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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: 2305
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: 1219
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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Registered: 11/16/06
Posts: 3450
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: 1732
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
500 Post Club Member

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: 5964
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: 7100
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: 7100
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: 2305
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: 368
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: 3450
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: 3450
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: 5964
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: 3450
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: 5964
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: 5964
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 clichés 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: 3450
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: 5964
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
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/16/06
Posts: 3450
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: 5964
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: 7100
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
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Registered: 07/18/09
Posts: 1219
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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#1377532 - 02/18/10 05:41 PM Re: Jazz Improve, does playing classical help? [Re: beeboss]
custard apple Offline
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Registered: 12/11/09
Posts: 2305
Loc: Sydney
This has been a really interesting discussion. At least Ray you started in classical. Even though the transition from classical to jazz is extremely difficult, the transition from a jazz background to classical is EVEN more difficult.

Anyway for me, my favourite artists are those that fuse classical into their jazz. Listen to Keith Jarrett seamlessly blend in Bach into his swing improvisations. Listen to how the melodies in The Yellow Jackets (pianist is Russell Ferrante) can sound almost classical. Listen to how Bill Evans can sound so Debussy-esque.

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#1377670 - 02/18/10 09:58 PM Re: Jazz Improve, does playing classical help? [Re: custard apple]
Ted Offline
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I find listening to and playing as wide as possible a spectrum of musical idiom entirely beneficial. At the subconscious level the brain takes it all in and everything feeds everything else, making one a better musician and pianist. No, it probably is not strictly necessary to study classical in order to play in another style and neither is the converse true. However, players who embrace the whole field, as nearly as it is possible to do so in a lifetime, seem to me immeasurably the richer for it.
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#1377738 - 02/18/10 11:40 PM Re: Jazz Improve, does playing classical help? [Re: beeboss]
jazzwee Offline
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Originally Posted By: beeboss
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.


As I said, Beeboss, Harmony is one of the benefits of Classical. But voicings is not taught to you in classical. It's an observational thing. Whereas, in Jazz, you specifically spend the time to study voicing options. It's part of the basics. No classical teacher will explain voicings.

A lot of Classical music is triad based and not even heavy on seventh chords. Lots of Octaves, unisons. In jazz, we won't waste a note on a duplication but thicken the harmony with it.

There are lots of complex classical music with dissonance. But that's not what you learn in early classical which is what a new piano student will focus on.

So at the beginning level it is not particularly helpful. I also said that at the level of Brad Mehldau, he's very heavy on studying all the harmony in classical.
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#1377926 - 02/19/10 06:31 AM Re: Jazz Improve, does playing classical help? [Re: jazzwee]
beeboss Offline
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Originally Posted By: jazzwee

As I said, Beeboss, Harmony is one of the benefits of Classical. But voicings is not taught to you in classical. It's an observational thing. Whereas, in Jazz, you specifically spend the time to study voicing options. It's part of the basics. No classical teacher will explain voicings.



Hi Jazzwee,
I fear you must have had very bad classical lessons. When I was learning classical piano as a kid I even studied 'keyboard harmony', which is basically harmonization at sight of simple melodies in a classical style. It was very useful, very voicing driven and in fact was an important part of what got me interested in jazz in the first place.
Probably most classical teachers don't know much about voicings and harmonization at sight (in just the same way that most jazz teachers don't know much about pedaling techniques and tone production) which is a shame, but this is precisely why a variety of approaches is very beneficial.
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#1377997 - 02/19/10 09:39 AM Re: Jazz Improve, does playing classical help? [Re: beeboss]
jazzwee Offline
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Hey Beeboss, the only classical I was taught was for technique. My son however has been studying classical longer than I've been studying jazz and aside from knowing basic chords, I don't think he'd know a #9 #5 chord, or even the context of it. In general, it's been driven by specific use of textbooks and 'grade' focused material. And it is certainly consistent with Diane's experience.

So if such a skill was taught before, it may be at very advanced levels that he hasn't gotten to yet or it's just not in these textbooks. But as I mentioned, simple triadic harmony is part of his learning.

BTW -- a lot of my understanding of harmony came from Shoenberg, which is a Classical source. So I know exactly what you mean. So if you educate yourself, Classical knowledge can translate into Jazz. For example the understanding of the overtone series really helps in voicings and helps you think of the balance of the dynamics inside a voicing.

But you know how it is. Most jazz beginners will start at rootless voicings and most classical students will start at reading notation and sight reading. Worlds apart. And unless you're interested, they do stay apart.
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#1378196 - 02/19/10 01:51 PM Re: Jazz Improve, does playing classical help? [Re: beeboss]
Diane... Offline
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Originally Posted By: beeboss
Originally Posted By: jazzwee

As I said, Beeboss, Harmony is one of the benefits of Classical. But voicings is not taught to you in classical. It's an observational thing. Whereas, in Jazz, you specifically spend the time to study voicing options. It's part of the basics. No classical teacher will explain voicings.


Hi Jazzwee,
I fear you must have had very bad classical lessons. When I was learning classical piano as a kid I even studied 'keyboard harmony', which is basically harmonization at sight of simple melodies in a classical style.

Beeboss,

I think that is a pretty nasty thing to say to someone! Telling someone that they must have had very bad classical lessons is just a way of saying you haven't a clue what else to say!

Classical harmony doesn't get introduced until Grade 9. At which point, this is really late in the ball game to be understanding it at this point.

This jazz instructor who came to give us teachers a day seminar on teaching jazz, all of the teachers there said they would love to play like he does, but didn't have a clue how to get there!

He mentioned that he has a lot of classically trained student come to him for lessons. He pointed out that a lot of them have a lot of knowledge, but that a lot of that knowledge was not directed correctly.

He understands jazz, and that to understand how to play jazz, what they needed was a "jazz" teacher!

Interestingly enough, he also pointed out that his "wife" was a classical piano teacher and that she has no interest in his style whatsoever!


Edited by Diane... (02/19/10 01:56 PM)
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#1378280 - 02/19/10 03:55 PM Re: Jazz Improve, does playing classical help? [Re: Diane...]
beeboss Offline
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Originally Posted By: Diane...

