New podcast episode now available! It's time to Discover, Learn, and Play Charlie Parker's "Billie's Bounce"
May 24, 2023

Billie's Bounce

This Jazz Piano Skills Podcast Episode explores Charlie Parker's "Billie's Bounce". Discover, Learn, and Play Chords Changes, Harmonic Function, Melody, Fingerings, and four jazz vocabulary patterns for improvising.

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Welcome to Jazz Piano Skills; it's time to discover, learn, and play Jazz Piano!

Every Jazz Piano Skills weekly podcast episode introduces aspiring jazz pianists to essential Jazz Piano Skills. Each Podcast episode explores a specific Jazz Piano Skill in depth. Today you will discover, learn, and play Charlie Parker's "Billie's Bounce." In this Jazz Piano Lesson, you will:

The Charlie Parker Bebop Tune "Billie's Bounce"

Chords Changes, Harmonic Function, Melody, and Fingerings for "Billie's Bounce"

Multiple patterns extracted from "Billie's Bounce" for developing classic jazz language to use when improvising

Use the Jazz Piano Podcast Packets for this Jazz Piano Lesson for maximum musical growth. All three Podcast Packets are designed to help you gain insight and command of a specific Jazz Piano Skill. The Podcast Packets are invaluable educational tools to have at your fingertips while you discover, learn, and play Billie's Bounce.

Open Podcast Packets
(detailed graphics of the jazz piano skill)

Lead Sheets
(beautifully notated music lead sheets)

Play Alongs
(ensemble assistance and practice tips)

Educational Support
Community Forum

Episode Outline
Discover, Learn, Play
Invite to Join Jazz Piano Skills
Lesson Rationale
Exploration of Jazz Piano Skills
Closing Comments

Visit Jazz Piano Skills for more educational resources that include a sequential curriculum with comprehensive Jazz Piano Courses, private and group online Jazz Piano Classes, a private jazz piano community hosting a variety of Jazz Piano Forums, an interactive Jazz Fake Book, plus unlimited professional educational jazz piano support.

If you wish to donate to JazzPianoSkills, you can do so easily through the JazzPianoSkills Paypal Account.

Thank you for being a JazzPianoSkills listener. I am pleased to help you discover, learn, and play jazz piano!

