Spring is for Jazz! It’s about time, too. the past two recitals have been Classical, preludes, interludes and etudes last Fall, and Classics to Moderns a year ago. I know I can say my students are relieved. It’s time for a departure.
Jazz means shorter songs. Faster songs-though not always- and for many, a sound that is more familiar.
Thanks to the new edition of The Faber and Faber lesson books level 3A and 3B, we’ve been able to explore playing real jazz lead sheets. Something that is difficult to teach. Students need first an solid understanding of chord types and ways to play them.
Playing jazz lead sheets is half improvisation because the written music only tells half the story. A lead sheet shows a right hand melody with chord symbols above. There is no bass clef in most jazz standards, only treble. As a musical artist, we get to ‘make up’ the left hand accompaniment to the melody. Or, if the musician is feeling adventurous, play the tune in the left and chords in the right. Here’s an example:
As a teacher, I struggle with explaining the concept of improvisation. My kids all begin reading notes, as a classical pianist, that is what I’m best at teaching. So when it comes to jazz, I want the students to feel the music. Play it and express it in their own way. These are difficult concepts to attain. And as young musicians who are just beginning to speak the language of music, this takes loads of practice.
Encourage your child to explore. That’s the best way. And have fun. In improv there are no wrong notes. In jazz they are called tensions. Have an open mind and I’ll see you at the recitals in April!