I think that is a pretty nasty thing to say to someone! Telling someone that they must have had very bad classical lessons is just a way of saying you haven't a clue what else to say!



I am not being nasty. I am just commenting that what jazzwee said ("No classical teacher will explain voicings.") is completely untrue. Maybe his classical teacher did not but I had plenty of classical teachers who taught me a real lot about voicings and harmony, even improvisation as I mentioned.


Originally Posted By: Diane...

Classical harmony doesn't get introduced until Grade 9. At which point, this is really late in the ball game to be understanding it at this point.



Well, I didn't know that classical teachers have to follow a guide as to when to introduce harmony. I guess the teachers I had hadn't read that bit of the instruction manual. As a trained teacher myself I am very surprised that any other teacher would follow a syllabus like that.


Originally Posted By: Diane...

This jazz instructor who came to give us teachers a day seminar on teaching jazz, all of the teachers there said they would love to play like he does, but didn't have a clue how to get there!


That doesn't surprise me at all as I have given many jazz workshops to talented classical musicians. There are many aspects to jazz that classical musicians find difficult and some take years to learn. To many the skills that jazz musicians have seem like magic.



Originally Posted By: Diane...


He mentioned that he has a lot of classically trained student come to him for lessons. He pointed out that a lot of them have a lot of knowledge, but that a lot of that knowledge was not directed correctly.



Thats absolutely right. Improvising does not really require knowledge, or, rather, it requires a sort of 'how to knowledge' and not a 'knowing about' kind of knowledge. One can only learn improvisation by actually doing it. You can learn every conceivable thing about scales chords and voicings but they will not help a jot unless you actually improvise with them. Its a bit like learning to walk, you can't learn how to do it by reading a book.
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#1378311 - 02/19/10 04:43 PM Re: Jazz Improve, does playing classical help? [Re: beeboss]
Diane... Offline
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Well Beeboss,

I think your piano teacher was an exception to the rule. Congratulations! You win!
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#1378344 - 02/19/10 05:26 PM Re: Jazz Improve, does playing classical help? [Re: Diane...]
beeboss Offline
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Originally Posted By: Diane...
Well Beeboss,

I think your piano teacher was an exception to the rule. Congratulations! You win!


Are we having a competition?
I was just trying to explain how studying classical music can help jazz pianists. Maybe I shouldn't have bothered.
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#1378346 - 02/19/10 05:27 PM Re: Jazz Improve, does playing classical help? [Re: beeboss]
Claude56 Offline
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Yes, playing classical music helps improvisation. Actually, as long as you learn anything and learn something new, it will improve your improvisation. The reason is because the MORE repetoire you have, the BETTER you will be at analyzing, understanding, interpreting, playing, improvising, and sight reading music.

Classical is the roots of all pop music, and will always and forever remain above pop. All the jazz chords and voicings, rock sounds, and pop stuff came from classical in one way or another.
Classical has even more voicings and polychords, and is even more diverse than jazz. There are some polychords that are used only in classical, and not present in jazz for example.

If you are serious about improv, I think that is best to improvise in many different styles so you can get a variety of different feelings. The best way to learn improv is to learn how to improvise BOTH jazz and classical, not discriminating either one from your improvisational repetoire. The more music you know, the better.

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#1378347 - 02/19/10 05:28 PM Re: Jazz Improve, does playing classical help? [Re: Diane...]
jazzwee Offline
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Diane, in fairness to Beeboss, he is the exact opposite of nasty. And he is extremely helpful to everyone learning jazz. So I value his opinion. He is indeed lucky because his Classical teachers did a more free form structure.

But your experience is just the usual route for most Classical teachers. There's a fixed curriculum and the goal is sight reading Classical pieces (as well as technique in general of course). And it is tied to this "RCM Grading" thing. Long ago, I only associated these grades as being a UK or Canada thing. Now, many teachers here in my area are following this same rigid structure. The goal becomes to get to the next higher grade.
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#1378348 - 02/19/10 05:29 PM Re: Jazz Improve, does playing classical help? [Re: Claude56]
Inlanding Offline
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Originally Posted By: noSkillz
Yes, playing classical music helps improvisation. Actually, as long as you learn anything and learn something new, it will improve your improvisation. The reason is because the MORE repetoire you have, the BETTER you will be at analyzing, understanding, interpreting, playing, improvising, and sight reading music.

Classical is the roots of all pop music, and will always and forever remain above pop. All the jazz chords and voicings, rock sounds, and pop stuff came from classical in one way or another.
Classical has even more voicings and polychords, and is even more diverse than jazz. There are some polychords that are used only in classical, and not present in jazz for example.

If you are serious about improv, I think that is best to improvise in many different styles so you can get a variety of different feelings. The best way to learn improv is to learn how to improvise BOTH jazz and classical, not discriminating either one from your improvisational repetoire. The more music you know, the better.


+1
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#1378363 - 02/19/10 05:45 PM Re: Jazz Improve, does playing classical help? [Re: beeboss]
RayE Offline
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Well I started Classical piano lessons at 8 years old, at a local music school (Hochstein School of Music here in Rochester NY), after my piano lesson, we had Music theory, and music appreciation classes. During those music theory classes we covered chord voicings, figured bass, harmony, etc. Then after playing about 6 years I switched to Jazz as my main focus. I've played piano for several big bands, including the local Army Reserve Band that I've been retired from for years. Now after playing piano for about 40 years, I'm finding myself interested again in Classical stylings, and I'm finding the focus on classical technique has definitely help my jazz playing. I do know many classical players who didn't get much in the way of formal theory training, and didn't know much about harmony. I really didn't mean to start a huge debate here, My question was merely for those of you that already play jazz, have any of you gone back to Classical, or started learning classical for the first time, and did it have a positive impact on your jazz playing? I'm not referring here to entry level classical, but things along the difficulty level of the Bach inventions, or the Well Tempered Clavier, or more difficult music by other composers.
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#1378400 - 02/19/10 06:27 PM Re: Jazz Improve, does playing classical help? [Re: Claude56]
Diane... Offline
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Originally Posted By: noSkillz
Classical is the roots of all pop music, and will always and forever remain above pop.


