Hey Improvisers, I’d like to share a very special video I made, when I sat down and interviewed the wonderful pianist Tedd Firth. I’ve known Tedd for a few decades and it’s been a pleasure to see him go from “young new pianist on the NYC scene” to “accompanist to the stars.” Tedd is a fabulous musician as well as a nice person, and I had a lot of fun interviewing him for this video. Since there is usually only one pianist in the room at a time, it’s a real treat to get to hang out with a pianistic [...]
Playing a walking bass line on The Beatles’ “All My Loving”
Hey Improvisers, Have you ever noticed how some musical techniques span multiple genres? I’m always fascinated when I discover how, say, a particular arpeggiated pattern might appear in both a Mozart sonata and a folk song. Walking bass lines are like this, too. Although primarily associated with jazz, walking bass lines are also found rock styles. (Classical too – check out J. S. Bach’s Prelude in Bm from The Well-Tempered Clavier, Vol. 1.) The Beatles’ Paul McCartney enjoyed playing walking bass lines, especially in the band’s early days. A good example of this is on their song “All My Loving,” [...]
Should we use ChatGPT to learn about music?
Hey Improvisers, Should we use ChatGPT to learn about music? It’s a fair enough question, and the first answer that perhaps comes to mind is, “Sure, why not? Any learning tool is good if used in the right way.” Again, fair enough. But let’s look at one aspect of ChatGPT in depth, and weigh the pros and cons. This aspect is the fast speed in which ChatGPT spits out information. We can begin by asking ourselves, “Is a quick answer better than a slow answer?” Here, I’m not so sure, since ChatGPT, at this early stage, often gives quick but [...]
Is ChatGPT a reliable way to learn about music?
With the recent introduction of ChatGPT, we humans find ourselves at a crossroads of human history; a crossroads at which the forces of technological “progress” are pushing us down one particular road without giving any of us individuals any real decision about which path we’d prefer to take. Simply put, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is here to stay and will affect every one of us, whether we like it or not. Although no one can predict exactly where AI will take us, the business word, for example, is already touting AI as a way to speedily write blog posts and even [...]
Ideas for playing Miles Davis” composition “Nardis”
Hey Improvisers, Our Journey through the Real Book continues! I’ve just posted a new Journey Through the Real Book video, featuring the great Miles Davis composition “Nardis.” “Nardis” was one of Bill Evans’ favorites, and it’s a tune that gives up its secrets gradually over time. So whether you’re hearing about it for the first time or have been playing it for years, this video will help you understand this profound tune in new ways and will give you fresh ideas on how to play it yourself. Here’s the video: Journey Through The Real Book #254: Nardis https://youtu.be/1EK54HY339M I’ll continue [...]
Tips for accompanying a vocalist on jazz ballads
Hey Improvisers, There’s no better feeling in the whole world than playing a jazz ballad. For me, it’s pure bliss: complete relaxation combined with the most beautiful harmonies imaginable. When the wonderful vocalist Juliet Ewing and I went into the recording studio to made a video of George Gershwin’s classic ballad “I’ve Got A Crush On You,” I had the chance to renew the jazz ballad accompanying experience for me personally, and I thought I’d take this as an opportunity to share a few tips on how to do it yourself. First, check out the video Juliet and I made: [...]
Having fun with your music
Hey Improvisers, One of my Zoom piano students, who is taking a jazz ensemble class, recently listened to Louis Armstrong’s Hot Five recordings for the first time. These are groundbreaking recordings from the 1920s and a wonderful example of joyous New Orleans jazz. When I asked her what she thought of the performances, she replied, “Wow! It sounds like they were having so much fun!” She then told me that she wished the musicians in her jazz class would have more fun, instead of being so worried about playing wrong notes. With this in mind, I then asked another of [...]
The 2 missing ingredients in most New Year’s resolutions
Hey Improvisers, The New Year is a good time for reflection, and as we near the transition into 2023, let’s look at the missing ingredients in the way most people make New Year’s resolutions. This will help you achieve your goals for the upcoming year. New Year’s resolutions are usually about what we’d like to do differently, such as “I’d like to practice piano more,” or “I’d like to learn jazz.” These types of resolutions are good, of course, but the fact is that most people don’t stick with them for very long. They start out enthusiastically, but by February [...]
Have you heard of the iv/VII/iii chord progression?
Hey Improvisers! “Beware the Jabberwock, my son.” (Lewis Carroll) Have you heard of the iv/VII/iii chord progression? If not, then count your blessings and skip down the page a bit. If you have heard of it, it may be because you’ve looked at the opening chords of “Autumn Leaves,” Am7/D7/Gmaj7, and tried to fit them into the key of E minor, which the ‘A’ section ends in a few measures later. Or, perhaps you’ve heard someone else refer to these chords as a iv/VII/iii chord progression in the key of E minor. (If you’re playing “Autumn “Leaves” in the key [...]
Jazz Piano Skills Interview with Ron Drotos
Hey Improvisers, Here's an interview that Dr. Bob Lawrence of The Dallas School of Piano did with me. Bob is an amazing interviewer and took me back to my very beginnings as a pianist. To date, this is the only place where you can hear my “musical life history.” Ron Drotos interview: https://www.jazzpianoskillspodcast.com/special-guest-ron-drotos/ Enjoy! Ron 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