I’m a late bloomer piano prodigy. I decided to learn piano at the same time as started to subject my then five year-old daughter to lessons. At nine, she already plays more easily than I do, but we have a great time playing the piano together, learning new music, and singing along. My direction to “go practice” sure has a lot more moral authority when my daughter knows I’ve already put in an hour at the keyboard.
Along the way, as my daughter was doing classical drills and practicing the basics, I started learning jazz. I’ve always loved jazz, especially standards, and knew the freedom would give me a lot more pleasure than repeating Minuet in G Minor over and over to a metronome. In my hunt with my teacher for easy music to play and improvise from, we stumbled on The Piano Guy and his series of music all transcribed to the Key of C. Eliminating the “black notes” for the most part makes playing the songs simpler to read and play, as well as makes them easier to re-arrange following general “jazz rules.”
Scott Houston, Mr. The Piano Guy, also has a PBS TV show which is fun to watch if you’re into how jazz piano is played. He also sells books and DVDs of his lessons. I have three of his books, but have not tried the DVDs. He’s giving one of them for free though for the holidays – his in-depth instruction on Silent Night. While this isn’t my favorite of holiday songs, I’ve really gotten a lot out of this approach and you might find this song motivating if you want to learn a jazzy rendition of a Christmas classic for this season. I’m going to give it a try, but right now I’m working on God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, and Chestnuts Roasting Over an Open Fire. That’s about all my brain can handle right now.
Here’s the link to the free lesson, which is in 3 parts, including the sheet music. With this basic instruction, even someone who doesn’t know how to play the piano could learn to play this song in the next three weeks. That’s not some miracle sales pitch; it’s just actually that easy to play jazz piano at its simplest level. Now playing like Dave Brubeck is a different story.
The free lesson, including the sheet music, starts at: www.scotthouston.com/freelessons
Note: Scott didn’t give me anything to say this – I just enjoy his approach.