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There are basically two steps to being good at anything.

  1. Practice
  2. Repeat step one

The trick is practicing right and concentrating on the details. Once you master the small things, the big picture comes into focus on it's own.

I've been composing and playing jazz piano professionally since 1989. Music has given me a lifetime of experiences and opportunities to enjoy life. I'm poor as dirt, but I enjoy my life!

My first jazz piano mentor was Marc Seales, the jazz piano professor at the University of Washington in Seattle, Washington. He's a good "real world" teacher in that he teaches you to teach yourself - the way it is in real life. He is also one of the top monster players in the world. His blues and gospel background comes out in his bop playing.

I highly recommend the UW jazz program. Look for Marc's recordings- he is a monster player with a blues and gospel background.

One of Marc's philosophies has been a reason why I've enjoyed any sort of success at all: take care of business first then there is time for play.

More Articles in Scot's Studio

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In part 1 of this series about Dorico I'll relate my initial thoughts as I install Dorico and create a simple lead sheet. Dorico is a brand new entry in the field of music publishing and notation software by the people who originally put out Sibelius and is widely anticipated to rock the notation world.
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I took a full year of college music theory in a heavy summer session at North Seattle Community College in 1984, the summer before I started my senior year of high school. Studying music theory that summer put me ahead of everyone else when I started taking music classes at the University of Washington, and even today my knowledge of music theory is way ahead of the curve, and I attribute that to my summer music theory inaguration.
by on - 3 comments 12/17/2015    
You can't hang out with Barry Harris like this if you don't go to college. Sure, you're an artist and want to do things your own way, but there are advantages to going to school for a while.
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Multi-talented artist Jamison Ross has recorded his debut album with Concord Music Group. Jamison was the 2012 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition winner and has taken this opportunity to create a polished musical product that is a pleasure to listen to as well as a pleasure to chill out to.
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Piano is a physical instrument and many of the great pianists in history and today say the same thing: great pianists need to be in great shape. The easiest way to start increasing our quality of health and physical/mental strength is by making sure we eat foods that are right for our bodies. I've been following the Paleo diet for the last five years and the last five years have been the most productive years of my life.
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If you have any interest in learning about blues piano, from the roots to modern playing, I have never, and I mean it, never seen a book as complete, as professional, and as well put together as this one. A perfect mix of discussion and music examples, solo piano arrangements, exercises, history and more. This book would work well in an academic situation in a jazz studies, theory, or improv class as well.
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There are a handful of jazz pianists who helped shape our world and McCoy Tyner is one of them. He broke into the big picture when he played with John Coltrane and since then has never looked back. I've seen him live several times and even had a chance to speak with him at length once. Great player, humble guy, and here's something you can do to add a bit of his sound to your playing.
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There's a simple technique to not getting lost during a solo, whether it's one of your band mates or your own.
by on - 1 comment 11/13/2014    
Buddy Catlett was a master jazz bassist from the swing era who was a mainstay in Seattle for decades and played regularly with virtually every big name from the 20th century you can come up with. His recent passing brought back some memories of playing with him. In particular, it reminded me of when he changed my life on my first gig, and when we had a good laugh on the last gig. May Buddy rest in peace, he sure earned it.
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The first time you see a Cm7/G you might by puzzled, pause, and finally say, ".....What?" Well, that's what I did, but only once. The slash chord is a simple idea used in most musical genres including jazz. What does the slash chord mean in jazz piano? How and when is it used? How do jazz pianists practice slash chords, and improvise over them? We'll look at Beautiful Love and other examples to help explain the use of slash chords in jazz piano.

Jazz Piano Notebook Series
Scot Ranney's Jazz Piano Notebook, Volume 1 - jazz piano tricks of the trade

Volume 1 of this educational jazz piano book contains 15 jazz piano exercises, tricks, and other interesting jazz piano techniques, voicings, grooves, and ideas Scot Ranney enjoys playing.

buy pdf version - buy coil binding version - videos

Scot Ranney's Jazz Piano Notebook, Volume 2 - jazz piano tricks of the trade you can use today
"Latinesque"

Volume 2 has 14 jazz piano exercises and tricks of the trade, and quite a bit of it is Calypso jazz piano related material, including some Monty Alexander and Michel Camilo style grooves. Jazz piano education is through the ears, but books like this can help.

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Tim Richards' Jazz Piano Notebook - jazz piano tricks of the trade

Volume 3 contains 12 jazz piano exercises and explorations by the acclaimed jazz piano educator, pianist, author, and recording artist Tim Richards.

Tim wrote the well known "Exploring Jazz Piano" and "Improvising Blues Piano" books and has several others to his name.

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Jeff Brent's Jazz Piano Notebook - jazz piano tricks of the trade

Volume 4 is by Jeff Brent, a jazz pianist, composer, teacher, and author of "Modalogy" and other acclaimed jazz theory and education books. In this book Jeff shares detailed analysis of transcriptions of live performances. He covers everything from the shape of the songs to the tricks and licks he uses in improvised lines to the ideas behind his lush chord voicings.

buy pdf version - buy coil binding version

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