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So far Ron has created 1075 blog entries.

Overcoming Practice Paralysis (for Improvising Pianists)

By |January 17th, 2021|

Hey Improvisers! When I coined the phrase “Practice Paralysis” (sometime around 2014), little did I suspect that this affliction would grow much worse over time. In fact, the emails people send me demonstrate that it’s probably the single-most common obstacle that improvising pianists have today. In pre-internet times, pianists used to get Practice Paralysis from the stack of piano books on their shelf. They’d feel inspired to sit down at the piano to practice, but their eyes would glaze over as they gazed up at that mountain of stuff to practice and before they knew it, they’d have the TV [...]

A Piano Improv Exercise from Keith Jarrett

By |January 10th, 2021|

Wouldn’t you love to study piano with Keith Jarrett? Believe it or not, he has actually done some private and even occasional group teaching over the years, and as we might expect, he is able to share his deep insights with his few lucky students. Jarrett has occasionally discussed his teaching methods, and in one interview I once read, he gave a wonderful piano improv exercise. The exercise is simple enough for every pianist to do, and I’ve found it to be a very effective and powerful exercise on many levels. Watch me demonstrate the exercise on this video, and [...]

The Art of Keith Jarrett: A 31-Day Tribute

By |January 1st, 2021|

Every day for the next 31 days, I’ll be posting a new video on YouTube, looking at an aspect of Jarrett’s musicianship and pianistic approaches each day. Since Keith’s Köln Concert recording was a primary inspiration for me when I was deciding to spend my life playing piano, I’m excited to announce that part IIc of the concert, which you’ll find in The Real Book under the title “Memories of Tomorrow,” is the subject of the first video. I first performed the tune in a high school talent show when I was 16 years old, and it’s still thrilling to [...]

Swing Era big band music for New Year’s Eve

By |December 31st, 2020|

Childhood memories live on, and for me, New Years Eve means Swing Era big band dance music. Growing up in the 1970s, I vividly remember my father turning on the TV each New Years Eve while announcing “Guy Lombardo.” As a child of the rock era, I had no idea of who exactly Guy Lombardo was. For me, he was the guy on our small black-and-white television screen playing nice dance music while we sat at home on our sofa, trying to stay awake until midnight. To bring back some happy memories, (and for those who want to see what [...]

Piano Improv: Year In Review (Mailbag)

By |December 25th, 2020|

Hey Improvisers! Inspiration goes both ways, and I’ve definitely been inspired by the responses you’ve sent regarding last week’s Piano Improv: Year In Review. Some of the emails were very touching, and asked advice on how to get past the “solitary” aspect of piano-playing. Because these were of a personal nature, I won’t publish them. Instead, let’s all feel a sense community with one another, as we support each other in our musical pursuits. Yes ... Piano over Television in our home is the RULE! Tricia Thank you for this. All certainly true, except perhaps the fact that I've chosen [...]

Piano Improv: The Year In Review (2020)

By |December 20th, 2020|

Hey everyone! With all the “year in review” articles coming our way in a week or so, I thought we’d get a fresh start by looking at the Piano Improv trends that have arisen during the past year and are still in full bloom. For all the craziness of Covid, 2020 has been an exciting year for we pianists, especially as far as improvisation is concerned. Here are the 3 major trends I’ve observed, which began about a decade ago and were sped up beginning last March: 1. Piano Improv became mainstream Pianists all over the world are improvising! Not [...]

Playing a solo jazz piano arrangement of Duke Ellington’s “In A Sentimental Mood”

By |December 13th, 2020|

Well, our journey through the real book has given us a precious gift this week - Duke Ellington’s “In A Sentimental Mood.” This beautiful jazz ballad was one of the first jazz ballads I ever played, and it brings back many fond memories for me. The song was a a regular feature during the many performances I did with a vocal jazz group I played in during my college days, and we sometimes performed it for crowds of up to 25,000 listeners when we opened for famous jazz musicians like Dave Brubeck and Lionel Hampton at outdoor festivals. “In A [...]

Entering the Pianistic World of Duke Ellington

By |December 3rd, 2020|

Duke Ellington’s career encompassed the whole history of jazz from the early era of the 1920s all the way into the 1970s. (I say “the whole history” because even most of what’s come after can be found in his music in some way or another.) Not only did he play music during this whole time, but he embraced all of the new styles that came about along the way: Stride piano New Orleans (through the players in his band) Ballroom dance music Popular ballads Swing tunes Broadway Bebop Latin Rock (check out “Blue Pepper”) Avant Garde Not only is Ellington’s [...]

Thank you

By |November 29th, 2020|

Hey everyone, It’s been almost exactly 8-1/2 years since I first went online with my piano teaching in June, 2012, and the response continues to be incredible. I’m grateful to be in touch with enthusiastic, creative, and musical pianists from all over the world, and I’d like to take a moment to thank you. Thank you… for bringing music into your daily lives. Thank you… for continuing the improvisatory tradition which has developed over the centuries. Thank you… for being wonderful. Thank you… for sharing your musical gifts with us. Thank you… for being brave and being willing to “not [...]

Exploring modal piano textures with John Coltrane’s “Impressions”

By |November 23rd, 2020|

You (and I) have the potential to improvise on the piano in a highly personal, satisfying way. In fact, this is something that connects us directly with our musical idols. And, 40 years of performing and teaching experience has shown me that you’re closer to having extraordinary musical experiences that you might think. Here’s some “food for thought,” along with some very practical ways to develop your own, unique style of playing piano. Have you ever played modal jazz? It’s funny, because as much as we hear things like “there are so many possibilities with modal jazz” and “you can [...]