Warm Regards,
Dr. Bob Lawrence
President, The Dallas School of Music



Dr. Bob Lawrence  0:33  
Welcome to jazz pm skills. I'm Dr. Bob Lawrence. It's time to discover, learn and play jazz piano. What last two weeks we have looked at five different jazz improvisation patterns for the primary sounds of music, major dominant minor, half diminished and diminished. Plus the altered sounds deriving from the harmonic and melodic minor scales, the sharp 11, flat 13, flat nine, flat 13 and fully altered, the flat nine sharp nine, flat five sharp five sound. All of this from the root note of a flat. We apply these five jazz improvisation patterns to these iconic jazz sounds. And we studied and applied proper fingerings to the patterns making it possible to play with an authentic jazz articulation. The goal of our fingerings as always, is to allow the continuous shifting of our right hand across the keys. You're going to need that skill today with the tune we are about to tackle. It only makes sense right? That the continuous shifting of our right hand when plain establishes small movements, which are much more manageable and accurate than giant leaps. I said it many times understanding and applying this truth becomes paramount when improvising and playing melodies of tunes. Especially bebop tunes, and especially the tune we are about to discover, learn and play. So today, you're going to discover the Charlie Parker bebop tune the classic Charlie Parker bebop tune, Billy's bounce, you are going to learn the chord changes harmonic function melody and fingerings for Billy's bounds, and you're going to play multiple patterns extracted from Billy's bounds for developing classic jazz language to use when improvising. So as I always like to say regardless of where you are in your jazz journey, a beginner an intermediate player, an advanced player, even if you are an experienced, and seasoned professional, you're going to find this jazz panel skills podcast lesson exploring Charlie Parker's Billy's bounce to be very beneficial. But before we dig in, I want to as always, welcome first time listeners to jazz piano skills. And if you are indeed a new listener if you are new to jazz panel skills, I want to invite you to become a jazz panel skills member. There are various membership plans to choose from so check out jazz piano skills. To learn more about the perks of each membership plan. access to educational weekly podcast packets, illustrations lead sheets play alongs there is a sequential jazz piano curriculum loaded with comprehensive courses to benefit from online weekly master classes online interactive Fakebook private jazz piano skills community which hosts a variety of engaging forums. There are also educational support Unlimited, private, professional and personal educational support. All of these perks are waiting for you and available to help you discover, learn and play jazz piano. So check it out at jazz panel and become a member. Of course if you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to me. I'm always happy to spend some time with you and answer any questions that you may have. Okay, on to the question of the week. This week's question comes from Kelly Chamberlain, living in Vancouver, British Columbia. And Kelly's question is a great one. Kelly asked, trying to wrap my head around this concept of the tritone substitution. The first thing I want to know is how important is it for me to understand Tritone Substitutions and if it is important Then, can you please explain it simplistically, with a little chat? Hello laughing emoji. Thanks for considering my question. I'm hoping to get some clarity so that I can stop losing sleep over this. That's way too funny, Kelly. The first thing I want to say is please stop losing sleep over tried tone substitutions. They're cool. And they're cool, but they're not worth losing sleep over for sure. Second, it's a great question that I have been asked many times. And third, I will try my very best to explain try tone substitutions as simply as I possibly can. Okay, the first thing I want to say is, music theory is an explanation as to why something works. Why something sounds good. That's it. Theory is nothing more than an explanation. It's nothing more, it's nothing less. It's not an approach. It's just an explanation. In fact, with any theory explanation, you can be aware of it or oblivious to it. It makes no difference to our ability to successfully use the skill in your plane. And Tritone Substitutions is a great example of this reality, to give. To give you an example. One of the greatest jazz pianists that I've ever known, was a gentleman by the name of Warren Parrish. Now Warren, is kind of a rough character, and he was a local jazz musician. Living in a small town in Illinois called East Moline. Now, he performed with many jazz greats throughout his lifetime, and recorded with Louie Bellson and George de vva. And I remember going to hear him play back, I went to hear him play often. But this one evening, I remember quite well, I went to hear him play. And while he was on break, we had the opportunity to visit now. I was in college at this time, and studying jazz intensely. So I was eager to meet with Warren and to discuss jazz with him. So I said to him, just casually, I said to him, hey, Warren. I really love how you used to try tone substitutions. When playing to create some really nice half step harmonic motion. He looked at me with a very, a very puzzled expression. He took the cigar out of his mouth, he smoked these little tiny cigars. He took a cigar out of his mouth, he blew the smoke out the side of his mouth. Then he looked at me and he said, What the hell are you talking about? Now? Now I looked puzzled, because I couldn't believe he wasn't aware of tritone substitution, because he had been playing them all night. So I thought he must be joking with me. And when I realized that he wasn't that he was dead serious, that he had no idea what I was talking about, he had no idea what a tritone substitution was, again, even though he was using them at will, as worn, you know, when you when you play a 251 progression, he said, Uh huh. Like, like D minor to G seven to C major seven. He said, Uh huh. I said, Well, instead of playing the G seven, you actually played D flat seven. instead. He looked me again, he said, You mean, the two chord going to the flat two? Going to the one. I said, Yes. I said, we had great excitement. I said, Yes, that's it. He said, He's talking about inserting the flat two for the five again. I still I exclaimed. Yes. Because I was thrilled, right? We were finally on the same page. So he looked at me and said, Well, why the hell didn't you say that in the first place?

