When people find out that I’m a piano teacher and performer, they often ask me how they can learn to play jazz piano. This is the 4th installment of my 10-part answer to that question.
How To Play Jazz Piano (Part 4: Learning from Videos)
I urge aspiring jazz musicians to make extensive use of videos. They are much more plentiful than they were during my formative years (the 1980s) and are invaluable. In those days, there weren’t as many jazz videos available, and you actually had to order them, either by mail or through a store. And this wasn’t always possible on a college student’s budget!
Nowadays, there’s no excuse for not making use of this amazing opportunity. You can watch extensive concert footage of your favorite jazz artists over and over again in a way that was unheard of just a few generations ago. Pick a particular song and watch the clip repeatedly. Watch the pianist’s hands on the keyboard. Notice the way the musicians look at each other, and see if there’s any communication between them via head gestures and the like. See what else you can pick up on repeated viewings.
Along with concert footage, be sure to watch instructional videos, where scales, chord voicings, and improvisational techniques are clearly illustrated. Dr. Billy Taylor, with whom I studied in the 1980s, told me how great jazz pianists like Art Tatum would take the time to show him, slowly and carefully, their pianistic techniques. We don’t have direct access to those masters anymore, but videos can fill this role in our education. Here are some free videos from my website, KeyboardImprov.com, to get you started: http://keyboardimprov.com/lessons/free/
Watch as many jazz videos as you can. And then sit down and practice. You’ll be constantly inspired!
Here’s the next installment of this series: How To Play Jazz Piano (Part 5: Transcriptions)
Get my free ebook: Left Hand Techniques for Jazz Piano
You’ll also get my weekly jazz newsletter with practice tips and inspiration