I’m excited to share a video that 50 of my online piano students and I have put together.
A few months ago, I asked all of my online students, who live all over the world, if they’d like to participate in a kind of “virtual orchestra” video, with all of us pianists jamming together. 50 of them replied “yes,” and I began to map it all out.
I love that moment when the whole concept starts to become envisioned in my mind, and then it’s a step-by-step process to make this vision a reality. It’s just like cooking a meal, designing a building, or any similar project.
In this case, I created a musical score in Finale, for 50 pianists. Instead of writing everything out, however, I left plenty of room for improvisation and I tailor-made each part for the specific person who would be playing it.
Did you notice how I said “person” instead of “pianist.” This is because I follow Duke Ellington’s practice of arranging music for the individual who will be playing the music, and not thinking of the orchestration generically. For instance, if a student loves jazz, I gave them some fun jazz to improvise with, such as a, 8-bar solo or a walking bass line to create themselves over the chord changes. I wanted to leave room for each person to contribute something of their own personality, while at the same time making sure it all worked out as a group jam session. From the time I began making 50 individual videos to explain the concept to each of the students involved, to the processes of receiving their audios and videos, to the meticulous fitting together each piece of the puzzle, to the final editing of the finished video, I’ve spent well over 200 hours on this true “labor of love.”
The students involved range from beginners to seasoned professionals, and as you’ll hear, the music moves from semi-classical improv and pop, through jazz and into a couple of rollicking boogie/barrelhouse blues choruses. The youngest performer is 10 years old and I’m happy that there are also many pianists in here who have returned to piano after years and even decades of putting it aside. They are all realizing their dreams of playing with joy and fluency, and bringing the joy of piano improvisation into their musical lives in a full, satisfying way.
Thank you to all the individuals who participated in this collective project. You are amazing and you should be proud to have made something so truly inspiring!
Here’s the video:
World Piano Jam!
Enjoy the journey, and “let the music flow!”
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