convoluted one, but I’m really enjoying the learning and skills I’ve been picking up since joining PianoGroove.

I was a kid in the late 70s/early 80s when the landscape of popular music seemed really rich and diverse - I count ,myself lucky to have been young enough at that time to be receptive to the undercurrents and influences of jazz, soul and blues in the music that was in the public ears at the time, especially with jazz-funk like the Crusaders, Spyro Gyra and George Benson, and blues-soaked rock like Steely Dan, not to mention more complex disco/soul from the likes of Chic and Earth, Wind & Fire. I had thus started a very prolific record-buying career before I was in double figures! By the time I was in my 20s, many of these influences had started to resurface in the guise of Acid Jazz and, as the 2000s rolled around, to broken beat and electronica (with a big resurgence of disco within house music, and jazz within ‘deep house’). Around this time I was living and working in London for a few years and started DJ’ing in bars, mainly causally and through friends - but of jazz/funk, soul and so-called ‘rare groove’. The cultural melting pot there was a great context for my developing musical interests at the time.

Life otherwise got in the way after this and it was about 3yrs ago I rediscovered my DJ’ing side through the many opportunities offered online! I tried my hand at creating re-edits of favourite songs but with copyright issues it quickly became obviously difficult to do much with this - so I ended up trying my hand at making my own music. Despite being a keen listener from a young age, I hadn’t learned to play an instrument or learn music (other than learning the guitar in my 20s), so I used to draw in notes and chords in my music software (Ableton Live) without being able to actually play. One main thing to learn at this time? There is a whole lot of very bad advice for producer/musicians out there! Thankfully, I learned through listening to bad advice and making mistakes. I ended up making two albums within a year and releasing them via Bandcamp - but they weren’t very good, completely bombed and to be honest I worked myself very hard and very unhealthily into a not very good place. After this, I had decided to try learning to read music and to actually play my MIDI keyboard! I had a fair grasp already of extended harmony and what I was trying to do but since joining PianoGroove I feel I’ve learned so much. To now be at the point where I’m picking up techniques and instinctively playing some improv is something I’m incredibly grateful to PianoGroove for. Another big part of the last year or so for me has been ear training - I would absolutely recommend doing this to anyone. Even now I try to do some form of ear training daily. So for now I’m working my way through the elements here that I feel are going to help me musically and connect me more and more to the elements I want to recreate when I get to the point where I’m ready to try making my own material again. I firmly believe that the aspects of music that resonate with you do this for a reason - and to be able to enjoy and explore the diversity of this is one of life’s biggest gifts. I do hope to get to the point where I can complete more of my own material: I also had vocal coaching and was focusing on lyric writing last year, but a period of ill-health intervened and to be honest, I really felt I’d lost my mojo and felt disheartened after this, so I’m travelling the more leisurely and scenic (not to mention realistic and pragmatic!) route now. But to be able to have learned jazz forms and even approaches like rootless voicings and voice leading really have opened up my understanding about how some things work musically the way they do. So again I’m very grateful for what I’ve been learning on here.

I work full-time and am also a nurse practitioner (hello Lori!) in Edinburgh, working with a small GP practice which has a distinctly older clientele, so while my focus in on independent management of long-term conditions (mainly heart disease, diabetes and their various related sub-conditions) I’m really enjoying the learning of how to look after these things and the implications of health and ill-health in an ‘ageing’ context - and how decisions are made within this. I’m also leading a piece of work involving optimising the physical health of older drug users in Edinburgh - I’d worked for 5yrs in a service that provided healthcare for those in homelessness, which taught me so much about empathy and compassion as well as dysfunction and trauma - but it also taught me much about myself and my limitations and values - cliched, but it was life-changing stuff in a sense. So that is obviously great preparation for this piece of work. In the odd few minutes of spare time there I’m often to be found trying to work out pieces of music by ear!

So - I’m keeping going with what I’m learning on here. While it’s good to have an overall aim musically, I firmly believe in the value of keeping flexible and open to the need to either intensify your specific focus but also to change it completely if needs be.

Thanks for having me here! :smiley:

(Lori Nelson) #23

Wow! What a bunch of hip and groovy people in our PianoGroove community! Thanks James

(Lori Nelson) #24

Wow. Great singer, you!!

(James Lambie) #25

Thank you though Lori! :smiley:

(Hayden Hill) #26

Interesting story James, I enjoyed reading. Your work as a practitioner and working with homelessness sounds very rewarding!

Some really great tips/guidance on the importance of listening/ear training. Make note of this anyone reading! :grinning:

From seeing your wonderful posts around the forum, it’s always been very evident that you are a big listener. It’s the one thing I wish I put more time into earlier on in my pursuit to learn and master jazz.

Similar to yourself, a day rarely goes by when I don’t use Transcribe to analyse my favourite recordings. I’ll be sharing more on this in my upcoming course.

Yep that must have been awesome… such a great period of music to draw inspiration from.

