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#2148037 - 09/11/13 03:48 AM Why Do You Practice Or Play Jazz Piano?  
Joined: Apr 2010
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Steve Nixon Offline
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Chicago
I received the most bizarre question other day that literally stopped me in my tracks. I would love to get your opinion on this guys. Let me explain…

I met a person the other day who asked me why I play piano. I mean on a simple level I play because it's fun and of course I also support my family through music. So, I told her that but she wouldn't accept any of those answers. She insisted there was more to it.

I think she was trying to ask a more deep question though…Like, why do you do what you do? Why piano? What's your desire there?

I sort of steered the conversation in another direction and we parted ways soon after but her question really got me thinking.

The reason I'm struggling with this is because I play because I always have….Like I drink coffee in the morning and I play piano…two mundane facts about my life.

I haven't questioned why I play or what my desire for doing this is in over 20 years I just feel far removed from that because it's so ingrained in my life at this point.


So, I thought it would be fun to open a dialogue here? For those of you who have are sort of new to piano or jazz...What do you want to learn jazz or play jazz? What desire does it satisfy for you?

If you've been playing awhile, are a semi pro, or a pro... what desire does playing or practicing jazz satisfy for you?


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#2148039 - 09/11/13 03:57 AM Re: Why Do You Practice Or Play Jazz Piano? [Re: Steve Nixon]  
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Dfrankjazz Online content
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it's for the girls, Steve)

#2148045 - 09/11/13 04:34 AM Re: Why Do You Practice Or Play Jazz Piano? [Re: Dfrankjazz]  
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Steve Nixon Offline
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Originally Posted by Dfrank
it's for the girls, Steve)



Ha Ha! Love it Dave.


#2148072 - 09/11/13 06:56 AM Re: Why Do You Practice Or Play Jazz Piano? [Re: Steve Nixon]  
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Ted Offline
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Auckland, New Zealand
I play little classical or jazz these days, just spontaneous creation of my own sounds via improvisation, most of which I record. All the simply stated reasons, while true, fall far short of adequate, as your friend implied. The words "dependable ecstasy" come to mind, but that is just an elaborate version of "enjoyment". To answer just for me, music is a true quest for beauty and mystical experience, to do with what Huxley called the visionary landscapes of the mind. Music has an effect similar to those visionary dreams we experience a handful of times in decades, and which alter the whole course of consciousness over a lifetime. Some people have none of them, some few and some many.

"Emotion" is also a totally inadequate word to describe my musical perception, and in any case the older I get, the less relevant emotion seems. "Total absorption in abstract beauty" is better, and certainly, music has to have beauty, at least to my ears, else I would sooner work in the garden; but it still fails to describe either the mental state during spontaneous creation or its effect on the listening mind; the magic, chaotic feedback loop, which generates an infinite series of effortless ideas. Certainly, at the best of times, the sensation is as if I am a spectator of something being channelled through me. I have heard other improvisers talk in roughly these same terms.

This is essentially a type of mystical experience, but it has a bonus, in these days of easy, high quality home recording, in that it can be largely recaptured during listening. I realised as a boy that I am musically far too solipsistic, far too individual in taste, to be a professional, although my teacher wanted me to be one.

I have no idea if this is the sort of answer you want, or if anybody else at all thinks this way. "Dependable ecstasy of mystical experience." It all starts to sound a cross between Aldous Huxley and Aleister Crowley once I try to explain it in English. Come to think of it, "music is a way I can be completely and harmlessly mad" isn't such a bad description either.

Last edited by Ted; 09/11/13 07:13 AM.

"It is inadvisable to decline a dinner invitation from a plump woman." - Fred Hollows
#2148094 - 09/11/13 07:57 AM Re: Why Do You Practice Or Play Jazz Piano? [Re: Ted]  
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Farmerjones Offline
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Ok, I admit to hitting the Google button for "solipsistic."

I think, , , if you play, eventually you'll get to Jazz. If you stay curious. If you're a searcher. Eventually, you'll find Jazz. As far as piano goes, it's my least skilled instrument. It still surprises me, and I really like that. I can get lost in the woods and most of the time find my way back. I take this to mean, that although im not much of a pianist, the head still belongs to a musician, and that's what matters. This re-affirmation, though I didn't try for it, is fascinating. Serendipity. It's a cool thing.



Rhythm & Chords, it's what I do.
#2148118 - 09/11/13 09:01 AM Re: Why Do You Practice Or Play Jazz Piano? [Re: Steve Nixon]  
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Forrest Halford Offline
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action is always the convergence of ability and desire.

