Hayden, thanks so much for taking the time to write in such detail. It makes a new student feel very welcome and is really helpful
I assume you are London (or US ?) based now ? The next Leeds piano competition is Sep 2021 (coronavirus permitting !) and we are planning a huge amount of piano-based activity then throughout the city (street piano, piano trail, and other outreach activities alongside the competition itself). Do let me know if you want to get involved or just want some tickets !
Thanks for pointing me at the listening resources. I have to say though I find that incredible Spotify list (what an amazing piece of work by @TactfulCactus !) a bit daunting as a newcomer to jazz. An incredible reference resource to access though.
Do you know if anyone has put together a similar (but much smaller !) playlist of all the PianoGroove standards covered in the course ? This would be very useful listening I would imagine, for a beginner at least.
I love the ear training resources. Reminds me of when I used to try to pick out melodies and chords from tape recorded radio tunes as a teenager ! I will definitely utilise these as part of my practice.
On the basis of walking before you run, I will keep the jazz band aspirations firmly on the “back burner” whilst I work through your courses. One day though !
All noted re syllabus and practice plans. The resources you have available seem tremendous and I will also take the advice in your email about running some courses in parallel.
I also watched your live-stream video today. Really excellent and very helpful for me to get to grips with the landscape of learning jazz piano. One comment you made about your own practice regime when starting out, has already inspired me to a decision to devote two hrs per day using your routine of 1hr in the morning and 1hr in the evening. This would work well for me and hopefully a solid two hours per day will allow me to experience real progress
Thanks again for all your help and encouragement so far.
Yes I spend a lot of time in the USA working with our teachers. I’m occasionally back in Manchester to visit family and I’d love to attend the Leeds Piano Competition. I will add the date to my calendar and get in touch closer to the time.
The street pianos are a brilliant idea. I always love finding a public piano to play on; it’s a wonderful way to bring everyone together in the street.
On a related note, check out this (now global) initiative by an British chap:
I like how the pianos are painted by local artists creating a fusion of local art and musical talent!
Tuomo has compiled biographies and suggested discographies for many great piano players. I recommend students to read into the biographies as it’s always nice to know a little bit about the background of the player.
Check out these pages which contain the biographies and suggested discographies of the following prominent players:
You mentioned that “street pianos are a brilliant idea. I always love finding a public piano to play on; it’s a wonderful way to bring everyone together in the street.”
Here’s what’s being done in Portland by an organization called Piano! Push Play. There’s an online location map, and they’ve come up with a piano passport, where you can put a stamp when you play at a given location.
I have been playing for several years now but I have never had any formal piano or music training.
I have a pretty good ear and have jammed with other amateur musicians. I also often like to play along to recorded music and figure out the key, think about the changes etc.
I love listening to music and can listen quite closely. I have also spent a lot of time reading theory and I think I have a decent general understanding about how things fit together musically.
However my technique is pretty sloppy because I hardly ever practice formal drills etc. and when I do it doesn’t last too long.
I have just started watching the video ‘foundations practice guide’ and honestly feel a bit overwhelmed and embarrassed that I am so slow at many of these exercises. There is a lot for me lot to do here.
I would like to start playing more seriously and hopefully to improve.
The main thing I am looking for from this course is to add routine and structure to my practicing (but hopefully to still have fun playing).
If you have any tips on good routines, motivation for drills, time management when practicing etc. please let me know!
That’s wonderful that you have worked on your listening skills and play along with records to figure out the key and the chord changes. Listening, transcribing, and emulating the sounds we hear on our favourite recordings is essential to absorb the feel of jazz music.
If you want to work on your listening skills further, check out Tuomo’s ear training and transcription exercises here:
We recommend all students to regularly work on their listening and transcription skills in addition to the video lessons. Any questions with that stuff @Tuomo will happily assist you in his area of the forum.
Moving Onto Practice Routines & Structure
For your questions regarding practice routines, structure, and time management, here’s some useful info and links:
Firstly check out this short video I created for using our practice planners:
We have practice planners for the first 4 jazz theory courses, you can find them here:
These 4 jazz courses cover a large proportion of jazz theory, and once you have a good understanding of these areas you will be much more comfortable with jazz harmony.
