Introduce Yourself To The PianoGroove Community! 🌎

Hello All.
I’m a retired Doctor and after 30+ years in practice I now want to spend more time learning to play jazz piano. After hearing Bill Evans version of ‘Danny Boy’ as a youth, I’ve always wanted to understand how to elevate a familiar tune to a different level.
I have played by ear for 40+ years and have a battered set of ‘buskers books’ (melody line and chords) amassed over the years.
I live on the West coast of Lancashire, UK. I enrolled on 2 Jazz short courses at Leeds College of Music and so have some understanding of Jazz theory and concepts - but still a lot to learn.

It’s great to see what others are doing and share the trials, tribulations and the successes too.
The lessons and subjects on here look brilliant and so I’m looking forward to getting stuck in.

Nick

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Welcome to the PianoGroove community Nick!

I’m from Lancashire originally and also a big fan of Bill Evans. I agree his solo arrangement of ‘Danny Boy’ is a wonderful recording.

Bill Evans is a notoriously difficult musician to transcribe and emulate. We do have a number of tutorials and other resources that focus on his style. The following theory lessons contain harmonic principles and techniques often used by Evans in his solo piano performances:

Take a browse through those lessons as a priority.

Live Seminars:

I’m hosting a live seminar on Wednesday which focuses on inner voice movement, you can add to your calendar here:

https://www.pianogroove.com/live-seminars/what-is-inner-voice-movement/

Listening & Transcription:

Finally, the most effective way to take our playing in the direction of a specific sound that we like is to transcribe directly from the source. @Tuomo has compiled lots of wonderful transcription exercises here in the forum. Check out the following exercises and studies on Bill Evans:

I hope that helps Nick and if you have any questions with any of the materials just let us know.

Enjoy the lessons!

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Thanks Hayden, That’s great.

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Hello to everyone and greetings from Switzerland

I am new to pianogroove and what brought me here was that pianogroove provides Brazilian piano lessons. I am very much interested in Contemporary and Latin Jazz. Mostlikely to Brazilian, Cuban and Flamenco Jazz. It is not easy to find guided online lessons in these topics.

As a child I always want it to learn piano but my parents could not affort a piano or piano lessons. So as a teenager I learned to play saxophone instead. Now, in the age of 44 I started to play piano with online lessions as my partner suprised me with a second hand acustic piano last year.

I would say I have the basic jazz foundation knowledege and skills, and now I want to deep dive into Latin jazz. The biggest hurtle I have is, I do not have a long focus/attention span. That means, on one day I practice a song and in the other day another one or today I focus on one practice style and the next day on something complete different. As a consequence I never finish what I have started to practice. If there is anyone in this member area having similiar issues would be great to hear how you handle this and exchanging some ideas how to stay focussed.

Whish you all happy practicing and a wonderful Sunday.

Prisca

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Welcome to the PianoGroove Community @Prisca

That’s great that you have the foundations in place and from the sounds of it you will love our Brazilian courses.

I would recommend starting with Jovino’s “Brazilian Grooves Course” which focuses on Bossa Nova and Samba piano styles:

Brazilian music incorporates a lot of jazz theory such as extended harmony, altered harmony and substitutional harmony. The following jazz syllabus covers all of these areas:

If any of the theory topics in that syllabus are new to you, I would recommend studying this syllabus in combination with the Brazilian lessons.

Live Seminars

Our Brazilian teacher Jovino hosts 2 live seminars per month where you can ask him questions on any of the material you are working on. This month his sessions will take place on Dec 16th and Dec. 23rd.

Also check out some of Jovino’s archived seminars here:

Practice Tips & Routines

We have a section of the forum dedicated to PDF practice plans, check that out here:

Sticking to a consistent practice routine can be challenging and so these plans are designed to give a little more structure.

The planners are based around an hour practice time, and I recommend to start with 30 minutes of theory drills, and then spend 30 minutes applying the theory to the jazz standards in the course that you are working on.

These planners are focused around jazz harmony and many of the practice exercises are 251-based exercises. It could be a nice idea to play these exercises with a bossa nova or samba feel and that way your practice exercises would be consistent with your goal to develop your Brazilian and Latin piano styles.

Here is a blank version of the planner PDF which we can use to create our own exercises and drills:

Blank Practice Schedule.pdf (2.3 MB)

The exercises that I outline in the practice planners are just example exercises. They can be tweaked and extended in a potentially infinite number of ways. After watching Jovino’s course above I’m sure you will find things that you like the sound of in his lessons arrangements. You can take these things and turn them into your own practice drill by using the blank document above.