It's the desire part that gets tricky.

Try to explain your desire for anything beautiful.

Forrest


PTG Associate Member
Haydn Hob. XVI: 23 in F major
Debussy Arabesque #1, Reverie
Bach BWV 874, 883
My beliefs are only that unless I can prove them.
#2148240 - 09/11/13 12:33 PM Re: Why Do You Practice Or Play Jazz Piano? [Re: Steve Nixon]  
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Because I love music! I get a personal satisfaction from playing any instrument well and performing for others. Be it piano, mandolin, guitar or drums. I love the sound of many instruments. Piano was my gateway drug to the world of keyboards. I have a special place in my heart for each. My two main instruments are piano and guitar. They allow me to accompany myself or others singing, compose songs and relax after dealing with the logical world of computers systems and satellite atmospheric measurements. Plus my hobby pays for itself!

During the daytime I can be mild mannered NASA engineer, and at night Billy Joel Hendrix! smokin

Last edited by Kbeaumont; 09/11/13 12:37 PM.

A long long time ago, I can still remember
How that music used to make me smile....
#2148328 - 09/11/13 03:29 PM Re: Why Do You Practice Or Play Jazz Piano? [Re: Steve Nixon]  
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RonL Offline
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A rock musician plays 3 chords in front of thousands of people, a jazz musician plays thousands of chords in front of three people.

so why do I play jazz? Because I hate people.


#2148478 - 09/11/13 08:46 PM Re: Why Do You Practice Or Play Jazz Piano? [Re: Steve Nixon]  
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rintincop Offline
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It's good... because I like it.


Casio PX-360 digital piano, Mojo 61 digital organ, 1966 Mason & Hamlin piano.
#2148507 - 09/11/13 10:29 PM Re: Why Do You Practice Or Play Jazz Piano? [Re: Steve Nixon]  
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Rollin shoulders Offline
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I feel like jazz piano is an old art form that should be sustained throughout time.
Also, it's fun and everyone has their own personal way of playing, when they are alone or playing with others.
That's what I find really interesting, is how others (as in jazz pianists) play with a group. You can learn about someone when they make music with others. It's like looking into them.

... But it's fun to play songs your "own way".


1940's Wurlitzer Spinet
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#2148767 - 09/12/13 12:16 PM Re: Why Do You Practice Or Play Jazz Piano? [Re: RonL]  
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Manndrew Offline
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Originally Posted by RonL
A rock musician plays 3 chords in front of thousands of people, a jazz musician plays thousands of chords in front of three people.

so why do I play jazz? Because I hate people.



Fabulous! You sound somewhat like my daughter who's not a musician, but has limited patience for the clueless among us.
For me jazz, or should I say my attempt to play jazz feeds the creative juices more so than any other musical form. The richness of the chords when you find the right ones, the rhythmic sensations, are very intoxicating. As for girls, well yes my girlfriend sort of melts when I play something interesting.


[Linked Image]
#2149504 - 09/13/13 01:09 PM Re: Why Do You Practice Or Play Jazz Piano? [Re: Steve Nixon]  
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daviel Offline
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I grew up as a jazz snob, but I am really not a jazz player these days. Mostly boogie/honky tonk/blues. I practice jazz standards. I can't help but play piano. I don't know why.


"Forget it, Jake. It's Chinatown."
David Loving, Waxahachie, Texas
#2149629 - 09/13/13 04:48 PM Re: Why Do You Practice Or Play Jazz Piano? [Re: Steve Nixon]  
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36251 Offline
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36251  Offline
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The journey is the reward.


AG N2 | CP4 | SSv3 | GK MK & MP
#2150512 - 09/15/13 10:41 AM Re: Why Do You Practice Or Play Jazz Piano? [Re: Steve Nixon]  
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Michael Sayers Offline
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Stockholms län, Sverige
I enjoy playing some ragtime and jazz for enjoyment . . . Scott Joplin and Jelly Roll Morton in particular, and it is nice with this music to not be burdened with memories of negative experiences from persons who give me a hard time about not playing music exactly as it is in the published notation!


M.

#2150554 - 09/15/13 01:39 PM Re: Why Do You Practice Or Play Jazz Piano? [Re: Steve Nixon]  
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rada Offline
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A B natural in a classical piece [ key of F] may very well sound like a mistake....but not in an F blues scale. I like the voicings of jazz but it seems the pieces you may like the most you will ever find in accurate notation.....so you have to have a great ear to figure sound combinations. On the other hand if you read music well you can play anything that is notated. Overall I think the more diversity I can play the more I have a greater understanding of music.....and like Pablo Casals said at '90' years of age....I practice because I think I see progress...I love that.

rada

#2150933 - 09/15/13 10:41 PM Re: Why Do You Practice Or Play Jazz Piano? [Re: RonL]  
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Doritos Flavoured Offline
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Originally Posted by RonL
A rock musician plays 3 chords in front of thousands of people, a jazz musician plays thousands of chords in front of three people.

so why do I play jazz? Because I hate people.



