What Time Is It?

Ron's blog on piano improv and the role of music in our lives

Musical rejuvenation

Hey Improvisers, I arrived in Fairbanks. Alaska last evening to begin my annual 2-week stint performing and teaching at The Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival. I’ve been coming up here each July since 1999 and have even taught here three times in January. Even through I don’t start teaching classes until tomorrow, I feel refreshed by … Read More

The Influence of Classical Music on Taylor Swift

Hey Improvisers, Although the marketing machine that is the recording industry likes to pigeonhole both musicians and listeners into narrow genres, the truth is that we all generally enjoy a wide spectrum of music. Case in point: Taylor Swift The general narrative regarding Swift is that she started out as “Country” and then suddenly switched … Read More

Upcoming All-Gershwin Show (and a funny video)

Hey Improvisers, If you’re in New York City on Wednesday, June 19th, swing on by Don’t Tell Mama on West 46th St. where I’ll be performing my arrangements of George Gershwin songs with the wonderful vocalist Juliet Ewing. The show begins at 7pm and you can make reservations at the link below. (I’ve heard there … Read More

The true purpose of piano lessons

Hey Improvisers, Over the years, I’ve noticed that many adult piano students tend to think about piano lessons a little bit backwards; they think that their goal is to practice throughout the week in preparation for the piano lesson itself. At first glance, this seems like a good way to approach lessons. You practice diligently … Read More

What motivates you?

Hey Improvisers, I recently came across a headline in an online newspaper that promised to help the reader build good habits. Basically, it was about how to keep New Year’s resolutions. While I did expect the article to speak about healthy eating, exercise, and such, I was shocked to see “practicing piano” listed as the … Read More

How to play Wayne Shorter’s “Nefertiti”

Hey Improvisers, Thanks to everyone who has asked me about my Journey Through The Real Book video series, which I’ve now resumed. Here’s the backstory: When you live in a New York City apartment, it can be tricky to move a piece of furniture across your living room, especially a grand piano. I found this … Read More

The benefits of playing with other musicians

Hey Improvisers, Do you ever play with other musicians? If you do, you know the joys of shared music-making. One player inspires another, and everyone benefits. But if you haven’t yet made that leap, it may feel terrifying. We receive many benefits from jamming with our musical peers, and they go way beyond what I’ve … Read More

Less is more effective

Hey Improvisers, Perhaps my favorite line from my book, The Inner World of Piano Improvisation, is: “Everybody wants to sound like Miles Davis, but no one wants to play fewer notes.” I love that line, because it’s so true. Whether we play rock, jazz, pop, blues, or classical improv styles, we’ll sound much better if … Read More

Interview with Tedd Firth: The Inner World of Piano Improvisation

Hey Improvisers, I’d like to share a very special video I made, when I sat down and interviewed the wonderful pianist Tedd Firth. I’ve known Tedd for a few decades and it’s been a pleasure to see him go from “young new pianist on the NYC scene” to “accompanist to the stars.” Tedd is a … Read More

Playing a walking bass line on The Beatles’ “All My Loving”

Hey Improvisers, Have you ever noticed how some musical techniques span multiple genres? I’m always fascinated when I discover how, say, a particular arpeggiated pattern might appear in both a Mozart sonata and a folk song. Walking bass lines are like this, too. Although primarily associated with jazz, walking bass lines are also found rock … Read More

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