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#1281589 - 10/06/09 05:34 AM So nearly a year with a jazz piano teacher  
Joined: Jun 2007
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simon288 Offline
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london
Hello PW doodes and dudettes,

After seeing the numerous posts on teacher vs self taught over the last few months I thought I would post my experiences for anyone that's interested! smile

I started out wanting to learn to play nice jazz/gospel style chords and movements to use in my own music. I tried books, DVDs, endless hours scouring youtube, trying to figure out stuff on my own and hardly learnt anything of real value.

I had been teaching myself for about a year and a half and had 2 short term piano teachers who were useless, just wanting me to learn pieces out of jazz books rather than teaching what chords are in those books and why they work. Both teachers where at grade 6 (uk) and where teaching while going to music college themselves (so it was a bit of extra cash for them rather than a profession).

After a long time feeling as though I wasn't getting anywhere on my own I took the plunge and found a proper (albeit expensive) jazz piano teacher. My first lesson he asked me to just play something which I did using some of my pretty chords I like to play. He then asked me to tell him every chord I just played and I couldn't, it turns out they where just inversions some using sharp 11s or flat 5s or whatever I had copied from youtube but I hadn't learnt them properly from the ground up.

Then came months of theory getting all the basics under my belt. Learning to split chords up in 2 hands and playing melody on top, moving through circle of 5ths, playing movements in many different ways and inversions so I don't just play chords the same way every time. We are now on diminished moves and whole tone scales/chords in fact I couldn't even write down a years worth of what we've been covering, it's hard work and full on, my brain feels like it's ready to melt after each lesson!

Anyway my point is if I had carried on trying to learn on my own it would of led to a lot of confusion and wasting time rather than the structure and the "pushing you out of your comfort zone so you keep progressing" that a good teacher brings.

Everyone is different though and maybe some are a bit more smart at what they choose to learn on there own but for me being with a teacher who can look at what you're doing and steer you away from bad habits must be the best way to learn.

Right now I'm gonna attempt to catch up with what's been happening in the Autumn Leaves thread, cripes its grown massive!


Bill Evans spoke of the "universal mind" that exists in all people, if they can learn to think in the language that the universal mind uses -- a musical language that remains alive and well today, still scintillating, still expanding, still showing those who can hear it the depths of ecstasy and pain and life and love.
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#1281626 - 10/06/09 08:02 AM Re: So nearly a year with a jazz piano teacher [Re: simon288]  
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Manndrew Offline
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Simon,

It sounds to me like you made a very wise decision in starting jazz lessons. I'm curious as to how often you have lessons. Is it weekly, every two weeks? I've been thinking about this myself a lot recently, but don't seem to have the time to commit to lessons. And, I wouldn't want to start unless I was convinced I could do the work. You mentioned level 6 (UK). Where would you say you were at as far as the type of music and difficulty you currently play? Do you improvise now, write your own music? Thanks for the input.

Andy


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#1282534 - 10/07/09 01:54 PM Re: So nearly a year with a jazz piano teacher [Re: Manndrew]  
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ten left thumbs Offline
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Hi Simon,

I've struggled with, and still am, with many of the things you mentioned.

Why don't you post us your own Autumn Leaves in that thread?

There is a PDF at the beginning of the lessons themselves - many of which I am sure you will have already covered, as the thread assumes no prior knowledge of jazz. It's a long thread, you don't need to read it all, just jump in! smile

#1282537 - 10/07/09 01:59 PM Re: So nearly a year with a jazz piano teacher [Re: ten left thumbs]  
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NancyM333 Offline
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Wow, Simon, that's a great success story. I think you are fortunate to have come across a teacher that is giving you exactly what you need. I have had lessons before where my head was too full to go on, and it's a great feeling to learn from someone who knows that much and can teach it.

Thanks for posting your progress. I really enjoyed reading about it.

Nancy



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#1282831 - 10/08/09 04:51 AM Re: So nearly a year with a jazz piano teacher [Re: NancyM333]  
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simon288 Offline
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london
Hi TLT,

It certainly is a struggle. My teacher the other day asked me to name 5ths so for example what's the 5th of F what's the 4th of C and so on. When you get to keys you don't know it's difficult. There is a lot of theory that he wants you to know so well you don't have to think about it and it certainly ain't easy!
I have posted on the Autumn Leaves thread before a while back with a clip of me playing rhodes, but no improvising I think I was just learning it back then.

