A funny thing happened on my way to the Real Book.
Between giving lessons each day and doing some non-jazz recording sessions this week, I haven’t been playing as much jazz lately as I usually do. But at the same time, I’ve been posting a daily 20-minute Rock Piano for Beginners Workout video on YouTube.
On the surface, the stuff I’m playing on these rock videos is very simple for me, since I’ve been playing for so long. I’m improvising with the basic blues scales in a straight-forward rhythmic manner that beginning rock pianists can play along with and emulate themselves. In other words, I’m having the time of my life recapturing the excitement I felt as a 15 year old when my teenage friends and I formed our first rock band, but it’s not anything that I thought would help my jazz playing.
So imagine my surprise when began trading ‘4’s with a jazz piano student during a Skype lesson today. We were playing the great jazz standard “Limehouse Blues” at light-speed, and my fingers were flying! And better yet, I could mentally “hear” the chord changes and my improvised lines with an exceptional clarity.
At first this didn’t make any sense to me, since I haven’t been playing much jazz this week. But then I realized that the daily Rock Piano for Beginners videos have done wonders for my musical instincts and even for my technique.
Yes, it’s all about getting into the flow and developing fluency, and this can often be achieved by simplifying what we’re playing and listening. Really listening. That’s what I’ve been doing for 16 days now and it’s a good reminder about what really helps us with our piano playing.
One thing supports the other, and it’s sometimes good for us to step back a bit and develop our overall musicianship and musical instincts, which often get “lost in the shuffle” when we’re focusing exclusively on the same things over and over. We need a breath of fresh air now and again, and this is what I’m receiving a healthy dose of this month. Fresh air.
If you’d like to try this yourself, here’s Day One of my 31-day Rock Piano for Beginners Workout Challenge. It just might help you as it’s helped me.
Day One: 31-Day Rock Piano for Beginners Workout Challenge
Have fun, and “let the music flow!
Learn the 5 Essential Left Hand Techniques with my free ebook: Left Hand Techniques for Jazz Piano
You'll also get my weekly jazz newsletter with practice tips and inspiration