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So far Ron has created 990 blog entries.

The Beginner’s Guide To Keith Jarrett

By |December 31st, 2019|

The Beginner’s Guide To Keith Jarrett by Ron Drotos Whether you’re just now discovering Keith Jarrett, or want to dive deeper into his work as a whole, I hope this Beginner’s Guide helps you get a good overview of his artistic evolution as well as the breadth of his musical diversity. Jarrett has never defined himself by genre; rather, it’s the strength of his musical vision that shines through in everything he does. Enjoy! Keith Jarrett was born in Allentown, Pennsylvania, in 1945, which was just the moment when Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, and the other early beboppers where developing [...]

2010s Piano recap: Trends of the decade

By |December 29th, 2019|

The 2010s have been a wonderful decade for we pianists. Here are some of the trends we’ve seen over the past 10 years: Mainstream Pop Simplicity triumphed. The basic quarter-note chordal pop piano part was introduced the 1960s, gained momentum in the 200s, and became firmly established over the past decade. It’s the great “leveler,” since beginners and professionals can both use it when playing anything from “Over The Rainbow” to the latest hits. A Golden Age for Solo Piano Accompaniment In the “old days,” we’d get a popular song accompanied by a lone piano maybe once per decade (Sinatra: [...]

How Taylor Swift Writes A Love Song

By |December 25th, 2019|

Taylor Swift has given songwriters a real gift: a detailed demonstration on how she composed her song “Lover.” On this video, she shows how she began with a short musical idea and used her craft to develop it into a full composition. It’s a big thing when a songwriter as accomplished as Swift leads us through her songwriting process, and even lets us hear her initial home recordings of parts of the song, as she sang and played them for her own use. Imagine if Cole Porter or Duke Ellington had done the same? Many of today’s songwriters would give [...]

Our real goal with the piano

By |December 24th, 2019|

In addition to teaching the specifics of piano-playing, my real goal is to help people keep music in their lives, which can be challenging with our busy schedules these days. After all, everything else follows from this. The key is to reconnect with your love of music each day, at least for a few minutes. If you wish, you can take a moment, close your eyes, and imagine some music in your mind. Enjoy the feeling of hearing it in your head. Then, sit down at your piano and play a little bit, simply for the enjoyment. This kind of [...]

How to play like Miles Davis

By |December 23rd, 2019|

Every day, thousands if not millions of jazz musicians try to play like Miles Davis. Yes, jazz trumpet players, but also pianists, trombonists, guitarists, saxophonists and players of every instrument conceivable. (Even Japanese flutes and conch shells.) But what does it really mean to “play like Miles Davis?” Quincy Jones says that he began his music career by imitation Miles on the trumpet. When Davis heard Quincy play one night, he wasn’t exactly complimentary. That’s because “playing” like Miles Davis doesn’t necessarily mean “sounding” like Miles Davis.” (We can hear proof of this whenever we hear a Miles Davis-imitation harmon-muted [...]

Have you heard Paul McCartney’s Christmas album?

By |December 18th, 2019|

Have you heard Paul McCartney’s Christmas album? Neither have I. (sniff…) That’s because, as Sir Paul has explained in an interview, only his family will ever hear the album, which he made exclusively for them. And good for him, to keep some semblance of privacy and family life. But even better than hearing his album, we can take away the most important aspect of this: as musicians, we each have something very special we can share with our friends and family. This can be as simple as sitting down at our piano a few times per week and filling our [...]

Taking the musical road less-traveled

By |December 13th, 2019|

When you sit down to play the piano, what tunes do you play? Do you come back to Autumn Leaves and Take The A Train all the time? While this has definite benefits, it’s also important to try new tunes. Even if we just sightread the melody, playing new repertoire stretches our ears, plants the seed towards learning new styles, and keeps us musically fresh. In my page-by-page journey through The Real Book, I’ll occasionally come upon a stretch of a few tunes that are rarely played. Instead of backing away from these tunes, I’ve learned to embrace them and [...]

Works in progress

By |December 12th, 2019|

As my student Bob reminded me today, we're all "works in progress." That's the real beauty of it all, and the more we each embrace this, the more rewarding our musical journey will be. The more we enjoy being works in progress, the more our work will progress. 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

Jazz piano improvisations on Stevie Wonder songs

By |December 9th, 2019|

Why do so many Stevie Wonder songs sound great when played in a jazz style? Maybe it’s his harmonies, which include jazzy 9ths and 13ths, as well as ii/V/I progressions and the like. Or perhaps it’s his rhythms, which include the same latin and funk grooves that many jazz musicians use in their own tunes. It might even be his vocal phrasing, which sounds as improvisatory as Ella Fitzgerald singing the Great American Songbook. Whatever it is, jazz musicians have always loved Stevie’s music and in fact, the original Real Book included two of his compositions which are still in [...]

Christmas piano ebook

By |December 8th, 2019|

I love Christmas songs. In addition to being beautiful music, they are one of our few cultural inheritances in which we actively participate each year. They also bring together the different generations in a way that few types of music do anymore. Young children sing along with their grandparents and perhaps a teenager accompanies them on piano. Over the years I’ve developed piano arrangements of 20 Christmas classics that I’ve played on piano at holiday parties, concerts, and worship services. Now, I’ve put these professional-sounding arrangements together for you in this ebook, A Keyboard Christmas Collection. The musical styles range [...]