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#2324273 - 09/05/14 05:11 AM How can a classical pianist learn piano jazz?
Mihai Sirbu Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 09/02/14
Posts: 1
Hi everyone. I'm new on this forum and I want some advices and tips. I'm a classically trained pianist (11 years) in a High School of Arts and I really want to know how can I start playng some jazz. I think the start is the hard part...I don't know, my morale is down. I really need help because I love jazz.
Thank you smile

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#2324322 - 09/05/14 09:04 AM Re: How can a classical pianist learn piano jazz? [Re: Mihai Sirbu]
beeboss Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/18/09
Posts: 1201
Loc: uk south
Learn about chords and sequences, listen to jazz and copy what you hear, get a real book and struggle through some tunes, but best would be to find a good jazz teacher for a few lessons
_________________________
http://www.youtube.com/davebeeboss

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#2324346 - 09/05/14 10:00 AM Re: How can a classical pianist learn piano jazz? [Re: Mihai Sirbu]
Michael Sayers Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/15/13
Posts: 1129
Loc: Stockholms län, Sverige
You can use the piano solo scores of music by Jelly Roll Morton, Scott Joplin, Art Tatum, and others, to get a feel for how music can lay under the hands differently than in Bach, Liszt, Chopin, Brahms, et al. And I think the idea of getting a teacher in jazz piano is best, that person will know how to get started. If you are going to pursue jazz rather than classical then a teacher at least up to a certain level of study and immersion is necessary - don't be like me and have only an appreciation of jazz, and enjoy some playing of jazz and related music on the piano, which isn't the same thing as really being a jazz pianist. Maybe like Loussier and sometimes Brubeck you can eventually come up with a compelling quasi-synthesis of classical and jazz. There are also such things as Jan Johansson's great Jazz på Svenska. Don't feel down about it or overwhelmed, just get a teacher to help you get started. Try to find your own style or presence as a jazz pianist.

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#2324351 - 09/05/14 10:15 AM Re: How can a classical pianist learn piano jazz? [Re: Mihai Sirbu]
Mark Polishook Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/29/12
Posts: 662
Loc: Leicester, UK
In the spirit of total agreement with all advice posted so far: Get a teacher to work with. It's a music that's learned very well with others. Whether it's just you and a teacher. Or you and a teacher and a group of friends.

t's often said the best teachers help their students to learn how to teach themselves. But in the beginning of learning to play jazz it'll save a ton of time and effort to work with a teacher. Over time you'll know how to teach yourself. A good teacher will also help you to build your growing interests in jazz right on top of all the skills you already have.

... yes of course, there are great pianists who are self-taught, and they're exceptional and, really, the exceptions.

And have fun with the learning process! (Which a good teacher can help you to do as well).

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#2324366 - 09/05/14 11:06 AM Re: How can a classical pianist learn piano jazz? [Re: Mihai Sirbu]
chrisbell Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/11/07
Posts: 1355
Loc: Stockholm, Sweden
Whilst you're searching for a teacher you need to listen - a lot - to jazz. You need to find the pianist (and with that a specific period in jazz; swing, bop, cool, latin, etc) that you want to emulate.
Imitate, Integrate, Innovate: are the three corner stones to learning jazz.
When you've found the pianist of your choice, collect all you can find, articles, interviews, albums where the pianist is a side-man a part from his/her own. And then listen some more; obsessively.
You will start to acquire the inner-ear that a jazz musician needs to develop.

And get that teacher . . .
_________________________

I never play anything the same way once.

https://soundcloud.com/chrisb/sets
https://www.youtube.com/user/djboing/videos

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#2324367 - 09/05/14 11:16 AM Re: How can a classical pianist learn piano jazz? [Re: Mihai Sirbu]
jjo Online   content
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/09/08
Posts: 632
Loc: Chicago
I'm a classical guy who switched to jazz (and love it!), so here's what you need to realize. Some classical people think jazz is just another style, like baroque, impressionism, etc. It's not. It's a totally different mental approach to music. Your chops will serve you well, but you'll need to start from scratch on the mental approach to music. Classical is about playing notes on a page. Jazz is about playing over a harmonic structure, normally a series of chord progressions. That's why jazz is generally played from a lead sheet, which provides the harmony and the single note melody; we fill in the rest.

Jazz can be learned without a teacher, but it's much easier if you have a good teacher to get you going. My teacher really likes (and I do, as well) the Jazz Piano book by Mark Levine. It's a classic. However, it is not set up as an instruction guide; it's really more of a reference work. It might be a good purchase, however, because you can be comfortable that what's in there is very valuable stuff.