Andy,

I have lessons every 2 weeks for an hour. Uk level 6 (abrsm grade 6) is what level my old classical teachers where at. My new teacher teaches all the fundamentals first. It's a lot of theory, I have no idea what level it is equal to, but I know a grade 5 (classical piano grading abrsm) who when I try to explain what I'm working on say for example playing a G6/C or CMAJ9 to a C7 (missing out the 5th) and a Csharpdim7 resolving to a FMAJ9 she really looked baffled, and I am still right at the beginning of this journey. I think jazz would be difficult to say what level you are at. I can finally sit at the piano and just play moving wherever I want to go, which has been a dream come true, although I sound far from proffesional and still mess up all the time!

Nancy thank you for comments, I do feel very excited at lessons now and it's great fun even though my brain aches!

Last edited by simon288; 10/08/09 05:39 AM.

Bill Evans spoke of the "universal mind" that exists in all people, if they can learn to think in the language that the universal mind uses -- a musical language that remains alive and well today, still scintillating, still expanding, still showing those who can hear it the depths of ecstasy and pain and life and love.
#1282843 - 10/08/09 05:46 AM Re: So nearly a year with a jazz piano teacher [Re: simon288]  
Joined: May 2009
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ten left thumbs Offline
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ten left thumbs  Offline
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Scotland
Hi Andy,

tbh, I'm jealous you can get lessons. I'd love that.

I think when you play classically, you can just focus on playing the notes in front of you. It is possible to get away with knowing very little theory. When I went through the grading system, you had to get grade 5 theory before you were allowed to go beyond grade 5 practical. Even so, a lot of the chords you are talking about simply don't exist in classical music, and so a pianist could easily not know about them.

Have you come across the ABRSM jazz syllabus? I've worked through the grade 2 material, and I can't sing its praises enough. When I've worked a bit more, I'll treat myself to grade 3. It only goes to grade 5.

#1282849 - 10/08/09 06:06 AM Re: So nearly a year with a jazz piano teacher [Re: ten left thumbs]  
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simon288 Offline
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london
My first teachers got me started going through the ABRSM jazz grade 1 & 2 books. Also the stuff I had learnt to play my new teacher asked me what chords I was playing and of course I didn't know I was just playing what was on the page. My classical teachers just seemed to only be interseted soley on reading music rather than knowing what I was playing. Just asking me to go away and learn tune by tune rather than explaining how music moves etc. Although as I say they where not proper experienced teachers just music college students teaching piano in there spare time.


Bill Evans spoke of the "universal mind" that exists in all people, if they can learn to think in the language that the universal mind uses -- a musical language that remains alive and well today, still scintillating, still expanding, still showing those who can hear it the depths of ecstasy and pain and life and love.
#1283305 - 10/08/09 07:45 PM Re: So nearly a year with a jazz piano teacher [Re: simon288]  
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saerra Offline
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Originally Posted by simon288
Hi TLT,

It certainly is a struggle. My teacher the other day asked me to name 5ths so for example what's the 5th of F what's the 4th of C and so on. When you get to keys you don't know it's difficult. There is a lot of theory that he wants you to know so well you don't have to think about it and it certainly ain't easy!


Hi Simon!

Awesome that you found a good teacher who covers all the theory and how everything works. I lucked out, my teacher is very much a jazz guy (composes, and plays) but also loves classical, so I get a really good mix with LOTS of theory wink It's fun, and definitely keeps things interesting!

re: The 5ths... a quick trick. If you know you major chords (triads) - remember the last note is the 5th. So if you need the 5th of Eb for example, and you know the chord is Eb-G-Bb, the 5th (dominant!) is Bb.

And, it's the same for major or minor triads, so you don't really have to worry about whether the middle note is sharp/flat wink

Have fun smile!

#1283429 - 10/09/09 12:31 AM Re: So nearly a year with a jazz piano teacher [Re: saerra]  
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jazzwee Offline
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Hey Simon, I was able to learn all jazz theory stuff by myself. I think that can be a self study thing. But I probably wouldn't actually be able to play anything if I didn't have a teacher (I've had a jazz teacher since day 1 - from poor to excellent).

Unfortunately, Jazz is kind of a "show me" kind of style of music. We can theorize about it but learning things like rhythmic feel and swing comes from interaction with others. I wish I had more interaction with other jazz musicians myself, but currently it is limited to the ones I "pay" and our little Jazz Study group here.

