This is Part 3 of a 10-part series on How To Play Jazz Piano. If you haven't read it already, check out Part 2: How To Play Jazz Piano (Part 2: Analytical Listening)
Part 3: Gradually Work Through a Beginning Jazz Piano Method
A good source of quality instruction is absolutely necessary to learn jazz piano. While it may be fun and inspiring to pick up 'a little bit here, a little bit there,' we also need some form of step-by-step, sequential instruction. (In reality, it's best to have both!) A good method, whether in book or video form, will be helpful because it will clearly explain the basics of jazz piano and give musical examples to illustrate each topic. By diligently working your way through each lesson, you'll be sure to learn at least some of the basics of jazz, along with the theory behind each subject.
Be careful, though, in selecting a jazz method. I've had some students come to me having been 'turned off' by books that were too dry and technical. As with anything else, you'll want to 'get your feet wet' at the same time you're learning the basics. It's not a question of memorizing a million chords and scales before you start applying them. You want to have fun as you go through the learning process. Also, some methods move through the topics too fast. They assume that once you can play a few examples, you're ready to move on. The truth is that we need many examples in order to become fluent with a given concept or technique. In order to give you lots of experience at every step, the book would have to be 500 pages long and very expensive. As a result, many books are too short, and merely crammed with dry musical theory.
There are some great jazz piano instruction methods out there, however, so look around until you find the one that's right for you. Instead of writing a method book myself, I decided to make a series of Intro to Jazz videos, each of which comes with a PDF of the sheet music. You can find a sample lesson at: http://keyboardimprov.com/lessons/free/. You can find my ebooks dealing with specific topics, including jazz piano accompaniment, here: http://keyboardimprov.com/get-started/ebookvideo-store/
Whichever source of instruction you choose, be sure to combine this study with the other approaches I'm discussing in this series. This will ensure that your study of jazz piano will be well-rounded, interesting, and gratifying. Good luck!
Here's Part 4 of this series: How To Play Jazz Piano (Part 4: Learning From Videos)
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