Unfortunately, I learned with a teacher, so I really can't suggest a course of instruction without one.

Good luck; learning jazz is a fantastic journey!

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#2324396 - 09/05/14 12:03 PM Re: How can a classical pianist learn piano jazz? [Re: Mihai Sirbu]
JazzPianoOnline Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/14/07
Posts: 91
Loc: raleigh, nc
i agree completely with jjo.

the best way to describe jazz to a classically trained player is that jazz is composing in the moment. and because of that everything that you do when you play jazz is improvised. you improvise the choice of voicings for chords, the rhythmic concept, the melodic content, etc.

this is a daunting concept for most classical players who are mainly trained at executing a series of notes on a page. you can take comfort in the fact, however, that the improvising that you are doing is within very structured boundaries. you play tunes from a fairly limited repertoire (standards) that have a form of one of two types 12 bar blues and 32 bar AABA, and a repeating series of chord changes that is composed of only 60 chords distributed among 5 distinct types.

i hope this makes it seem like a more manageable task.

the first place you want to start is to learn the 5 chord types and the 60 chords (5 chord types x 12 keys) that make up the harmony of mainstream jazz. while you are doing this listen to the repertoire and get to know some tunes. buy a real book and then play the tunes using the chords.

you can then move on to learn voicings (particular arrangements of notes of chords that vary the sound of the chords) and then improv.

all of that is a long term project and it is best done with a studio teacher or a good online teaching site.

feel free to contact me to talk more!
_________________________
br
bill@jazzpianoonline.com
www.JazzPianoOnline.com

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#2324529 - 09/05/14 06:17 PM Re: How can a classical pianist learn piano jazz? [Re: Mihai Sirbu]
Dfrankjazz Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/03/13
Posts: 139
Loc: NYC
There is no hope)

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#2325103 - 09/07/14 05:38 PM Re: How can a classical pianist learn piano jazz? [Re: Mihai Sirbu]
Jim Frazee Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/31/06
Posts: 393
Loc: Westchester County, New York
You can also learn a LOT by buying and using Joy of Improvisation by Dave Frank, also a contributor to this board. He also offers lessons on line and he has lots of tutorials about different players. Try davefrankjazz.com You'll be glad you did. Best of luck!
_________________________
PianoPerfection
Teacher, performer, technician
Westchester County, NY

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#2325139 - 09/07/14 07:45 PM Re: How can a classical pianist learn piano jazz? [Re: Mihai Sirbu]
Dfrankjazz Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/03/13
Posts: 139
Loc: NYC
You mean there is hope?

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#2326007 - 09/10/14 11:52 AM Re: How can a classical pianist learn piano jazz? [Re: Mihai Sirbu]
Michael Martinez Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/22/12
Posts: 414
Loc: California
Originally Posted By: Mihai Sirbu
Hi everyone. I'm new on this forum and I want some advices and tips. I'm a classically trained pianist (11 years) in a High School of Arts and I really want to know how can I start playng some jazz. I think the start is the hard part...I don't know, my morale is down. I really need help because I love jazz.
Thank you smile


Chords and chord voicings. Something (book, teacher or online course) that shows you the standard chord progressions and their voicings on piano, and provides exercises for you to work on these. Start applying these in the context of tunes (jazz standards).

A good online course that has you do this is Paul Abrahams site: www.learnjazzpianoonline.com

A good book that has you do this is:

  • the jazz harmony book. david berkman
  • jazz piano voicings for the intermediate to advanced pianist
  • the harmonic foundation for jazz and popular music. jimmie amadie

You can use these three books in conjunction, as they each teach things slightly differently and can complement eachother
_________________________
Music Educator, Computer Engineer, avid reader of literature, enjoyer of the outdoors
http://www.michael--martinez.com/music/

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#2326008 - 09/10/14 11:55 AM Re: How can a classical pianist learn piano jazz? [Re: Michael Martinez]
Michael Martinez Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/22/12
Posts: 414
Loc: California
Originally Posted By: Michael Martinez
Originally Posted By: Mihai Sirbu
Hi everyone. I'm new on this forum and I want some advices and tips. I'm a classically trained pianist (11 years) in a High School of Arts and I really want to know how can I start playng some jazz. I think the start is the hard part...I don't know, my morale is down. I really need help because I love jazz.
Thank you smile


Chords and chord voicings. Something (book, teacher or online course) that shows you the standard chord progressions and their voicings on piano, and provides exercises for you to work on these. Start applying these in the context of tunes (jazz standards).

The term "standard chord progression" is important. This is the proper place to start.