LOL

an excellent question, though

I love music. anyone who truly loves music instead of loving what music can do for himself - such as bringing chicks, money or applauses - eventually turns into a musician himself too.

regarding piano specifically, I've been in love with it ever since in my childhood I came close to one for the first time at my grandparents' house and, timidly, pressed one of the heaviest keys. That deep resonant metallic clang sounded so futuristic, straight from some SW sound effects. it was love at first listening...


unlocked by keys
wordless poetry sings free
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#2150963 - 09/15/13 11:21 PM Re: Why Do You Practice Or Play Jazz Piano? [Re: Steve Nixon]  
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rada Offline
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rada  Offline
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'it was love at first listening...' and might I add , love at first touch.

rada

#2152146 - 09/17/13 11:39 AM Re: Why Do You Practice Or Play Jazz Piano? [Re: Steve Nixon]  
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Michael Martinez Offline
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Michael Martinez  Offline
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California
Honestly I feel that jazz is much richer, musically, than any other form of music. The harmonies, the chord progressions, the arrangements are more complex and more satisfying to my ear. And then there's the rhythms and the swing beat.


Music Educator, Computer Engineer, avid reader of literature, enjoyer of the outdoors
http://www.michael--martinez.com/music/
#2152254 - 09/17/13 02:22 PM Re: Why Do You Practice Or Play Jazz Piano? [Re: Steve Nixon]  
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Ken. Offline
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I picked up piano to help my sax playing, and as a 2nd instrument to play on the side for fun. Also it's nice to play an instrument that can be the whole band.

Other instruments I considered were the double-reeds, guitar, drums, and bass, but I chose piano as there was already one in the house, and I had used it before for doing things like arranging and playing chord progressions from lead sheets. Piano is the most universal instrument!

Also, because of what Sonny Rollins apparently said one time. A student says "Hey Sonny, give me one tip to become a better improviser". Sonny smiles and says "Play piano" smile


Monk - Boo Boo's Birthday
Bach - Two Part Invention No.11
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#2155035 - 09/21/13 01:06 PM Re: Why Do You Practice Or Play Jazz Piano? [Re: Steve Nixon]  
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LogicalConclusion Offline
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I could go on for ages. There are so many confusing and disputable facts in life, disagreement, worry, planning, unanswered questions (ha!), it's really an enormous tornado and for me music and the piano says "Know this. It's all here, everything you need is here." I believe that music is a better conveyor of emotion than words. A couple of months ago I had a terrible case of the flu and music was the only thing that made me feel better. I gave up on pain meds (didn't work!!!!) and listened to music. Music feels like my mother and father, my best friend, my lover, my shelter. Jack Kerouac aphorized it beautifully: "The only truth is music."
Some may disagree, but have you ever been able to disprove a song? I suppose that could go for art in general. However, with music, you don't have to see it to know it's there! My question would be, "Why do you NOT play piano (or other instrument)?"

EDIT: Missed the jazz part. I'm interested in jazz because...freedom.

Last edited by LogicalConclusion; 09/21/13 01:09 PM.

''Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.'' - Albert Einstein

I'd like to apologize in advance for my stupidity, impulsiveness, and poorly harnessed enthusiasm.
#2155350 - 09/22/13 02:26 AM Re: Why Do You Practice Or Play Jazz Piano? [Re: Farmerjones]  
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phacke Offline

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phacke  Offline

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CO, USA
Originally Posted by Farmerjones


I think, , , if you play, eventually you'll get to Jazz. If you stay curious. If you're a searcher. Eventually, you'll find Jazz.



I have often thought this myself. The roads eventually lead to Jazz.


Last edited by phacke; 09/22/13 02:26 AM.

phacke

Steinway YM (1933)
...Working on:
J. S. Bach, Toccata (G minor) BWV 915
(and trying not to forget the other stuff I know)
#2155479 - 09/22/13 10:08 AM Re: Why Do You Practice Or Play Jazz Piano? [Re: phacke]  
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LogicalConclusion Offline
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Originally Posted by phacke
Originally Posted by Farmerjones


I think, , , if you play, eventually you'll get to Jazz. If you stay curious. If you're a searcher. Eventually, you'll find Jazz.



