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About Ron

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So far Ron has created 1105 blog entries.

Deep immersion in the music we love

By |September 5th, 2021|

Hey Improvisers! Even though there’s more music available to us nowadays than ever before, I’ve noticed that we generally don’t tend to listen as deeply as we once did. While it’s great to listen to music in the car, or while at work, it’s also vital to listen while doing nothing else, so we can immerse ourselves in the music. Deep listening. Immersion. Letting the sounds wash over us. Absorbing the music. When I was a teenager, I only had a handful of albums. But one thing I did do was lie down on my bed almost every day at [...]

Charlie Watts (A jazz drummer trapped in a rock band)

By |August 29th, 2021|

Hey Improvisers, The great Charlie Watts passed away this week. Watts was (is) one of my musical heroes, and in a very real sense was a jazz drummer trapped in one of the most popular rock bands on the planet. (Please excuse the “trapped” pun!) Charlie discovered jazz as a youth when he heard Gerry Mulligan’s tune “Walking Shoes,” and initially turned down the gig with the Rolling Stones because he didn’t like most rock and roll music. Of course, he grew to love playing rock but in his heart, he retained the jazz sensibility and would open up to [...]

2 tips to help you avoid feeling overwhelmed when practicing piano

By |August 22nd, 2021|

Hey Improvisers! It’s very common these days to feel overwhelmed when we sit down at the piano. And yes, this is understandable because there’s so much we could practice. If we feel all of this at once, then we’ll usually feel overwhelmed. We pianists, however, deserve better. Much better. The piano is such an amazing instrument, we want to feel excited each time we sit down to play. Let’s begin by reminding ourselves that it’s called “PLAYing the piano!” If you’re feeling a little overwhelmed by everything you’re being told you have to learn, then let’s reverse the situation. First [...]

September’s schedule

By |August 8th, 2021|

Hey everyone, I’m looking ahead to September, when I tend to get a lot of inquiries about Zoom piano lessons. If you’ve been thinking that you’d like to start studying with me, just let me know and we’ll put something on our schedules. I take as many students as possible but there were about 2 months last year when I had to start a waiting list for the first time. With adult piano students, I feel that the main priority is that the study of piano fits in with the person’s lifestyle as much as possible. For instance, if someone [...]

Joyful Persistence

By |August 1st, 2021|

Hey Improvisers! We’ve all heard about the need for persistence. Perseverance. Slow and steady wins the race. Yes, we know it’s true. But sometimes we associate the idea of persistence with a kind of weary uphill slog. As pianists, we’re lucky because music is so joyful. If we can remind ourselves of this at each step of the way, each day, then our musical journey becomes one of joyful persistence. Yes - Joyful Persistence. That’s the “ticket!” My annual stint in Alaska at The Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival ended yesterday and I was reminded of joyful persistence many times during [...]

Greetings from Fairbanks!

By |July 26th, 2021|

Hey Improvisers, Well, I’m midway through my 2-week stint here in Alaska, teaching and performing at the Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival. It’s wonderful to be back here after missing last summer due to travel restrictions, and this is an important year for the festival in terms of continuity. Just like with music, an organization such as the Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival needs to keep it’s momentum and I’m delighted to be helping this great festival continue into the future. On Wednesday, the vocal performance class I’m teaching gave a lunchtime concert at a local community center and it felt great [...]

Rejuvenation

By |July 17th, 2021|

Hey Improvisers! I’ve just arrived here in Fairbanks, Alaska, where I’ll be teaching and performing for the next two weeks at the Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival. I’m excited to be here for at least two big reasons. Firstly, I’ve been coming here every year since 1999 but had to skip last summer due to Covid-related travel restrictions. Fairbanks has become a kind of “home away from home” for me so it’s great to be back! The second reason why I’m excited to be here is that it’s an opportunity for me to refresh and rejuvenate my music and piano teaching. [...]

Developing a positive frame of mind and a Max Roach story

By |June 26th, 2021|

Hey Improvisers, When I was a teenager, I became serious about learning piano. And although I didn’t know it at the time (in the late 1970s/early 80s), I enjoyed a huge advantage over many of you who are reading this: I didn’t see or hear many note-perfect performances. In fact, I didn’t see or hear many performances at all! As with anything else, there are two sides to this coin, so to speak. On the one hand, today’s aspiring pianists can hear more wonderful recordings that ever existed before, and watch countless hours of inspiring videos of pianists playing the [...]

The joy of playing our favorite songs on piano

By |June 12th, 2021|

Hey Improvisers! There are two sides to becoming a fluent piano improviser. One side involves practicing concepts and techniques. Learning the scales, modes, chord voicings, and bass lines that are associated with each genre of music. The other side of the coin is to play our favorite songs. Songs by George Gershwin, The Beatles, Charlie Parker, Adele, George Winston, Antonio Carlos Jobim, etc. Both sides are necessary, and the overall idea is to gradually bring them together. Here’s one of my all-time favorite songs. It’s the classic “It’s Easy To Remember” by the songwriting team of Richard Rodgers and Lorenz [...]

Playing It Don’t Mean A Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing) as a jazz piano solo

By |June 4th, 2021|

Have you ever noticed how each style of music has its own special “groove,” or rhythmic feeling? It’s like a unique frequency, and in a way, this groove is what distinguished one genre from another. A reggae song and a pop tune may have exactly the same chords, but they sound (and feel) totally different. Groove…. Feel….. Vibe…. Rhythm… Flow…. Swing!!! Yes, swing. The term “swing” is usually used when referring specifically to jazz, where the 8th notes are slightly (and deliciously) uneven. But “swing” can also be used in a looser sense, to mean a certain relaxation and flow [...]