What Time Is It?

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

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Minimum Viable Piano as the key to our musical growth

Have you ever felt that everything about playing piano was difficult? That nothing comes easily to you? Or that you’ve been stuck at the same level for a long time? If so, you may want to try applying the Minimum Viable Piano concept to your musical development. Briefly, I got the idea for Minimum Viable Piano (MVP) a few years ago, when I was inspired by the business term “minimum viable product.” Basically, minimum viable product means that you can set up a new business fairly quickly, with a small amount of your product. Then, you can expand your offerings [...]

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

How to learn a really fast jazz tune

Hey Improvisers, It’s happened to all of us: we hear a new jazz tune that sounds great, we get excited about learning it, and then we sit down to play it for ourselves and… Yikes!!! We find it’s WAY too fast for us to play. When this happens, we usually just sigh, put the tune aside, and resign ourselves to maybe playing it again “someday.” Over the years, I’ve found a way to turn “someday” into “today.” The key is to let go of the fast tempo, with no regrets. We can simply play the chords to the tune, slowly, [...]

By |March 4th, 2021|general|0 Comments

Flowing Water

When I was in college (UCONN during the mid-1980s: “Go Huskies!”), I read about a book about creativity. I don’t remember the title or author (maybe Rollo May?), but I do remember what surprised me the most about it: Flow. Yes.. Flow. The author had interviews dozens of creative people in all different fields, from music and the visual arts to science and lot of other professions. And they all used the same word to describe the creative process: Flow. Well, even though I had never thought of “flow” in this way before, I thought that if all these great [...]

By |February 28th, 2021|general|0 Comments

Enjoying the musical journey

Hey Improvisers! Have you ever thought that you knew how something would go, only to discover that it turned out differently? This happens to me all the time. We go to the store to pick up a gallon of milk, and end up having a wonderful conversation with a neighbor on the sidewalk or in the parking lot. In school, we sign up for a supposedly-boring class, only to find that the teacher makes the subject “come alive.” And we listen to our kid’s or parents’ music and acquire a few unexpected new favorites. Music is like this too, and [...]

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

R.I.P. Chick Corea

An end of an era has occurred with the recent passing of Chick Corea. Chick was one of the wave of musicians in the late 1960s/early 1970s who began combining jazz, rock, Latin, and classical music in a way that truly reflected the energetic social and cultural changes of the time. Beyond that, he was/is one of the greatest pianists who ever played the instrument. If you’re new to Corea’s work, here’s the piece that basically defined his career: Chick Corea: Spain https://youtu.be/sEhQTjgoTdU Perhaps my favorite recording of his is The Trial, from the album The Mad Hatter, which was [...]

By |February 15th, 2021|general|2 Comments

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