Hayden et al,
Again all great suggestions and appreciate your time. Just a quick note: before I started taking weekly lessons, I spent a while comparing a lot of web video sites. By far pianogroove was the best, in terms of content and comfort with Hayden’s style (not condescending and no BS) and ability to see the notation as the instrument is played.
That said, as I started my private lessons (at Mason Gross at Rutgers), I realized very quickly that while I could play a chord progression, for example Tune Up, I had trouble with the basic melody as I mentioned rhythm and timing and fingering, etc. As for listening to many versions of a song first, I think I’ve counted twelve versions of St James Infirmary bouncing around in my head! From Louis Armstrong to Hugh Laurie!
My teacher told me to strip everything down, forget chords, and perfect the line melody. So that’s where I am after about ten months. I can play chords, understand the difference between So What and Kenny Barron (I’ve even come to understand the circle of fifths and why they are good). I’ve also taken a Music Theory course at Rutgers (I turned 62 and they have a great Senior Audit program). Starting next week I am also taking a months long course on the history of jazz. I am also listening to a ton of different jazz styles and recordings (the Savory Collection on Apple) for example. Plus I feel like I wish I could have met Gladys Bentley and had at least one conversation with her. If that last sentence made no sense google her name and Groucho Marx. It will blow you away!
So I feel like I’ve taken an immersion but at this point I’ve gone down many rabbit holes. I started out last year with the goal of playing five tunes on my piano, but jazz piano is a huge forest which I only feel I can now speak about. But I still cannot play even one tune. Even though I probably have a sum total of six years of piano classes as a kid.
So my questions:
What keeps you motivated?
What are reasonable expectations for a beginner, or the next steps after getting a melody line down? For example, is it 1) melody line; 2) thirds and sevenths; 3) extended chords? Is this a good linear approach (or conversely should I attempt to master all major and minor scales in a silo and then take on more challenging stuff like a walking bass line?)
I am blessed to live near NYC, which has an almost infinite number of jazz clubs, and a wonderful museum in Harlem. That said., I am trying to take stock of where I am and wondering what my expectations should be? I have come to love Bill Evans, but should I even bother with going down that road attempting to play like him (metaphorically speaking), or develop a number of styles? And again, is there a roadmap I can follow.
Forgot to mention I am recently retired and have the time and motivation. I never wanted to leave college back in 1979, but after 40 plus years of a successful but otherwise not terribly satisfying career, really want to spend my remaining years learning the instrument and genre. All help and guidance will be appreciated, and I promise to give you and the community updates.
Sorry for the lengthy email and these are questions I will ask my piano teacher this week as well.