When it comes to jazz, it is an impressive style of music that one can use over any instrument. It has gained influence from various types of music. Though when you know all the ins and outs of this style, it is pretty easy going but the tough part is beginning to learn and practice jazz piano. For those who are beginners, it may seem tough to handle and learning and improvising needs more and more practice. Using old techniques of learning jazz includes exercises that have not worked well for improving you in this genre however here we will be sharing some advices and tips that would help you in gaining a grasp on learning jazz piano.
Steps for Learning Jazz Piano:
1. Begin with basics of jazz:
Before you start anything new, it is crucial to know background and basics. Similar goes with learning music. As you begin to learn jazz, you should have a clear idea of its background, how it was initiated along with basic theory of this style of music. Learn about basic vocabulary associated with this music, major scales and some common progressions of chords. Having this knowledge would prove extremely helpful and would give you a good start for learning jazz.
For example if you know all your major scales, just by looking at first chord symbol you will be able to know what scales it will follow and thus can play without even looking at it.
We assume that you already know how to read music? If you don’t, you first need to learn basics of reading a musical sheet or set of notes.
2. Listen to some excellent pianists:
Now next step is to listen to some good jazz music. You can take recordings of famous pianists who have rendered good work in the form of jazz music. They may be pianists of old times or some upcoming talent. Just make sure that you listen to some good music so that you can learn some excellent tunes and can apply when learning and practicing jazz piano. You may listen to Thelonious Monk, Art Tatum and others.
3. Learn some standard tunes:
Now that you have learned words of this new musical language and do have an idea of how it sounds by listening to work of other expert pianists, you are good to begin learning some tunes on your own. Learning some musical tunes will help you to apply vocab and basics that you have learned and would actually prove useful in building your jazz sense of music. So learn some melodies to begin your journey with jazz on piano. Some of the popular tunes that you can learn include Autumn Leaves, Satin Doll, Girl from Ipanema, Green Dolphin Street and many others.
4. Spend time to study tunes:
Though listening and learning some of your favorite recordings would have done well to progress your journey further, it is important to spend time to find out what you have learned or listened? Pick up the tune or song you like and for beginners it is best to pick something really simple and short such as a small favorite part from any song or tune. You should spend some time over that favorite recording and find out how it is programmed with music? This includes finding out chord progressions, keys, rhythm, melody and other articulated placements in the tune. At the beginning you may not be able to find track of each and everything in the piece but you will be able to notate few things that would at least enable you to play close to that tune. You may alter the speed/temp of that song in order to play along according to your manageable level.
5. Take Help from songs Book/s:
Though practicing by listening is one of the most beneficial and finest method of learning to play any music but you can further excel by taking help from songs book of an expert piano player. When choosing any book, just make sure that it has chord symbols printed along with melody so that you can read and play along.
6. Keep on practicing songs:
At the beginning you may not sound well and it is completely normal. When you step in to a new genre, it would take some time and practice to get fluency on it. Just keep on practicing and never fear to look back upon your mistakes. It is better to know your mistakes soon before they turn in to your bad habits forever. Try to analyze the areas where you are weak and are making mistakes by looking on the written symbols. Adopt smart ways of practicing to correct them.
7. Get your hands on chord inversions:
Learning chord inversions only need you to memorize four positions for each chord and when you know these inversions, you will be able to play them well. For example with Dm7 it would look like (D, F, A, C) root, (F, A, C, D) 1st, (A, C, D, F) 2nd and (C, D, F, A) 3rd.
Once you are comfortable with playing a jazz tune or song, try experimenting with it by removing some of the original notes and adding some of your own. Rhythms and tunes don’t need to follow any rules and thus you can add anything and everything to practice various forms and structures with a tune that you are comfortable working at.
Learning through the history of jazz, its vocab, theory, techniques and by gaining inspiration from some expert jazz pianists; you will be able to reach your goal of getting better and better at playing jazz piano. Learn to listen carefully and don’t worry about failures and mistakes. Experience everything that comes in your way whether it is a piece from a song book or a song from your favorite pianist. You may not sound well in the beginning, may make mistakes but consistent hardwork, practice and experimentation would enable you to become a better jazz pianist.