A basic understanding of keys, scales and chords is highly recommended, though not required, before beginning study in jazz piano. I am very supportive of traditional piano instruction rooted in the classical music styles of the common practice period (approximately 1700-1900 and found in the music of Bach, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Chopin, Brahms to name a few). In fact, to become a competent jazz pianist I firmly believe that it is essential to have some background in traditional piano instruction.
However, I enjoy teaching ANYONE with a desire to learn more about the jazz idiom and have taught both beginners and musicians who play other instruments.
Great jazz musicians have a deep understanding of music theory and have mastered the melodic, harmonic, rhythmic and formal components of music. My approach is rooted in exploring each of these concepts individually, then showing how each of these components work together to create meaning in musical expression. My instruction generally follows this course and is individually tailored to the students level of understanding:
- Overview of the four primary components of music (melody, rhythm, harmony and form).
- Guided listening of great jazz performances and analyzing how each of these components unfold within a song.
- Learning specific songs correctly and understanding how each of the four components come together within a given song.
- Music theory instruction: Intervals, major and minor scales, the circle of fifths. triads, seventh chords, connecting chords (voice leading), rhythmic units (whole note, half note, quarter note, eighth note), and other aspects of the “stuff” of music.
- Drills that improve a student’s technical facility (scale drills, melodic and harmonic “ii-V-I” drills, timing drills, “touch” drills, etc.).
- Notation and the basics of writing music
- Ear training, listen and repeat, tone rows and learning songs by ear
- Using a metronome. VERY important!
- IMPROVISATION: Taking what is learned above and applying it to the heart of jazz
Finally, the most important part of studying with me is this: It should be an enjoyable experience! I want my students to really have fun with music and become better at expressing themselves musically. I want students to genuinely love the practice of music and not find it tedious or boring and I will tailor my instruction to that end. The only thing I require from my students is that they have the self-discipline to practice and show up to my lessons at the scheduled time. With regard to practice, any amount of time practicing, no matter how long, is time well spent. It isn’t so much about the QUANTITY of practice, but the QUALITY. I will show you ways to maximize your time so that all you practice sessions are of the highest quality.
Lastly, I love all types of music: jazz, classical, country, metal, hip hop, remix, alternative...you name it. I have personally played all types of music and to me, ANY type of music that conveys truth is great music. Understanding the structural elements of music will make anyone a better musician regardless of the idiom, and learning how to play jazz is a great way to get better at any type of music!