You can alternate days on each plan, for example, 1 day on the foundations plan, the next day the chord extensions plan, and the next day the rootless voicings plan. Find a balance that works for you at your current level.
Alternating the planners ensures that you are visiting different theory and you will see how the foundational theory is developed and applied in the subsequent courses.
One of our students - @TactfulCactus - posted a nice review of the system here:
I hosted our first Q&A on Beginner Jazz Theory which you may find interesting to watch. There are many questions relating to practice routines and staying motivated to work on the drills and exercises. Check out the archived recording of the session here:
Courses To Study
In terms of courses to study, I recommend that new students study the following 3 courses together:
1) Jazz Piano Foundations:
2) Beginner Jazz Arrangements:
3) Extended Chords & Voicings
The next step:
The following 3 courses would be the next step to delve into more advanced jazz theory, harmony, and arranging techniques:
4) Mastering Rootless Voicings
5) Altered Harmony & Upper Structure Triads
6) Chord Substitution & Reharmonisation
Practice Planners & Associated Lessons:
For courses 1, 3, 4, & 5 above, you can find the PDF practice planners here, and dedicated practice lessons in each course. Scroll down on the course pages and you will see the practice-oriented course module like this:
My name’s Izzy and I’m from the Wirral, a picturesque peninsula over the river from Liverpool. I’m a piano teacher and have dabbled in jazz for years - had a couple of teachers but only for a few months at a time (one was always too hungover to teach! the other left teaching for another job). So, here I am doing the online thing … and it’s great! I appreciate the gentle, unforced style of Hayden, and the range of levels of the material. I also play trumpet in a big band, trad fiddle, and guitar to noodling level. So for variety, I’m trying to co-learn jazz standards on all four - not in a particularly aggressive or ambitious way - just as suits me. Piano is first though! Like many folks on here, I left music for a few years - in my case I was an earthquake scientist, and so I travelled a lot, lived in California, did fieldwork in South America - so no regrets there at all. But I realised that my brain fundamentally works on a musical plane more than anything else, so I came back to my roots, and never been happier. Good luck to everyone in their own unique musical journey.
Congratulations on playing 4 instruments - that’s impressive!
I think it’s a wise choice to choose the piano to explore the intricacies of jazz harmony. The piano is unique in that we can easily visualise voicings, progressions, and how harmony moves.
My view is that once we can play and visualise common progressions on the piano we can then apply and translate this information to other instruments if we play them.
When I was younger I took some lessons with an accomplished jazz guitarist who had a piano in his home. Despite the guitar being his main instrument, he told me that he finds the linear layout of the piano very useful for exploring new concepts.
If there are any topics in particular that you are interested in, let me know and I will point you towards certain lessons and courses.
Here are some useful index pages to help search though the contents of the site:
My goodness Izzy! You have a fascinating background. I am so amazed at the diverse and very talented people that have joined PianoGroove. Indeed, with your background, you will learn very quickly. Once you have a standard under your fingers on the piano, it would be so much fun to listen to you play it on another instrument. When that time comes, I hope you will share. Welcome and have fun!
Thank you so much Hayden, those links are really useful … and there is even more material on here than I thought! What a feast. I’m interested in blues and Latin too, so this is going to be a blast.
Re learning guitar - I have so much respect for anyone who has mastered the guitar, and NOT played piano first! I can’t really grasp what their brain processes would even be. I am definitely happy to be able to see everything laid out on a keyboard: working stuff out on guitar minces my brain.
Thanks for putting this site together, it really is classy.
You’ll get a lot out of Hayden and company’s lessons here, and with your background, you’ll be absorbing things quite rapidly. Like you, I’ve come to have an interest in Latin jazz as well. It is “a blast” to work through the lessons and to try to incorporate them into your playing.
Hello @simon3 ! Gisle here, from Norway. I too love the low key swedish jazz and for me Jan Johanson is also a great inspiration! I have just pased my first year here and has managed to get trough Just friends, Tune up and working on Nearness of you. Im a complete beginner so they are not fluent. But i am working in parallell on the Jazz på svenska songs “Visa från Rättvik”,“Visa från utamyra” and "Emigrantvisa"from the pianobook. These song are very satisfying to play, because of the beautiful harmony, more easy than expected for me, although not very jazzy, and far from the perfomances of Johanson and Ridel, but i plan to build them out in time!