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Topic Options
#984919 - 11/30/08 06:35 AM My introduction
PianoPeter73 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/28/08
Posts: 53
Loc: Porto, Portugal

This is my first post. I'm 35 and I'm starting to learn the piano. I had lessons when I was 13 but gave up after a year. Now I'm really commited to learning to play. I've only had 4 classes, but I'm loving it!

So, I would like to ask you some questions. What I would really like to play is jazz and blues. I've already told that to my teacher but he says that it's important to have a solid background in classical and then evolve to other styles. Do you think he is correct? And how much time do you think it's necessary to be able to progress to jazz music? It's not than I don't like classical music, but what I really enjoy is jazz (right now I'm listening to Oscar Peterson playing the Cole Porter Songbook!).

I would appreciate your comments. I would also like to congratulate you for this wonderful forum!

Best regards,

PS - Sorry about my english. I'm from Portugal, way across the Atlantic!

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#984920 - 11/30/08 06:44 AM Re: My introduction
Mati Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/25/05
Posts: 1284
Loc: Lodz, Poland
Hello Clavedesol!

Welcome to our forum, it's great to have a new member \:\)

Getting back to your question:

You should think about your goals - why do you want to play piano? Do you want to play for your own enjoyment, or are you full of ambitions to achieve something bigger, become a proficient pianist?

The answer to your question strictly connects and depends with the answer to my question. If you want to have solid technique, understanding of music and great flexibility to adapt to new styles, solid classical background would be of much help. It devotes much time to develop skill, technique and music theory understanding. If you want, however, to play for your pure enjoyment - you can go to jazz fairly quickly. Perhaps not leaving the traditional stuff completely though.

You can ask your teacher whether you could do "classical background" on jazz style pieces. For jazz player, I believe, it is very important to have a solid knowledge of music theory. Jazz is about improvisation. Knowing your scales well is a great foundation towards improvisation.

It's really hard to tell when the border line should occur. I, personally, would talk with my teacher about my priorities and goals and make him understand, that jazz is my passion - and then I would trust him that he will know what should be done beforehand and when we can start jazz.

Others will certainly have better insights than I do, because I'm totally classical right now, whereas many of us here play other styles as well.

p.s. don't worry about your English, it's really good! \:\)

M. - also way across big water. \:\)
Mateusz Papiernik
My youtube channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/Maticomp
"One man can make a difference" - Wilton Knight
Kawai CN21 (digital), Henryk Yamayuri Kawai NX-40 (grand)

#984921 - 11/30/08 09:20 AM Re: My introduction
sotto voce Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/15/06
Posts: 6163
Loc: Briarcliff Manor, NY, USA
clavedesol, welcome! Unfortunately, I only play classical (though I love listening to jazz), so I don't have any direct advice for you.

Off-topic observation:

It delights me that so many speakers of other languages have such wonderful English skills, and yet you are invariably so modest about your accomplishment.

Kudos to all of you!


#984922 - 11/30/08 09:54 AM Re: My introduction
musdan Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/05/05
Posts: 1210
Welcome to the Forum - I'm far from being an expert, but I think that a solid classical background will give you the technique that will transfer to Jazz.

As suggested here, I'd speak with your teacher and see if there is a way of reaching your goals by applying what you are learning to playing Jazz.

It all depends on your goals -- keep up the good work and let us know how you are progressing.

You will find we are a friendly group and always happy to help out. \:\)

#984923 - 11/30/08 10:09 AM Re: My introduction
gmm1 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/03/06
Posts: 1674
Loc: Spokane WA
Good morning and welcome...

For what it's worth, I agree with your teacher. A good solid background in classical will make everything else easier. Many of the greats took this road.

That said, it is not necessary to learn any one style over another. If you want to jump in and take on jazz, be ready to study theory at a very serious level (OK, maybe not, but if you really want to understand what's going on, you must have the background in theory). Many of the greats have gone down this road as well.

Whatever skills you learn can be applied to any style. I happen to think that a good classical background helps, but is not completely necessary.

Nothing is wasted. Knowledge and understanding will apply to everythbing. The better the basics, the better pianist you will be. Classical training does a better job in teaching the basics, in my opinion.

Good luck, and have fun....
"There is nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself." Johann Sebastian Bach/Gyro

#984924 - 11/30/08 11:03 AM Re: My introduction
IngridT Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/07/08
Posts: 244
Loc: Netherlands
Hi clavedesol!

