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Jazz Piano Lessons
Tim P Manger

Jazz Piano Lessons

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.

Contemporary JazzContemporary 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.

Jazz StandardsJazz 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 for.

Ragtime & StrideRagtime, 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 composed.

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.

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