the hard point is we have a lot of things to learn, even for such a good classical musician like you matthijs
And i think some basics must be mastered too , to be able to free our right hand ,one of the most important is the rootless chords and it is great covered here in the beginner course, but triads scales too.
I have create a topic where we could post our progress and give us some easy challenge to keep us improving all days. Please i really appreciate if i not stay alone … Lets create a practice group! Waiting you fellow musicians !
I had more ideas yesterday, I think we definitely go ahead with a new forum category for the practice routines.
We can add some programming to the forum which allows us to vote, or “thumbs up” an entire thread, not just a post within the thread. This functionality would just be on the forum category for practice routines.
This means that we can have a huge list of practice routines, submitted by both our teachers and our students, and then the community can “thumb them up” so that the most useful ones appear at the top of the page, along with the amounts of “thumbs up” they have received.
I will be driving this initiative forward:
This week I will have completed the practice routines and tutorials on the following 2 courses:
Firstly, the course on Extended Chords & Voicings:
and secondly, the course on Mastering Left Hand Rootless Voicings:
My name is Christian, and I just got my PianoGrove Pro membership. I also just got my first piano–a beautiful digital Yamaha that I can’t wait to get started with. I’ve spent a lot of time deciding on whether to make the investment in learning jazz piano, and I’ll be honest: I don’t know that I would have without PianoGroove as a resource. There’s a real sense of both substance and progression to the lessons presented here that doesn’t seemed matched by other websites on jazz piano. So thank you, Hayden, for creating this site!
My Professional Background
I’m currently a graduate student working on obtaining my PhD in Plant Biology in California. I previously got my B.S. in Molecular Genetics in New York and have been in California pursuing my graduate degree for a little over two years. I do research on fruit ripening and the nasty pathogens that make our fruit moldy. Not entirely sure what I’ll be doing with my PhD once I graduate, but that’s another matter.
My Musical Background
I spent a lot of my childhood being sort of a jack of all trades in terms of being a musician. I did take piano lessons for a few years as a kid (maybe from the ages of 9-11), but I never connected with it back then, and I abandoned it when my lessons teacher moved and I wasn’t fond of the replacement.
When I was 11 I took up viola as part of school, and played in my school orchestras up through my senior year of high school. I enjoyed it quite a bit, especially in the last few years of high school when I was playing in our symphony orchestra and had the awesome opportunity to perform with that orchestra at Carnegie Hall, which was incredible. But I never really committed to that instrument either, and I never spent time developing it as a skill. When I graduated high school, I didn’t stick with it.
I spent a few years (maybe ages 11-14) taking weekly half-hour drum lessons. As with viola and piano, I didn’t have the self-discipline to really commit myself to the instrument and hone my skill. I rarely did much practicing and never really had the opportunity to perform as a drummer, save for some opportunities in middle school when my orchestra director decided he wanted me on a snare drum part in a couple of the pieces. However, my drum lessons did provide me with (I think) a really great sense of rhythm which I’ve managed to keep. And, more importantly for this forum, it was also my first exposure to jazz. My teacher was an amateur jazz drummer who tried to get me to appreciate jazz, though at the time my musical tastes were really budding and were mostly focused on classic, alternative, and indie rock genres, so I wasn’t entirely receptive. Still, I took and enjoyed the two jazz albums he gave me: one Art Blakey CD, and one Wes Montgomery CD.
Lastly, I’m also a (mostly) self-taught guitarist, though not a very good one. In my senior year of college I did buy a classical guitar and took a class which was wonderful, but I haven’t maintained my skill in it.
