Discussion:
Teachers: piano jazz student books
(too old to reply)
Al Stevens
2003-12-04 16:44:18 UTC
Permalink
I'm not a piano teacher, but a friend is. He's also a fine jazz player. Many
of his students want to learn jazz, and they are from all age groups. Ron
looked for appropriate literature and found only books that are either way
too simple or way to complex. So he started to write his own arrangements of
tunes in a piano solo jazz idiom for his students. Rather than concentrating
on jazz scales and such or long lines of transcribed solos, Ron's charts are
standard tunes with jazz voicings. They are easy enough to play and yet they
have a good jazz feel.

Ron says the students are really enthusiastic since he began using his own
charts. Now he's thinking that maybe there is a market for a book of such
arrangements. I'm a published writer and jazz piano player, so I understand
the subject and can write the text and know about publishing. We're
discussing a collaboration. My questions are:

1. What are the best books already available on this subject? What do you
use with your jazz students at various levels?
2. How many tunes would such a book need to be useful?
3. How much narrative text would a typical teacher need to explain each
arrangement.

And the big one:

4. Would today's teachers and students be receptive to a book on cdrom from
which you can read the text and print the arrangements on a computer? Or do
teachers prefer traditional bound books of music for their students? (Cdrom
copy protection is not an issue. I am in touch with a mastering company who
has a viable solution to that problem.)

Al Stevens
http://www.alstevens.com
Marc Sabatella
2003-12-04 21:46:50 UTC
Permalink
Frankly, I haven't seen any books on the subject that I think are
particularly useful, but I do think the idea has promise. The trick
would be making sure there is enough explanation of what is going on
that the student actually *learns* something from playing the
arrangement. The various "arranged in a jazz style" songbooks I've seen
provide little or nothing in this regard, ans as such, don't teach you
to play jazz any more than playing Beethoven does.
Post by Al Stevens
1. What are the best books already available on this subject? What do you
use with your jazz students at various levels?
Haven't seen any worth using, but would be interested to hear if others
know of ones that seem like they'd fit the bill.
Post by Al Stevens
2. How many tunes would such a book need to be useful?
Shoot, anything is more useful than none. You might have to answer this
one by working backwards from what you feel would be a good target
price, silly as that seems. I'd consider buying a *single* piece with
good explanatory text if I thought it had something to offer a
particular student. But if there's going to be more than one, they
should either be at a consistent level of difficulty pianistically, or
be graded in some manner so a student can work through them in order.
The concetps to be learned could be similarly graded.
Post by Al Stevens
3. How much narrative text would a typical teacher need to explain each
arrangement.
I am not sure what a typical teacher is. I suppose I wouldn't *need*
any, which means I should stop complaining about the books that don't
provide any :-) But on the other hand, it would be obvious at a glance
what there was to learn from the book without some of this, which is my
real reservation with what I've seen. At the very least, there should
be a synopsis of what techniques and concepts were used where. A
teacher who knows jazz could then use this as a jumping off point to go
into more depth. Or, if the book is going to be aimed at self-study -
or use by teachers who don't know a thing about jazz, which I imagine
would be a very common situations - it would have to really go into
everything. In fact, it would really function best in this respect as a
companion to a more standard textbook type of publication.
Post by Al Stevens
4. Would today's teachers and students be receptive to a book on cdrom from
which you can read the text and print the arrangements on a computer? Or do
teachers prefer traditional bound books of music for their students? (Cdrom
copy protection is not an issue. I am in touch with a mastering company who
has a viable solution to that problem.)
Interesting question. Biggest issue would be browsing - I can't imagine
buying a book like this in a store if I couldn't browse through it to
convince myself it was something more than the typical non-instructive
arragements already out there. On the other hand, advertising by word
of mouth, samples on a web site, etc, can help.

--------------
Marc Sabatella
***@outsideshore.com

The Outside Shore
Music, art, & educational materials:
http://www.outsideshore.com/
David McKay
2003-12-05 11:03:28 UTC
Permalink
Have you seen the ABRSM jazz piano books, Al and Marc?
I think they are a good introduction. Right from the beginning you have to
do a little improvising in each piece.

You get a CD with each book with pretty good performances and ideas on how
you might do the improvisation section of the piece.

See http://www.abrsmpub.co.uk/pub/0103.html

David McKay
Marc Sabatella
2003-12-05 18:32:38 UTC
Permalink
Post by David McKay
Have you seen the ABRSM jazz piano books, Al and Marc?
Nope. The info on the site looks promising, but without seeing any
actual arrangements or accompanying text, I can't really judge.
Post by David McKay
I think they are a good introduction. Right from the beginning you have to
do a little improvising in each piece.
Good for them! Not a bad idea, really - write out part of the
arrangement, make people improvise too.

--------------
Marc Sabatella
***@outsideshore.com

The Outside Shore
Music, art, & educational materials:
http://www.outsideshore.com/
Al Stevens
2003-12-05 19:39:28 UTC
Permalink
Post by Marc Sabatella
Post by Al Stevens
4. Would today's teachers and students be receptive to a book on cdrom
...
Post by Marc Sabatella
Interesting question. Biggest issue would be browsing - I can't imagine
buying a book like this in a store if I couldn't browse through it to
convince myself it was something more than the typical non-instructive
arragements already out there.
Good thought. It might be possible to post fragments of examples on the web,
but the royalty issues would have to be dealt with.

