About Ron

This author has not yet filled in any details.
So far Ron has created 1188 blog entries.

Look To The Sky

By |March 30th, 2022|

Hey Improvisers! Look to the sky, indeed. Besides being the title of the new Journey Through The Real Book video, “Look To The Sky” is a great motto for our development as pianists. Rather than keeping our heads in the clouds, so to speak, we’ll improve fastest and have emotionally healthy musical lives if we look “upwards” while making sure our feet are planted firmly on the ground. In practical terms, this means that yes, you can acknowledge that you don’t yet know the challenging chord progression to the new song you’re working on. At the same time, you’ll benefit [...]

The Little “Secret” That Professional Pianists Rarely Talk About

By |March 16th, 2022|

Hey Improvisers, Since having a healthy mental attitude is such a big part of playing piano, I thought I’d share a perspective with you that we rarely hear about. If you can embrace this, you’ll be a happier pianist and play at a consistently higher level as well. Here it goes: Have you ever sat down to play piano and found yourself frustrated because you played better “yesterday?” Or, that the music seemed to flow much easier the last time you played? Well, here’s the “secret:” It happens to the greatest players in the world too. (Congratulations - you’re in [...]

A jazz piano cover of Billie Eilish’s “My Future”

By |February 25th, 2022|

Hey Improvisers, “Bravo” to all my piano students who made videos for our Online Piano Recital. The big takeaway from the 22 performances is that to give a great performance, it’s usually best to stay within your current abilities, and work with what you can play fluently. Not only does this take the pressure of playing “brilliantly” away, but it actually enables us to play consistently well and, ironically, have some brilliant moments along the way. After all my piano students’ videos were posted to my KeyboardImprov YouTube, I sat down and played Billie Eilish’s “My Future” as my own [...]

Finding a Healthy Source of Musical Inspiration

By |February 19th, 2022|

Hey Improvisers! Where do you go for musical inspiration? What motivates you to sit down and play your favorite music? What gets you excited about practicing new stuff? The key is to find a source of inspiration that motivates you without making you feel overwhelmed or not “good enough.” I’m delighted to report that the Online Piano Recital that my students and I are showcasing this month is providing a fun, emotionally healthy source of inspiration in this way. Although there are 19 recital videos on the KeyboardImprov YouTube channel so far, I’m highlighting 4 of them here so you [...]

The importance of learning common chord progressions

By |February 6th, 2022|

Hey Improvisers, While playing Jerome Kern’s great song “Long Ago And Far Away,” I was reminded about how important it is to become familiar with some of the most common chord progressions. Progressions such as I-vi-ii-V, ii-V-I, I-vi-IV-V, and I-V-vi-IV are the foundational building blocks of countless pop, jazz, rock, and folk songs, and by spending some quality time with them, we’ll be preparing ourselves to play these songs more easily. In addition to recognizing these progressions when we find them in songs, we’ll also understand how the chords we come across are often derived from these underlying chord sequences. [...]

Creating a musical community for support

By |February 3rd, 2022|

Hey Improvisers, If there’s anything I’ve learned during my musical career, it’s that we learn best as part of a community. Whether it’s by playing in a band, taking classes with other music students, or simply hanging out at a friend’s house while listening to recordings, we thrive when we and our peers support one another. With this in mind, my online piano students and I are presenting an Online Piano Recital this month. We’ll be posting a new video each day, and here’s what we have so far: Day 1: Olly plays a wonderful jazz interpretation of Tchaikovsky’s “Swan [...]

Deep Listening

By |January 31st, 2022|

Hey Improvisers, I hope you’ve been having a great week! It’s been pretty busy over here, but it’s all about good things. I addition to my piano teaching, I’ve been writing a book about piano improv. I’ve been working on it every day and I hope to publish it on April 1st for the Kindle on Amazon. It’s been challenging to make videos over the past few weeks because my upstairs neighbors are renovating their apartment. It seems like every time I get everything set up to start filming, the workers start drilling or something. But where there’s a will [...]

The Chick Corea/Stevie Wonder connection

By |January 25th, 2022|

Hey Improvisers, It can be lot of fun to we discover that some of our favorite musicians are fans of one another. A good example of this is the relationship between Chick Corea and Stevie Wonder. Corea’s 1970’s jazz-fusion group, Return To Forever, inspired Wonder to compose this jazzy instrumental tune for his landmark album Songs In The Key of Life: Stevie Wonder: Contusion https://youtu.be/6T5q7BzpEe4 Stevie also enjoyed playing Chick’s famous piece “Spain” in concert from time to time: Stevie Wonder: Spain https://youtu.be/Q3VJOl_XeGs In his later years, Corea returned the favor by performing Wonder’s Latin-influenced song “Pastime Paradise” as a [...]

Playing Joe Lovano’s “Lines and Spaces” as a jazz piano solo

By |December 31st, 2021|

Hey Improvisers, The actor/comedian Steve Martin once made a TV skit where he simply looked into the camera, perplexed, and said, “What the heck IS that?” Being the great comedian that he is, the skit somehow got funnier and funnier each time he repeated the question! Do you ever look at a jazz tune with complex chord changes and ask yourself “What the heck IS that?” It’s OK. This is a natural response to when we encounter unusual chord progressions, which often don’t establish tonal centers in conventional ways. After all, we’ve practiced soloing over ii/V/I chord progressions, and then [...]

Using musical text-painting can keep our jazz piano playing fresh

By |December 29th, 2021|

Do you ever feel “stuck in a rut” with your jazz piano playing? Do you get tired of playing the same licks over and over again? Do you ever feel like your playing lacks freshness? Well… one of the best (and easiest) ways to invigorate our jazz piano playing and keep it fresh is to use musical ”text painting.” Text painting is a term that comes from classical music, when composers would musically describe something non-musical in their compositions. Beethoven used text painting when he made part of his 6th symphony sound like a rainstorm. And Mussorgsky used text painting [...]