- The Traditional Berklee College of Music Method
- Ray Santisi and Dean Earl, my teachers. I loved those guys. The traditional Berklee method emphasised theory, pencils, and paper. An old-fashioned approach for an old-fashioned music. It works though and is available in the Berklee Jazz Piano Book.
- The Lenny Tristano Method:
- Singing solos by ear
- Comping approaches for left hand
- Transposition of licks into many keys
- The Jamey Aebersold Method
- “the answers you seek are in the recordings” Jamey Aebersold. Then he’ll sell you another book.
- Emphasis is on chord scale relationships and melodic patterning.
- The Wynton Marsalis Method
- Learn your “damn instrument.”
- Learn the tradition.
- "It don't mean a thing if it ain't got that swing"
In my experience of teaching jazz, I would rank these traditional methods in the following order:
- Wynton. His emphasis on learning to play well is tough for casual players. Ten thousand hours of disciplined focused practice with great teachers is a near impossibility for most people. I’m a big fan though of his dictum to know the tradition. (I did have the opportunity to study with Ali Jackson, his drummer. It raised my standards immediately. And enlarged my idea what was possible for me as a jazz drummer. I will reach 10,000 hours of focused, disciplined practice sometime in my 70s.)
- Lenny, a close second. He offers specific ideas that will help anyone progress including.
- Learning to sing all or part of a solo through repeated listening is brilliant and obvious.
- Second playing licks in 12 keys. (This was transformational in my development as a pianist.)
- Ray and Dino. As I’ve already stated, I loved these guys. They helped me connect with the greater jazz community as a teenager. They encouraged me to go for it. The Berklee book gives a general outline of the method but requires additional material from a teacher to really work well.
- Jamey. I attended his camp 4 times! What a blast. I learned so much for which I’m grateful including meeting other adults as deeply committed to learning to play jazz as I was. So much intensity, dedication, and passion were on display. On the downside? Too much theory too soon in a player’s development. Students were overwhelmed. Too much reading from dull fakebooks with a narrow repertoire. Not enough emphasis on listening and analysis. (Though I was told to go home and get my drumming hands together. So, I have.)
Jazz attracts adults of a certain type. Likely just like you. Professionally successful, academically trained, and determined to figure it out. The kind of person who sets goals, allocates resources, makes time, gathers intelligence from books and the internet, and then applies focus to solve a problem or pursue an opportunity.
Alas the kind of learning traditionally associated with professional success can lead a student off in the wrong direction when learning a musical instrument. First, music is a manual skill which requires many years of practice to play at even a basic level of competence. Second, playing jazz is an aural skill. Manual skills and aural skills are not traditionally part of most people’s education. So, a mindset shift must occur. Those professional skills will come in handy though; I’ll just help enlarge them.
(Authors note I own more than 100 drum books, I’ve listened to hundreds of hours of podcasts on drumming, I’ve subscribed in the past to a Jazz education subscription service promising great masterclass from my jazz heroes, and I live on YouTube. Furthermore, I own too many drum sets, snare drums, and cymbals. So, I understand.)
What can I do for you?
- If needed I will help you learn to play the piano with more finesse.
- Work with you on your aural skills.
- Appropriately sequence the skills of jazz piano: repertoire, ear training, history, listening and analysis, theory, soloing, jamming skills and more.
- Teach you how to practice.
In short, I will present material to you in a logical fashion based on your specific circumstances and provide weekly feedback. Old fashioned teaching in a modern 21st c. multi-modal manner.