Dr. Bob Lawrence  9:53  
Now, I've thought about that conversation. Throughout my entire life. Many, many These times for three reasons. Number one, I realized that you do not need to know the explanation of why something works or sounds good theory, right? You don't, you do not need to know theory in order to use it. And Warren made that very clear to me. Number two, oftentimes, if not all of the time of approaching music from a non academic approach, a street approach, as I like to call it, will produce the same results without the confusing jargon that often accompanies academic explanations theory. And number three, from that moment on, Warren referred to me as college boy. When he saw me, which I absolutely hated, he would see me walk into the room and say, Hey, college boy. So I love Warren parish, he had a great influence on my musical development, and I miss him. But he taught me a whole lot about Tritone Substitutions that evening. All right, so with that being said, Kelly, here's the most simplistic way of explaining tritone substitution that I know of. To begin harmonic motion chords move in one of three ways. Chords are either moving in circle motion, right, the most common by far like 251 chords are either moving in diatonic motion, right chords, produced by the key right by the scale, or chords are moving, chromatically, half step movement. That's it. Those three ways are the only way in which harmony chords can move. For example, again, circle movement to five one, right? diatonic movement. One, six, or one, two, are examples of diatonic movement. Number three, two, flat two, one, half step movement, tritone substitution. So whenever I see chromatic movement, whenever I hear chromatic movement, I like to think of it as camouflage circle motion. The camouflage is what music theory teachers call tri tone substitution. Now, here's why it works. Let's take the 251 progression in the key of C major, right, so you have a D minor, go into a G dominant, go into a C Major 251. Now the G seven is spelled G, B, D, F. Now, if we take the D flat seven, D flat dominant seven, the flat two, which sounds like this, D minor seven, flat dominant seven, C major seven. If we take that D flat dominant seven and spell it, we get D flat, F, A flat, C flat, or the note B. Now, let's compare those two spellings. And let's identify the third and the seventh of G seven, which are the notes B and F. And if we do the same, for D flat dominant seven, we discover that the third and seven are F and C flat, or B. By spelling both the five chord, the G seven and the flat two chord, the D flat seven, we discover that they share the same third and seventh BNF. However, they're inverted, right? But nevertheless, because they share the same third and seventh, the chords become interchangeable. Once music theory, folks, right once the music theory folks discovered this interesting music trivia, how do they go about labeling it or identifying it? Well, they discovered two interesting facts along the way. Number one, the distance between the third and the seventh of a dominant chord is three whole steps. Three whole steps apart or a try tone. And number two, they also noticed that the distance between the five chord the G seven, and the flat two chord, the D flat seven were three whole steps apart as well. And now Other try tone. So as the old saying goes from that day forward, they referred to this interchangeability between the five chord and the flat two chord as the tritone. Substitution. Kelly, that's a whole lot of information very quickly. And I hope that is at least a good start for helping you get some sleep at night. And to understand the tritone substitution, my bet my best advice would be to adopt a Warren's approach and begin thinking about playing Tritone Substitutions as simply flat twos. So practice playing 251 and practice playing two flat two, one. And you'll be on your way to play and try tone substance substitutions like a pro. That's it. Wow, Kelly, thanks a ton for your question. I hope that was helpful. And as always, if further clarification is needed, please reach out to me let me know I'm always happy to to help out and go a little deeper if need be. Okay, let's discover learn and play jazz piano. Let's have some fun with Charlie Parker's Billy's bouts. Okay, bebop, I have presented this quick little outline about bebop music in previous podcast episodes, but I want to just go through it again. Today. bebop tunes, fast tempos, bebop tunes challenging melodies. bebop tunes, typically tons of chord changes some very complex, bebop tunes numerous key centers within a single tune.