Good grief! If that's the thinking here, I'm done!!!
Going, going, poof, gone!!
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#1378690 - 02/20/10 07:31 AM Re: Jazz Improve, does playing classical help? [Re: Diane...]
Canonie Offline
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In Australian (AMEB) theory syllabus (the newest one) has students at grade one level writing simple V - I progressions, beginning to transcribe melody, and finding motives and variations in a melody (contemporary or classical). And just to be clear that it really is grade one, students also have to name notes and identify "skips and steps".

Early in grade 2 students learn chord ii and IV, begin to write chords in open or closed voicing, learn about consonance and dissonance and then learn to write every major and minor triad in root position but with varied voicings... then write inversions, figured bass numbers... ok that's enough and i only got half way through grade 2 smile

That's just a little bit of detail but I think it gives an idea of how "classical" theory syllabus has changed - at least in this country. And I'm pretty sure that jazz has been a big influence in these changes. So thank goodness students can get stuck into useful, real theory early on.

Back on topic
At the tertiary music school here it is pretty standard practice for jazz piano students to try and get some lessons with a classical teacher for technique/touch, because classical teachers specialise in teaching it. Classical students were always hopeful and encouraging that their jazz friends would be able to get a classical teacher to help them (difficult because they were so busy teaching the classical pianists). There was no better or worse, the best classical players and the best jazz players were both were considered highly skilled, admired. And there were quite a few bands that had members from both sides of this great divide. A divide that I discover on PW.
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#1378997 - 02/20/10 05:05 PM Re: Jazz Improve, does playing classical help? [Re: Canonie]
etcetra Offline
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Learning classical music can be helpful, But I think at one point you kind of have to specialize in one or the other because of time constraints. Learning an Oscar Peterson solo can be just as time consuming as learning a chopin ballde, and it may not be realistic to work on both at the same time.

When I started practicing again after my injury, I played a lot of classical music.. I re-learned all the Bach inventions and some of the prelude. But right now, between learning poly-rhythm, odd meter, new voicings, playing/transcribing chick corea solos by ear, I just don't have time to work on classical music. Learning jazz requires a full time effort and I feel like I am spreading myself too thin if I pick up a new classical piece.


Edited by etcetra (02/20/10 05:42 PM)

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#1379740 - 02/21/10 04:49 PM Re: Jazz Improve, does playing classical help? [Re: etcetra]
stores Offline
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According to recent "scholarship" (read:sarcasm) that I've read, classical music hinders, rather than helps. The required technique gets in the way, because there's too much thought involved. The necessary hours of practice with no concrete results also stand contrarily to the fruition of one's goals. Not only that, classical music, is the product of dead composers (apparently making it passe).

Note: As stated, this is according to things I've recently read, and, in no way represents my thoughts/beliefs/opinions.
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#1379810 - 02/21/10 06:28 PM Re: Jazz Improve, does playing classical help? [Re: stores]
jazzwee Offline
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Originally Posted By: stores
According to recent "scholarship" (read:sarcasm) that I've read, classical music hinders, rather than helps. The required technique gets in the way, because there's too much thought involved. The necessary hours of practice with no concrete results also stand contrarily to the fruition of one's goals. Not only that, classical music, is the product of dead composers (apparently making it passe).

Note: As stated, this is according to things I've recently read, and, in no way represents my thoughts/beliefs/opinions.


Many jazz composers are dead too smile Maybe we can call ourselves Classical music now... Or do we have to wait a century? wink
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#1380247 - 02/22/10 10:35 AM Re: Jazz Improve, does playing classical help? [Re: jazzwee]
etcetra Offline
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I guess my question is how far/at one point do you need to specialize on one or the other? People like Kenny Kirkland and Alan Broadbent made a living as classical pianists before they became established in the jazz scene.. but I don't know if they were actually doing recital in the proffessional circuit.

On the other hand you have people like Kenny Werner who flunked his first year at classical conservatory..or George Shearing who switched to jazz in his teens because classical music was too boring for him.. When I saw interviews of Oscar Peterson, he did learn classical music, but apparently he did it mostly by ear, and he didn't have the kind of formal training you get at a conservatory level.

I know that most of these guys can probably play chopin etudes, but I don't know if they will be able to play them well enough to pass a graduate recital. I know for sure that my teachers can't even though they are very accomplished players.. their chops aren't that good/clean enough to play them at an acceptable performance level

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#1380389 - 02/22/10 01:52 PM Re: Jazz Improve, does playing classical help? [Re: stores]
daviel Offline
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""According to recent "scholarship" (read:sarcasm) that I've read, classical music hinders, rather than helps. The required technique gets in the way, because there's too much thought involved. The necessary hours of practice with no concrete results also stand contrarily to the fruition of one's goals. Not only that, classical music, is the product of dead composers (apparently making it passe). ""

So much for the dead jazz artists - anybody want all my Bill Evans material? You know reading about music is a lot like dancing about architecture. [insert toungue-in-cheek smiley icon here] The last book I read about jazz was the one on the making of Kind of Blue. I don't know what it is about jazz journalism, but I never can get through those books. I couldn't finish it. I think music journalists/critics are more interested in the culture [classical, jazz, rock, folk, whatever] than the music itself. It's like asking a non-alcoholic about what it's like to be alcoholic...well, that's probably an unfortunate metaphor...anyway I just can't get through that stuff. The other thing is I like the "necessary hours" themselves! Just the act of practicing is a result. I think about it when I practice, I do not know about y'all. Practice without thought is a waste of time. Practice is itself. I like to practice; it helps everything. And what's "concrete results"? - learning the piece, or what? do you ever really learn them? What a maroon...[not the poster who's quote I discussed, just the scholarship he referenced!] yawn
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#1380872 - 02/23/10 02:55 AM Re: Jazz Improve, does playing classical help? [Re: etcetra]
Ken. Offline
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I play jazz sax and have been learning piano as a 2nd instrument. When I asked my sax teacher to recommend a piano teacher he recommended a classical teacher, which suprised me, but he thought she would be good for developing time, touch and technique. Now after 2 years I'm thinking about spending more time on jazz.

