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#1374884 - 02/15/10 05:26 PM Jazz Improve, does playing classical help?
RayE Offline
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Registered: 01/19/10
Posts: 163
Loc: Rochester, NY, USA
I've been focusing mainly on classical music lately, today I had a day off from work so when I finished practicing the classical pieces I'd been working on, I pulled out the old Real Book. I found I was playing things in my improve that were far more technically difficult that before, but I also seemed to be more creative in coming up with ideas. I'm not sure if it was the time away, or the classical study that made the ideas come more easily. Anyone had similar experience?
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#1374978 - 02/15/10 07:02 PM Re: Jazz Improve, does playing classical help? [Re: RayE]
beeboss Offline
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Registered: 07/18/09
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Loc: uk south
I can't believe how much playing a lot of Bach has helped my improvisation. Having to approach things in a different way is always going to help lead to some new skills I think. Whatever music you study will benefit you as a player.
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#1374990 - 02/15/10 07:14 PM Re: Jazz Improve, does playing classical help? [Re: beeboss]
custard apple Offline
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Registered: 12/11/09
Posts: 2300
Loc: Sydney
I second beeboss. Bach was the greatest improviser.
As my piano teacher said, Bach would have loved to meet Jarrett, and Jarrett would have loved to meet Bach.
But you have to analyse the harmonic techniques in order for classical to improve your jazz. Bach was so clever, the more I study him the more I am sure he will never stop surprising me.

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#1375304 - 02/16/10 05:30 AM Re: Jazz Improve, does playing classical help? [Re: custard apple]
beeboss Offline
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Registered: 07/18/09
Posts: 1198
Loc: uk south
Originally Posted By: custard apple

But you have to analyse the harmonic techniques in order for classical to improve your jazz.



It is always good idea to analyse harmonically what you are playing, but playing classical music has many more benefits than just that. It can lead to technical benefits, tonal benefits, contrapuntal benefits, improved articulation, improved focus and a greater appreciation of perfection, as well as opening up all kinds of different paths for exploration.
I learnt harmony when I was a child by doing harmonizations of Bach chorales, and that has been of great benefit ever since.
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#1375506 - 02/16/10 12:26 PM Re: Jazz Improve, does playing classical help? [Re: beeboss]
Diane... Offline
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Posts: 3443
Loc: Western Canada
Don't think I agree here!

We had a professional "jazz" instructor come in to teach all the "classical" teachers how to play jazz! Well, it was entertaining to say the least. The classical teachers could "not" get the feel for jazz!

Classical is mathematical! Jazz is by "feel"! And has tritones! And classical avoids tritones! So not sure I agree with the idea that classical helps!

Sorry, just my take!
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#1375537 - 02/16/10 12:56 PM Re: Jazz Improve, does playing classical help? [Re: Diane...]
Inlanding Offline
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Registered: 08/05/09
Posts: 1648
Loc: Colorado
Some of the greatest Jazz artists began learning strictly classical, but had a bent for Jazz, so they began learning it. Some great Jazz players never played classical music. So there you have it.

Antecdote...My first piano teacher (ten months of lessons before I moved) was a skilled classical pianist with a college degree in performance, but made his living playing jazz. He played Chopin Etudes, Beethoven Sonatas, and Scriabin, etc. like nobody's business, then he could take a jazz standard and turn it upside down in several different styles. Was he an exception? Maybe. He was certainly exceptional!

But, behavior or biology...it is hard to separate them.

We are products of our genetics, training, habits, interests, and as well, other outside influences. I perceive the gray area as much broader than the black and white areas.

Glen
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#1375619 - 02/16/10 02:03 PM Re: Jazz Improve, does playing classical help? [Re: Inlanding]
nitekatt2008z Offline
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Registered: 06/24/08
Posts: 552
Many of the stars of jazz piano had heavy duty classical backgrounds and could swing. Oscar Peterson, Bill Evans, Andre Previn, Keith Jarrett, Chick Corea, the list goes on. Plus the famous late keyboardist Richard Tee who played on many records as a studio musician had 14 years of classical training and recommends to get a good classical background to develop technique, sight reading, touch, etc.