Dr. Bob Lawrence  16:47  
Bebop without question, that formula is the perfect formula for developing jazz chops, there is no need. No need to look any further. Your internet searches search is over for finding the perfect tool to help you develop into a jazz musician especially especially with playing chord changes and melodies that are challenging, which will help you develop proper fingerings Alright, everything about jazz you need to know and develop is found within the melodies of bebop tunes. And that is why I refer to bebop tunes I refer to bebop the Bebop era as jazz gold. So the educational agenda for today is as follows number one, we're going to explore Charlie Parker's bellies bounce. Number two, we will examine the chord changes and harmonic function of Belize bounce. Number three, we will of course play the melody of Belize bounds and explore proper fingerings. Number four, we will extract five classic patterns from the melody of Belize bounds to use for discovering and developing our very own jazz vocabulary. And number five, we will be playing everything today at a comfy tempo of 110. So if you are a jazz piano skills member, a trio member or above, I want you to take a few minutes right now hit the pause button. I want you to take few minutes to access download and print your podcast packets, the illustrations, the lead sheets and the play alongs. Again, your membership grants you access to the educational podcast packets for every weekly podcast episode. And I mentioned that every week you should you absolutely should be using these podcast episodes when listening to the episode and of course you should be using them when practicing as well. So if you are listening to this podcast on any of the popular podcast directories such as Apple or Google, Amazon, Spotify, iHeartRadio Pandora, the list goes on. Then be sure to go to jazz piano skills Go directly to jazz piano skills to access and download your podcast packets, you will find the act of download links in the show notes. One final but very significant no message that I include in every podcast. If you are listening at this moment and you are thinking that the skills that we are about to discover, learn and play as we explore Charlie Parker's bellies bounds if you're thinking that these skills are over your head, then I would say to you no worries, perfect, right, sit back, relax. Just simply continue to listen and grow your jazz piano skills intellectually by doing just that by listening right now. Every new skills overheads when first introduced, but this is exactly how we get better. When we place ourselves smack dab in the middle of conversations where we absolutely have no idea what's being said. We're hearing things that we've never heard before. So we're forced to grow, are forced to grow intellectually. And I say this all the time that all musical growth begins upstairs mentally, conceptually before it can come out downstairs physically in your hands. So sit back, listen, relax, enjoy this podcast. Listen now to discover and learn. The play, as it always does, will come in time, I guarantee it. Okay, now that you have your lead sheets, in your hands, I want to talk you through them quickly, you will see that lead sheets one and two present the chord changes and harmonic function for Billy's bounds, right to help you truly discover and learn the changes and harmonic function for Billy's bounds, I strongly recommend using these lead sheet templates found in your illustrations podcast packet. Okay, make sure you grab those as well. Now lead sheet three has the chord changes along with the melody, lead sheet four includes all the fingerings for every note that I use when playing bellies, bonds, spend a time a lot of time playing the head, the melody over and over at slower tempos, I will model that for you here shortly. Now, lead sheets five through eight do or I should say five through nine deal with five patterns that I have extracted from melody of Billy's bones, right now extract these, these patterns to use as launchpads for developing your jazz vocabulary, which of course is needed for improvising. So we have a lot to get through today. So we need to get busy. But first things first. As always, first things first. We'll sit back and let's just listen. To Billy's bouts by Charlie Parker. It's about three minutes but it's a great three minutes. So grab your lead sheet with the melody written out. Grab your lead sheet with the fingerings and follow along. So here we go. Charlie Parker, bellies bouts

Dr. Bob Lawrence  25:44  
Is that good? Or is that good? Wow. Absolutely love it. So okay, now that we have Billy's bounce in our ears, we know how it goes, let's take a look at lead sheet one skill one and lead sheet to skill to skill one chord changes only, right, you're looking at skill to function only, I want you to place those two lead sheets side by side. All right, so what I want to do, I'm going to bring the ensemble in, and I'm going to play through the chord changes of Billy's bounds, I want to play through it four times. Now what I'd like for you to do first two times, I'd like you to follow the chord changes. But be thinking harmonic function. Right. So F seven, we're gonna think of that as a one, seven, to the B flat seven, that's a four, seven, and then you have the B diminished, sharp, four diminished, right, so on so when I went, when you see the chord changes, I want you to try to think harmonic function. A couple choruses of thinking, seeing, seeing the chord changes thinking harmonic function, then direct your eyes to lead sheet number two, where you see the harmonic function written out. Look at the harmonic function as I'm playing through the tune and be reciting the chord changes. So you'll see there where it says one seven, I want you to be thinking F seven, because I'm playing this an F, right gets to the four, B flat seven, and so forth, right? So the goal here Ultimately, the goal is, I want you to be able to think the opposite of what you see. So when you look at a lead sheet, and you see the chord changes, you should be seeing function. When you look at function, a lead sheet with function notated, you should be seeing chord changes, right? Big time skill, no doubt about it. But let's kind of dip our toes in the bathwater here and kind of see how this goes. So bringing the ensemble in let's play through Billy's bounds of four courses so you get an opportunity to times through with seen chord changes think in harmonic function two times through seeing harmonic function seeing chord changes All right, here we go let's have some fun.

