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#926171 - 03/20/08 01:42 AM Jazz problems
Katarina. Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 03/19/08
Posts: 7
Loc: Branson, Missouri
I normally play classical music, but recently I joined the school jazz combo. The chords are easy and pretty basic, but I don't really know what to do with my music. Like using different rhythm techniques. Some pieces we are playing are Equinox by John Coltrane and Yardbird Suite by Charlie Parker. Help?

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#926172 - 03/20/08 02:19 AM Re: Jazz problems
pianobuff Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/09/06
Posts: 1580
Loc: Pacific Northwest
Welcome Katarina!

I'm sure that some here on the teacher's forum can help, but I would also post your question on the non-classical piano forum.

The only advice I can give to you (since I too, am more of a classical pianist/teacher) is to listen to recordings of the pieces you are playing in your jazz combo.

Again, you may get more response on the non-classical forum.
Private Piano Teacher,
member MTNA and Piano Basics Foundation

#926173 - 03/20/08 02:56 AM Re: Jazz problems
rintincop Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/11/04
Posts: 1634
Take some lessons from a jazz piano teacher, you won't learn how to play jazz piano on a forum. And you don't need to play a lot of rhythm, the drums, guitar and bass are supplying enough rhythm. Most beginning jazz pianists, and many advanced players too, are guilty of being rhythmically too busy or overplaying. Since you think the chords are easy you can just lay them down on beat 1 and sustain it until the next chord change, this is called "pad style" comping. Later on you can do a little more rhythm but only if you feel it. You cannot force it or it will sound awkward.
1966 Mason & Hamlin piano.

#926174 - 03/20/08 08:50 AM Re: Jazz problems
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 12337
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
I second both suggestions. Do a *lot* of listening to jazz in general, because jazz is an aural tradition. You will learn what works from what the great jazz pianists did/do. Also, a teacher would be advisable, if you can find one. It's been my experience that many jazz teachers won't take you if you're not playing advanced classical stuff because they don't want to teach you the basics of piano. That may not be true in every area, of course, but that is how it is around here.
private piano/voice teacher FT
Petrof 9'2, Roland FP-7, Yamaha MOX6, Kawai MP11

#926175 - 03/20/08 03:13 PM Re: Jazz problems
Ashdyre Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/11/08
Posts: 83
Loc: Windsor, Ontario, Canada

i was classically trained for about 18 years and yeah the notes are easy but i'm in the same boat! it's so different from classical!

My advice: metronome metronome metronome! Get the basic rythm of the piece down THEN experiement with you own.

Also, take a classical piece that you know well by memory and play around with jazzy type rythm. start with a basic swing then go from there \:D

What i like about jazz is there is no "wrong" way of doin it. Jazz is so creative and fun as long as you remain consistent and confident you can't go wrong!!

Just listen to lots of jazz music and take it from the pros, LOL.
Love is a friendship set to music.

#926176 - 03/20/08 08:17 PM Re: Jazz problems
pianobuff Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/09/06
Posts: 1580
Loc: Pacific Northwest
I would also recommend some good jazz instruction books. There are many.

Do a search here on Piano Forums at Piano World on learning jazz or jazz books or... and you should be able to find some posts that will help.

Best of luck and have fun!
Private Piano Teacher,
member MTNA and Piano Basics Foundation

#926177 - 03/21/08 08:49 AM Re: Jazz problems
Guy Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/30/07
Posts: 290
Loc: Massachusetts
There are tons of choices, but I think this is an excellent choice:
Jazz Keyboard Harmony

#926178 - 05/05/08 03:38 PM Re: Jazz problems
Katarina. Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 03/19/08
Posts: 7
Loc: Branson, Missouri

#926179 - 05/11/08 07:55 PM Re: Jazz problems
Markeyz Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/30/06
Posts: 135
Loc: Seattle
You need three things to improvise: musical ideas, the ability to recognize what the idea is (chords, scales, sequences, etc), and the ability to play the notes. Listening to others gives you ideas, ear training and theory gives you the ability to recognize what the ideas are, and technique (which you probably already have enough of for basic jazz playing) allows you to translate the ideas through your instrument.

Like Ashdyre said, practicing at least some with a metronome is very important, since rhythm is king in jazz. Try practicing with the metronome clicking on beats two and four. This is where the drummer will typically play the hi-hat and it helps reinforce accenting on those beats which, along with the accenting of up beats, is critical to idiomatic jazz phrasing. For an extra challenge try setting the metronome to click once a measure, maybe on beat four or, if you're really sadistic, one of the up beats. It helps to have a metronome that will play very slow tempos for this.

rintincop also had good advise about not overplaying. When you are comping behind a soloist you should be listening to their phrasing and trying to play in the spaces between phrases. When you are soloing try to give your lines room to breath. Horn players do this more naturally since they generally have to stop playing to take a breath. Pianists are more prone to playing run on phrases since we can breath, chew gum, scratch our heads and so on all the while playing a continuous stream of unbroken, monotonous eight notes.

Oh, and have fun. After a while you will probably have the experience of, out of the blue, playing the exact same rhythmic pattern as the drummer, or hitting the perfect chord and voicing just as the trumpet player reaches the high point of their solo, thus pushing them in a new and unexpected direction and to a higher energy level. These are the things that make jazz addictive.
Jazz pianist and teacher.



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