My Favourite Jazz Musicians/Albums
It’s only been recently that I’ve really taken a much greater dive into jazz and different jazz musicians. I’m still learning and exploring, but I’ll list some of my favorite artists here, as well as the albums (I’m a pretty album-oriented listener) of theirs that I’m particularly fond of:
• Bill Evans (Waltz for Debby)
• Miles Davis (In A Silent Way, Kind of Blue)
• John Coltrane (Giant Steps)
• Keith Jarrett (Facing You)
• Kamasi Washington (Harmony of Differences EP)
• Pat Metheny (Bright Size Life)
• piano (particularly in trio or solo contexts)
• saxophone (Coltrane and Stan Getz are my current favorites)
My Current Musical Goals & Aspirations
There’s a lot to reflect on here. I’m interested in learning to play jazz piano for a few different reasons. First and foremost, I should say that I’m doing it largely for myself–though this could change in the future, I don’t have goals to play in an ensemble or book any gigs. I simply want to connect with the piano and with jazz and deeply hone that skill. A large part of it is leveraging the learning of jazz piano to improve myself as a listener of jazz and of music in general. I’d like to develop a solid understanding of music theory and express that by both learning to play jazz piano and learning to hear things in music I haven’t been able to hear before.
A large part of this is also proving to myself that I can maintain dedication to learning an instrument. As I’ve mentioned, I’ve spent a lot of time playing instruments, but not a lot of time caring about that playing. I’ve frequently worried that I missed my opportunity as a child to really develop that skill. But I think I’ve come to realize that the old cliche is true: it’s never too late.
In more concrete terms, there are specific pieces I’d actually love to learn to eventually play, and I’ve kind of sorted them out in my head both as goals and also gauges of my skill level (despite not really knowing what sorts of skills they require). I’d also really love to improve my listening skills and be able to transcribe pretty freely. Those two goals probably go hand in hand.
Lastly, though I’ll admit it intimidates me right now, I’d like to learn some improvisational skills. Part of my appreciation for jazz as a genre is just how fluid and malleable it is between music written on a page and what actually gets made during any given performance. (I think it really dawned on me just how much freedom there is in jazz performance when I saw Chick Corea a couple months ago.) Being mostly familiar with playing classical music, which is much more restrictive in comparison, this really intrigues me, but also scares me a little bit. Hopefully in time it will become a much more manageable challenge.
I feel like I’ve been carrying on, so that’s all I’ll say for now. I’m incredibly excited to start my jazz piano journey with PianoGroove. Thanks again!
Apart from all your goals and aspirations, more than anything I congratulate you on having enough time and energy as a grad student to even consider starting this course. I gave up music many years ago when I started graduate studies, and now many years later I’m just returning to it.
Thanks for this wonderful introduction, I’m always intrigued by our students backgrounds and it’s a joy to read them so thanks for sharing. Your academic/professional background sounds like a fascinating area of study.
Firstly, it’s my pleasure in creating this course, and I also must credit our other fantastic teachers too. It’s been a joy to see how nicely the different sections of the site tie into each other because so much of the theory is interrelated.
I was having a good chat with @anon84688975 last week about our plans to introduce a Funk side to the syllabus and we were chatting about the reasoning behind it and how it ties in and complements what we already have here.
It’s kind of like joining the dots together between all these genres of improvised music, and having the beginner/intermediate jazz lessons as the central pillar, or the foundations from which we can expand into these genres.
Anyhow, onto your musical background…
Any and all previous musical experience - particularly piano studies - will be an asset. Whether that’s in the form of reading musical notation, dexterity on the keyboard, development of a musical ear, just to name a few… It’s all great experience to have as we start our journey exploring the vast world of jazz.
Wow that must have been a wonderful experience… I imagine that would help with stage fright too!
I’ve heard from many musicians that drumming and piano complement each other beautifully. Again i think that will be a huge asset to you Christian.
I view the piano as a percussion instrument. Ultimately, the piano keyboard is 88 finely-tuned drums, and in that sense, as pianists, we should practice the piano with the same diligence that a drummer practices their rudiments.
Now this is easier said than done, when I started with jazz, I must admit that I found it hard not to ‘indulge’ in the colours and textures that the piano can create, whilst paying very little attention to the rhythmic aspect of my playing.