Dr. Bob Lawrence  29:55  
Okay, so, if that was challenging for you, right, do not panic. That's a big time skill. It's a very big time skill. And you do not have to do that in time. In fact, if you did struggle with that, I would recommend practicing that skill. Just with no background, no, no chord changes going by just literally look at the lead sheets, and take your time to figure out the chord changes if you're looking at the harmonic function, or to figure out the harmonic function if you're looking at chord changes, okay? Alright, so now let's grab lead sheet number three, lead sheet number three and lead sheet number four, lead sheet number three, I have the melody of bellies bounce, notated for you, and lead lead sheet for the melody again, but this time the melody is is notated along with the fingerings that I use when playing Belize mouse. So I'm going to bring the ensemble back in. And I am going to play through this four times again. And now we can actually turn our attention to focusing on the melody line and also on the fingerings. And see if you can notate see if you can locate where all the finger shifting has taken place, see if you can locate and recognize some common fingerings that we have been working on since the beginning of the year as well. So I'm going to play this at 110. Very nice and relaxed, very slow. I'm not going to try to do anything fancy with the melody, I'm not going to try to improvise with the melody or embellish the melody. We're going to play the melody period. Right. And this is how I would encourage you to practice it as well. If you're actually trying to learn Billy's to write I would recommend playing the melody very straight a zillion times at least a zillion times. Okay, so here we go. Let's bring the ensemble in and listen to Billy's bounce with emphasis and focus on the fingerings as well all right here we go.

Dr. Bob Lawrence  33:56  
Right couple more big timescales, right playing the melody abilities bounds playing the chord changes, abilities bounds. Again, if you wrestle with this, practice playing the melody, practice playing the chord changes without any kind of backing track initially right? Get the fingerings under your hands. Right get the rhythms under your hands. Get the melody into your hands and then slowly begin to place it in time. Not 110 even slower, right 60 7080. Right. Play it a comfortable tempo that allows you to succeed. Okay, now take a look at lead sheet five, skill five, pattern one. Okay, that that I am going to draw your attention to comes from measure one, right and it's just simply this little idea that's it again So he's approaching the third from a half step below, where the G sharp. And so I'm going to utilize that little motif as a launching pad to help me develop some vocabulary when playing f7. And I'm going to be very much aware that I'm using a half step approachment to the third, right, and then and then descending arpeggio motion. So I want to bring the ensemble in, it's going to be very quick, right, I'm just going to, I'm going to start and play f7 for about four measures to allow me to settle into the time. And then I will state that little motif several times as notated in your lead sheet. And then I will begin to have a little fun with that little motif, exploring it in a way that will help me discover some improvisational ideas, my improvisational ideas that I can further develop. Now, I would be doing this for when I do this kind of practice. I do this for quite a long time. Right, I can get lost in this very, very easily. Of course, for the sake of time in this podcast, I'm going to be going through it a few times. And we're gonna try to rush this process a little bit for you. So you can see how it unfolds. Okay. And then you'll notice on your lead sheet, the same motif goes to the key, it goes to B flat seven, and then the same motif goes the E flat seven. And I have a little note there that says Continue moving around the circle of fifths, right. So the idea of what I'm going to model for you, with F seven, you would do the same thing with B flat seven, E flat seven, A flat seven, D flat seven, and so all 12 dominant chords to help develop vocabulary, right? All right, so let's bring the ensemble then you'll get the idea once you hear this. So let's listen to letter A on lead sheet five, skill five, this little motif and see how I what I can do in developing that for some improvisation vocabulary. Okay, here we go.

Dr. Bob Lawrence  38:19  
Pretty cool right, now you get the idea. So when I look at bebop melodies, I love to take little ideas, extract little ideas from the melodies, analyze them, and then begin using them as launching pads to discover my improvisation vocabulary. Okay. So you know what's interesting about that little motif when playing that, right? Of course, we know I'm yanking it from Billy's bounce. But if I just presented that with no reference to Billy's bounce at all, there's no one that would say, oh, let's Belize bounce. Right? My point being is that this is just a great little melodic idea. By itself, just all by itself. It's a great little melodic idea that you can use to your advantage to help you discover, learn and play you. Okay, so now let's do the same thing. Let's take a look at lead sheet six, scale six. All right. Now this is coming from measure. What is that measure for? Measure four. And this is a great little idea. It's got a little 16th note triplet or little turn that you hear jazz pianists play all the time, right. Again, I do that kind of stuff in my plane all the time and students are always asking us to stop what is that? How are you doing that? Well, here it is. Right there in the melody of Belize vows. It's laid out for you rhythmically So what I want to do is bring the ensemble and I want to take this great little motif from measure for Billy's bounds. And let's see what I can do to develop it and have some fun with it. Okay? All right here we go.

