Hey I’m Tuomo Uusitalo, musician and composer, originally from Finland but currently residing in NYC. Many of you might already know me from my lessons here on PianoGroove.
I’m excited to have this forum section to connect with Piano Groove students directly. I’m going to be covering topics such as improvisation, jazz language and harmony. The exercises are short transcriptions that develops your ear and teaches you to get familiar with intervals, melodies and harmony. Once transcribed, you can learn the material in every key, and apply it to your own playing.
Each week there will be 3 Exercises, ranging from beginner to advanced. All 3 levels have 2 parts, melodic and harmonic exercise.
I will provide few tips on every exercise, and will post the right answer here at the forum the day before posting the next weeks exercise.
Also I will be present here at the forum daily, so if you have any questions, or need guidance with the exercise, don’t hesitate to ask!
ps oh i see you come touring in France . you go center eastern but you miss the most beautiful part of the country the south western (where i live), what a programming error .
I would have had so much fun meeting you and taking a drink with you… maybe next year
I’ve done the first two exercises, beginner and intermediate. I used the sol fah method, visualized the notes and stayed far away from the Piano! This is great. It will be invaluable. My next step is to play it in all keys. I play at a care centre for the elderly and they have been asking me recently to transpose down, something I’ve not practiced for years so these exercises will be helpful for that difficult task. Thank you for doing this.
Hi Tuomo and thanks so much for putting together this series of exercises. (I’m relatively new to the community and have started to work through the exercises for the last several weeks). It’s especially nice to have the background and analyses for different artists and tunes.
I have a notation/transcription question. For the exercises, I think the pdf versions are terrific. I manually write out the notes and/or rhythm in the blank areas, and it’s incredibly helpful to have the rest of the solo already transcribed to provide context as well as a motivation to play through the entire solo after transcribing only a fraction!
But when you, or others, are starting from scratch with a new tune, do you go manual or use MuseScore (or something else)?
(I think this has been asked before in the more general context of notation software, but I’m wondering specifically about transcribing a favorite solo).
I think writing things down by hand is a good thing to do first,
it helps to give you the freedom to work fast, by using your own way to notate things, meaning to have your own system to ‘fill up the puzzle’; for example if you’re transcribing a difficult passage, you would start with the first and the last note of the phrase, then little by little fill the missing notes. When writing by hand you have more liberty to write things down exactly how you want, which at least for me, sometimes is hard with a notation software.
Also it gives you a better insight of how to notate things; we all have noticed with all the apps/softwares that they do half the job for you, which is great if we already know how things work, but if all the basics are not quite there, you might find yourself in a difficult situation when you, for some reason, have to write something down by hand.
In general, I would recommend to do things however you find the best for yourself. Only thing I want to recommend if you are using a software, try to work as much as possible just by ear (or if needed, little help from your piano). Sometimes it’s easy to rely on the playback option, which for transcribing/ear training is not helpful.
The last thing I want to mention is that IF you write things down only by hand, PLEASE write them down with a software afterwards! In my early years I only wrote by hand, and after all the years of moving to new apartments/countries I eventually lost my book of hundreds of transcriptions… So write them down on a computer, and remember to back up the files!
One small point of clarification–I don’t really understand what you mean by, “[don’t] rely on the playback option”. Obviously, playback is available using Musescore (or Sibelius) for anything that’s been input by hand or MIDI, but I don’t understand why that should make things easier, i.e. worse for ear training. Are you referring to the “note guess” function in Transcribe? I can see why that would diminish the effort.
I find the transcription exercises fun, helpful, and rewarding. I’m taking a break between Bill Evans and Keith Jarrett, and working my way through the advanced ear training. When you recommend transposition, do you suggest transcribing into different keys and then playing, or just transposing at the keyboard?
Usually it’s better to try to memorize as much as possible, but if writing the exercise down on paper in different keys helps, do it. Still remember to try to get rid of the sheet music as fast as possible.
Have you started to apply those II Vs/ the language from the solo into to your own playing?
If you’re interested in that, I’m happy to help if you have any questions/ suggestions!
I am using elements of the transcribed Bill Evans’ solos, mostly in developing my own arrangements of those tunes. The ear training exercises have been serving as just that–exercises, mostly because I work on them when I’m away from the piano. Your advice about transposition makes sense, though; I’ll transpose sitting at the piano instead of sitting at a computer, and work on putting together phrases.
@gregb, sounds great, you’re doing the right thing.
When you’re learning the new lines, try also to apply them to your solos; for example think of how you can take a melody Bill Evans played over a II V, and how you can apply that same melody into your own soloing, and over the II Vs of other songs.
Here’s a lesson you might be interested in; the course opens up the topic of harmony, and how to use the same melody over different harmonic events
Good evening, sir! I just recently became a member in June 2020. These resources are INCREDIBLE! I’ve been playing for 27 years and am STILL learning new things! I love the uniqueness of each individual instructor on this website. None of you sound the same but you use the SAME theory and the SAME techniques! That’s what makes music so great! I REALLY LOVE how you guys take the time to “break down” every chord, every chord progression, and even the licks and tricks that are commonly used in “Jazz Music”. I’m a Minister of Music at one of these “charismatic” African-American churches (where they use a LOT of licks and tricks and you’re expected to know every SINGLE one of them).