However, I don’t regret this, I believe this focus - or ‘indulgence’ in harmony - has allowed me to teach harmonic topics effectively, but now I’m going back to playing with a metronome as much as possible, playing with iRealPro, playing along with records… all with the goal to develop my rhythmic awareness.
If hypothetically i started over with learning jazz, I would certainly devote more time to the rhythmic aspect of my playing. Hope that helps.
Onto your musician/instrument list:
That’s a really nice mix of inspirations and also instruments. There’s lots of different jazz eras/styles/movements within your musician list which will give you a broad pool of inspiration to study from.
As I’m sure you know, you can learn so much from other instruments.
Horn instrumentalists as an example, they have to stop to breath, and so that creates such a natural sense of phrasing in their playing. There is a concept with taking a jazz piano solo, where you release the air from your lungs as you are improvising, and then pause whilst you breath in. It’s very easy to ‘over play’ when soloing on the piano which can be detrimental to the overall result of the solo. Space allows your improvised ideas to breath, and sink in, and then I often try to listen for a response to my previous idea.
Listening and transcribing from horn players is a wonderful way to develop your sense of phrasing. And how effective it is to leave space.
Finally, your musical goals and aspirations:
I think you have picked the right instrument for this.
There is no other instrument which gives you such a linear and clear visualisation of the keys/scales. I studied with a very talented guitarist briefly a number of years ago, and he had a piano in his house and he said the same, it’s simply a wonderful instrument to visualise music.
With other commitments it can be a challenge.
Here’s some things I found to be effective and that I would recommend to you:
With other commitments such as work or school, I always tried to wake up a little earlier and hit the piano whilst my brain was fresh. Even if it’s just for half an hour or so.
Check out our practice routines, this is the first one and the key is to split your practice time into small chunks perhaps even a few minutes on each if you are limited for time, and that way you are covering a lot of different topics in 1 sitting.
Try to stick to the same routine each day in terms of the time your practice. For example, an hour in the morning, and an hour in the evening would be perfectly adequate amount of time to see real and substantial improvement over the space of 6 months.
The practice plan series is a key priority for me at the moment, and it’s what I’m working on delivering. You can see more in the Practice Inspiration Section of the forum.
Yes transcription is such a vital element of learning jazz. Check out this recent lesson i put together and again this is a key area for my teachings over 2019.
I’d recommend starting with the 12 bar blues, just because it’s simple to follow and gauge where you are in the form.
Transcription is very difficult to begin with, but it gets easier and easier the more you do it. I did also put together a course on transcription, the first lessons were made years ago and so my own transcription abilities have improved a lot since then, and hopefully the material covered will give you some insight into my journey to becoming more competent at transcription:
Transcription - in my opinion and many others - is the key to learning to improvise.
There is so much information in a single recording that cannot be expressed on paper - or in a video tutorial for that matter. The touch, the feel, the syncopation, the dynamics and other nuances etc… listening and emulating is the only way to truly absorb these vital elements of the music.
For your practice time Christian, follow our practice plan PDFs for the following 2 courses:
and also ensure that you are dedicating a small chunk of every practice session to transcribing, and working out something with your ears.
Don’t be put off by slow progress with transcription… it’s difficulty, but extremely liberating and rewarding once you get the ball rolling with it. Literally any record you like, you can study it and it will mould and sculpt the direction of your own sound.
If I can help you with anything you’re working on, just let me know.
yes nice idea this breathing concept Hayden , even it is so simple i’ve never done it . But easy things often the hardest to apply. … and it should help having some overview of what we are playing… often so many things in mind when trying to improvise … even no time for breathing
Hey @TactfulCactus - welcome! Great to hear about your background. Another Chick Corea fan here too!
I started learning from scratch as an adult without any musical background as a kid, and for me just having some time daily to absorb something that will help me or develop my ear is good enough - and I say that as someone who went through a phase of really pushing myself to produce. And I’ve had a great time learning more on here, so I’d really like to hear what you’d want to share in the ‘what I’m listening to’ thread: What Record Are You Listening To Today?