I agree with jazzwee that classical seems to be heavy on triads. I just got a classical scale book and all the chords and arpeggios are triads, except for dominant and diminished 7ths. The chords in all the pieces I've played and in my warmups are all triads. So for me when switching to jazz that would be one major difference, practising sevenths instead of triads.

Other things I would have to add are commonly occuring jazz progressions like ii-V-I, diminished scale, whole tone scale, developing a library of voicings (one-handed, rootless, two-handed), learning comping, and patterns for getting some facility in improvising.

So even though I have some classical technique, and am a jazz musician, I feel like a beginner when it comes to trying to improvise on piano.

Originally Posted By: etcetra
...Learning jazz requires a full time effort and I feel like I am spreading myself too thin if I pick up a new classical piece.

Etcetra, what do you do for practising technique? It's common for jazz musicians to use classical pieces for technique. That's one way to keep some classical in your routine.
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#1381877 - 02/24/10 11:44 AM Re: Jazz Improve, does playing classical help? [Re: Ken.]
etcetra Offline
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Ken,

Nowdays I learn/transcribe people's solos for technique. Basically I listen to a solos over and over again until I can play it along with the record note-by-note, without writing any of it down on paper.

right now I am working on

Chick Corea's solos on Matrix, Light as A feather
Mulgrew Miller's solo on "thinking out loud"

The process of learning these solos is a lot like learning classical pieces.. you isolate passages, work them at a slow tempo until it's comfortable and you move up in tempo. I use amazing slow downer and I guess I am able to play the solos at about 85% of the actual tempo. I also take ideas from what I transcribe and make exercise out of them, learning them in all keys.

What I don't get about the whole 'learning classical for technique" idea is that it makes it sound as if practicing jazz stuff doesn't help with your technique.. I know a sax player who learned the entire Charlie Parker omnibook in all keys at 300bpm.. he got his chops from doing that and spent little or no time on classical pieces. I guess my question is if you are practicing correctly, does it really matter if you are practicing classical or jazz?

After all if I am learning classical music, I'd like to do it for the music, nor for it's technical benefits..


Edited by etcetra (02/24/10 11:59 AM)

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#1381916 - 02/24/10 12:31 PM Re: Jazz Improve, does playing classical help? [Re: etcetra]
knotty Offline
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Originally Posted By: etcetra


What I don't get about the whole 'learning classical for technique" idea is that it makes it sound as if practicing jazz stuff doesn't help with your technique.. I know a sax player who learned the entire Charlie Parker omnibook in all keys at 300bpm.. he got his chops from doing that and spent little or no time on classical pieces. I guess my question is if you are practicing correctly, does it really matter if you are practicing classical or jazz?


I bet that guys sounds a lot like Bird now smile

The thing I heard about Bird, is that besides being obsessed with practicing, he was obsessed with listening to all kinds of music. There are stories that he would often stop by a listen to street performers of all genres, sometimes for an extended period of time. He apparently had great love for music, from classical to bluegrass.

I guess that's probably what made him one of the best improviser ever, not just technically, but also in the melodies he was able to compose on the spot.

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#1381986 - 02/24/10 02:19 PM Re: Jazz Improve, does playing classical help? [Re: etcetra]
KlinkKlonk Offline
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Registered: 05/19/09
Posts: 368
Originally Posted By: etcetra
Ken,

Nowdays I learn/transcribe people's solos for technique. Basically I listen to a solos over and over again until I can play it along with the record note-by-note, without writing any of it down on paper.

right now I am working on

Chick Corea's solos on Matrix, Light as A feather
Mulgrew Miller's solo on "thinking out loud"

The process of learning these solos is a lot like learning classical pieces.. you isolate passages, work them at a slow tempo until it's comfortable and you move up in tempo. I use amazing slow downer and I guess I am able to play the solos at about 85% of the actual tempo. I also take ideas from what I transcribe and make exercise out of them, learning them in all keys.

What I don't get about the whole 'learning classical for technique" idea is that it makes it sound as if practicing jazz stuff doesn't help with your technique.. I know a sax player who learned the entire Charlie Parker omnibook in all keys at 300bpm.. he got his chops from doing that and spent little or no time on classical pieces. I guess my question is if you are practicing correctly, does it really matter if you are practicing classical or jazz?

After all if I am learning classical music, I'd like to do it for the music, nor for it's technical benefits..


Still, you have learned classical at one point, so perhaps there's benefits from it that you don't notice while working on transcriptions but still is helpful to you.

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#1382083 - 02/24/10 04:27 PM Re: Jazz Improve, does playing classical help? [Re: stores]
eweiss Offline
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Originally Posted By: stores
According to recent "scholarship" (read:sarcasm) that I've read, classical music hinders, rather than helps. The required technique gets in the way, because there's too much thought involved. The necessary hours of practice with no concrete results also stand contrarily to the fruition of one's goals. Not only that, classical music, is the product of dead composers (apparently making it passe).

Note: As stated, this is according to things I've recently read, and, in no way represents my thoughts/beliefs/opinions.

By George I think he's got it!
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#1382346 - 02/24/10 11:09 PM Re: Jazz Improve, does playing classical help? [Re: knotty]
etcetra Offline
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Registered: 05/25/08
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KlinkKlink

Btw I did spend some time working on classical music, and I do agree about its benefits. I actually want to find a classical teacher but at the same time I am not sure if I can commit 2 hrs a day on a classical piece when I have so much to work on classically.

What I like about learning solos by ear is the fact that it really forces you to listen to the solos you are learning. You really have to learn the solo inside out to be able to play them.. so it works your tonal memory, your connection between your ear and your hands..etc. If the goal for every improviser is to be able to play what we hear, then I think this is the best way to be able to do that.

knotty

yea, listening is important esp. nowdays. I don't know any musicians my age that listens to just jazz. I was fortunate enough to have friends who has very different musical backgrounds.. so they got me into listening Parliment Stevie wonder.. house music.. etc. What I like about the younger players is the fact that they aren't afraid to let those thing come out in their playing/composing

btw the guy who learned the omnibook in all key won like a big jazz competition.. so i guess it worked for him smile


Edited by etcetra (02/24/10 11:15 PM)

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#1382422 - 02/25/10 02:21 AM Re: Jazz Improve, does playing classical help? [Re: etcetra]
Rob Mullins Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/10/04
Posts: 318
Loc: LA CA
Hi,
I didn't work on classical at all when I was learning to improvise. I listened to famous jazz horn players and learned their solos note for note and put chords in the left hand. Worked for me.
_________________________
Rob Mullins
www.planetmullins.com
28th album on sale now.

