The Jazz Standards are full of great tunes and have great variety. It is through these tunes and others that we get a starting point to work on:
- The Chord system and chord voicing.
- Soloing tools such as scales modes arpeggios pentatonic scales etc. How to play them and where to use them
- Chord progressions. The wonderful 2 5 1 and all its friends.
- Blues; Blues scales and forms. Tunes and improvisation.
- Improvisation; using all the above to create. Use this over standards or your own compositions.
- Transcription, (the ability to work out a tune by ear) enables the student to work on any tune they can hear.
The Royal Schools of Music, Jazz Piano exams syllabus
This syllabus has some great tunes and arrangements. The exams go from grades 1 through to 5 and can be a very useful and enjoyable achievement.
- There are also Rhythm section workshops. This is when the students play in a Jazz band combo environment as the pianist. The drummer and bass player are professionals chosen from the New Zealand School of Music. My students get to play in the band with these musicians on songs that they have been working on in Lessons. The students find the experience exciting. Inspiring and lots of fun is had by all.
Students may participate in these activities and some have gone on to perform in the New Zealand School of Music, Young musician programme and Jazz course.
Students may of course chose to simply play for themselves and are happy producing great results.
Pop music is a huge area to explore and is full of many valuable learning experiences.
- There are many ways to explore this field.
- Playing sheet music of popular tunes, there is an ever increasing library of good music to be learnt.
- Chord knowledge is extremely useful for your working musician. This is a tool which is made available in clear easy to read terms
- Transcription. Working out tunes from listening is an amazing asset to a musician and a core skill for any musician working in the pop area. We work on this together using techniques developed out of playing experience.
- Singing and playing. A lot of my students enjoy learning the piano from and accompaniment position. Where they learn to play an accompaniment for their own voice.
- The idea here is to give you skills that will bring you closer to your music.
There is a wonderful amount of great music in this area ranging from Bach 1685 to modern day composers. Students can take this as far as there time and energy permits.
- Exams are available for those who enjoy the challenge. Please be aware exams are challenging and often require longer lesson times.
- I provide small playing groups for the exam students, and others who enjoy performance, to practice performing.
- Also through the Institute of Register Music Teachers There are Performance competitions available.
- A great deal of my students prefer to learn through simply playing pieces that they enjoy without the pressure of exams. This can produce fun lessons and great results.
- Theory is really useful here however the theory exams are only necessary for those who wish to go into the advanced grades. Those who do enjoy doing theory exams are encouraged and supported in this goal.
Many of my students like to explore all styles. A bit of Pop, classical and Jazz and find this helps there overall musical enjoyment.
My main goal is to have happy students exploring music.
- Theory is important and encouraged. The style tends to dictate what the most useful theory to learn is. And therefore that is the theory that I teach the student E.g. Chord knowledge for pop musicians or grade 5 classical for exam students
Composition can be explored and enjoyed by all students in all styles. With the use of free music notation software such as Musescores students can create there own scores of their music.
Using the ear in music should always be encouraged from the outset. What we write down on the paper are simply the instructions to the musician what you hear with your ear is the music. The quality of the listening definitely contributes to the quality of the playing. A good ear is a wonderful thing and can always be worked on.
Skills and tools we can practice and work on:
- recognition of intervals, chords, pulse etc.
- Transcription of tunes. A very handy skill for our pop and jazz enthusiast.
- Practicing exam or audition tests. Plenty of students have devoted their lesson time to these skills.