The Best Place to Start

I get a lot of questions from teachers about my That’s Jazz piano method regarding ability levels.  They usually fall into three categories: 1. Beginner Students I have a first year student who I think would enjoy your books.  What level of technique is required to begin? 2. Play by Ear Students My student reads a little but would rather noodle around than play written music.  I think he might like jazz. Do you think Book 2 is right for him?  3. Good Readers I have an advanced student who reads and plays written music very well but is new to improvisation.  What book do you suggest? To all these questions, I always suggest everyone start with Book 1 – Getting Into It regardless of their technical ability.   For beginners, Book 1 is an obvious fit as soon as they have the very basics down. The first tune, Spare … Read more…

In Praise of Anderson and Roe – Forrest Kinney

88 Creative Keys is thrilled and honored to welcome Forrest Kinney! The MTNA jazz/pop track made lasting connections; one of them? a wonderful new friendship with Forrest Kinney. As he continues his efforts towards the cause of creativity, and speaks and writes with such eloquence, it seemed logical that he contribute to 88 Creative Keys.  Here’s Forrest’s reaction to the Anderson and Roe concert on Tuesday evening at the MTNA Conference. Last night I attended a piano concert given by the duo of Anderson and Roe at the annual MTNA national conference.  It was one of the most enjoyable, energetic, and historically significant piano concerts I’ve ever experienced. What do I mean by historically significant? I’m not referring to the obvious point that these masterful and attractive young performers lend classical music a new “cool” factor.  No, they did something last night that I haven’t seen in my lifetime, something that hasn’t been done … Read more…

The Eye Ear Revolution Has Begun

I’ve just returned from the Music Teacher’s National Association conference in CA where I was fortunate to serve as chair of the jazz/pop track along with project manager Leila Viss.  I’ve been swimming upstream on the subject of teaching creativity as a necessary ingredient to comprehensive musicianship at music teacher meetings all over the country for several years.  So it was with particular delight to find that we could attract a packed room of teachers for nine hours of sessions with experts on the subject of teaching popular music styles, improvisation and creativity. It seems the old model of only teaching the “masters” using only the written page is finally giving way to a more balanced approach or as someone at the conference quipped, “the Queen Mary (of music education) is slowly turning.”  I can get even more dramatic by declaring, “The eye/ear revolution has begun!”   If you are a … Read more…

My Three Cents Worth on Enhancing a Melody

This is the first of a series of blogs coupled with videos that focus on specific tunes from my That’s Jazz piano method books that we will be playing in the 88 Creative Keys camp this summer.  The first step in learning to improvise is to get a tune well under your hands (preferably memorized) which is why we are requiring all participants to prepare at least one selection from the list below prior to arriving at camp. Late Beginner – That’s Jazz Book 1 Spare Change Swing Out Burrito Cha Cha Early Intermediate – That’s Jazz Book 2 Flint and Steel Get Up, Get Ready Repeat After Me Intermediate – That’s Jazz Book 3 Fired Up Livin’ the Blues Stepping Stones To begin, take a look at my video explaining how to get the most out of Spare Change, the first tune in Book 1.  Please pay particular attention around 2:15 where I … Read more…

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