What Time Is It?

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

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

Should we use ChatGPT to learn about music?

Hey Improvisers, Should we use ChatGPT to learn about music? It’s a fair enough question, and the first answer that perhaps comes to mind is, “Sure, why not? Any learning tool is good if used in the right way.” Again, fair enough. But let’s look at one aspect of ChatGPT in depth, and weigh the … Read More

Is ChatGPT a reliable way to learn about music?

With the recent introduction of ChatGPT, we humans find ourselves at a crossroads of human history; a crossroads at which the forces of technological “progress” are pushing us down one particular road without giving any of us individuals any real decision about which path we’d prefer to take. Simply put, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is here … Read More

Ideas for playing Miles Davis” composition “Nardis”

Hey Improvisers, Our Journey through the Real Book continues! I’ve just posted a new Journey Through the Real Book video, featuring the great Miles Davis composition “Nardis.” “Nardis” was one of Bill Evans’ favorites, and it’s a tune that gives up its secrets gradually over time. So whether you’re hearing about it for the first … Read More

Tips for accompanying a vocalist on jazz ballads

Hey Improvisers, There’s no better feeling in the whole world than playing a jazz ballad. For me, it’s pure bliss: complete relaxation combined with the most beautiful harmonies imaginable. When the wonderful vocalist Juliet Ewing and I went into the recording studio to made a video of George Gershwin’s classic ballad “I’ve Got A Crush … Read More

Sign up for Blog Updates