Funny that you also mention Acid Jazz… I was a big fan of the French musician St Germain when growing up. His records are the fusion of House Music and Jazz and I really resonated with it at the time.

He has a very playful improvisation style in his solos which piqued my interest in jazzy chords and progressions, blues scales, pentatonic scales etc… I then wandered into the jazz idiom and never looked back.

Finally, it's really great to hear about your progress from PianoGroove... it makes me really happy to hear that!

I’ve been enjoying branching out the platform with other talented musicians this year. I’m aware of my own limitations as a musician/teacher and I find it incredibly rewarding to have met talented jazz musicians who are also into the ethos of PianoGroove and want to get involved.


(James Lambie) #27

Thanks for your reply Hayden and encouragement! :smiley:

I honestly cannot state enough how much I have both learned from this over the past year, but also how much I have enjoyed it. It feels weird at first to be so ‘clinically’ breaking music down, but once it clicks it is so awesome - especially when you just hear a song somewhere and instinctively know what scale degrees the notes are and what chord progression it is using. However, it really does take time and practice (at first I would get 90% of the exercises wrong, then gradually - over months - get to the point of getting them all - or most of them - right). If I can do this, anyone can…!

I do have a couple of recommendations for sources I’ve used, and would be happy to share, but I’m not sure how appropriate this might be, especially as you are also going to be covering transcription.

I need to investigate this, it looks good at first glance. I tend to use iOS-friendly apps so I can practice on the go. I actually like Capo which, as the name suggests, is a guitar based transcriber - with much of the same functionality as Transcribe, by the looks of things. You can section off a song, slow it down, isolate parts for closer listening, transpose etc. It does have a chord ‘guesser’ but as you can imagine, is often very inaccurate. A plus point is you can add corrected chords on the time line of the song’s sections. Another useful tool is Anytune Pro, similar to Capo but without the ability to add chords so you can see them on the timeline - although it has some advantages otherwise compared to Capo - swings and roundabouts. I also - if I get really stuck - load the file into Ableton Live and covert the relevant part into Midi and pick things out there. So all in all it sounds like I’m using the constituent parts of Transcribe!

The main drawback doing this on the go is not having a keyboard with you to explore the harmony as you go along. It’s not quite the same having to switch from whichever app to Garageband to use its keyboard - by which time even a few seconds can make your memory trick you!

I think an interesting part of transcribing is when you see there can be more than one interpretation or option within the harmony, and ultimately you can choose to follow the one that works best for your voice leading and style - which I guess is where reharmonisation comes in.

Anyhow, definitely, definitely recommend ear training and transcribing.

(Hayden Hill) #28

Yes, that’s very similar to my own experiences James… I found transcription extremely difficult to begin with. However, the more I focused on it, the easier it became. I can now listen to any improvised solo and pick things out immediately which is a great feeling!

I guess that’s one limitation of Transcribe… it isn’t iOS-friendly.

The interface looks clunky and archaic, but I find it very fit-for-purpose and easy to loop and manipulate the recordings I’m working with. We’ll be using it in my upcoming course.

Thanks for the tips with Capo and Anytune Pro… I’ll check them out when I get a second.


(James Lambie) #29

Thanks Hayden - with a little tweaking of my workflow I could accommodate Transcribe as well - Capo and Anytune Pro, as handy as they are, look to be a little lacking versus Transcribe. And if you are using it in your course, that’s a plus too. I see what you mean - it’s not winning any prizes for design slickness! :grin:

(Moritz Gekeler) #30


my name is Moritz Gekeler. I am German, but I live in New Delhi, India, since 2015. My wife and I came here, because of her job: she is currently working at the German Embassy here. I work as a consultant for creative problem solving and an approach towards innovation called design thinking. This work keeps me traveling quite a bit, therefore I was super happy to find this platform, which enables me to learn piano at my own speed.

When I was a kid, I played classical piano from the age of 5 until 15 or so. My first teacher was super strict: she would hold a book over my hands in order to force me to look at the score instead of my hands. The problem was as my grandmother said: I am a little dyslectic when it comes to score reading. So instead of looking at the score, I watched my fingers in the “mirror” of her black grand piano… My second teacher was good: he made me play things like Rhapsody in Blue, but he had other problems, so I switched again and found a teach who was supposed to teach me Jazz. By the time I started, I had already gotten into puberty, so there was no way, I would learn chords by heart for fun.

So now, I’ll make my fourth attempt: 23 years later. I am very much lokking forward to it.


(Hayden Hill) #31

Welcome Moritz!

It’s nice to hear that PianoGroove allows you to study jazz whilst travelling. That’s awesome! :smiley:

It’s also great that you studied classical piano from such a young age… the finger strength and dexterity will certainly help you in your pursuit to learn jazz piano.

I understand about classical piano training being “strict”. You have a lot more freedom in jazz piano to interpret the music exactly how you want to… chords, the melody, even entire songs, you can make it your own which is nice.

This is what attracted me to playing jazz, there’s much more freedom of expression!