Welcome! I am pretty new here myself (and european as well, so I'll be a bit less lonely while piosting here at US-nighttime!! LOL!)

About Jazz stuff...I've been taking lessons for 1 1/2 year now, and my kids as well. The 2 oldest (8/11) seem to really like jazzy/blues kind of stuff, and are now working from 2 types of book. The 'standard' childrens method my teacher uses, and next to that a 'boogie and blues' book for absolute beginners. It sounds real good though, and it satisfies their need for some music that really swings.

Wouldn't that be an option for you? To follow a 'traditional' pianobook for covering the basics, but work from a beginners jazz book at the same time?


#984925 - 11/30/08 01:37 PM Re: My introduction
Gyro Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/24/05
Posts: 4534
Today you can buy the sheet music to
just about any jazz or blues song that
you would want to play, so there's nothing
to stop you from playing blues and jazz
right now using sheet music. You'd play
the jazz/blues pieces just like classical
pieces--the notation and technique is
exactly the same as in classical. In
any case, jazz/blues is not all that
different from classical; the differences
are mainly styistic.

And if you play enough jazz/blues sht.
music, you might eventually be able to
improvise jazz/blues on you own, by
ear, or from stripped-down sht. music
called "lead sheets," or "fake books,"
which have just a melody line and the
names of the chords above. But what
would be even better is to develop your
own unique style of blues/jazz playing,
independent of any existing blues/jazz
styles--you do that by experimenting
at the keyboard on your own, without
reference to any other sources, and
you can start doing that right now.

#984926 - 11/30/08 01:44 PM Re: My introduction
Rickster Online   content

Registered: 03/25/06
Posts: 9317
Loc: Georgia, USA
Hi clavedesol,

Welcome to the ABF! Stick with the lessons a while and learn some basic fundamentals and then focus on learning the blues and jazz.

I improvised/wrote a blues tune called “Play it like you want to”. So, I say “play it like you want to”. \:D

Take care,

Piano enthusiast and amateur musician: "Treat others the way you would like to be treated". Yamaha C7. YouTube Channel

#984927 - 11/30/08 04:08 PM Re: My introduction
mdsdurango Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/01/04
Posts: 1755
Loc: Durango Colorado
Why is a background in classical any benefit to someone who wants to play jazz or blues? It seems to me that one could study jazz and blues and still work on technique, scales, patterns and reading skills without ever looking at a classical peace.
I'm not disputing you who give such advice - I'm just asking why you think it is important, especially to an "adult" beginner.

Yamaha S6, U5C, P120

#984928 - 11/30/08 04:34 PM Re: My introduction
Key Notes Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/20/08
Posts: 744
Loc: CA
Originally posted by sotto voce:
Off-topic observation:

It delights me that so many speakers of other languages have such wonderful English skills, and yet you are invariably so modest about your accomplishment.

Kudos to all of you!

Steven [/b]
And of course we thank you for all of your kind understanding, exceptance and encouragements.

Key Notes \:\)
Music speaks where words fails.

#984929 - 11/30/08 04:35 PM Re: My introduction
Mati Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/25/05
Posts: 1284
Loc: Lodz, Poland
Jazz tends to focus on certain style of playing and use of technique - therefore learning only on jazz from the very beginning can severly restrain flexibility of ones technique for future re-use. I mean, it will be MUCH easier to adapt for blues, rock, ballad or coctail having even a little bit of classical background.

It is much more difficult to work on technique, scales and patterns and reading skills when many of them are not present in pieces. It may be the case with Jazz, which often explores only a subset of piano techniques. I, for example, hate isolated technical practice, therefore I believe my progress would be much slower if I left classical pieces behind completely.

It still does not mean leaving classical is bad way of learning. The choice of route is very delicate and personal - it would be wise to talk with a teacher and listen to his perspective.

Perhaps the worst thing to do is to play something you don't like at all - so the last thing I'm trying to do is to force classical learning on clavedesol.

My best!
Mateusz Papiernik
My youtube channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/Maticomp
"One man can make a difference" - Wilton Knight
Kawai CN21 (digital), Henryk Yamayuri Kawai NX-40 (grand)

#984930 - 12/01/08 12:48 PM Re: My introduction
PianoPeter73 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/28/08
Posts: 53
Loc: Porto, Portugal
Hello again,

Thanks everyone for your responses!

