Why Do You Practice Or Play Jazz Piano?

Posted by: Steve Nixon

Why Do You Practice Or Play Jazz Piano? - 09/11/13 04:48 AM

I received the most bizarre question other day that literally stopped me in my tracks. I would love to get your opinion on this guys. Let me explain…

I met a person the other day who asked me why I play piano. I mean on a simple level I play because it's fun and of course I also support my family through music. So, I told her that but she wouldn't accept any of those answers. She insisted there was more to it.

I think she was trying to ask a more deep question though…Like, why do you do what you do? Why piano? What's your desire there?

I sort of steered the conversation in another direction and we parted ways soon after but her question really got me thinking.

The reason I'm struggling with this is because I play because I always have….Like I drink coffee in the morning and I play piano…two mundane facts about my life.

I haven't questioned why I play or what my desire for doing this is in over 20 years I just feel far removed from that because it's so ingrained in my life at this point.


So, I thought it would be fun to open a dialogue here? For those of you who have are sort of new to piano or jazz...What do you want to learn jazz or play jazz? What desire does it satisfy for you?

If you've been playing awhile, are a semi pro, or a pro... what desire does playing or practicing jazz satisfy for you?

Posted by: Dfrankjazz

Re: Why Do You Practice Or Play Jazz Piano? - 09/11/13 04:57 AM

it's for the girls, Steve)
Posted by: Steve Nixon

Re: Why Do You Practice Or Play Jazz Piano? - 09/11/13 05:34 AM

Originally Posted By: Dfrank
it's for the girls, Steve)



Ha Ha! Love it Dave.
Posted by: Ted

Re: Why Do You Practice Or Play Jazz Piano? - 09/11/13 07:56 AM

I play little classical or jazz these days, just spontaneous creation of my own sounds via improvisation, most of which I record. All the simply stated reasons, while true, fall far short of adequate, as your friend implied. The words "dependable ecstasy" come to mind, but that is just an elaborate version of "enjoyment". To answer just for me, music is a true quest for beauty and mystical experience, to do with what Huxley called the visionary landscapes of the mind. Music has an effect similar to those visionary dreams we experience a handful of times in decades, and which alter the whole course of consciousness over a lifetime. Some people have none of them, some few and some many.

"Emotion" is also a totally inadequate word to describe my musical perception, and in any case the older I get, the less relevant emotion seems. "Total absorption in abstract beauty" is better, and certainly, music has to have beauty, at least to my ears, else I would sooner work in the garden; but it still fails to describe either the mental state during spontaneous creation or its effect on the listening mind; the magic, chaotic feedback loop, which generates an infinite series of effortless ideas. Certainly, at the best of times, the sensation is as if I am a spectator of something being channelled through me. I have heard other improvisers talk in roughly these same terms.

This is essentially a type of mystical experience, but it has a bonus, in these days of easy, high quality home recording, in that it can be largely recaptured during listening. I realised as a boy that I am musically far too solipsistic, far too individual in taste, to be a professional, although my teacher wanted me to be one.

I have no idea if this is the sort of answer you want, or if anybody else at all thinks this way. "Dependable ecstasy of mystical experience." It all starts to sound a cross between Aldous Huxley and Aleister Crowley once I try to explain it in English. Come to think of it, "music is a way I can be completely and harmlessly mad" isn't such a bad description either.
Posted by: Farmerjones

Re: Why Do You Practice Or Play Jazz Piano? - 09/11/13 08:57 AM

Ok, I admit to hitting the Google button for "solipsistic."

I think, , , if you play, eventually you'll get to Jazz. If you stay curious. If you're a searcher. Eventually, you'll find Jazz. As far as piano goes, it's my least skilled instrument. It still surprises me, and I really like that. I can get lost in the woods and most of the time find my way back. I take this to mean, that although im not much of a pianist, the head still belongs to a musician, and that's what matters. This re-affirmation, though I didn't try for it, is fascinating. Serendipity. It's a cool thing.
Posted by: Forrest Halford

Re: Why Do You Practice Or Play Jazz Piano? - 09/11/13 10:01 AM

action is always the convergence of ability and desire.

