About Ron

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So far Ron has created 1046 blog entries.

Evolution of Blues Piano

By |March 5th, 2020|

It’s fascinating to study a specific musical genre and see how it’s evolved over time. Learning about music in this way is fun, exciting, and we begin to understand how each style within the genre relates to everything else that came before as well as after. I first got the idea for this from my college music history professor, Dr. Larson. The class was called Solo Literature and was about all the music written for piano, organ, and harpsichord. Dr. Larson was a very inspiring professor and would occasionally interrupt his lectures by proclaiming something like, “Arpeggios. Someone could learn [...]

Playing “Heebie Jeebies” as a jazz piano solo

By |March 3rd, 2020|

I’ve just posted a new Journey Through The Real Book video on YouTube. It’s #146, which is the early jazz standard “Heebie Jeebies” which was recorded by Louis Armstrong and His Hot Five. This week, I’ve begun listing a play-by-play of each new video, as well as going back and gradually doing this for the whole series. Here’s the video, followed by the play-by-play which you can also find under the video itself. Heebie Jeebies: Journey Through The Real Book #148 https://youtu.be/-kh0r_3sYaI Ron Drotos: Jazz piano solo and musical/historical discussion of the jazz standard “Heebie Jeebies,” originally recorded by Louis [...]

An insight from Herbie Hancock

By |March 2nd, 2020|

Hey everyone! Thanks to all of you have started my 10-week Skype Intensive “Mastering The Modes” mini-course. We’ve begun with exploring the difference in sound and musical uses of the Ionian and Lydian modes and already some of you have emailed me to say how you’re experiencing the Lydian mode in a whole new way. Mission accomplished, and now on to the Mixolydian! (If you’re interested, it’s not too late to get started. Just reply to this email and we’ll set up a time for our first session of 30 minutes.) Lots of stuff going on here, and for starters, [...]


By |February 27th, 2020|

We hear about binge-watching all the time: “How was your weekend?” “Great! I binge-watched 4 seasons of Game Of Thrones.” That can be fun, but as a musician, have you ever binge-listened? “How was your weekend?” “Great! I binge-listened to every Billy Joel album from The Stranger through The Bridge!” “Great! I binge-listened to the whole set of Charlie Parker live recordings by Dean Benedetti!” “Great! I binge-listened to all 32 Beethoven Piano Sonatas!” I’ve personally done all of these and can tell you that it’s fun and will give you insights into these musicians like nothing else can. It’s [...]

360 degree learning

By |February 23rd, 2020|

I learned a new term the other day: “360 degree learning.” Have you ever heard that? Until one of my students used it, I hadn’t. It’s a great expression! “360 degree learning” means learning in a whole way. From all angles. Learning on different levels and in various ways, all at the same time. Here’s the paradox: Even with all the multitudes of instructional materials available today, most pianists learn in a very narrow way. Most instructional videos or written lessons are frontloaded with music theory, which is fine in some ways. But if that’s all we use, we’re actually [...]

Mastering The Modes

By |February 21st, 2020|

Hey everyone! From the emails I receive, it looks like the biggest stumbling block to playing jazz piano is the whole subject of modes. People get stuck at: 1. What exactly are modes? 2. When are modes used? 3. What modes to use for each chord? and 4. How to use modes to improvise fluently. Modes are such an important part of improvising jazz solos, and because aspiring players don’t understand them in a musical way, many people spend years (and decades) wondering “how do I get better?” The modes end up slowing them down, because they have to think [...]

My 1,000th blog post

By |February 18th, 2020|

Hey everyone, This is my 1,000th blog post. Just as a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, a journey of a thousand blog posts begins with a single word. And so, on July 10th, 2012, I sat down at my computer and typed the word “the.” This is significant, because we often put so much pressure on ourselves to begin momentously that we get paralyzed and stop altogether. “The…” It’s a great beginning, just as an ordinary first step can be the great beginning of a wondrous journey. And a Middle C can be the great [...]

The joy of finding community support in surprising places

By |February 14th, 2020|

We pianists can be solitary creatures at times. After all, sitting down at our piano and practicing a new technique doesn’t require much interaction with our fellow human beings. Instead, it provides us with a (daily) opportunity to spent some “quality” time with ourselves in an incredibly stimulating and rejuvenating way. Wonderful things begin to happen, however, when we begin to let this invisible wall dissolve, even a little bit. My student June has been gradually doing this, and the experience just keeps getting better and better, from both the community and musical aspects. June is in the fitness field, [...]

Discovering Jazz Podcast with Larry Saidman

By |February 12th, 2020|

I’m honored to be included in an excellent podcast by Larry Saidman called Discovering Jazz. Larry is passionate when sharing his knowledge and insight about jazz with others, and we share many common goals with our online musical activities. He’s been a big supporter of my Journey Through The Real Book video series on YouTube and asked me if he could include excerpts from one of my videos. Of course I said yes! Here’s Larry’s description of this episode, along with the link where you can hear it for yourself: Episode 93 is loaded----and it is Part 3 of my [...]

Two jazz piano students “review”Ahmad Jamal at The Kennedy Center: 2-8-20

By |February 10th, 2020|

A funny thing happened on the way to The Kennedy Center… One of my Skype piano students, Phil, had been studying transcriptions of the great jazz pianist Ahmad Jamal, and for months now has been excitedly looking forward to hearing the master play a concert at The Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. (Phil lives in the D.C area. Coincidentally, the day before the concert, I was giving a Skype lesson to another student of mine, Bill, who lives in Pennsylvania, and he casually mentioned “I’ll be going to see Ahmad Jamal tomorrow night in D.C.” Wow – small world! I [...]