Bill Evans said in an interview once, "he got it from Bach, Bud Powell and Nat King Cole. Bill was an excellent classical sight reader, probably the best ever as far as a jazz pianist.

I didn't get any classical piano until my years at Berklee, because I was self taught up to my first semester. But my teachers assigned Bach Inventions Book 1, WTC Book I and Bartok. Studying all this music made me a better player, no doubt and I still play mainly Bach WTC because I love the music and the technical workout is invaluable with my jazz work.

For jazz I recommend Bach WTC Book 1 Prelude in Cm and Prelude in D Major. Both of those pieces are finger busters if you can play them at the stated tempo. Also try to get some classical/Baroque pianists you like who play those pieces on CD for analysis.

katt

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#1376093 - 02/16/10 11:40 PM Re: Jazz Improve, does playing classical help? [Re: nitekatt2008z]
Jazz+ Offline
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Registered: 08/07/04
Posts: 838
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No

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#1376113 - 02/17/10 12:12 AM Re: Jazz Improve, does playing classical help? [Re: Diane...]
currawong Offline
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Registered: 05/15/07
Posts: 5921
Loc: Down Under
Originally Posted By: Diane...
Classical is mathematical! Jazz is by "feel"! And has tritones! And classical avoids tritones!
I have no opinion to offer on the original question, but if you think classical is mathematical you can't have listened to or played much. And as for avoiding tritones - well, a small amount of music from a relatively narrow time may avoid tritones in certain circumstances, but such a generalisation as yours simply isn't true.

Maybe your conclusion is perfectly valid - but your way of getting there isn't. smile
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#1376116 - 02/17/10 12:16 AM Re: Jazz Improve, does playing classical help? [Re: Jazz+]
jazzwee Offline
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Registered: 04/25/07
Posts: 7064
Loc: So. California
Originally Posted By: Jazz+
No


LOL smile That's pretty black and white...

At least you learn Harmony. It's all the same stuff. Obviously nothing rhythmic.
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#1376118 - 02/17/10 12:18 AM Re: Jazz Improve, does playing classical help? [Re: Diane...]
jazzwee Offline
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Registered: 04/25/07
Posts: 7064
Loc: So. California
Originally Posted By: Diane...
Don't think I agree here!

We had a professional "jazz" instructor come in to teach all the "classical" teachers how to play jazz! Well, it was entertaining to say the least. The classical teachers could "not" get the feel for jazz!

Classical is mathematical! Jazz is by "feel"! And has tritones! And classical avoids tritones! So not sure I agree with the idea that classical helps!

Sorry, just my take!


Diane, funny statement smile My jazz teacher would actually say that Jazz is quite mathematical.
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#1376124 - 02/17/10 12:23 AM Re: Jazz Improve, does playing classical help? [Re: jazzwee]
custard apple Offline
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Registered: 12/11/09
Posts: 2300
Loc: Sydney
Exactly per jazzwee - the benefit is primarily harmony.
That's why the classical people Diane was talking about couldn't get the "feel". In fact it's very difficult for the average classical person to get the jazz beat which generally emphasises the upbeat rather than the downbeat of classical.

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#1376325 - 02/17/10 09:29 AM Re: Jazz Improve, does playing classical help? [Re: custard apple]
KlinkKlonk Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/19/09
Posts: 362
My real break happened after I got an old school classical teacher to correct my technique, so in my case western classical has helped me heaps. Surely you can gain technique alone with exercises and etudes adapted from jazz repertoire. It just doesn't seem to be a major part of jazz teaching as far as I've experienced. For me the greatest benefit from classical is definitely not harmony but rather control over nuances, touch, voice leading and generally better musicianship.

