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

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5 concepts to guide our musical lives

Hey Improvisers! One of the fun things about both playing and teaching piano for so long is that I’ve had a lot of time to really study the learning process, both in myself and with my students. Here are the 5 most important concepts that will help us become the musicians we want to be: 1. Enjoy the journey Every mountain climber knows that each step of the journey is just as satisfying as arriving at the summit. Or, to put it another way, the experience of arriving at the summit is much better after putting in the effort of [...]

By |February 12th, 2021|general|0 Comments

Snow Day!

Today, New York City was blanketed by the gentlest, most beautiful snowfall we’ve had in recent memory. Snow Day!!! With all local activities cancelled, I enjoyed an entire afternoon of free time at home. The question arose: “What do I want to do?” I decided to dig a little deeper, and ask myself, “What do I really want to do today, that I don’t usually do?” The answer came to me: “I want to play some music that makes me happy.” “Music that I don’t often play for one reason or another.” So I went to my bookshelf, pulled out [...]

By |February 7th, 2021|general|0 Comments

The place where Jazz, Rock, and Gospel piano all come together

Hey Improvisers, I’ve just posted the newest video in our Journey Through The Real Book. It’s Keith Jarrett’s early composition “In Your Quiet Place” and it features two contrasting musical sections. It begins with a gentle, tender musical feeling and soon builds to a lively gospel/rock groove. “In Your Quiet Place” is a lot of fun to play and, as I explain and demonstrate in the video, it brings together the type of gospel/jazz/rock that was “in the air” during the late 1960s and early 1970s. If you enjoy listening to Elton John, Leon Russell, and Keith Jarrett, you’ll enjoy [...]

By |February 2nd, 2021|general|0 Comments

Which topic resonates with you?

Hey Improvisers! It’s interesting how various concepts resonate with us differently at different times. One day, a certain quote or phrase seems to be exactly what we need to hear and the next day, it’s something else altogether. I’m finding this out first-hand while making my 31-day video series on Keith Jarrett. Each day, I get really inspired by the topic I’m diving into, and it changes every day. With this in mind, I’ve compiled a few of the videos I’ve recently posted, so you don’t have to necessarily wade through them all to find which one inspires you today. [...]

By |January 24th, 2021|general|0 Comments

Peak moments at the piano

Hey Improvisers, If we play piano only once in a year, the chances of playing really well are fairly low. If we play twice, the odds are a little better, but still not so great. If we play a few times per month, one of those times may be wonderful. And if we play every day, we’ll experience peak moments on a regular basis.. After making 178 previous Journey Through The Real Book videos, I hit the jackpot with #179: In The Wee Small Hours Of The Morning. Although it’s not a tune I’ve played countless times, something “clicked” as [...]

By |January 21st, 2021|general|0 Comments

Overcoming Practice Paralysis (for Improvising Pianists)

Hey Improvisers! When I coined the phrase “Practice Paralysis” (sometime around 2014), little did I suspect that this affliction would grow much worse over time. In fact, the emails people send me demonstrate that it’s probably the single-most common obstacle that improvising pianists have today. In pre-internet times, pianists used to get Practice Paralysis from the stack of piano books on their shelf. They’d feel inspired to sit down at the piano to practice, but their eyes would glaze over as they gazed up at that mountain of stuff to practice and before they knew it, they’d have the TV [...]

By |January 17th, 2021|general|0 Comments

A Piano Improv Exercise from Keith Jarrett

Wouldn’t you love to study piano with Keith Jarrett? Believe it or not, he has actually done some private and even occasional group teaching over the years, and as we might expect, he is able to share his deep insights with his few lucky students. Jarrett has occasionally discussed his teaching methods, and in one interview I once read, he gave a wonderful piano improv exercise. The exercise is simple enough for every pianist to do, and I’ve found it to be a very effective and powerful exercise on many levels. Watch me demonstrate the exercise on this video, and [...]

By |January 10th, 2021|general|1 Comment

The Art of Keith Jarrett: A 31-Day Tribute

Every day for the next 31 days, I’ll be posting a new video on YouTube, looking at an aspect of Jarrett’s musicianship and pianistic approaches each day. Since Keith’s Köln Concert recording was a primary inspiration for me when I was deciding to spend my life playing piano, I’m excited to announce that part IIc of the concert, which you’ll find in The Real Book under the title “Memories of Tomorrow,” is the subject of the first video. I first performed the tune in a high school talent show when I was 16 years old, and it’s still thrilling to [...]

By |January 1st, 2021|general|0 Comments

Swing Era big band music for New Year’s Eve

Childhood memories live on, and for me, New Years Eve means Swing Era big band dance music. Growing up in the 1970s, I vividly remember my father turning on the TV each New Years Eve while announcing “Guy Lombardo.” As a child of the rock era, I had no idea of who exactly Guy Lombardo was. For me, he was the guy on our small black-and-white television screen playing nice dance music while we sat at home on our sofa, trying to stay awake until midnight. To bring back some happy memories, (and for those who want to see what [...]

By |December 31st, 2020|general|0 Comments

Piano Improv: Year In Review (Mailbag)

Hey Improvisers! Inspiration goes both ways, and I’ve definitely been inspired by the responses you’ve sent regarding last week’s Piano Improv: Year In Review. Some of the emails were very touching, and asked advice on how to get past the “solitary” aspect of piano-playing. Because these were of a personal nature, I won’t publish them. Instead, let’s all feel a sense community with one another, as we support each other in our musical pursuits. Yes ... Piano over Television in our home is the RULE! Tricia Thank you for this. All certainly true, except perhaps the fact that I've chosen [...]

By |December 25th, 2020|general|0 Comments