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Transitioning from classical into modern styles, but which?
#3040927 10/30/20 04:51 AM
Joined: Feb 2006
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I recently purchased a digital piano and started playing again after a few years during which I only played sporadically. I'm classically trained and have a rather advanced level in classical piano. Now I'm looking into transitioning into modern styles of piano, but I'm not sure what the easiest/most logical transition would be.

In terms of musical preference, jazz comes on top, but its complexity is daunting for someone who has never really improvised or played by ear before. So I learned a few blues licks and started playing some simple blues instead. Now since jazz builds on blues, I hope that one day this will serve as a good intro to improvisation and eventually bringing me closer to my end-goal of learning jazz.

Just looking through the Hal Leonard book series, how would you rate the following in terms of difficulty to learn for a classical pianist?
- Jazz
- Blues
- Boogie-woogie
- Modern pop
- Rock
Is there some logical connection between these styles, so that some are "more foundational" than others? Would it be an advantage to know e.g. blues before learning all other styles? Or should one just jump in with the style that one likes the most?


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"Music is enough for a lifetime, but a lifetime is never enough for music."
-Sergei Rachmaninoff.
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Re: Transitioning from classical into modern styles, but which?
PianoEntropy #3040994 10/30/20 09:20 AM
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Hi

I'd start with the blues. The basic 12 bar form is an easy one to hear instinctively in a relatively short time. And it's an easy place to start improvising, as it can be done with one scale. Boogie-woogie and blues are sort of interchangeable really. To my mind boogie-woogie is a solo Piano form of the blues. Though of course it can be performed with drums, bass etc.

Yes, Jazz is a natural progression after the blues, and you're right if you want to study it seriously it's a huge under-taking. But there are a lot of great resources available on-line and some very good professional Jazz Pianists who regularly contribute to this forum.

'Modern Pop'/Rock is another discipline and is not to looked down on. My serious Piano playing began as a teenager when I got my first Elton John cassette. It's nowhere as complex as Jazz, but there is a lot fun to be had trying to play Pop/Rock and a myriad collection of different stylists to listen to and study.

Learning to understand the structure of chords will help you immensely with Jazz/Rock/Pop. And of course if you have a good ear you can get away from having to have everything written down in front of you and play by ear, or just from chord symbols, or lead sheets* (in the case of Jazz).

*Melody notated in treble clef with chord symbols provided.

Hope that's of some help.

Cheers


Simon

Vox Continental 73, Casio PX-S3000
Yanagisawa AW01 (alto Sax)
Yamaha YTS-475 (tenor Sax)

DipMus(Open)


Play what you enjoy listening to, listen to what you enjoy playing!




Re: Transitioning from classical into modern styles, but which?
PianoEntropy #3041031 10/30/20 11:02 AM
Joined: May 2001
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Originally Posted by PianoEntropy
I recently purchased a digital piano and started playing again after a few years during which I only played sporadically. I'm classically trained and have a rather advanced level in classical piano. Now I'm looking into transitioning into modern styles of piano, but I'm not sure what the easiest/most logical transition would be.

In terms of musical preference, jazz comes on top, but its complexity is daunting for someone who has never really improvised or played by ear before. So I learned a few blues licks and started playing some simple blues instead. Now since jazz builds on blues, I hope that one day this will serve as a good intro to improvisation and eventually bringing me closer to my end-goal of learning jazz.

Just looking through the Hal Leonard book series, how would you rate the following in terms of difficulty to learn for a classical pianist?
- Jazz
- Blues
- Boogie-woogie
- Modern pop
- Rock
Is there some logical connection between these styles, so that some are "more foundational" than others? Would it be an advantage to know e.g. blues before learning all other styles? Or should one just jump in with the style that one likes the most?
If it's not important to you to be able to improvise yourself, there are countless note for note transcriptions of performances by the greatest jazz and boogie woogie pianists(and probably the other style you mention) online, many of them for free. I have been playing transcriptions of performances by pianists like Gershwin, Waller, Oscar Peterson, Bill Evans, Shearing, Fred Hersch, Dave Grusin, Beegie Adair, etc. for the last decade.