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#1376376 - 02/17/10 10:24 AM Re: Jazz Improve, does playing classical help? [Re: KlinkKlonk]
Diane... Offline
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Registered: 11/16/06
Posts: 3443
Loc: Western Canada
Well, I played classical music and got my Grade 9 RCM! Maybe I didn't go high enough.

So my classical teachers would tell me that Jazz was ridiculous music and has doesn't have rhythm! One even said it was "junk" music! Not true!

Classical training trains you to play what's on the paper, and never to deviate away and never to improvise! Where as jazz encourages the player to play outside the box and improvize!

As I said before, jazz is knowing chords! And classical doesn't teach you to see chords, but to see notes!

Yes, I played a lot of classical, but had to re-train my mind when I took jazz classes to understand chords, chord progressions, in a whole different light!

The theory for classical and jazz are totally different too!
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#1376399 - 02/17/10 10:50 AM Re: Jazz Improve, does playing classical help? [Re: Diane...]
Diane... Offline
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Registered: 11/16/06
Posts: 3443
Loc: Western Canada
Would think the "key" is to get a very good Jazz instructor!

A good jazz instructor is probably hard to find as they are probably busy playing in venues! And getting paid doing what they love! grin
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#1376693 - 02/17/10 05:46 PM Re: Jazz Improve, does playing classical help? [Re: Diane...]
currawong Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/15/07
Posts: 5921
Loc: Down Under
Originally Posted By: Diane...
So my classical teachers would tell me that Jazz was ridiculous music and has doesn't have rhythm! One even said it was "junk" music!...
...Classical training trains you to play what's on the paper, and never to deviate away and never to improvise! ...
... And classical doesn't teach you to see chords, but to see notes!....
Diane, it just sounds like you had very poor classical teachers.
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#1376698 - 02/17/10 05:51 PM Re: Jazz Improve, does playing classical help? [Re: currawong]
Diane... Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/16/06
Posts: 3443
Loc: Western Canada
Originally Posted By: currawong
Originally Posted By: Diane...
So my classical teachers would tell me that Jazz was ridiculous music and has doesn't have rhythm! One even said it was "junk" music!...
...Classical training trains you to play what's on the paper, and never to deviate away and never to improvise! ...
... And classical doesn't teach you to see chords, but to see notes!....
Diane, it just sounds like you had very poor classical teachers.


Well my first teacher was President of the RCM Register Piano Teacher's Association!

Don't think I would consider her a poor classical teacher! She also had every letter of the alphabet after her name!
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#1376706 - 02/17/10 05:57 PM Re: Jazz Improve, does playing classical help? [Re: Diane...]
ArielLevy Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/04/10
Posts: 25
Quote:
Don't think I would consider her a poor classical teacher! She also had every letter of the alphabet after her name!
Here's a good riddle: Take 100 classical pianists from some undergraduate program and 100 jazz pianists from the same program and let's see who is working more consistently? The classicists get on my nerves being so full of themselves. I mean, what is the point of playing music as a profession if you can't get a job for anyone to hear you??? I wonder how many pianists are playing classical repetoire on cruise ships and in supper clubs?

