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

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Improvising a jazz piano intro in the style of Chick Corea

Have you ever sat down at your piano and specifically tried to play in the style of one of your favorite jazz pianists? This can be a lot of fun, especially if it’s during a rubato, out-of-tempo section where we can take our time and think of what comes next. I recently did this while playing Cole Porter’s “I Love You.” The opening melodic interval is a descending major 7th, and this is exactly the type of angular melodic shape that Chick Corea likes to use, particularly while playing rubato. So I decided to use that motif as the basis [...]

By |July 7th, 2020|general|0 Comments

Developing the hand independence to play rock bass lines and solo at the same time

Hey everyone, I’m having a great time making the videos for my 31-Day Rock Piano for Beginners Workout Challenge on YouTube! In a sense, I’m going back to how I myself learned to play rock piano, when my friends and I formed a “garage band” at the age of 15. We didn’t know anything about music, and we dived right in, practiced together at the guitarist’s house several days a week after school, and loved every minute of it. (Well, I probably didn’t love the time when the bass player pretended he couldn’t play “Satisfaction” correctly because he didn’t like [...]

By |July 5th, 2020|general|0 Comments

How to play rock piano accompaniments

Day 4 of my 31-Day Rock Piano for Beginners Workout Challenge gets you playing rock piano accompaniments in a fun and rhythmically flexible way. Here's the video - enjoy! https://youtu.be/yyhBZLz4Pms Enter your email here to get your free copy of my ebook, Pop and Rock Accompaniment for Piano * indicates required Email Address *

By |July 4th, 2020|general|0 Comments

How to play the A Blues Scale on Piano

The best way to become a fluent rock pianist is to dive right in and jam right away. Getting started is easier than you may think, and I’ve made a video to show how the notes in the A Blues Scale and how to use them to solo over rock grooves. In fact, we’ll spend a full 20 minutes jamming on the A Blues Scale so you really get to know it well. Here’s the video: Day Two: Rock Piano for Beginners Workout Challenge https://youtu.be/6iYt9F4jn4M Enjoy! Ron PS – If you’d like to start at the beginning of this video [...]

By |July 2nd, 2020|general|0 Comments

Day 1 – Rock Piano for Beginners 31-Day Workout Challenge!

I’m noticing more and more these days that the traditional, effective way of learning piano improv styles has been reversed, and this is holding a lot of aspiring pianists back. Even more importantly, it’s preventing many of us from fully enjoying the process of playing music. All too often, piano study becomes 20 years of feeling we’re “not good enough.” Traditionally, a beginning rock, jazz, or blues pianist would learn a few chords, or a scale, and immediately begin jamming with other musicians, having tons of fun right from the beginning. Think of the Beatles. Jazz musicians such as Horace [...]

By |July 1st, 2020|general|0 Comments

Playing Cole Porter’s “I Love Paris” as a jazz piano solo

Our journey through the Real Book has brought us to #162, which is Cole Porter’s great song “I Love Paris.” Playing a jazz interpretation of a song like “I Love Paris” leads us into fascinating places because the piece itself isn’t mainstream jazz, or even mainstream popular music of the 1950s, when it was composed. By contrast, if we’re playing a tune like “Confirmation,” we immediately have a kind of style in mind. It’s a bebop tune by Charlie Parker and we’ll almost always play it as a straight-ahead bebop tune. And if we’re playing a typical standard from the [...]

By |June 28th, 2020|general|0 Comments

Stress-free piano playing

Although we often hear how “wonderful” it is to play piano, and how “relaxing” is can be, the truth is that not every pianist experiences this. All too often, playing piano becomes the very source of stress we sought to avoid by learning music in the first place! I was reminded of this by an email I received a few minutes ago from a student, who told me that she’s finally learning how to approach playing the piano in a relaxed way after stressing out about it for 40 years. (Bravo, Carole!) For some people it’s a subtle tension and [...]

By |June 21st, 2020|general|0 Comments

Becoming comfortable playing at a slow blues tempo

One of the ironic aspects of musicianship is that many aspiring rock and blues pianists have trouble playing slow tempos. On the surface it seems like it would be easy, right? We usually think “Fast = difficult, slow = easy.” But in reality, it can be very challenging to feel comfortable playing at slow tempos. When we begin analyzing it, we realize that there are a few reasons for this. First, most of our “pianistic upbringing” is about building up to faster tempos. From the time we’re very young, we practice each piece slowly at first and then, as soon [...]

By |June 16th, 2020|general|0 Comments

Thoughts on playing torch songs on piano

Hey everyone! This week I’ve been thinking about “torch songs” because our Journey Through The Real Book has brought us to Duke Ellington’s masterpiece “I Got It Bad And That Ain’t Good.” There are several, varied definitions of the term “torch song” and the I’ve come to understand them is that they are ballads, often with jazzy harmonies or blues elements, and their lyrics speak of unrequited love or a similar sense of yearning for a better relationship than the person currently has in their life. As someone commented on my YouTube channel today, Frank Sinatra’s “One For My Baby” [...]

By |June 13th, 2020|general|0 Comments

Attaining true fluency with our piano improv

Hey everyone! I began improvising jazz and rock music when I was 15 years old and my friends and I formed a “garage band.” When I think back on those days I feel lucky to have started in such a fun atmosphere, without being frontloaded by too much theory or having someone tell me “You need to learn this,” “You need to learn that.” We just enjoyed ourselves and learned more about chords and scales when we felt stuck. It all unfolded naturally. I also feel fortunate that I still feel as excited about playing music now as I did [...]

By |June 8th, 2020|general|0 Comments