It's the desire part that gets tricky.

Try to explain your desire for anything beautiful.

Forrest
Posted by: Kbeaumont

Re: Why Do You Practice Or Play Jazz Piano? - 09/11/13 01:33 PM

Because I love music! I get a personal satisfaction from playing any instrument well and performing for others. Be it piano, mandolin, guitar or drums. I love the sound of many instruments. Piano was my gateway drug to the world of keyboards. I have a special place in my heart for each. My two main instruments are piano and guitar. They allow me to accompany myself or others singing, compose songs and relax after dealing with the logical world of computers systems and satellite atmospheric measurements. Plus my hobby pays for itself!

During the daytime I can be mild mannered NASA engineer, and at night Billy Joel Hendrix! smokin
Posted by: RonL

Re: Why Do You Practice Or Play Jazz Piano? - 09/11/13 04:29 PM

A rock musician plays 3 chords in front of thousands of people, a jazz musician plays thousands of chords in front of three people.

so why do I play jazz? Because I hate people.
Posted by: rintincop

Re: Why Do You Practice Or Play Jazz Piano? - 09/11/13 09:46 PM

It's good... because I like it.
Posted by: Rollin shoulders

Re: Why Do You Practice Or Play Jazz Piano? - 09/11/13 11:29 PM

I feel like jazz piano is an old art form that should be sustained throughout time.
Also, it's fun and everyone has their own personal way of playing, when they are alone or playing with others.
That's what I find really interesting, is how others (as in jazz pianists) play with a group. You can learn about someone when they make music with others. It's like looking into them.

... But it's fun to play songs your "own way".
Posted by: Manndrew

Re: Why Do You Practice Or Play Jazz Piano? - 09/12/13 01:16 PM

Originally Posted By: RonL
A rock musician plays 3 chords in front of thousands of people, a jazz musician plays thousands of chords in front of three people.

so why do I play jazz? Because I hate people.



Fabulous! You sound somewhat like my daughter who's not a musician, but has limited patience for the clueless among us.
For me jazz, or should I say my attempt to play jazz feeds the creative juices more so than any other musical form. The richness of the chords when you find the right ones, the rhythmic sensations, are very intoxicating. As for girls, well yes my girlfriend sort of melts when I play something interesting.
Posted by: daviel

Re: Why Do You Practice Or Play Jazz Piano? - 09/13/13 02:09 PM

I grew up as a jazz snob, but I am really not a jazz player these days. Mostly boogie/honky tonk/blues. I practice jazz standards. I can't help but play piano. I don't know why.
Posted by: 36251

Re: Why Do You Practice Or Play Jazz Piano? - 09/13/13 05:48 PM

The journey is the reward.
Posted by: Michael Sayers

Re: Why Do You Practice Or Play Jazz Piano? - 09/15/13 11:41 AM

I enjoy playing some ragtime and jazz for enjoyment . . . Scott Joplin and Jelly Roll Morton in particular, and it is nice with this music to not be burdened with memories of negative experiences from persons who give me a hard time about not playing music exactly as it is in the published notation!


M.
Posted by: rada

Re: Why Do You Practice Or Play Jazz Piano? - 09/15/13 02:39 PM

A B natural in a classical piece [ key of F] may very well sound like a mistake....but not in an F blues scale. I like the voicings of jazz but it seems the pieces you may like the most you will ever find in accurate notation.....so you have to have a great ear to figure sound combinations. On the other hand if you read music well you can play anything that is notated. Overall I think the more diversity I can play the more I have a greater understanding of music.....and like Pablo Casals said at '90' years of age....I practice because I think I see progress...I love that.

rada
Posted by: Doritos Flavoured

Re: Why Do You Practice Or Play Jazz Piano? - 09/15/13 11:41 PM

Originally Posted By: RonL
A rock musician plays 3 chords in front of thousands of people, a jazz musician plays thousands of chords in front of three people.

so why do I play jazz? Because I hate people.