Al
Dfrankjazz
2003-12-06 18:01:18 UTC
Permalink
Thanks for the mention, Al. The Joy of Improv books are the ones yer talkin
about, they (2 volumes) are intended as a basic curriculum for the aspiring
improviser, including technique, ear straining, oodles of voicings, and
jazz/blues lines. They're currently Hal Leonard's best-selling jazz instruct
series, and come with a CD of me teachin and playing all the muzak. The DVD
you're refferin to is BREAKTHROUGH TO IMPROV, which is a step-by-step approach
to beginning blues/jazz improv desined for all instruments. Also Hal L..

BTW, for those in the NYC area, the DAVE FRANK SCHOOL OF JAZZ is now in swing
at FRANK AND CAMILLE'S FINE PIANOS ON 57TH, off 6th ave. I'm in the Apple every
other week, teaching privately and doing monthly free solo concerts and
workshops. It's great fun, hope to see folks there sometime..

Keep Swingin Amigos,

Dave Frank

Safir
2003-12-05 12:36:29 UTC
Permalink
Isn't the books series "Approching the standards" somewhat similar ?
Post by Al Stevens
I'm not a piano teacher, but a friend is. He's also a fine jazz player. Many
of his students want to learn jazz, and they are from all age groups. Ron
looked for appropriate literature and found only books that are either way
too simple or way to complex. So he started to write his own arrangements of
tunes in a piano solo jazz idiom for his students. Rather than concentrating
on jazz scales and such or long lines of transcribed solos, Ron's charts are
standard tunes with jazz voicings. They are easy enough to play and yet they
have a good jazz feel.
Ron says the students are really enthusiastic since he began using his own
charts. Now he's thinking that maybe there is a market for a book of such
arrangements. I'm a published writer and jazz piano player, so I understand
the subject and can write the text and know about publishing. We're
1. What are the best books already available on this subject? What do you
use with your jazz students at various levels?
2. How many tunes would such a book need to be useful?
3. How much narrative text would a typical teacher need to explain each
arrangement.
4. Would today's teachers and students be receptive to a book on cdrom from
which you can read the text and print the arrangements on a computer? Or do
teachers prefer traditional bound books of music for their students? (Cdrom
copy protection is not an issue. I am in touch with a mastering company who
has a viable solution to that problem.)
Al Stevens
http://www.alstevens.com
Alex Maas
2003-12-06 01:48:43 UTC
Permalink
Post by Safir
Isn't the books series "Approching the standards" somewhat similar ?
Post by Al Stevens
I'm not a piano teacher, but a friend is. He's also a fine jazz player. Many
of his students want to learn jazz, and they are from all age groups. Ron
looked for appropriate literature and found only books that are either way
too simple or way to complex. So he started to write his own arrangements of
tunes in a piano solo jazz idiom for his students. Rather than concentrating
on jazz scales and such or long lines of transcribed solos, Ron's charts are
standard tunes with jazz voicings. They are easy enough to play and yet they
have a good jazz feel.
Ron says the students are really enthusiastic since he began using his own
charts. Now he's thinking that maybe there is a market for a book of such
arrangements. I'm a published writer and jazz piano player, so I understand
the subject and can write the text and know about publishing. We're
1. What are the best books already available on this subject? What do you
use with your jazz students at various levels?
2. How many tunes would such a book need to be useful?
3. How much narrative text would a typical teacher need to explain each
arrangement.
4. Would today's teachers and students be receptive to a book on cdrom from
which you can read the text and print the arrangements on a computer? Or do
teachers prefer traditional bound books of music for their students? (Cdrom
copy protection is not an issue. I am in touch with a mastering company who
has a viable solution to that problem.)
Al Stevens
http://www.alstevens.com
There are, of course, innumerable books on the subject of jazz piano.
There is one written by Dave Frank in CD and I think now in DVD form.
It is really good, but tends to want the player to play Lennie
Tristano type lines--he was his teacher.

And Charles Beale, which is part of that AASBRM (or whateve the
initials are) has written Jazz Piano From Scratch, which is also
excellent.

There is also of course, Jazz Piano by Mark Levine, widely
recommended, but with a dearth of tunes, and a dearth of instruction
on jazz rhythm.

I think what would be good would be a true update of the Mehegan
books. He included charts for all tunes, but no melodies. But his
charts were strange, often more Bach-like than jazz-like. If the
charts were better, I would think these would be really good. But
the charts did have the advantage of being listed as Roman numeral
charts, forcing the student to think in all keys. And his books were
really comprehensive. The other problem with this set of books is that
they really did not teach you much about how to form a melodic line on
your own, as I recall, just exercises on scales and arpeggios. But
the only other set of books I have seen that is as comprehensive,
actually even moreso, is the set by Bill Dobbins, but it is marred by
a poor typesetting job, as the bass clef and the treble clef do not
even match in most places. And it is not widely marketed. I don't
think you would even find them at a music store.

Maybe Roman numeral charts for tunes in the New Real Book should be
matched inside a piano jazz text. Try this technique on the chart for
the following tune found in the New Real Book or something like that.

Some of the best books find their place at Borders or Barnes and
Noble, reaching a larger market.Jazz Piano Harmony by Dominic Alldis
is one such book, and it is a good book, and he has just come out with
another one--Jazz Improvisation. And he includes limited tunes.

But the problem with a lot of these books is they do not include
tunes. That is where Aebersold and others have tried to fill the
gaps.

As for books with just tunes, I have seen many of these published
recently, although I think Aebersold is the king. I cannot remember
which ones include voicings, but some do. Go to www.ejazzlines.com
and you will find a pretty comprehensive list of what is available.
Between this and www.jazzbooks.com (Aebersold) you should know about
everything that is available, although I don't know if the Dave Frank
books or the Dominic Alldis books are available at either of these
places. But www.pianoplace, www.encoremusic.com, and
www.sheetmusicplus.com will show you everything available on the
subject if you missed anything.
Continue reading on narkive:
Loading...