If you happen to have a weighted digital piano, get ready for one of the coolest things about studying with me.
One of the first things I do with my students is teach them how to play realistic LH walking bass lines. My background as a Hammond Organist and training from some of the masters makes me much more skillful at this than your typical Jazz pianist.
You might wonder: What's the big deal? Why would a pianist need to get good at playing LH bass? Well, first of all, it sounds great, and think how great it is to be able to make your own play-a-longs on the spot, but those aren't the main reasons. The big thing is that Jazz *is* contrapuntal improv. You have to get really good at listening to the bass player, getting the bass player in your head, and playing lines against walks. Once you can do this, you're playing real Jazz.
Oh, here's some great news: walking bass is not so difficult. I actually wrote one of the books on the subject, and can get most of my students accompanying themselves in fairly short periods of time. -This may sound like a"Jazz organ" approach to learning piano, I assure you it isn't. Take pioneer Bebpper Lennie Tristano (one of the father's of modern Jazz education.) Bass counterpoint was a very important element of his teaching and performance alike. Furthermore, back in the day, that was how teachers got you started: They'd get you accompanying yourself playing bass figures in your left hand and you'd alternate practice between LH chords and LH bass against RH melodies and chords.
As for students who only have real piano (poor souls, with nothing more than a well tuned baby grand in their living room), all is not lost. Sometimes creating your own play-a-long track is simple as plugging a cheap midi keyboard into your computer and bopping a track out just the same. Then again, you can still practice the old fashioned way with roots and occasional walks in the left hand. (See ex. 2 above.)
So, who's ready to give it a try?
Eddie Landsberg, MA, Ed.M, B.Mus
An internationally respected music theorist and performer, Eddie was born and raised in Philadelphia and began classical piano training at the age of 5, starting Jazz Studies at Philadelphia's famous Settlement Music School in his teens. Switching to Hammond Organ in his mid 20's, he received his first organ lesson from the legendary Shirley Scott then studied Jazz composition and performance with Blue Note Recording artist Big John Patton. He also received guidance from Austin Mitchell (a favorite accompanist of Ella Fitzgerald) and began performing alongside Byard Lancaster and other "old school" Philly and East Coast Jazz and R&B legends. After recording several CDs which received national air play ( NPR, WBGO and hundreds of radio stations across in the U.S), Eddie became one of the original factory demonstrators for the original Nord Electro, touring Europe to promote their product. Shortly after, he moved to Japan where he spent almost 20 years teaching, leading bandstands and running his own venue which was featured on NHK and in magazines throughout the country. While there, he also did vocal and performance coaching for Victor Records, and was involved in promotions for Yamaha Motorcycles and the Mori Building (celebrating the opening of the famous Roppongi Hills Complex.) Eddie currently resides in Astoria, Queens and is creator of the "7 Secrets of Jazz and Soul" Jazz improv series.
Education: BA in Music, Thomas Edison State University MA Liberal Studies (focus onEthnomusicology and Critical Jazz Studies), Rutgers University (Capstone with Honors) Ed.M, Rutgers University, specializing in Adult Education Recordings | Publications | Interviews
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