LOL

an excellent question, though

I love music. anyone who truly loves music instead of loving what music can do for himself - such as bringing chicks, money or applauses - eventually turns into a musician himself too.

regarding piano specifically, I've been in love with it ever since in my childhood I came close to one for the first time at my grandparents' house and, timidly, pressed one of the heaviest keys. That deep resonant metallic clang sounded so futuristic, straight from some SW sound effects. it was love at first listening...
Posted by: rada

Re: Why Do You Practice Or Play Jazz Piano? - 09/16/13 12:21 AM

'it was love at first listening...' and might I add , love at first touch.

rada
Posted by: Michael Martinez

Re: Why Do You Practice Or Play Jazz Piano? - 09/17/13 12:39 PM

Honestly I feel that jazz is much richer, musically, than any other form of music. The harmonies, the chord progressions, the arrangements are more complex and more satisfying to my ear. And then there's the rhythms and the swing beat.
Posted by: Ken.

Re: Why Do You Practice Or Play Jazz Piano? - 09/17/13 03:22 PM

I picked up piano to help my sax playing, and as a 2nd instrument to play on the side for fun. Also it's nice to play an instrument that can be the whole band.

Other instruments I considered were the double-reeds, guitar, drums, and bass, but I chose piano as there was already one in the house, and I had used it before for doing things like arranging and playing chord progressions from lead sheets. Piano is the most universal instrument!

Also, because of what Sonny Rollins apparently said one time. A student says "Hey Sonny, give me one tip to become a better improviser". Sonny smiles and says "Play piano" smile
Posted by: LogicalConclusion

Re: Why Do You Practice Or Play Jazz Piano? - 09/21/13 02:06 PM

I could go on for ages. There are so many confusing and disputable facts in life, disagreement, worry, planning, unanswered questions (ha!), it's really an enormous tornado and for me music and the piano says "Know this. It's all here, everything you need is here." I believe that music is a better conveyor of emotion than words. A couple of months ago I had a terrible case of the flu and music was the only thing that made me feel better. I gave up on pain meds (didn't work!!!!) and listened to music. Music feels like my mother and father, my best friend, my lover, my shelter. Jack Kerouac aphorized it beautifully: "The only truth is music."
Some may disagree, but have you ever been able to disprove a song? I suppose that could go for art in general. However, with music, you don't have to see it to know it's there! My question would be, "Why do you NOT play piano (or other instrument)?"

EDIT: Missed the jazz part. I'm interested in jazz because...freedom.
Posted by: phacke

Re: Why Do You Practice Or Play Jazz Piano? - 09/22/13 03:26 AM

Originally Posted By: Farmerjones


I think, , , if you play, eventually you'll get to Jazz. If you stay curious. If you're a searcher. Eventually, you'll find Jazz.



I have often thought this myself. The roads eventually lead to Jazz.

Posted by: LogicalConclusion

Re: Why Do You Practice Or Play Jazz Piano? - 09/22/13 11:08 AM

Originally Posted By: phacke
Originally Posted By: Farmerjones


I think, , , if you play, eventually you'll get to Jazz. If you stay curious. If you're a searcher. Eventually, you'll find Jazz.



I have often thought this myself. The roads eventually lead to Jazz.



Yes!Yes! Swimming the rivers before hitting the ocean. The answers are there, it seems. I can't even think straight, when listening to jazz, it drives me loopy. But really, it's not about thinking straight...who said marching in line is the only way to go...words are so terrible at enveloping music. Or maybe I'm just terrible with words. This would be a better example(Coleman Hawkins' Picasso): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XjhbUTg87jU
Listen to how he phrases his philosophical musings. Even when the song ends, it doesn't end, that short time window was just tapping into a small glimpse of an eternal river. Jazz is the speaking of our everyday thoughts as they happen, but it's so hard to learn because essentially it's a means of communication, like English. Best to be born into it, but unfortunately most of us don't have an instrument placed into our hands as newborns. Man, would I love to "speak" jazz.
Posted by: The Wind