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#1382452 - 02/25/10 04:12 AM Re: Jazz Improve, does playing classical help? [Re: Rob Mullins]
etcetra Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/08
Posts: 1446
Rob Mullin's

Thanks!! glad to know that I am not the only one working stuff that way. I have friends that studied with Jeff Clayton, and it seems like they all studied jazz that way, just learning solos after solos.. they literally learned albums worth of stuff on their instrument.

btw I saw you play a long time ago when I was still living in LA area..It was great listening to your band, you guys all sounded great!!

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#1382939 - 02/25/10 07:07 PM Re: Jazz Improve, does playing classical help? [Re: etcetra]
volkov Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 02/25/10
Posts: 2
I think that at the end it's only about the sound you get out of your instrument and the musical atmosphere you create with it. And if you, whatever music you play, need for a particular effect a simple triad or a plain octave I think that you don't have much choice here, don't you? smile The same goes of course for any thicker textures, may it be an extended chord, polychord, random cluster, prepared piano sound, whatever. At the end music tells you what she needs. Sorry for the copy-paste but regarding this interesting discussion I will leave Brad Mehldau speak. Here is his lucid insight (taken from the essay when he talks about Brahms's influence on him):

That duality is what I love about Brahms, so it might pop out in an improvisation or a composition of mine. One of the great aspects of jazz for me is the way you get influenced. First, you’re a fan. You get the goose bumps; you become bewitched by the music. If that process doesn’t take place, then whatever music – be it Brahms, Jelly Roll Morton or klezmer – won’t find its way into your vocabulary for very long, unless you’re on some weird mission to play music you don’t dig. Anything is fodder. With a kind of Pavlovian logic, what comes out of your horn will be your own happy bastardization of what you love the most – whatever music seduced you initially. "Should I study classical music?" is the wrong question for an improviser. If you don’t dig it, it won't do anything for you.

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#1383044 - 02/25/10 10:40 PM Re: Jazz Improve, does playing classical help? [Re: currawong]
Plowboy Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/26/08
Posts: 2386
Loc: SoCal
Originally Posted By: currawong
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.


My teacher constantly emphasizes chords. She started me on some improvisation recently, and the jazz has improved my classical.
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#1383086 - 02/26/10 12:23 AM Re: Jazz Improve, does playing classical help? [Re: Plowboy]
etcetra Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/08
Posts: 1446
"Should I study classical music?" is the wrong question for an improviser. If you don’t dig it, it won't do anything for you.

That is exactly my point!! I think it's best you work on the music that moves you, and not be too concerned about what one "should" or shouldn't work on.

I've said this before but when I started college my school required that I do a junior recital in classical music, and they required me to do 3 hrs of classical and 1 hr of jazz as a jazz major. I left because I felt that this was ridiculous, and I am glad I did. I met people who graduated from that school years later, and while they had good chops, their jazz stuff was not happening at all.

The problem is that often times we tend to work on what we are expected to work on, instead of following whatever it is that moves you musically and build your practice according to that. Some teachers are there to help you get there, but a lot of them tend to put their students into a mold.. and you realize that after following it, the path they took you isn't the one you wanted.

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#1383250 - 02/26/10 08:59 AM Re: Jazz Improve, does playing classical help? [Re: RayE]
Arabesque Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/16/05
Posts: 553
Loc: Japan
Throughout the history of music composers have learned form their predessors. Jazz improvisation is nothing other than composing "on the fly". Of course the jazz pianist will be able to play through different scales and will have mastered standard progressions throughout keys. He or she will have an excellent ear and a rythmic sense.

I have found that the style of music I study does influence my improvisation significantly. If I am playing Chopin for any length of time I find myself incorporating some of the references into my improvisation. My improvisation then sounds like pastiche romantic ballade (actually very good at that. Alright if that's what I want -I don't. As for Bach perhaps it helps my technique a lot. But a walking bass is far simpler to improvise than a fugue, isn't it? However, the sensibility of adopting good linear piano technique as opposed to a technique based on chords is apparent in playing of masters such as Chic Corea, Keith Jarrett, and the late great Oscar Peterson and James Booker. So if it didn't hurt them and many others to be grounded in classical music I'd give the above question an affirmative.

However, with particular pianists such as Thomas "Fats" Waller, Earl Garner, and even Art Tatum their talent and technique outgrew anything in the classical domain, and Earl couldn't even read music. But they made up for it with spectacular gifts and keyboard mastery which had no patience for taught form from the beginning. They are the true creators of jazz. But there again you may hear classical motifs cleverly included in many of their best works indicating that their ear was always respectfully tuned to the classics in many instances.
_________________________
It don't mean a ting if it don't have dat swing

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#1383516 - 02/26/10 04:09 PM Re: Jazz Improve, does playing classical help? [Re: Arabesque]
Ken. Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/07/08
Posts: 290
It should be noted that the old school players used classical method books, etudes etc not just for technique but also as a source of ideas for their playing. They'd often get together, play through it, and then start working things out from it and showing each other stuff.
_________________________
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#1383690 - 02/26/10 09:30 PM Re: Jazz Improve, does playing classical help? [Re: Ken.]
etcetra Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/08
Posts: 1446
Arabesque&Ken

While Jazz musicians do work on classical music as source of inspiration and ideas, my experience from talking to great players seem to indicate that was not their main source of their musical ideas. Most great players I talked to emphasized how important it is to realize that jazz is an "aural tradition", and the music is passed down mainly through imitation.

To them it meant copying, stealing ideas from other players, listening to recording and playing along with them note-by-note until they sound just like the recording. These guys can play just like their idols, because they spent years learning solos and ideas from them aurually.

