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Introduction to Learn Jazz Piano: III. Solo Piano & Advanced Topics.

Introduction to Learn Jazz Piano: III. Solo Piano & Advanced Topics
© Goldsmiths, University of London

Welcome to Introduction to Learn Jazz Piano: III. Solo Piano & Advanced Topics

In this course we meet 16 new tunes including the important jazz standards “Satin Doll”, “In Your Own Sweet Way”, “How Deep Is The Ocean”, “Someday My Prince Will Come”, “All Blues”, “Stella By Starlight” and “On Green Dolphin Street”. As well as covering these tunes this part of the course looks at solo piano and it has a large amount of theory in it, especially on scales and chords. Much of the theory is revision, but we put the ideas into a more coherent and systematic framework. It is unlikely that on first viewing you will be able to absorb all the new ideas, but I try to make it clear what are the important things that you should learn and indicate that you can return to other parts of the the course when you feel ready to do so. In many ways this part of the course is in preparation for the the final part which is aimed more at playing jazz piano in different styles. So the moral is: take out of this part of the course what you can but don’t be put off by material which you do not feel ready for yet. You will still be able to develop your playing and, I hope, enjoy yourself in the process.

The other topics covered include modulation, swing and rhythmic phrases, an introduction to playing solo jazz piano (or playing in root position, as I call it) and the jazz waltz. You might consider the consideration of playing in root position outside the central goal of the course which is playing in voiced position with a rhythm section. However, a jazz pianist often begins or ends a piece with some root position playing and so, although it is a much more demanding activity, it is worth taking some time out to make a start on it. Again, take out of it what you can but remember that it is not central to our goal, so move on if you are having difficulties with it. In short, you can consider much of this part of the course as a resource which is there if you want it. As an experienced educator I tend to repeat key ideas frequently since I have found this the best procedure for less able students. So although the course and the videos could be more compact, I have tried to build up the ideas slowly and carefully. I hope this works for you.

Finally, the course videos were prepared over a period of years and so some of my comments are now out of date, in particular my references to the late John Taylor and Kenny Wheeler. Similarly, YouTube videos referred to in the course may no longer be available but I recommend using Google to find out what is.

You are again encouraged to raise any issues discussed in the videos in the comments section.

Using the playalongs and charts

I urge you to record yourself playing with the playalongs to check critically that you are doing what is asked for, as well as consider sharing your efforts with other students using SoundCloud, or an equivalent system, and perhaps offer some constructive feedback to other learners’ efforts.

If you want to get as close as possible to recreating my sound, then consider downloading the corresponding Aebersold tracks that I use, that is when they are available.

However, I have also provided playalong tracks of the tunes covered which have been produced by my trio rhythm section of Ben Taylor on bass and Lee Miller on drums. They are available in the Exercises article step at the end of each week. I have indicated in the titles of the tracks the number of choruses provided.

All the charts used are available at the end of the videos where they are first introduced and I advise you to print them off for your own use.

Important: to download the mp3 and pdf files on a computer you need to right click on a file and then download it with a file name (for example click on “Save target as …” on a PC and “Download Linked File As …” on a Mac).

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Unlimited access to the course: Go at your own pace with unlimited access to the course for as long as it exists on FutureLearn.

A Certificate of Achievement: To help you demonstrate your learning we’ll send you a Certificate of Achievement when you become eligible.

Find out more.

© Goldsmiths, University of London
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