I have often thought this myself. The roads eventually lead to Jazz.



Yes!Yes! Swimming the rivers before hitting the ocean. The answers are there, it seems. I can't even think straight, when listening to jazz, it drives me loopy. But really, it's not about thinking straight...who said marching in line is the only way to go...words are so terrible at enveloping music. Or maybe I'm just terrible with words. This would be a better example(Coleman Hawkins' Picasso): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XjhbUTg87jU
Listen to how he phrases his philosophical musings. Even when the song ends, it doesn't end, that short time window was just tapping into a small glimpse of an eternal river. Jazz is the speaking of our everyday thoughts as they happen, but it's so hard to learn because essentially it's a means of communication, like English. Best to be born into it, but unfortunately most of us don't have an instrument placed into our hands as newborns. Man, would I love to "speak" jazz.


''Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.'' - Albert Einstein

I'd like to apologize in advance for my stupidity, impulsiveness, and poorly harnessed enthusiasm.
#2155898 - 09/22/13 11:45 PM Re: Why Do You Practice Or Play Jazz Piano? [Re: Steve Nixon]  
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The Wind Offline
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"The six years I was with Miles, we never talked about music. We never had a rehearsal. Jazz shouldn’t have any mandates. Jazz is not supposed to be something that’s required to sound like jazz. For me, the word 'jazz' means, 'I dare you.'" —Wayne Shorter

#2156023 - 09/23/13 07:30 AM Re: Why Do You Practice Or Play Jazz Piano? [Re: Steve Nixon]  
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KlinkKlonk Offline
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jazz feels like the truth, jazz can't be corrupted. it feels honest.

#2156735 - 09/24/13 08:30 AM Re: Why Do You Practice Or Play Jazz Piano? [Re: KlinkKlonk]  
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Farmerjones Offline
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Walk through any museum of modern art. There is no wrong art.
Primitive, minimalist, stands right beside sophisticated. If you present it and mean it, it's Art. That goes for music as well. If it's socially accepted or not, changes nothing.

I get, "I dare you." And you know Miles. That could mean even playing one note every two and a quarter beats for fourteen minutes. smile


Rhythm & Chords, it's what I do.
#2156830 - 09/24/13 11:44 AM Re: Why Do You Practice Or Play Jazz Piano? [Re: Steve Nixon]  
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Michael Martinez Offline
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Michael Martinez  Offline
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California
there may not be wrong art, but there's definitely crappy art.


Music Educator, Computer Engineer, avid reader of literature, enjoyer of the outdoors
http://www.michael--martinez.com/music/
#2160190 - 09/30/13 05:46 PM Re: Why Do You Practice Or Play Jazz Piano? [Re: Steve Nixon]  
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Rob Mullins Offline
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I play because if I don't I go nuts.


Rob Mullins
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Recording Artist and Jazz Piano Instructor
#2161503 - 10/03/13 11:39 PM Re: Why Do You Practice Or Play Jazz Piano? [Re: Rob Mullins]  
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Dave Ferris Offline
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Definitely in it for the money... crazy grin


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#2162223 - 10/05/13 04:23 PM Re: Why Do You Practice Or Play Jazz Piano? [Re: Steve Nixon]  
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In A Silent Way Offline
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I keep playing it because I can't yet quite hear it play what I hear it play. And it's a dumb art, it goes up and down the scales again and again and each time you complete a chorus you feel it's time to start another one, and so it's the finest art in the world for it's so dumb as a child's play.

So I'm originating from the one city in western Europe that participated the most to the Triangular Trade in the XVIIIth century.

Though not that my family has anything to do with this that I'd know of, but still.

Last summer while I was visiting, wandering in the centre of the town, thinking about the times accumulated in the old architecture, suddenly passing through a famous passage where captives once were humiliated by the rich bourgeois of the town spitting on them from the balconies above the stairs that the people were descending before being embarked for the New World in a one way trip to slavery, I had a personal epiphany to understand that it may well be the case that my practice of jazz piano would be a sort of lifetime tribute to these awful historical events.

I had never thought of it that way before, but now ever since I think of it (reading this thread for example) I'm astounded by this coincidence that I had picked for my musical obsession the very one genre that was expressing the consequences of the trade of African human beings across the Atlantic back in the time.

#2162319 - 10/05/13 09:50 PM Re: Why Do You Practice Or Play Jazz Piano? [Re: Steve Nixon]  
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rada Offline
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pagosa springs,co
I think the road leads to opera.

rada

and I am not a singer

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