We recently documented the “Beginner Roadmap” for students, check it out here:

The jazz standards and courses covered in that thread are the first ones that students should work through.

If you do want to play a particular song or learn a particular topic that is more advanced, absolutely go and check it out, but you should spend some time to watch the beginner material to make sure that you understand the basics.

Again welcome to PianoGroove… great to have your onboard :sunglasses:

(Lori Nelson) #32

wow, I am always sorry to hear childhood piano experiences like that.
you totally deserve the most FUN and FREEDOM based piano experience from here on out.
Dive in and enjoy this and DO NOT over-structure or overanalyze this program, and do not entertain self criticism. just have fun!!!
I have learned to play so much better in spite of not feeling like I “get” the theory, just by learning and playing the jazz ballads. Hayden has this amazing way to sneak that understanding and knowledge into our brains just by having fun and learning a song.

(Hayden Hill) #33

Brilliant tips and insight Lori, thanks for sharing :+1:

As you say, the key is to enjoy the journey and enjoy playing the jazz standards… this is all supposed to be fun after all! :grin:

(Moritz Gekeler) #34

Hi Lori, thanks also from my side. Yes, I realize that, even though it is somewhat frustrating to sit on a simple piece like tune up for such a long time… But I am getting there. The good thing is, even though I don’t do super-heavy practicing, slowly slowly, I feel the chords coming a little easier. I am looking forward to graduating to the next song. :wink:

(Hayden Hill) #35

You can be working on multiple jazz standards at the same time Moritz.

You will always be working on these tunes, always adding to them when you learn new theory.

So I’d recommend you try to play some others too.

Also check this out Moritz: - this is the next step of your jazz education where you are leaning from recordings based on the sounds you like.

Exciting! :sunglasses:


(Moritz Gekeler) #36

Thanks, Hayden. That is great advice. I will do that. I still feel a little overwhelmed by all the theory, but at the same time I see light at the end of the tunnel. Slowly slowly, I am understanding more and learning the scales, chords etc.

I like the idea of listening to one song for a week in all available versions. I used to create Mix Tapes or CDs of just one song in different versions during my university times :wink:

(Hayden Hill) #37

A post was merged into an existing topic: From lessons to lead sheet

(Michael J Albanese) #38


My name is Michael Albanese and I joined piano groove a few days back taking the full year membership up front. I must say I was captivated by your breakdown of My Funny Valentine, Attaining both an advanced view of the piece while still being digestible for a mid range student such as myself, is truly a gift of teaching. I love herbie hancock btw…

I spent over 25 years writing software (of all kinds) here in san jose california. My last gig was a startup that got purchased by Cisco, so I spent 6 years writing insane router operating system software. For the sake of my sanity I had to leave…

I’ve taken numerous music theory courses, both in person and quite a few at Berklee online. My knowledge of theory is fairly well along, however my playing has a ways to go to catch up. I just restarted piano lessons with a live teacher. I have been learning piano for around 14yrs now.

Ironically one of the first tunes my teacher presented was My Funny Valentine…hence my paths somehow (and very happily) have crossed with PianoGroove.

I’m the new kid on the block so a bit clumsy here, but I have had no success in adding a profile photo. Every time I go to the dashboard and click to add, it takes me to a page that says ‘this is now private’. Not sure if its an extra special place only the invited are allowed, but I see others have their photos so it surly is possible.

take care and I look forward to a steady diet of great content,

(Hayden Hill) #39

Welcome to the PianoGroove community Michael!

Thanks for the kind words, I try to make my own tutorials as accessible as possible, and so it’s great to hear such feedback!

Interesting… It must be a wonderful experience writing software in the Bay Area, so many of the big tech firms are based there!

I always find jazz piano study to be relaxing and a nice ‘release’ from the more stressful aspects of life… I hope you can get the same enjoyment from the PianoGroove course :slightly_smiling_face:

14 years is a good amount of time to have studied piano. Jazz offers its own challenges, particularly when moving over from classical studies, but any and all previous piano experience will be an asset to you.

Great that you are studying with an in-person teacher too… many other PianoGroove students do this and they find it to be an effective combination. It’s always nice to be able to run over a topic or concept with someone in person, and different views and perspectives can help with those “ah-ha” moments.

The focus of this year is to expand our teacher base so that we can also offer a selection of different teaching styles and approaches directly within PianoGroove.

It sounds like an error.

There are not any extra special places… all areas of the forum are available to all students.

I will send you an email shortly with some instruction and we can figure out what the problem is.

A very warm welcome again Michael, if I can help with anything you’re working on, don’t hesitate to ask.

ps. You can also find some common theory Q&As in this section of the forum: - these are common questions from students that I have reposted here for everyone to benefit from.

(Luciano Aita) #40

Hi to every one,
for me it is a real pleasure to share with you feelings and ideas about the progress we are making in this course. This morning I wanted to ask the teacher for assistance and to have an opinion on a take included in his educational program. So he invited me to share it with all of you, with the idea that even a simple listening, could arouse a greater stimulus and improve our goals, thanks