Dr. Bob Lawrence  41:29  
Pretty cool, right. So now you see how this is done, right? And what cracks me up here too. You know, this is abilities bonds, which is a 12 bar blues, right. And I'm extracting five melodic ideas from 12 measures of music and, and there are more. There are more gems hidden in here. But these are the five that I selected today, focusing on these dominant sounds right. So now I want you to grab skill seven lead sheet seven. And this idea is coming from measure five and six that I'm grabbing over the B flat seven. And this is a nice little motif as well as half step approachment has the probe approachment to the root right to nice of love that half step approachment to the root down to the fifth backup to the seventh. Right? Pretty diatonic, right once you say other than the half step approachment to the target note. So let's bring the ensemble in. And let's see what I can do with this little motif that I have extracted from measures five and six of Billy's bounds here Oops, here we go.

Dr. Bob Lawrence  44:07  
Love it I absolutely love it see a lot of vocabulary a lot of language can be developed by taking just tiny little motifs, getting them on your fingers, and then beginning to explore them and let them develop under your hands. A lot of great ideas can be can surface and be brought into your muscle memory and oral memory that you will recall and play when improvising. So now let's take a look at skill eight lead sheet eight, okay. And this pattern that I'm going to extract comes from measure the last half of measure eight and the downbeat of measure nine so measures eight and nine of the D seven. And so you'll see there the F the third The F sharp of the seventh going up to the flat nine right the E flat I love it so it goes up to the flat nine drops down to the seven for the sound and then has step approachment ascending into the root right fabulous so now let's bring the ensemble and let's see what I can do with this little nugget and develop it and see what what happens so here we go.

Dr. Bob Lawrence  46:44  
All right, so now for the final motif, if you take a look at measures 10 and 11 I couldn't resist this is over a C seven starting on the fourth starting on the 11th of C seven and literally moving diatonically down to the root okay from the fourth moving diatonically down to the root of C seven. So you get this just that little idea who knew that that could sound so hip right just that from the fourth from the 11th moving diatonically down to the root so I want to bring the ensemble in I want to take that little motif and see what I can come up with how I can further develop it as I get comfortable with it under my fingers. Okay, so here we go check it out.

Dr. Bob Lawrence  48:56  
Who knew that that could sound so hip? I'll tell you, Charlie Parker knew that it could sound right. So Wow. We have we have covered as always we have covered a ton of information and just one very short and very fast hour. And again I cannot stress enough I could just not stress enough the importance of practicing bebop heads melodies for developing fingerings technique time articulation. Right there are no better etudes for developing your jazz playing than playing bebop do not skim over studying and learning the chord changes and the harmonic function for Billy's bounce as well before tackling the melody. After all, harmony that harmonic function is the foundation that the melody rests upon. So it needs to be solid, right again, use your illustrations podcast packet to help you gain a command of the is essential skills. And once you do have a command of the changes and harmonic functions, then begin practicing the melody. And of course do so at slower tempos. And finally, finally, take those little nuggets, those little motifs that I've extracted from the melody right and begin using them to develop your fingerings your time your articulation and even most importantly, they will help you develop your improvisation vocabulary as I modeled for you today. And probably most importantly, mentioned that every week be patient. Developing mature and professional jazz piano skills takes time, a lot of time. So begin structuring your study and your practicing after the plane demonstrations that I modeled for you today in this podcast podcast episode I guarantee it, you will begin to see feel and hear your progress. Well, I hope you have found this jazz panel skills podcast lesson exploring Charlie Parker's bellies bounce to be insightful and to be beneficial don't forget if you are a jazz panel skills ensemble member I will see you online Thursday evening at the jazz panel skills masterclass. That's 8 pm Central time to discuss this podcast episode lesson exploring Belize bounce in greater detail and of course to answer any questions that you may have about the study of jazz in general. Right jazz panel skills members, I want you to make sure that you take advantage of those educational podcast packets such as panel skills courses, the jazz piano skills community, as well as the professional educational support. You can always reach me by phone 972-380-8050 My office extension here at the Dallas School of Music is 211. If you prefer email, my email address is Dr. Lawrence Or you can use the nifty little SpeakPipe widget that is nestled, I think just about on every page of the jazz panel Skills website. Well, there is my cue. That's it for now. And until next week, enjoy Charlie Parker's Billy's buttons, and most of all, have fun as you discover, learn and play jazz piano!