Hang out with us.



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#1283559 - 10/09/09 07:43 AM Re: So nearly a year with a jazz piano teacher [Re: saerra]  
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simon288 Offline
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london
Hi Saerra,

Wow nice trick I like that a lot thanks!

Last edited by simon288; 10/09/09 07:45 AM.

Bill Evans spoke of the "universal mind" that exists in all people, if they can learn to think in the language that the universal mind uses -- a musical language that remains alive and well today, still scintillating, still expanding, still showing those who can hear it the depths of ecstasy and pain and life and love.
#1283564 - 10/09/09 07:51 AM Re: So nearly a year with a jazz piano teacher [Re: jazzwee]  
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simon288 Offline
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simon288  Offline
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Hi Jazzwee,

Yeh your right about playing with people, Sometimes I play things a certain way and my teacher will say "er yeh don't play it like that unless you wanna sound like Elton John!"

Would love too!


Bill Evans spoke of the "universal mind" that exists in all people, if they can learn to think in the language that the universal mind uses -- a musical language that remains alive and well today, still scintillating, still expanding, still showing those who can hear it the depths of ecstasy and pain and life and love.
#1284167 - 10/10/09 03:17 AM Re: So nearly a year with a jazz piano teacher [Re: simon288]  
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Ken. Offline
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Simon,

I was wondering when switching to jazz from classical whether your technique pretty much had most things covered. Or were there some areas that your classical technique didn't cover? I mean in terms of pure technique as opposed to jazz theory or voicings.

I'm going to a classical teacher to get a technical foundation, and after that plan to switch to jazz.


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#1284318 - 10/10/09 11:26 AM Re: So nearly a year with a jazz piano teacher [Re: Ken.]  
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Ken, the technique is the same between Jazz and Classical but certain techniques are more used than others.

Swing involves control of accents so that is an advanced technique even in classical.

Octave Playing is absent. I remember spending a lot of time doing Octaves with a classical teacher. I don't use it. There's a stylist Jazz master (Red Garland) that uses it a lot but most don't.

Speed is probably more important in jazz than in Classical, and so it rhythmic control (time). So it's just a matter of focus.

There is certainly nothing contrary in technique between the two. I went to a Classical Teacher for technique refinement after I already started jazz, if that's any indication.


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#1284404 - 10/10/09 02:12 PM Re: So nearly a year with a jazz piano teacher [Re: jazzwee]  
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ten left thumbs Offline
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Originally Posted by jazzwee

Swing involves control of accents so that is an advanced technique even in classical.


You're not bl**dy kidding.

Quote
Octave Playing is absent.


Someone should have told Horace Silver that! smile


#1284594 - 10/10/09 10:33 PM Re: So nearly a year with a jazz piano teacher [Re: ten left thumbs]  
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TLT, maybe you had to be at Grade 8 to do accents in classical? smile

Now if you told me that I'm banned from ever using Octaves in Jazz you think I'd miss it? Nope. Certainly Bill Evans never used it. He was to busy putting a different note in every available finger smile Octaves wastes all the possible color tones and dissonances...



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#1284953 - 10/11/09 02:39 PM Re: So nearly a year with a jazz piano teacher [Re: jazzwee]  
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ten left thumbs Offline
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Originally Posted by jazzwee
TLT, maybe you had to be at Grade 8 to do accents in classical? smile


I don't remember working on accents before, ever. (And I did grade 8).

Dynamics, certainly, I had to work on. So, if there was a cresc, I had to start quiet, and, well you know the rest. I had to work on phrasing. But I never had to make an effort to accent this note, or unaccent that one.

Quote

Now if you told me that I'm banned from ever using Octaves in Jazz you think I'd miss it? Nope. Certainly Bill Evans never used it. He was to busy putting a different note in every available finger smile Octaves wastes all the possible color tones and dissonances...


Maybe, but they still sound cool! smile

Last edited by ten left thumbs; 10/11/09 02:40 PM.
#1285248 - 10/12/09 02:01 AM Re: So nearly a year with a jazz piano teacher [Re: jazzwee]  
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Ken. Offline
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Originally Posted by jazzwee
...There is certainly nothing contrary in technique between the two. I went to a Classical Teacher for technique refinement after I already started jazz, if that's any indication.

Thanks. That's good to know.


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