In my opinion. That aural part is what is specifically missing in the traditional classical training. While playing classical pieces can help you introduce you to new sounds/chords, it's not anything like having to learn a solo note by note off records. You ears are so much more involved learning that way, and if you want to learn to improvise,and actually be able to hear whatever it is you are hearing at the moment, I don't see how else you can learn to do it.

If learning classical music alone was enough to make you a great improviser, than all good classical pianists would be good improvisers, but it doesn't work that way.. and while there are benefits classical music, as a jazz player I feel that the majority of the learning should be spent on learning the masters in my own genre first, before I expand my horizon in other types of music.

For me, the problem with classical music is that the music is learned mostly through your eyes, through scores. And a lot of players are not happy about jazz education because jazz is being taught that way too. These players actually discourage students from using fake books or other method boos for jazz, because they believe these books robs students of the ability to learn by ear.

Btw when I read about Oscar Peterson and Keith Jarrett, their training in classical music does seem rather unusual. They were able to play pieces like Chopin Nocturne by ear.. and Keith Jarrett actually played Ravel's Bolero on the spot by ear without ever playing it before.. so if anything, I think their exceptional ears helped them become who they are above anything else.. I mean how many classical piano students, or even teachers can play Ravel's Bolero on the spot by memory?

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#1383733 - 02/26/10 11:04 PM Re: Jazz Improve, does playing classical help? [Re: Arabesque]
etcetra Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/08
Posts: 1446
Originally Posted By: Arabesque
Of course the jazz pianist will be able to play through different scales and will have mastered standard progressions throughout keys. He or she will have an excellent ear and a rythmic sense.


I think you are oversimplifying what it takes to improvise, especially with rhythm. You can spend years mastering (poly)rhythms alone, and you are not going develop a very strong rhythmic sense or let alone excellent ear just working through chord progression and scales. The really hip guys nowdays are doing some complex rhythmic stuff, and many of them study/studied Indian music. Rhtyhm really is a study in itself.

Originally Posted By: Arabesque
But a walking bass is far simpler to improvise than a fugue, isn't it?


That really depends on what kind of walking bass line you are talking about. If you are talking about the kind of stuff Larry Goldings or Sam Yahel does.. playing very rhythmic bass lines, bass ostinato while RH is soloing and doing metric modulation over that, then I'd say playing walking bass line would just as difficult.. or rather they require different kind of skills/expertise to master

put it this way, try to make up a complex LH bass ostinato in 4/4 and RH is playing 3/4 or 5/4 against that. Again, the problem here, (like I mentioned before) is that classical pianists usually listen for harmonic complexity when they listen to jazz, but they might not be as aware of the rhythmic aspect of improvising.

BTW if you are talking about improvising a fugure, I have not heard anyone do it, and I'd love to hear someone actually do it smile


Edited by etcetra (02/26/10 11:22 PM)

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#1384639 - 02/28/10 09:27 AM Re: Jazz Improve, does playing classical help? [Re: etcetra]
Claude56 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/02/09
Posts: 469
[i]
Originally Posted By: etcetra


BTW if you are talking about improvising a fugure, I have not heard anyone do it, and I'd love to hear someone actually do it smile


I heard Bach would improvise fugues at the church.

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#1384715 - 02/28/10 11:08 AM Re: Jazz Improve, does playing classical help? [Re: Claude56]
etcetra Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/08
Posts: 1446
noSkillz,

That's what I heard too.. if only I could go back in time and hear it!!

I've talked about this in forum and as far as I know, I don't know anyone who can actually improvise a full fugue.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KycMwdw4C6M

I even emailed the piano player on the video clip, William Goldstein, .. he is excellent improviser, but even he says that improvising a fugure is simply just out of his reach.

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#1384724 - 02/28/10 11:15 AM Re: Jazz Improve, does playing classical help? [Re: etcetra]
Claude56 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/02/09
Posts: 469
Originally Posted By: etcetra
noSkillz,

That's what I heard too.. if only I could go back in time and hear it!!

I've talked about this in forum and as far as I know, I don't know anyone who can actually improvise a full fugue.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KycMwdw4C6M

I even emailed the piano player on the video clip, William Goldstein, .. he is excellent improviser, but even he says that improvising a fugure is simply just out of his reach.



Just to make sure, we are talking about free improvisation right, for fugues?


And I betcha, anything played by the master Bach would sound good. smile


Edited by noSkillz (02/28/10 11:16 AM)

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#1384752 - 02/28/10 11:54 AM Re: Jazz Improve, does playing classical help? [Re: Claude56]
daviel Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/14/07
Posts: 933
Loc: Waxahachie, Texas
Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock, John Lewis all had classical chops. Nothing wrong with classical chops. If one has something to say, good musical ideas to communicate, any and all technical facility and musicianship helps develop those ideas. and One should not let music classifications get in the way of being creative.
_________________________
"She loves to limbo, that much is clear. She's got the right dynamic for the New Frontier"
http://roadhouseallstars.com/

David Loving, Waxahachie, Texas

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#1384868 - 02/28/10 02:39 PM Re: Jazz Improve, does playing classical help? [Re: daviel]
etcetra Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/08
Posts: 1446
daviel,

It's not about music classification, I am talking about how the music is learned. Classical music is usually learned visually through sheet music, whereas jazz(or at least how it was learned in the past) is learned aurally through transcription.

I agree that most jazz pianists have learned good amount of classical music, but they also realize just how much they have to learn by ear. At one point it's probably more helpful to learn 20 good jazz solos off records than learning 20 new classical pieces off books.

Again, can't you get great chops working through Oscar Peterson solos,as long as you practice consistently and correctly?

noskillz,

yes I meant a improvisation of fugues completely from scratch.