A good online course that has you do this is Paul Abrahams site: www.learnjazzpianoonline.com

A good book that has you do this is:

  • the jazz harmony book. david berkman
  • jazz piano voicings for the intermediate to advanced pianist
  • the harmonic foundation for jazz and popular music. jimmie amadie

You can use these three books in conjunction, as they each teach things slightly differently and can complement eachother

I recommend you don't look at the Mark Levine book until later after you already have the foundation.
_________________________
Music Educator, Computer Engineer, avid reader of literature, enjoyer of the outdoors
http://www.michael--martinez.com/music/

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#2326009 - 09/10/14 11:56 AM Re: How can a classical pianist learn piano jazz? [Re: Michael Martinez]
Michael Martinez Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/22/12
Posts: 414
Loc: California
Originally Posted By: Mihai Sirbu
Hi everyone. I'm new on this forum and I want some advices and tips. I'm a classically trained pianist (11 years) in a High School of Arts and I really want to know how can I start playng some jazz. I think the start is the hard part...I don't know, my morale is down. I really need help because I love jazz.
Thank you smile


Chords and chord voicings. Something (book, teacher or online course) that shows you the standard chord progressions and their voicings on piano, and provides exercises for you to work on these. Start applying these in the context of tunes (jazz standards).

The term "standard chord progression" is important. This is the proper place to start.

A good online course that has you do this is Paul Abrahams site: www.learnjazzpianoonline.com

A good book that has you do this is:

  • the jazz harmony book. david berkman
  • jazz piano voicings for the intermediate to advanced pianist
  • the harmonic foundation for jazz and popular music. jimmie amadie

You can use these three books in conjunction, as they each teach things slightly differently and can complement eachother

I recommend you don't look at the Mark Levine book until later after you already have the foundation.
_________________________
Music Educator, Computer Engineer, avid reader of literature, enjoyer of the outdoors
http://www.michael--martinez.com/music/

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#2326483 - 09/11/14 04:39 PM Re: How can a classical pianist learn piano jazz? [Re: Mihai Sirbu]
kanadajin Online   content
Junior Member

Registered: 09/06/14
Posts: 4
Speaking of good books, I would also suggest Tim Richard's excellent 2 volumes of Exploring Jazz Piano Vol. 1 and Vol. 2. I have learned quite a bit from these books, particularly the second one.

Also, learning to transcribe note-for-note a recording is an excellent exercise, not only for ear training but also for learning new chord progressions, voicing, etc. Use software for slowing things down as required (such as Transcribe!, but there are others).

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#2327130 - 09/13/14 12:24 PM Re: How can a classical pianist learn piano jazz? [Re: kanadajin]
Michael Martinez Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/22/12
Posts: 414
Loc: California
Originally Posted By: kanadajin

Also, learning to transcribe note-for-note a recording is an excellent exercise,


Yes, but only after you have a solid foundation of harmony, otherwise it's is going to confuse you. This is really true when it comes to jazz recording artists, and also sometimes with professional musicians in other styles of music, because they are often doing very complex things. And with different takes they are harmonize things differently. So if you don't already have a good command of the harmonic language, it's not going to make any sense, and what you end up with when you transcribe them is something that is just another piece of sheet music.

a much better thing to do, after you go through the foundation, is to go your local jazz bar, take a recorder along and transcribe "run-of-the-mill" jazz musicians that nobody's ever heard of, because these guys are usually doing stuff in a much simpler fashion (but still have a lot more experience than you, so you'll learn a lot, but it'll be easier for you.)

(Really the worst thing you can do when you're first starting out is try to learn from transcriptions of pianists who are at "the top of their game" so to speak. But later on, when you are gigging and you already have a decent amount of chops, then it's a good thing to do)


Edited by Michael Martinez (09/13/14 12:26 PM)
_________________________
Music Educator, Computer Engineer, avid reader of literature, enjoyer of the outdoors
http://www.michael--martinez.com/music/

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#2329817 - Yesterday at 11:22 PM Re: How can a classical pianist learn piano jazz? [Re: Mihai Sirbu]
RollingTenths Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 10/13/12
Posts: 19
Loc: Minnesota
Getting out of playing "what's written" is the biggest obstacle so far for me (still not over it). Reading music is such a crutch... and so is muscle memory argh... I could go through an entire performance nervous out of my mind and still have the finger memory to sound great. With jazz? wow no way.

Transcribing is tough. Especially when the only recordings of your fav songs (played by the composer himself) were recorded by phonograph. Still working through it though!
_________________________
-"RollingTenths words of wisdom"

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