hello,

although i am trying to learn jazz piano for many years i feel that it goes very slow to the point of being tedious. so, i am reconsidering my practice and have some questions if anybody can help.

currently i am studying the tim richards book which is a method encompassing all aspects of jazz piano. i am studying it for about 40-60' a day which may be too little, but is it optimal to practice the same thing for hours (even with breaks)?

would it be best to break study into parts and use separate books (which are more detailed than method books), in areas like improvisation, comping, repertoire etc, in contrast with a single method book?

i need longer practice sessions and go a little faster (reasonably), but don't know how exactly to fill this time.
There are 11 comments, leave a comment.
listening is the key.  listen, listen listen.  then you'll know what to practice

2 hours a day to make real progress. my advice is to master 2+2 for most tunes in the real book before you learn the left hand rootless voicings. master the scale chord associations later on.
what does 2+2 mean?
4
gee thanks doc. look above my question: "my advice is to master 2+2 for most items in the real book..." so, again, what does he mean by "master 2+2"?

sorry, just being silly.  i don't know what he means by that.  i was gonna put square root of 16, but i was too lazy to look for the square root symbol:)
2+2 = 4-part harmony: 2 voices in the lh and @ voices in the rh.

however, i don't agree that that step needs to precede the "evans" rootless lh voicings.

as regards tim richards fine book, here is a review that i recently wrote regarding "exploring jazz piano 1" (i'm a firm believer that one should read and thoroughly work through any book to review):

tim richards' book "exploring jazz piano 1" is probably the most thorough tome that i have ever worked through on this subject. most jazz method books tacitly assume that you have already been seriously studying music for several years, so they skip over the elementary and delve headlong into the tricks of the trade (which can be daunting for those with a patchy knowledge).

this book makes no such assumption. if you don't have your basic theory and chops down when you begin this book, don't worry, you certainly will by the time you've finished it!

for those who have been playing classical and/or pop, etc for some time and know about intervals, inversions, scales, etc, it can be tempting to skip over all the stuff in the beginning of the book and dive straight into the meat of the course. however, i would still recommend that even those with a good foundation take the time to look through those early pages - you'll very probably find a few "easter eggs" that the author has tucked into the pages all over this book. little morsels of wisdom and cool stuff that you might not be aware of abound.

once you've gotten your feet wet, and begin looking deeper and deeper into this volume, you'll find a carefully crafted and logical progression of lessons that eases you smoothly into the jazz experience.

many styles are covered, and the transcriptions are priceless! the function of the lh is also dealt with as being equal in importance to the role of the right. this is not just a collection of rh bebop licks to be regurgitated and thrown about like so much musical confetti, it is a serious curriculum that takes you to where you need to be with the least amount of pain possible - so that you can soon begin make your own music using the detailed principles meticulously outlined within.

if you really want to learn jazz piano, and you want to make sure that you know the subject inside-out "exploring jazz piano 1" is one of the finest beginner's books i've ever encountered. just buy it, you'll see!
typo police:

2+2 = 4-part harmony: 2 voices in the lh and @ voices in the rh.

amend to read 2+2 = 4-part harmony: 2 voices in the lh and 2 voices in the rh.
i agree with 7 that 'exploring jazz piano' is very good. my concern is if i need more material to study in parralel with this/any method book.

i have studied the 'jazz piano book' by m. levine before, but saw that my improvisation skills were very lacking. my solos did not sound like jazz.

also, i can't seem to keep studying a single piece from a method book for 2 or more hours. is this normal? i feel that i need separate topics in order to keep my interest/concentration.
i think both of your questions can be answered with the following: i'm guessing that jazz+ didn't just mean 2 hours working out of the book, but 2 hours total devoted to studying jazz as a whole.  while you might spend 20-30 minutes working on an exercise/concept from the book, you could spend the rest of your time transcribing solos, learning a new tune. running through chord progressions in various situations (left hand chords alone, both hands, bass line only, stride style, etc), or practicing licks/lines that you've just added to your vocabulary, to name a few.

the main problem is once you figure out what things you need to work on and how to work on them, all of a sudden 2 hours doesn't seem like enough time anymore. :)
there are some other excellent books out there too.

one of them is dave frank's "joy of improv" series. you can get lots of ideas for rh bop lines and a great number of choices for rootless lh chords.

scot ranney's "jazz piano notebook" has got lots of cool stuff too.

along with these books, bert ligon's "connecting chords with linear harmony" is the bebop bible, and his "jazz theory resources" series will be good additions too to your curriculum.

and as dr whack mentioned, listening to lots of music will help you to decide what resonates with you (ie. what kinds of jazz you like best).

for example, i can't stand swing (except by basie) and i hate monk. by defining what i dislike, i begin top separate the wheat from the chaff.
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