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Jazz Piano V Classical Piano


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#1 Guest: dawn1_*

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Posted 24 February 2005 - 22:02

Is there a recommened/preferred point at which you would start to learn jazz piano as opposed to classical. My daughter (aged 10) was working towards grade 3 Classical, and always enjoyed the more 'off-beat / jazzy' pieces.

6 months ago she lost her 'great' teacher (due to work commitments) but I have been lucky enough to find another who teaches both jazz and classical. So since then she has been learning jazz piano and is now back to grade 1 jazz, but I have a couple of concerns.

Mainly, I wonder whether she really ought to learn the classics first (to a reasonable degree). My worry is that this may just be avoidance of the challenge of tougher grades.

Secondly, is she too young to cope with/appreciate the improvisation.

Unfortunatley I don't get any feedback from her teacher, so any advice would be much appreciated.
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#2 Guest: all ears_*

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Posted 25 February 2005 - 15:22

Dawn1, (gosh sometimes I wonder if I'm the only parent posting here...hope some others post too...)

Your daughter is not too young for improvisation. I've been watching as my son's interest in making his own music has increased, and by 10, a child who plays and hears a fair amount of music has quite strong ideas about structure. My son at 10 was much more able to improvise than to compose...when he was younger, he was happy to make up a theme and could therefore write it down. As he grew older, he wanted to explore the theme in so many ways that his ability to write music couldn't keep up. This made him feel a bit inferior to a "real" composer, because he couldn't keep track of the music he improvised, it was different every time...but to the listener, it was obvious that he had the same theme in mind each time and was developing towards a conclusion. That's very different to listening to a 7 year old make up music.

One reason why my son values his improvisation so little is that he NEVER hears other musicians improvising...even though he is occasionally praised for his ability to do so. He's just turned 11, and suddenly a bit shy about improvising. So if your daughter likes to improvise, I hope she is able to enjoy doing so without any mixed feelings about it, and more power to her!

I do hear what you are saying about avoiding the harder aspects of classical for the fascination of a new subject which is still at an easy stage. Looking at my son, I think you may find that your daughter will be ready to face more difficult material again sooner or later - so don't give up on the classical.

It's a hard time for a child who likes music, I feel...they don't have a teenager's confidence in talking about their music, nor are they as knowledgeable as a dedicated young adult...they just do it! Hope your daughter continues to enjoy both jazz and classical.
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#3 Guest: Ayshah_*

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Posted 26 March 2005 - 09:56

My daughter (aged 12) started Jazz when she reached G3 piano, but the greatest difficulty was finding a Jazz piano teacher. She had to 'go back' to a Classical teacher for a year and then she failed her piano G4. She re-took it and passed but had made it quite clear that she was not interested in straight classical pieces.Whilst searching (and waiting) for a jazz piano teacher, in the meantime she learnt her improvisation on the clarinet, moved over to sax, joined a sunday jazz band for beginers and played out in a few gigs. She went to a improvisation day at the Wigmore Hall (they have about two a year) and met more kids and exchanged more ideas.

Then five months ago we finally got a brilliant Jazz piano teacher who lived just down the road. This wonderful inspirational young woman had no problems teaching our daughter who had not really played the piano with any enthusiasm for some time, and after one lesson our daugher came home and practised for three hours! A G3 level is fine. Do try and find a little jazz band or group locally it can be quite encouraging. Your Head of School music or teacher or Borough Head of Music Services should be able to help. If not, look for a Summer School near you!

As to her playing the Classical pieces - well she just jazzes them up!

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#4 Guest: dawn1_*

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Posted 12 April 2005 - 11:31

Thanks for all your comments - all taken on board.

The article from Libretto is entitled 'Jazz notes:horses for courses' - dated 10/01/02 and is a great starting point for anyone else with a similar dilemma.

I did go back and talk to her teacher, but without wanting to go into detail, felt disassisfied with the outcome. There did not seem to be any long range plans/targets and I felt my daughter's interests were not at heart and she was just drifting along.

In the end I followed my instinct and signed her up with a new teacher. And after lengthy discussion, we (teacher, daughter and I), have decided that she'll go back to following the classical route, but will continue to play some jazz plus 'jazzed up' classics between grades to extend her repertoire. Hopefully this will provide her with lots of enjoyment plus it keeps her options open.

In all honesty, I don't think that in her case, the improvisation bit comes easily. But perhaps she will gain confidence as she matures.

By the way I can vouch for the Pamela Wedgwood books. Some really enjoyable pieces!
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#5 Guest: wolfie_*

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Posted 12 April 2005 - 22:36

Hi
I teach jazz, classical and rockschool piano to a range of ages. I am teaching one girl jazz piano grade 1 and she is taking her exam in the summer. She has done grade 2 theory and grade 1 classical. She loves the jazz and she loves improvising. She now makes up her own music too. I think the jazz syllasbus is brilliant. I don't know why you would need to wait until grade 5 classical.
Children can experiment with the sounds in jazz for a while before needing to know the theory behind it. My pupils love it.
By the way, the girl is 10 years old.
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