hey all,
i was wondering if anybody had any insight into oscar peterson's technical routine or his history? what he did on a daily basis or what pieces he played to get those monster chops. as far as i am concerned the man was a pure technical genius and i would love to try to incorporate what he did into my practice routine.
thank so much in advance!
There are 19 comments, leave a comment.
heavy classical training and regular practice.

he has spoken that his ability to play two-handed lines (and his great technique in either hand) came from learning to play everything equally well with both hands as opposed to only concentrating on the right.  he said that he would practice every lick in both hands until he got to the point where he could trade off soloing twos and fours between his hands.
hey ziggy,
i knew he was heavily classically trained and of course he was a practice beast.  the question is what pieces or exercises did he play?
i would recommend his autobiography...its been a few years since i read it, but there might be some info in there.  i think that's where i read the "practice with both hands" story.  

i know that his teacher was big on liszt (as i recall, his teacher might have been old enough to have seen liszt perform), so he probably played some transcendental etudes in his time.
and is a fascinating read.  

i also think it says in there that he was blown away when his dad took him to see art tatum to stop him getting too big for his boots!

a lot of the descending runs oscar plays (particularly earlier on in his career - eg jatp years) sound like they come straight from tatum.
that clip is awesome dr. whack!  i know it's not always hip to like oscar these days, but for me, with the exception of tatum, i can't really think of another jazz pianist who had such a natural all-round pianistic facility.

bud powell is the only other obvious name that springs to mind, but was his left hand as good as his right like oscar's? i don't know.  

either way, it's always astonishing to watch oscar - even when he's just playing scales and arpeggios!
i'll second that a jazz odyssey is a great read.
also, op has also stressed how much attention he gave to making sure that every note in a scale/run/arpeggio is even without unwanted accents, which is why those blinding runs sound so smooth.

i think that if you want to sound like oscar, or approach his level of technique, that it would be a good idea to transcribe some of his stuff or his influences (nat cole, art tatum), most of whom were no slouches themselves.
i think that if you want to sound like oscar it would be a good idea to give up now.  get a wife make her pregnant... have a lot of kids ... be happy.
lol@mike


you are closer than you realize. oscar's teacher was actually "paul de marky", and in addition to teaching oscar speedy fingers, he himself had studied with a pupil of the great franz liszt.

therefore, oscar in a sense owed at least in part his amazing technique to franz litz himself. also, oscar was a big fan of hannon too. (i myself am not).  

someone mentioned this already, but leaning licks, lines scales etc in both hands will help alot.

i don't know for sure about this and it will sound somewhat arrogant, but, i've pretty much always had fast fingers, all the poeple that i've played with have commented on it.  

which bring me to my next point, i  think that some of it is at least genetic, i still have to practice like every one else, but i always noticed that i didn't struggle as hard with technique as much as some people..
i would agree on the genetics point.  somewhere between 95-99% of people (probably the latter) will never play as fast and clean as oscar no matter how hard or long they practice.
that's a really limiting view point ziggy.  based off what scientific or proven evidence?  you state a percentage like it's factual but really it's your opinion.
sorry...i was really hesitant about writing that because i didn't put any "my opinion" disclaimer.  but think about it...if everyone could play as fast as op given sufficient practice time, don't you'd think there would be more like him out there?  

and it is a fact that nervous systems and physical makeups differ greatly from person to person.  some people are just wired better for, say, playing the piano.  it's the same reason that some people are natural athletes.
i tend to agree with ziggy and jazzvirtuoso. speed can greatly increased through practice and good technique but speed will come more naturaly to some.
jazzvirtuoso- you mentioned that you don't like hannon. what would you recomend to develope technique/speed/finger dexterity?
a good alternative to hannon is to refine your technique with pieces in conjunction with regular practice of standard and jazz based scales and arpeggios.  

i know that scot has recommended bach two-part inventions for years.  mozart is recommended for single note/scale dexterity, but i don't know the mozart rep well enough to suggest something.  dick hyman (as reported by john lewis, i think) used to recommend chopin etudes.  however, (for me at least) the chopin etudes are more advanced pieces, so i don't know if they're the best place to start.

finally, for practical jazz technique, i would recommend transcribing part of a challenging solo (for your level) and running it through all keys.
hey ziggy,
   ok thanks for the disclaimer....lol.  question though...what did you mean by jazz based arpeggios?  do these differ than normal classical arpeggio patterns?
did oscar want to play like tatum?  i don't think so.  he wanted his own voice.
can we be influenced or inspired by oscar?  
yes but be ready for some heavy practice.
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