Re: Transitioning from classical into modern styles, but which?
PianoEntropy #3041033 10/30/20 11:06 AM
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PianoEntropy:

Like you, I studied classical piano through college. I then just fooled around for the next 25 years playing sheet music. In my mid-50s I decided to take up jazz. I found a great teacher, so I can't suggest how to do it otherwise, but I can say it's not as daunting as you think with your background. Within 1 year I joined a jazz class at a local music school so I could play in a group. Within 2-3 years I joined a combo and we played some gigs at local restaurants. Now, 12 or 13 years later, I play in multiple groups and have played numerous gigs of various kinds.

So if jazz is what you love, I say go for it!

Re: Transitioning from classical into modern styles, but which?
PianoEntropy #3041246 10/31/20 03:17 AM
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Hi

That's a very good point that jjo makes about getting a teacher. I meant to say the same thing but got distracted by.. err.. life.

You can teach yourself Jazz Piano, but it'll be a lot harder without a teacher. A good teacher will get you focusing on the right elements at the right time. I'd still recommend starting with the blues form though.

If you had the discipline to get to a high standard in 'classical' then if you apply that same discipline to learning Jazz I'm sure you'll succeed. That may not mean you reach a professional standard, but it is a lot easier to join a big band/Jazz group/blues band/rock group as a good amateur Piano player than it is to join in a 'classical' scenario. There's just more opportunities IMHO.

Well there will be when return to some sort of normality :-(

Cheers


Simon

Vox Continental 73, Casio PX-S3000
Yanagisawa AW01 (alto Sax)
Yamaha YTS-475 (tenor Sax)

DipMus(Open)


Play what you enjoy listening to, listen to what you enjoy playing!




Re: Transitioning from classical into modern styles, but which?
PianoEntropy #3041433 10/31/20 03:18 PM
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Have you learned fundamental music theory as part of your classical piano training ? Things like root movement, chords and inversions, chord voicings ? If so you have some of the tools to start learning to play some jazz, even on your own. In my opinion.

Getting a teacher is great. But if you're not going to at this point, I'd get several of the Hal Leonard fake books. They're all on Amazon I think.

I did a random search off the top of my head, on YouTube for "How to play Naima on piano" and found at least 2 little tutorials.

And the most important ingredient IMO in this quest...is to sit at the piano, with the fakebook trying chord voicings and trying soloing over the left hand chord changes. You're assimilating the vocabulary of this music. You can't simply read a how to.

Last edited by indigo_dave; 10/31/20 03:20 PM.
Re: Transitioning from classical into modern styles, but which?
PianoEntropy #3041951 11/01/20 09:30 PM
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A great way to get started in any of those styles is to learn your basic seventh chords. I have a free lesson on this topic here:

https://www.jazzpianoonline.com/courses/five-essential-7th-chords

Once you have these chords in your head and hands you are well prepared to move in any direction you want.


Bill
bill@jazzpianoonline.com
www.JazzPianoOnline.com
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Re: Transitioning from classical into modern styles, but which?
PianoEntropy #3043458 11/07/20 04:49 AM
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Originally Posted by PianoEntropy
- Jazz
- Blues
- Boogie-woogie
- Modern pop
- Rock
Is there some logical connection between these styles, so that some are "more foundational" than others?

Three fundamental elements in music: melody, harmony and rhythm. Exactly in the order that has developed in the history of teaching music of the European Common practice period(1650 to 1900). The sources of rhythms were also in Europe. The unifying foundation for classical music is melody (Melody is the soul of music).
The above genres have the same fundamental elements, but their priority is different (with some exceptions in pop music): rhythm and groove ( It don't mean a thing, if it ain't got that swing... Just give that rhythm everything you've got ) ; melody, or rather melodic intonation; and harmony.
It is the transfer of specific gravity to the rhythmic and groove elements that unites these genres; moreover, the most important sources of rhythm are in Africa.
The other two elements, melody and harmony, become subservient to rhythm; and the concept of a vocalized melody changes to the line of expressive intonations, which is quite consistent with the changes in the "serious" music of early 20th century ; after all, jazz and blues occurrence refer to the same period .
Naturally, the classically educated pianist begins with the element that his most familiar - with tunes . However, this is precisely the mistake that can become a serious obstacle for those who want to study the non-classical genre in depth. For the rest, who love the overall sound of jazz, its timbres, chords, blues intonations, changing the priority will not be critical.
Therefore, each of these genres, you can start learning from chords in RH with roots in LH and in conjunction with the rhythm; what I call Rhythm & Chord - like Rhythm & Blues. It is important for pop music to learn chords in stylistic rhythmic strumming .


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