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#1385109 - 02/28/10 08:52 PM Re: Jazz Improve, does playing classical help? [Re: etcetra]
daviel Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/14/07
Posts: 933
Loc: Waxahachie, Texas
Reading music off the page is just another way to communicate ideas. You might be surprised to know there are plenty of jazz books,e.g. check out Mark Levine's excellent book. I play by ear and read, too. I always listen to classical stuff I work on. I like playing rags, too. They're all notation. All the gigs I play are all ear playing. In that culture it is never written out, well sometimes a lead sheet. But I do not like playing with charts on gigs - it's confining. What I was trying to get across to you is that good musical ideas come from lots of places. There's not a thing wrong with working through recorded solos - most all that stuff is never notated, and you must get the licks by ear. When I see transcriptions there are usually mistakes, and it's almost impossible to convey the rhythm on paper. I just find that trudging through classical pieces works for me, and I really like all the stuff I work on. Another thing, you don't want to copy the master jazz players too closely; you can develop your own sound!
_________________________
"She loves to limbo, that much is clear. She's got the right dynamic for the New Frontier"
http://roadhouseallstars.com/

David Loving, Waxahachie, Texas

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#1385287 - 03/01/10 03:54 AM Re: Jazz Improve, does playing classical help? [Re: daviel]
etcetra Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/08
Posts: 1446
"Another thing, you don't want to copy the master jazz players too closely; you can develop your own sound!"

I don't agree with that. Talking to great players made me realize just how much they imitate/studied their masters before they moved on to their own things.. and your own sound should be just a natural part of working through things

I think I wrote before how Gearld Clayton and Tamir Hendelman learned the entire "Canadiana Suite" By Oscar Peterson note-by-note.. If you listen to Gearld Clayton's playing you wouldn't say he is just a copycat, or that he doesn't have his own voice.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xj34JVjir9Y

One teacher of mine shared a story about how people used to call Ray Brown "Ray Pettiford" because he copied so much stuff from Oscar Pettiford. I just see it as the part of homework you just have to do to be a good player.

anyways here's a quote by bill evans

"First of all, I never strive for identity. That's something that just has happened automatically as a result, I think, of just putting things together, tearing things apart and putting it together my own way, and somehow I guess the individual comes through eventually."

Bill Evans

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#1385989 - 03/01/10 10:00 PM Re: Jazz Improve, does playing classical help? [Re: etcetra]
1RC Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/28/06
Posts: 502
Loc: Alberta
I'm not the greatest classical pianist, but it's what I've been working on for the past couple of years. My intention was to explore jazz later on, perhaps after I feel more natural with the instrument. Then I was asked to join a jazz ensemble, so I took the opportunity, might as well eh?

I show up, they hand me some charts, give a count and GO. I'm a deer in headlights. By the time I figure out what that 13th chord is, the music has moved on about 5 bars and soon enough I'm lost, haha!

The next rehearsal I got to display my incompetance before a professional, touring quartet. Fifteen seconds into it their pianist is beside me asking "you're new to this?". A week later I get to pretend in front of the composer of some of the charts we're working on! Phew...

Still, it's a lot of fun and I'm slowly getting the hang of it. Getting some simple voicings down, reading the charts faster. It really is a different way of thinking than what I'm used to with classical. I think the two approaches compliment each other very well. Even if it's not in a jazz style, the improvisational mentality is a good skill to cultivate (which all too easily gets forgotten about in classical).

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#1386051 - 03/01/10 11:23 PM Re: Jazz Improve, does playing classical help? [Re: 1RC]
etcetra Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/08
Posts: 1446
1RC

I remember my first time playing in a jazz band, and I went through the exact same thing. All I can say is that you are in for a world of pain.. I mean fun in jazz. haha. Yea playing jazz has changed my life too.

My understanding about jazz mainly comes from the teachers I had over the years. While the technique/facility for classical and jazz is the same, I do feel like learning jazz requires you to develop very different skills than learning classical. I really think the more you can learn by ear the better. In fact some teachers I know tells their students to never use a real book(unless you absolutely have to) and learn every tune by ear. While I am not that hard core about it, I do think he has a point about not using lead sheets.

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#1386127 - 03/02/10 01:39 AM Re: Jazz Improve, does playing classical help? [Re: etcetra]
1RC Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/28/06
Posts: 502
Loc: Alberta
For ear training we have classes where we take rhythmic and melodic diction or clapback/singback. There's a lot one can do in being able to recognize intervals and rhythms by ear. I've still got a long way to go, but I like the idea of being able to easily play/notate ideas that come to mind (or anywhere else for that matter). I suspect most of what's possible comes down to a greater mastery of the basic elements.

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#1386764 - 03/02/10 06:32 PM Re: Jazz Improve, does playing classical help? [Re: 1RC]
Dave Ferris Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/12/07
Posts: 1732
Loc: Glendale, Ca.
To answer the original OP's question, I 'd say most definitely.

You still have to work on Jazz specific concepts of vocabulary, connecting the chords with your lines, chord voicing, comping, accompanying and the feel/swing of Jazz. All the Classical chops in the world won't help if you can't swing or grasp the concepts of a 12 bar blues or Rhythm changes.

Playing a Chopin Etude or a Bach Prelude/Fugue from the WTC will give you great facility and control on the piano but still won't teach you how to navigate the waters on tunes like "All The Things You Are" or "Cherokee".

My advice is do both, just don't spend TOO much time on the Classical so that you don't have the time to put into the Jazz.

Classical music can be a very nice release from Jazz. When I feel my brain is getting crammed with TOO many harmonic ideas, I like to take a break and work on Chopin, Bach, Debussy or Ravel. Sometimes my head gets in a space where all I want to do is work on the instrument and all these pieces I've learned over the last 30 + years.

Other times, I'm just concentrating on different voicings, lines, motifs within different scales or modes like the Diminished, Augmented , Harmonic/Melodic Minor, Phrygian, etc. etc. in all 12 keys. Basically trying to increase my own harmonic vocabulary/awareness and apply it to tunes---Jazz standards, my own originals or regular American Songbook type Standards.

When working on both styles, you just have to find that right place for yourself. I think of it has a "Delicate Balance". smile

One thing for sure, ALWAYS SOMETHING to practice.