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#1376719 - 02/17/10 06:13 PM Re: Jazz Improve, does playing classical help? [Re: Diane...]
currawong Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/15/07
Posts: 5921
Loc: Down Under
Originally Posted By: Diane...
Well my first teacher was President of the RCM Register Piano Teacher's Association!... Don't think I would consider her a poor classical teacher! She also had every letter of the alphabet after her name!
If she didn't teach you to see chords in classical music then that's poor teaching in my opinion.
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#1376723 - 02/17/10 06:18 PM Re: Jazz Improve, does playing classical help? [Re: ArielLevy]
currawong Offline
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Registered: 05/15/07
Posts: 5921
Loc: Down Under
Originally Posted By: ArielLevy
The classicists get on my nerves being so full of themselves.
I don't think there were any classicists here being "full of themselves". I didn't see this as a jazz vs. classical discussion. I only popped in to make a couple of comments about what Diane said. You don't need to inflame what wasn't there to start with.
Originally Posted By: ArielLevy
I mean, what is the point of playing music as a profession if you can't get a job for anyone to hear you??? I wonder how many pianists are playing classical repetoire on cruise ships and in supper clubs?
Well, lots of people enjoy playing classical music without any thought of earning money from it. Just like, I suppose, a lot of jazz pianists. I'm sure they don't all see jazz as simply a meal ticket. But, for what it's worth, one of my longest and best-paying jobs was playing classical music in a restaurant.
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#1376727 - 02/17/10 06:25 PM Re: Jazz Improve, does playing classical help? [Re: ArielLevy]
RayE Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/19/10
Posts: 163
Loc: Rochester, NY, USA
I didn't think this question would be so divisive, but it's been interesting to read the responses. I personally don't agree that Classical is strictly mathematical, especially with the romantic composers, but there is a different feel between jazz and classical. I see the biggest bang for the buck in the technique department. I find classical forces me to do things that I would avoid doing in an improvisational jazz setting, or playing popular music. I do find myself adding things from the classical pieces I'm playing into my improvisation, so that has helped me get away from some of the tired clich├ęs that I'd been catching myself playing. To me it does seem to have been a benefit, but I can understand where it might not be for everyone. Do keep in mind that Bach, Bethoven and Mozart were also considered to be skilled improvisors, and most Church musicians spend a lot of time improvising music during communion, and the offering, etc. As far as Classical musicians not working, well there may not be as many jobs for Classically trained musicians as Jazz, but there is work out there for classically trained musicians Particularly in Church's, playing in pit orchestras for musicals (technically not classical music, but requires great reading skills, and not a lot of improvising), accompanying choirs, and instrumental and vocal soloists. I think as a well rounded musician it doesn't hurt to work in multiple styles of music, rather than be a one trick pony who can only play one of the other.
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#1376732 - 02/17/10 06:29 PM Re: Jazz Improve, does playing classical help? [Re: currawong]
Diane... Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/16/06
Posts: 3443
Loc: Western Canada
Originally Posted By: currawong
Originally Posted By: Diane...
So my classical teachers would tell me that Jazz was ridiculous music and has doesn't have rhythm! One even said it was "junk" music!...
...Classical training trains you to play what's on the paper, and never to deviate away and never to improvise! ...
... And classical doesn't teach you to see chords, but to see notes!....
Diane, it just sounds like you had very poor classical teachers.


Oh, and after getting my Grade 7 with the first teacher who was President of the RCM Registered Piano Teachers' Association, she died, so I went under the another teacher who was the Examiner and Adjudicator for the RCM. I got my Grade 9 with her! And I still couldn't play "jazz" piano!

She also had every letter of the alphabet after her name!

Neither one of these teacher's would be considered "very poor classical teachers"!

Just that these highly educated "classical" piano teachers hadn't a clue how to teach "jazz"!