Re: Why Do You Practice Or Play Jazz Piano? - 09/23/13 12:45 AM

"The six years I was with Miles, we never talked about music. We never had a rehearsal. Jazz shouldn’t have any mandates. Jazz is not supposed to be something that’s required to sound like jazz. For me, the word 'jazz' means, 'I dare you.'" —Wayne Shorter
Posted by: KlinkKlonk

Re: Why Do You Practice Or Play Jazz Piano? - 09/23/13 08:30 AM

jazz feels like the truth, jazz can't be corrupted. it feels honest.
Posted by: Farmerjones

Re: Why Do You Practice Or Play Jazz Piano? - 09/24/13 09:30 AM

Walk through any museum of modern art. There is no wrong art.
Primitive, minimalist, stands right beside sophisticated. If you present it and mean it, it's Art. That goes for music as well. If it's socially accepted or not, changes nothing.

I get, "I dare you." And you know Miles. That could mean even playing one note every two and a quarter beats for fourteen minutes. smile
Posted by: Michael Martinez

Re: Why Do You Practice Or Play Jazz Piano? - 09/24/13 12:44 PM

there may not be wrong art, but there's definitely crappy art.
Posted by: Rob Mullins

Re: Why Do You Practice Or Play Jazz Piano? - 09/30/13 06:46 PM

I play because if I don't I go nuts.
Posted by: Dave Ferris

Re: Why Do You Practice Or Play Jazz Piano? - 10/04/13 12:39 AM

Definitely in it for the money... crazy grin
Posted by: In A Silent Way

Re: Why Do You Practice Or Play Jazz Piano? - 10/05/13 05:23 PM

I keep playing it because I can't yet quite hear it play what I hear it play. And it's a dumb art, it goes up and down the scales again and again and each time you complete a chorus you feel it's time to start another one, and so it's the finest art in the world for it's so dumb as a child's play.

So I'm originating from the one city in western Europe that participated the most to the Triangular Trade in the XVIIIth century.

Though not that my family has anything to do with this that I'd know of, but still.

Last summer while I was visiting, wandering in the centre of the town, thinking about the times accumulated in the old architecture, suddenly passing through a famous passage where captives once were humiliated by the rich bourgeois of the town spitting on them from the balconies above the stairs that the people were descending before being embarked for the New World in a one way trip to slavery, I had a personal epiphany to understand that it may well be the case that my practice of jazz piano would be a sort of lifetime tribute to these awful historical events.

I had never thought of it that way before, but now ever since I think of it (reading this thread for example) I'm astounded by this coincidence that I had picked for my musical obsession the very one genre that was expressing the consequences of the trade of African human beings across the Atlantic back in the time.
Posted by: rada

Re: Why Do You Practice Or Play Jazz Piano? - 10/05/13 10:50 PM

I think the road leads to opera.

rada

and I am not a singer
Posted by: phacke

Re: Why Do You Practice Or Play Jazz Piano? - 10/07/13 05:09 AM

Originally Posted By: rada
I think the road leads to opera.

rada

and I am not a singer


Roger waters/ pink floyd seemed to have thought so too with ca ira 2005, but he took a u-turn out of there.
Posted by: Alan Lai

Re: Why Do You Practice Or Play Jazz Piano? - 10/08/13 02:26 AM

Jazz is an important genre of music. And as a pianist, one should able to play a number of different styles, not limited to only classical repertoire.

Being able to appreciate a multitude of genres it is actually extremely helpful for interpreting classical music in return. This can also widen your horizon and your own musical expression.
Posted by: RollingTenths

Re: Why Do You Practice Or Play Jazz Piano? - 11/03/13 01:35 AM

Not just jazz, but piano and music in general. Piano doesn't ever let me down. Hey, I'm bringing into existence the miracle of humanity that is music. Women, work, society, booze, strip clubs etc. always lets me down and are a tease at best. But put me in front of a piano and I have the ability to become soulfully content and satiate all emotional needs, albeit, one keystroke at a time.