Becoming the jazz pianist I want to be…

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Do you want to become a jazz pianist? Recently a student of mine asked if using PianoWithWillie, they could become the jazz pianist that they wanted to be. I thought this would be good to share with all of my students…

1) Will I have access to a logical or systematic progression through the lessons if I become a member?

YES. There are several ways to stay engaged with the program. That is the key….engagement, not direction. You can take ANY of the jazz piano lessons on the site, and if you commit yourself to that lesson for a solid month, you WILL see a change in your playing. My lessons are equivalent to having a month’s worth of lessons with a private teacher. In a private, one-on-one lesson you usually get about 15-minutes of dense instruction from another jazz pianist. The rest of the time is filled with “How was your week?” and “Show me what you did this week…” and “Try that passage again please…”

On average, students only retain about 20% of a private lesson with a jazz pianist…about 15 minutes. This means that a lot of information is forgotten during the week and needs to be reviewed again the following week.

However, if you’re interested in become a jazz pianist, you probably already have a good practice habit and likely just want to get to the information, on your schedule, when you want to learn. Online jazz piano lessons are the way to go because an hour-long lesson at PianoWithWillie really translates into several 1-week lessons combined together. This allows you to condense and jam-pack a lot of information into your practice sessions, making you the jazz pianist you want to be…faster.

As far as actual logical systems, we have Piano plans and many other suggested list of lessons to work on.

2) Can I become the jazz pianist that I want to become using PianoWithWillie?

Yes, as long as your goals are realistic and you work in a consistent manner toward that goal. If your goal is to become a touring jazz pianist and playing with all of the “big players” out there, that may not be a realistic goal. Einstein is attributed as saying “Dreams are tomorrow’s realities.” You need to have a BIG goals and dream to hit the stars. I like to pepper that with some reality as well. How much time do you have to practice? What is your current skill level? Another powerful quote is “Know thyself.” So, what does this mean for becoming the pianist you want to be?

First, start by writing down your ideas of what you want to eventually be able to do. What are your strengths at the piano right now? Can you improvise over any song? Do you have a repertoire of hundreds of songs? Do you play gigs?

Next, break those big ideas into smaller goals. For example, if your future self has a repertoire of 100 songs that are memorized, next put a time frame to how long it should take you to accomplish this goal. 100 songs in 4 years, 25 songs per year, about 2 songs per month? Is this realistic for you to accomplish?

3) Willie, if you had to start over again learning the piano, would your online program get you to the same ability level that you’re at now without one-on-one lessons?

One-on-one lessons are fantastic. So is going to a music college. However, they are both costly. Private piano lessons, with a GOOD teacher, will easily cost between $2,000-$4,000 per year. Teachers in the Boston area charge over $100 per lesson. College costs are through the roof. Even a 3-credit online course cost $1,200 or more.

So, the cost savings of learning online are obvious.

Since you asked about me personally, I will tell you that I used to look at my dad’s books on jazz piano a lot. These were ‘scholarly’ books that were extremely difficult to use. Of course I would also listen and transcribe records (yes records) and tapes to try to learn new ideas. I would have LOVED to have had video that I could watch…and slow down!!

For example, learning how to use pentatonic scales was always a challenge. If I could have seen a video on pentatonic scales when I was younger, it would have changed my playing for the better. Again, faster.

What really brought my piano playing to a whole new level was…playing with others. This, hands down, had the most influence on my playing. This is one of the reasons I created my Live-to-Library lessons so you could learn how to put all these concepts into use by live interaction and playing with a band.

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Jazzedge Teachers

Welcome Paul Buono

Paul Buono has returned to the JazzEdge family as an instructor.  His professional piano/keyboard experience includes national and international touring, university professor, musical director, pit

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  1. I love the action planing based on the reality. I will start writing down my goal in the future and find out what is my every month goal and what I should do every day.