Jazz Piano Lessons
Tim P Manger
Why Learn Jazz Piano?
Jazz is one of the more popular genres for students learning
to play piano. It has wide appeal among many pianists for a range
of reasons, the least of which is improvisation.
Improvisation is the art of using a structured (and sometimes
semi-structured accompaniment), whilst the melody line is created
spontaneously. The more unexpected the melody line becomes, the
closer to pure improvisation a student gets, provided that the
two are complimentary.
Tim has a look at what arguably are the most popular genres of
Jazz for the piano below.
Jazz - 1960 - Current Day
For the very adventurous piano students, Tim recommends the
contemporary jazz genre, influenced by genres such as rhythm
and blues, pop, funk and rock 'n' roll.
Contemporary Jazz is famous for producing such jazz composers
and musicians as Herbie Hancock, Thelonius Monk, Oscar Pederson,
Chick Corea and Art Tatum just to name a few. For students looking
for music with an expressively free form , built largely on
tablature and loose structure, then this is the genre Tim recommends.
It may be worth noting that Tim finds teaching improvisation
the most challenging and rewarding of all tutoring pastimes.
Whilst many students may become disillusioned by the complexity
of improvisation, Tim urges persistence, because the rewards
for pianists are limitless.
Standards - 1930 - 1960
Jazz standards are 'fun to perform pieces' as a pianist, offering
students a structured approach to playing jazz. Often, Jazz
standards are more melodic than their contemporary jazz counterparts,
with many tunes and melodies being instantly recognisable.
This era in jazz not only saw the development of blues and
swing, but also produced artists such as Duke Ellington, Cole
Porter, Billy Strayhorn and Ray Charles just to name a few,
whilst giving rise to many famous jazz clubs in the USA, such
as the Cotton Club in New York.
For students looking for music that is both popular and highly
entertaining, then Jazz Standards have just what you are looking
Stride - 1890 - 1930
From it's early African-American origins in the 1890's, jazz
caught-on quickly in the poorer communities in the USA, giving
rise to districts such as New Orleans and Harlem, and producing
pianists and composers such as Scott Joplin and Jelly Roll Morton.
Ragtime and stride are similar styles, with the left hand playing
a duple-time chordal rhythm, whilst the right hand carries the
melody, with the emphasis on the the weak beat (as opposed to
the traditional emphasis on the strong beat). This produced
some very interesting rhythmic and syncopated sounds, with famous
pieces such as 'The Entertainer' and 'Maple Leaf Rag' being
For students who are considering learning ragtime, there is
an obscure link to students also learning Chopin. The link is
to learn the left hand thoroughly, to keep an exact rhythm in
the left hand, and to allow the right hand to provide an element
of flexibility and freedom.