Edited by Diane... (02/17/10 06:29 PM)
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#1376768 - 02/17/10 07:08 PM Re: Jazz Improve, does playing classical help? [Re: Diane...]
currawong Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/15/07
Posts: 5921
Loc: Down Under
Originally Posted By: Diane...
Originally Posted By: currawong
Originally Posted By: Diane...
So my classical teachers would tell me that Jazz was ridiculous music and has doesn't have rhythm! One even said it was "junk" music!...
...Classical training trains you to play what's on the paper, and never to deviate away and never to improvise! ...
... And classical doesn't teach you to see chords, but to see notes!....
Diane, it just sounds like you had very poor classical teachers.
Just that these highly educated "classical" piano teachers hadn't a clue how to teach "jazz"!
Well I'm not suggesting a classical teacher should be expected to teach you jazz! I'm simply saying that identifying chords is part of music reading in the classical tradition and should be taught. If it isn't, then my opinion is the teacher is missing something. That's all. I agree that lots of classical piano teachers have no clue about how to teach jazz. And lots of jazz teachers have no clue about how to teach classical. They specialise. Nothing wrong with that is there? I'm not in the "which is better" argument at all, because I didn't think that was what this thread was about. I was simply correcting a few little statements you made, like "classical doesn't use tritones". Nothing against the main drift of your ideas, though I've known a number of pianists (and teachers) who are good at both. You apparently haven't. I think we probably agree more than you think we do. smile
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#1376803 - 02/17/10 07:41 PM Re: Jazz Improve, does playing classical help? [Re: currawong]
Diane... Offline
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Registered: 11/16/06
Posts: 3443
Loc: Western Canada
Originally Posted By: currawong
Originally Posted By: Diane...
Originally Posted By: currawong
Originally Posted By: Diane...
... And classical doesn't teach you to see chords, but to see notes!....
Diane, it just sounds like you had very poor classical teachers.
Just that these highly educated "classical" piano teachers hadn't a clue how to teach "jazz"!
Well I'm not suggesting a classical teacher should be expected to teach you jazz! I'm simply saying that identifying chords is part of music reading in the classical tradition and should be taught.


Well I learned chords but not voicings!

About now I think it would be appropriate to mention my "third" piano teacher! After finishing my Grade 9, I still couldn't play the piano the way I wanted to! I just couldn't play any more classical. So I went to a "jazz" piano teacher!

He plays on cruise ships and is highly sought after and makes his whole living playing at venues. Some of which fly him to different parts of the country to play events. You name it, he can play it! He also played dinner music at my wedding and later that evening brought his band in and played the dance too.

So the question was, "does playing classical help jazz improvization?"

From my experience! The answer would be "No"!


Edited by Diane... (02/17/10 07:48 PM)
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#1376815 - 02/17/10 07:54 PM Re: Jazz Improve, does playing classical help? [Re: Diane...]
currawong Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/15/07
Posts: 5921
Loc: Down Under
Originally Posted By: Diane...
So the question was, "does playing classical help jazz improvization?"
From my experience! The answer would be "No"!
Yes, that was the question, wasn't it. smile
Maybe in your case it's "classical lessons didn't help jazz improvisation". The actual playing may have contributed something technically.

I just have a feeling that in some way, in music, everything helps everything else. Maybe jazz improvisation helps with classical playing too - making you better at being in the moment, or making you better at listening, or making you less tense.

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#1376966 - 02/17/10 11:48 PM Re: Jazz Improve, does playing classical help? [Re: currawong]
daviel Offline
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Registered: 11/14/07
Posts: 933
Loc: Waxahachie, Texas
I practice classical just about exclusively. Scales - pieces. I think it helps me play everything else (rock, jazz, blues/R&B) better. Just my experience. There is nothing else that improves facility and technique as good and as fast for me. I really do not practice stuff I use on gigs at home - I will play at the occasional band rehearsal, but I just play there - it really is all the 'work' it needs. I think the OP's experience is true. His using the RealBook is a good way to learn voicings, and how to read lead sheets.


Edited by daviel (02/17/10 11:51 PM)
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#1377170 - 02/18/10 08:22 AM Re: Jazz Improve, does playing classical help? [Re: daviel]
etcetra Offline
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Registered: 05/25/08
Posts: 1446
It's interesting, I listened to a interview of Kenny Werner recently and he basically said it's not necessary for student to learn classical as a student.

Learning classical pieces will help with your chops but it's not going to make your playing sound like Chick Corea or Oscar Peterson. You aren't going to suddenly play the Blues in Gb fluently or learn to be able to do a block chord solos just because you learned all the Chopin etudes.

I really think transcribing, and learning solos off records is the hard work that you need to do to learn jazz. I know many great jazz pianists who has committed albums worth of stuff into their memory.. some of them can play-along with an entire album note-by-note.