Final Notes On Practice…

The key to effective practice is to break our time down into lots of small chunks so that we can visit lots of different topics in one sitting. The other side is revisiting the material on a regular basis. Much of the improvement happens whilst we are away from the piano, and so if we are not revisiting the exercises it can be difficult to see the progress.

I think it’s fine to bounce between different tunes on different days, but leaving a tune half finished and then moving on could be problematic as it’s important for us to build out our repertoire of tunes and jazz standards.

I hope this helps Prisca and if you have any questions with the materials just let us know.

Cheers,
Hayden

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Hi Hayden, thank you very much for your detailed reply and your suggestions. It is very much appreciated.

Regards,

Prisca

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Hi all.

I’ve been a member for seven months but just getting around to the community aspect of the site. When I joined I just jumped into the lessons and I’ve been there ever since. Now I’m just popping my head up.

My dad was a pianist with Scottish “big bands” in the 1940s and 50s. My uncle was a professional drummer who had a 40-year career on cruise ships. I learned classical music like every kid does and took higher music in Kirkcaldy High School (of Adam Smith and Gordon Brown fame!) thinking it might be a career but my mother had a long-term serious illness and the sympathy and support of our local doctor turned me to medicine instead. I went to med school but my dad still taught me the basics of chord structure and the art of listening for what comes next so I often subbed in one of his bands, a great way to earn money for a student. It was just a piano, sax and drums and we were essentially the 1960s version of karaoke. People came up onstage and sang - usually in a completely different key from the one they requested, but it kept us on our toes. And I’m forever grateful for this experience.

Then I accumulated a girlfriend who became a wife, and a house, a mortgage, a garden, a dog, then three children and the music somehow became lost. I had a wonderful career as a family physician in Canada, my adopted country, and I wouldn’t have changed a minute of it. Then I retired. I went from having every minute of every day accounted for – to nothing. So my wife gave me the present of six jazz lessons from a local jazz pianist. He expanded my horizons particularly introducing me to extended chords and polyphonic dominants, and when Covid came out of nowhere, I found Pianogroove.

I’ll be here for a while!

Aye,

George

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Welcome George! It sounds like you received the “music genes” from your Dad and uncle! There are several of us who took time off in our lives for a career and are now finally getting back to music. So, you are not alone! As you have already discovered, this is a wonderful learning platform and there is so much to learn regardless of your interest. Enjoy your journey!

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And a welcome from me as well, George!

I’m also retired and I, too, hesitated a bit in joining the community. But you’ll find it a great place to share and maybe find some ideas along the way. I’m sure you’ll be here a while; I’ve been here over two years and still find it a daily source of instruction, information, and support.

I always ask everyone the same question: what keyboard(s) do you use?

Given your musical background, it’d be interesting to hear some of your playing.

At any rate, have fun! :musical_keyboard:

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Hi Scott. I have a 5’7" Yamaha grand. I’m trying to justify going electronic and as a halfway step have my laptop connected to my old analog HiFi speakers with a focusrite system, using band-in-a-box to give me the option of backing tracks to play along with. What do you use yourself?

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Welcome Prisca

I am in love with music and music playing for so many years …and still have the same issue … going from one song to another … therapy in progress …gently …
Welcome on board :grinning:

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Hello @George_Miller
A bit jealous of your big time you have as retired :slight_smile:
Just kidding i know we never have enough time whatever situation we are … and i prefer not projecting as retired …
You seems to have a nice background, this should help you getting soon playing fluently on piano … anyway have fun :champagne: :champagne: :sunglasses: :sunglasses: :grinning: !!

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Hello Everyone,

My name’s Eugene and I’m a Canadian living in Toledo, Spain for the last two and a half years.

I’m a full-time software engineer and part-time aspiring musician and, I functioned like that for many years. Recently I decided to focus more on music and improve my piano chops with the main intention of playing blues and jazz in local coffee shops and even start busking on Saturdays. It would be less for the money and more for the experience of playing in front of an audience.

While a have a good understanding of music theory, due to my formal music education, I do not have fluidity in playing the piano so I decided to take the “Introduction To Chicago Blues” course and work on my chops.

Because of my timezone and the fact that I’m working remotely for a Canadian company I have plenty of time in the morning to practice so I’m doing that almost religiously. I came up with my practice routine and set up a little corner where I have my digital piano, the metronome, the drum machine, and plenty of lead sheets.