_________________________
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2005 NY Steinway D, Yamaha CP4, CP5 (home use) , RCF TT08A, TT22A speakers

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#1387041 - 03/03/10 04:36 AM Re: Jazz Improve, does playing classical help? [Re: Dave Ferris]
custard apple Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/09
Posts: 2305
Loc: Sydney
I'm the same. My head is now trying to commit the feeling of the jazz swing to muscle memory. When I get tired, I play classical for release.

As I mentioned, many of the top jazzists are equally at ease with classical, Keith Jarrett being the most famous example.
And here is another.

http://www.downbeat.com/default.asp?sect=news&subsect=news_detail&nid=1495

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#1387354 - 03/03/10 02:24 PM Re: Jazz Improve, does playing classical help? [Re: custard apple]
etcetra Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/08
Posts: 1446
custard apple,

I wouldn't say that Kieth Jarrett is "at ease" with classical.. Most classical pianists don't think very highly of Keith Jarrett's classical output.

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#1387448 - 03/03/10 04:17 PM Re: Jazz Improve, does playing classical help? [Re: etcetra]
custard apple Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/09
Posts: 2305
Loc: Sydney
oh really ? I think Keith Jarrett gets it right 80% of the time in classical. But maybe that's not good enough for the classical approach which strives towards 100% perfection. Do you agree ?

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#1387675 - 03/03/10 10:51 PM Re: Jazz Improve, does playing classical help? [Re: custard apple]
etcetra Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/08
Posts: 1446
custard,

I've talked about keith jarrett's classical playing with people in forum, and I even had a chance to ask question about that to an accomplished concert pianist at a workshop, and my impression is that most 'serious' classical pianist don't like Keith Jarrett's classical recordings.

I guess that's what made me think classical and jazz musicians listen to music very differently..like I said before, my teachers probably have the chops to play chopin etudes but they probably can't play well enough to pass a recital at a university level. And I don't think it's realistic for jazz pianist to spend 4 months polishing a single piece like classical pianists do.

Also, jazz pianists tend to be unusual about their classical training.. I read that Oscar Peterson learned classical music mainly by ear.. Bill Evans was a prolific sight reader, but he couldn't play scales and arpeggios well for his jury in music school...etc

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#1387809 - 03/04/10 03:57 AM Re: Jazz Improve, does playing classical help? [Re: etcetra]
custard apple Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/09
Posts: 2305
Loc: Sydney
I think you're right etcetera, that's an interesting point you made about classical and jazz people listening to classical music differently. I also think jazz people might tend to play classical music differently, such as emphasising different beats and swinging the eighths more.
Re Bill Evans, are you saying the classical jury didn't think much of his approach ? What initially attracted me to him was his individualistic approach to scales in his improvs.

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#1387864 - 03/04/10 07:12 AM Re: Jazz Improve, does playing classical help? [Re: custard apple]
etcetra Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/08
Posts: 1446
I read Bill Evans' biography, and from what I remember he played classical piano very well.. the problem was that while he played his pieces with no problem, he struggled to play scales and arpeggios, which is required for passing the jury. So his teachers were puzzled about it. I read the book a long time ago so I might not be exactly right on the detail.. but it just shows that many of the jazz pianists didn't have the kind of "formal training" like we did, or their approach was rather unusual.

I've also read that Kenny Werner actually flunked his first year as a classical piano and swtiched school to Berklee to do jazz.

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#1387942 - 03/04/10 09:42 AM Re: Jazz Improve, does playing classical help? [Re: etcetra]
daviel Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/14/07
Posts: 933
Loc: Waxahachie, Texas
Kenny Werner is a great player. Went to Wikipedia about Chick Corea after spouting off about his classical education, and he didn't have as much as I thought - lessons as a kid, 6 mos. at Julliard and 1 month at Columbia. But he had some. He wanted to play his own stuff [like always use a diminished chord in your tunes - insert tongue in cheek smiley here]. The thing I like about classical is that it's like reading an old book - with usually good ideas in it. At my age-advanced- I try to play things that make my brain work, just to keep it around longer. I find it helps my technique to play anything. I like reading through the old real book, etc. But I'd rather play jazz than classical.
_________________________
"She loves to limbo, that much is clear. She's got the right dynamic for the New Frontier"
http://roadhouseallstars.com/

David Loving, Waxahachie, Texas

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#1388159 - 03/04/10 03:22 PM Re: Jazz Improve, does playing classical help? [Re: daviel]
etcetra Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/08
Posts: 1446
daviel,

I didn't know that about chick. I always thought he had extensive classical training. BTW I want to clarify that there is a big difference between learning a classical piece and studying a classical piece and making it a part of your jazz vocabulary. I think people like chick and kenny did the latter, but they might not have learned an entire piece at a recital level.

In fact Kenny talks about how you can benefit by learning parts of a classical piece and not necessary finishing the entire piece. You can work on an entire section, or just couple of measures of a piece.. for him it doesn't matter & the only thing that matters if whether you have sufficiently mastered the material.

btw I was wrong about Oscar Peterson.. the DVD i saw gave me the impression that Oscar learned piano from his sister, but he actually had a teacher.


Edited by etcetra (03/04/10 03:46 PM)

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#1388666 - 03/05/10 06:40 AM Re: Jazz Improve, does playing classical help? [Re: etcetra]
Phlebas Offline


Registered: 01/02/03
Posts: 4654
Loc: New York City
Listen to this performance by Keith and Chick

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M4i8G2USqe4

Then listen to this performance of the same piece played by Gilels and Zak.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M4i8G2USqe4

I find that Keith Jarrett's, and Chick Corea's is clean, and nice, the ensemble is pretty good, etc. Nothing very dynamic about it. Nothing interesting about the interpretation. The stuff that makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up when you hear either of them improvise just isn't there.
There's nothing wrong with it. It's just a little straight, and plain.


The Gilels Zak recording is, IMO on a different level entirely. Very articulate, much more dynamic range, ensemble is more together. It just sparkles from beginning to end.

I think that's what classical people** mean when they comment on Jarrett and Corea's classical playing.

Now to be fair: here's Gilels playing "Straight No Chaser." laugh


**I don't mean people who see Jarrett and Corea's name, and immediately dissmiss the recordings.



Edited by Phlebas (03/05/10 06:41 AM)

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Is it really possible to ignore fingerings?
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