If you consider how long it takes to learn to play a solo by memory (2-4 months depending on difficulty and getting it up to tempo).. then it really doesn't leave me that much time to do classical stuff.. If you can pick 1-2 at a time like you would do classical pieces, then that should keep you busy for months... and if you decide to learn that one solo in all keys, then you can easily spend 6 months mastering it in all keys.

So I do agree that learning classical piano can be helpful.. the question is, as a jazz pianist, is that time better spent doing something else.. like the stuff I mentioned above?

I also want to add that while learning classical music can help you with harmony, for me it didn't really help much rhythmically. I feel like most classical pianists tend to go for harmony first when they learn jazz but they tend to be oblivious about the rhythmic complexity that goes into good solos(all the poly-rhythm, backphrasing over-the-bar-line stuff..etc).. In some ways I'd recommend jazz pianist learning the drum over classical piano so that they can rhythmic understand aspect of things early on..


Edited by etcetra (02/18/10 09:22 AM)

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#1377179 - 02/18/10 08:32 AM Re: Jazz Improve, does playing classical help? [Re: etcetra]
etcetra Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/08
Posts: 1446
double posted


Edited by etcetra (02/18/10 08:33 AM)

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#1377336 - 02/18/10 12:13 PM Re: Jazz Improve, does playing classical help? [Re: Diane...]
jazzwee Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/25/07
Posts: 7064
Loc: So. California
Originally Posted By: Diane...
Originally Posted By: currawong
Originally Posted By: Diane...
Originally Posted By: currawong
Originally Posted By: Diane...
... And classical doesn't teach you to see chords, but to see notes!....
Diane, it just sounds like you had very poor classical teachers.
Just that these highly educated "classical" piano teachers hadn't a clue how to teach "jazz"!
Well I'm not suggesting a classical teacher should be expected to teach you jazz! I'm simply saying that identifying chords is part of music reading in the classical tradition and should be taught.


Well I learned chords but not voicings!


Bingo. Jazz is about experimentation. Voicings is about experimentation. Classical does nothing to teach you about voicings.

As long as a person is already doing improvisation, I think it is really helpful to observe the harmonic movements in Classical. It's no different than Jazz. Even the simple Chopin Prelude #4 in Em. That could be a Jazz standard smile

Obviously classical pianists focus much more on technique than is possible for an improvising jazzer. We don't get the chance to play something the same way twice (except for the head). So many Jazz pianists benefit from early Classical training.

But there's only so much time. There's so much to learn in jazz so it's really hard to focus deeply on multiple genres.

As another poster says (Knotty), it is much easier to sound good in Classical early on. It is VERY HARD to sound good in jazz at the early stages. Mastery of time/rhythm is a hell of a task. So at the early learning stages, I think Classical would be a distraction.

When you're at Brad Mehldau's level, I think you can safely rediscover Classical smile
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#1377432 - 02/18/10 02:52 PM Re: Jazz Improve, does playing classical help? [Re: jazzwee]
beeboss Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/18/09
Posts: 1198
Loc: uk south
Originally Posted By: jazzwee


Bingo. Jazz is about experimentation. Voicings is about experimentation. Classical does nothing to teach you about voicings.



Hmm, where did all those voicings that jazz musicians use come from I wonder?
Debussy was using sharp 9 chords a century ago. And generally jazz is harmonically a long way behind classical music. I think you may find that many of the best jazz musicians study classical music rather hard, and opening up ideas about harmony is just one of the great benefits.
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New Topics - Multiple Forums
High pitched sound from Yamaha Clavinova PF P-100
by Shiverca
08/30/14 10:43 AM
Rusty strings- a silly question?
by PhilipInChina
08/30/14 08:59 AM
Yamaha "reconditioned in Japan"
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08/30/14 08:44 AM
New start - wish me good luck:)
by FarmGirl
08/29/14 11:21 PM
Automatic Piano Players...
by tksler
08/29/14 10:33 PM
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