I’m looking forward to hearing from you all.
~Eugene

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Wow! Warm welcome! :blush: :birthday: Nick, Prisca, George and Eugene
Love reading through your introduction and stories! Wishing you nothing but the BEST-est musical experience on Piano Groove! I always enjoy checking and learning from the lessons of our superb instructors! :heart:

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Hi everyone! Fredrik here, a 55 year old swedish neuropsychologist and amateur musician for many years.

I have a couple of questions and issues, and maybe hope for some nice feedback from Hayden, Jovino, Lyndol etc?

Firstly: I do play different instruments, but not really so much piano (except for some general knowledge from my childhood lessons). But I do play marimba. I have been playing classical percussion/classical music for quite many years in different amateur symphony orchestras (and singing in classical choirs) and would now like to be much freer in my playing. I found this school which looked perfect for learning the jazz idiom, but in my case I am in fact even more interested in Brazilian music than strict jazz. And accompanying myself while singing. Which is excellently covered here with Jovino and Lyndol apart from the ordinary jazz lessons.

So I am using your material but applying it on marimba. This works mostly excellent, but the obvious challenge is that I have 4 mallets instead of 10 fingers, which means that I have to adapt.

So my question is if you have any special recommendations for me using only “4 fingers”? I do see super vibrafonists like Gary Burton or Ed Saindon on youtube but it is slightly difficult to decipher how they do it all, they play such incredibly complex stuff. Right now my general approach is to play brazilian tunes and play the “surdo part” with the left hand (based on root and 5), and playing either chord tones, melody or improvise in the right hand, sametimes accompanying myself singing, or just playing marimba solo. Hopefully, as I am progressing, I will be able to embellish it all in a freer way.

In the future I would like to integrate the structural thinking I have got from playing classical music (and from growing up with and loving the progressive rock scene with long structured compositions and so on) with more free jazz thinking and the amazing melody/rhythm/harmony marriage I find in the Brazilian music/Bossa Nova etc I have heard so far (not too much yet I am afraid though). Hopefully trying to do some composing and improvising on a daily basis, to the extent that I can fit it in timewise with the rest of my ordinary life.

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Welcome @eugene :wave:t2:

To get started with the blues, our Chicago Blues course is a great place to start.

When I play that style I like to play along with the DrumGenius App - https://www.projazzlab.com/

These backing tracks have no bass. When playing the Chicago Blues our left hand handles the bass lines so I find the DrumGenius backing tracks to be a good fit and fun to jam with.

When you download the app you get 3 free download credits. Download 1 or 2 of the tracks from the “Jazz & Blues Shuffle” category and I’m sure you will have fun with them whilst playing the 12 bar blues in Chicago Style. You can also preview the tracks before downloading them.

After The Chicago Blues Course:

I would recommend checking out Jon’s course on New Orleans Blues:

The New Orleans Blues style is more harmonically elaborate than the Chicago Blues, but also has many similarities in the left hand shuffle patterns, voicings, licks, intros, endings, and turnarounds.

That Leads us onto PianoGroove’s Jazz Courses

I recommend studying the following jazz syllabuses as the concepts covered are the cornerstone of most other styles of improvised music.

Extended harmony, rootless harmony, altered harmony, and substitution harmony is found in all genres (jazz, blues, Brazilian, funk, gospel, fusion, etc…) so check out these 2 syllabuses where we cover all of these topics:

After studying the 5 courses in those 2 syllabuses you will have the harmonic foundations in place to understand any of the lessons on the website by all of our teachers.

Final Tips

Finally, this stuff does take time so be patient with it. The key is consistent daily practice where we revisit the topics we were working on the day before.

As you say time difference can be a blessing and I always find the first hours of my day to be the most productive time to practice.

Hope this helps and do let us know if you have any further questions.

Cheers!
Hayden

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Hey @fredrik :wave:t2:

Welcome to the community area!

For Brazilian music, our Brazilian music guru @Jovino is definitely your best port of call.

The majority of the courses in our Brazilian music section are taught by Jovino so I’d recommend diving into those lessons.

Live Seminars With Jovino:

If you filter our live seminars by “Brazilian Piano” in the “Genre” dropdown, you will find all of the seminars taught by Jovino which cover a wide variety of topics but always with a Brazilian focus.