Thanks for the terrific welcome, everyone! I really appreciate all your input and support. @Hayden, thanks for the thorough response. I’ll be keeping all that information in mind as I proceed through my PianoGroove education.
@anon84688975, it’s really good to hear that someone else has had the “adult beginner” experience. I’ve been listening to quite a lot of good records lately, so I’ll be sure to contribute to that topic soon.
Thanks again! I hope to get to know everyone through these forums soon enough!
Dr. Dean Bard 69 years young Retired Emergency Physician Played piano age 7 to 18 then off to College etc. Bought a grand piano 5+ years ago and relearned all over. Joined a classical piano private school and studied 3 years advancing to intermediate + level. Completed a 3 year chord based piano course to get away from being tied to the music score. Piano Groove seems to be exactly what I’ve been searching for. I just started with the Beginner lessons to learn the Jazz basics and theory. I have been arranging from a melody line and chord notation but not in a jazz theory style. I play almost every morning 2-4 hours and I don’t know where the time goes. Very delighted with this new approach. Looking forward to playing each day. Any help, advice etc. is always appreciated. I will try to post a picture. I have all my music on I-Pad with Air Turn to advance the pages. Your video lessons seem straight forward and easy to understand.
I am 62 years old and I am now retired.
I am french and I live around Paris
I learned piano classical music during about 10 years but with some interruption . And my last classical piece was a chopin waltz not too complicated.
I have real time to practice jazz piano now and to explore your website.
My goal is to play some jazz standards and improvise in all styles (bossa nova, blues, jazz).
I would to constitute a little repertoire and playing it in front of my family, or playing in a band…Why Not ?
I don’t listen enough jazz. I I would like help to make a little program to listen the main jazz standards during the year.
What are the first main recordings to listen in jazz ? May be, you can make me a list of the best recordings.
Soon, I am going to learn also chromatic harmonica. It is my favorite instrument after the piano, of course.
I know now , Hayden, that you start soon your own quartet. But, please, don’t give up your website. We need your advices and your new lessons.
Welcome aboard the Groove train @dr1 I’m Dan, the Video specialist for PianoGroove, glad to have someone of your level join. I will be floating around capturing collaborative PianoGrooves like the following from @Lyndol and @Hayden…
Let me know if there’s anything I can help you with
I’m David from Vancouver, Canada.
I used to play the piano in high school jazz band back in late 80’s and early 90’s.
I learned to read sheet music note by note but I never learned to play by ear or
learn chords beyond the very basics (C, Cm, C7… and likes).
Never really grasped aug/dim, and other more complex chords).
Since I graduated from high school, there hasn’t been much attempts to improve my piano.
Carried on with my life, but I would always appreciated listening to good jazz artists,
as I grew up listening to a lot of smooth jazz / GRP-labeled cassettes and CDs.
My favorite artists are Jeff Lorber, David Benoit, Rippingtons, Joe Sample, & Hisaishi Joe.
Now, I’m taking a mini sabbatical and I finally have time to work on my skills.
Here’s where I am today (without any sheet music, and without any practice…) https://youtu.be/syYuEzqfqmU
but I’d like to be able to play a full hour of jazz music at a local bar I frequently visit.
It’d be nice if I could achieve it by coming Christmas.
I’m now reviewing Jazz Piano Foundations, and to be honest,
I find it a bit boring just to go over music theory.
I think I do okay in simple scales (C, D, G, maybe E), but not really motivated to
learn my chord positions for more complex scales.
I’m not sure if mechanically following the chord progressions and positions will
improve my skills or motivate me to move forward, either.
If I can commit 45-60 minutes each day on practicing my piano skills,
how would you recommend that I spend my time for the next 3 months?
PS. I don’t have the perfect pitch,
and I always wondered if it’s a skill that can be mastered by practice.