Mati: At 35, what ambitions can I have besides playing good enough for my own enjoyment? I would really like to be a good piano player, but isn't it to late to have great ambtions?

Anyway, from what you've all said, I think it's good to start with a classical background. And altough classical is not my first choice, I'm discovering that there are beautiful compositions that I would like to be able to play (Chopin, for instance).

Thanks again everyone for your support. I'll keep you updated on my progress.

Best regards.

#984931 - 12/01/08 01:14 PM Re: My introduction
Manndrew Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/23/08
Posts: 267
Loc: Massachusetts

Welcome to the forum. Here's my take on a classical background for jazz technique. For me it comes down to learning hand independence. If you study and master any Bach invention you are on your way to strengthening the technique with your left hand. In jazz, or blues and even (especially) boogie-woogie this is also critical. Listen to some of the great jazz musicians and you can hear their distinct lines with the left hand accompaniment. I think classical training gives a great foundation in this. Welcome again,


#984932 - 12/01/08 06:24 PM Re: My introduction
Ivory Dreams Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/12/08
Posts: 210
Loc: Central NC
Welcome, your going to love this forum...

Some folks here have heard my story before... I apologize now to them. I had a "this is the music that I want to play" conversation with my own teacher before we began my own lessons. I was very clear that I had no desire to memorize music that I would never enjoy playing for my friends and family.

Her answer: Well, it takes as long to learn it wrong, as it does to learn it right. (she went on to say) Would you consider learning the basics from the standard teaching books? Bring your music and we will make a plan to incorporate it into your lessons at the appropriate time.

That was a good conversation for each of us. We each understood my goals and what it would take to achieve them from the start.

For the first 6 months I worked in the faber books. Then as we started level 3 technique, she began to incorporate the music that I had supplied into my weekly work.

She was so right.

You need the basics. When you can read music, and you are able to process what you have read and produce the proper reaction between your brain, 10 fingers and 1 foot.... then you can play any piece of music.

You can own a Chickering, Christifori, or Steinway, but if you can't play it.... It is just a piece of eye candy.

#984933 - 12/01/08 09:51 PM Re: My introduction
rocket88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/06
Posts: 3475
Clavedesol, Welcome to the forum.

You really can't go wrong learning from a classically trained teacher. When properly presented, classical music is a strong foundation in theory, technique (how you physically interact with the instrument), ear training, and generally how to play the piano. Plus there is a vast repertoire of music at all levels, so you can play, play, and play!

And, a good teacher should be willing to help you to play popular music.

Also, you might be surprised at how many Jazz and Blues pianists got their start by learning classical music from a classical piano teacher.

A VERY incomplete list includes:

Ramsey Lewis, Scott Joplin, Charles Brown, Herbie Hancock, Earl Hines, and Nat 'King' Cole..(Yes, he was a piano player!)

Good luck and welcome! \:\)
Piano teacher and Blues and Boogie-Woogie pianist.

#984934 - 12/01/08 10:22 PM Re: My introduction
Monica K. Offline

Platinum Supporter until Dec 31 2012

Registered: 08/10/05
Posts: 17948
Loc: Lexington, Kentucky
Welcome, Clavedesol!

I personally would advise you to find a teacher who is willing to teach you the basics of technique within the context of the type of music you want to be able to play. Using a method series is one possibility (most of the series I'm familiar with have music from a variety of genres), especially if supplemented liberally with music that you have input into choosing. Maybe that will include some classical pieces, maybe not.

You'll learn faster and you'll enjoy it a heck of a lot more if it's music you like. \:\)
Mason & Hamlin A -- 91997
My YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/pianomonica

#984935 - 12/01/08 11:48 PM Re: My introduction
mdsdurango Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/01/04
Posts: 1755
Loc: Durango Colorado
I'm going to agree with Monica. If you were eight I might agree that you should start out with classical, but at 35 and knowing what you want to play - why mess with it?
It's not hard to find a jazz teacher. Go to your local music store and ask for a teacher that will teach you what YOU want to learn. Playing the piano is a long and hard enough journey that to bother with music that you have no desire to play only adds time and miles.

A wise woman once said; "You'll learn faster and you'll enjoy it a heck of a lot more if it's music you like. \:\) "

Yamaha S6, U5C, P120


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