Jovino’s next live seminar is this Wednesday 23rd December (or early Thursday morning for you if you are living in Sweden). You can add to calendar here and also submit questions during the event:

https://www.pianogroove.com/live-seminars/brazilian-rhythms-for-beginners/

If you can’t make the event due to time difference, the full recording is available in the archives straight after the event, and you can also send us any questions you have in advance and we will cover them in the session.

The Marimba

As far as the marimba; I have very little knowledge in that area. I have seen some tutorials by Gary Burton and have always been impressed with his teaching style.

On a related note, a member of Jovino’s Quinteto - Ben Thomas - plays the vibraphone, check out a performance of Jovino’s Quinteto here where you can see the whole band in action:

For Vocal Studies:

@Lyndol’s Vocal Accompaniment syllabus addresses how to accompany singers and how to accompany ourselves. Lyndol also covers vocal exercises and drills in her second course:

Live Seminars with Lyndol:

Lyndol hosts a bi-monthly live seminar, her most recent was recorded yesterday on the harmonic aspect of accompaniment using the tune “My Favourite Things”:

https://www.pianogroove.com/live-seminars/harmonic-support-for-vocalists/

Her seminar on “The Fundamentals Of Singing & Playing” also has tonnes of great tips and insights:

https://www.pianogroove.com/live-seminars/fundamentals-of-singing-playing/

Finally, Lyndol has compiled a selection of informative posts in the “Vocal Accompaniment” section of the forum, you can find that here:

https://community.pianogroove.com/c/records-musicians/vocal-accompaniment/

Definitely take a read through some of those posts as there are lots of great ideas and techniques shared for developing our voice, accompaniment, and combining those 2 skills to develop the third skill of the singing pianist.

I hope this helps Fredrik and enjoy the lessons!

Cheers,
Hayden

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Thanks, Hayden for your reply and all the resources provided. It really helps.

I was using Loopz for drums tracks, this is a similar application to DrumGenius. I have to admit that the tracks on DrumGenius are better and they sound very organic (well, real drummers).

Yes, I’ll stick with the blues courses for a while because the genre covers more sonic space and aligns well with my plans for finding small gigs to play around my neighborhood.

I’ll definitely check out the jazz courses later next year.

Thanks again.
~Eugene

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Hey Folks,

I‘m a 46y old aerospace engineer from Hamburg with a grand piano in the living room and a Kawai MP8 in the Music-Cave.

I‘m coming from classic piano (started with 6 years and a teacher and went on on my own when I was 19 until today). I always did my excursions to the lands of popular music, trying to improvise by ear (sounds good but repetitive… and no idea what I‘m doing), studied transscriptions of music I liked, started some self-study of jazz theory but got overwhelmed and didn‘t hold the line for enough of an effective progress. Mostly because of a lack of guidance regarding what to focus on, how to practice, what to drill (and what not…)

Currently no ambitions to play in a band (Don‘t feel my impro-skillsare sufficient by any means), but who knows what happens.

Nevertheless, my technique is rather descent for a hobbyist and I find to have a good basis to go ahead and I can already say, that the material/content provided here appears to really match my needs to keep motivated and structurized.

I‘m aiming for being able to more or less play what I hear inside and to get access to those cool and impressive progressions I‘d never find myself in realtime…I‘m not actual a jazz fan as itself but I deeply love the piano and I feel I want to fully understand what happens and learn to speak that language.

I‘m looking forward, what I will learn on this journey,

Cheers from Hamburg,

Sönke

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Hey @Soenke and welcome to PianoGroove!

Thanks for sharing all of this and from the sounds of it, our lessons and courses will be a good fit for your aspirations to learn some of the intricacies of harmony.

Here are my recommended courses:

For learning some jazzy progressions I would recommend the following 2 courses:

Live Seminars:

I hosted a live seminar on the 251 progression and its many variations, check out the full recording here:

I think that seminar will be useful for you to see how the basic 251 progression is enhanced and developed using chord extensions, chord alterations, and upper structure triads.

Other Useful Lessons On Progressions:

The 1625 progression is fun to play around with. Here are a couple of tutorials that I would recommend:

5 Minute Masterclass Tutorials:

Finally, I created a short series of “5 Minute Masterclass” tutorials which give top level insights into some of my favourite jazz piano techniques. Find that course here:

Check out those lessons and we also have full courses on most of the topics covered, so if a specific technique piques your interest you can find more in-depth instruction in the course library.

I hope that helps and enjoy the lessons!

Cheers,
Hayden

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