Greetings JazzPianoSkills Fam!
So hard to believe that JazzPianoSkills is celebrating the 100th podcast episode this week and preparing to celebrate a two-year anniversary! It feels like yesterday (literally) that many of my jazz piano students at The Dallas School of Music were pestering me and trying to convince me to start a podcast dedicated to teaching jazz piano. I must admit, at first I was very reluctant to the idea because, quite frankly, the market is saturated with jazz instructional sites, videos, and blogs. And then it hit me, if I could offer something to help just one person move closer to accomplishing their dreams of becoming a better jazz pianist then I should indeed make available my educational thoughts, ideas, and materials. I have for a very long time believed that our whole purpose of being here on planet earth is to serve others. So it is with the understanding and belief I decided to move forward and launch JazzPianoSkills.
As typical with all new endeavors, I had absolutely no idea as to what I was doing. So many unanswered questions! What the heck is a podcast? How do I create it? What equipment do I need? How do I publish it? Should I create educational materials for each episode? Should I develop courses too? What about an online community and forums? The list of questions went on and on to the point that I had to simply say to myself, "turn off the questions and turn on the microphone!". So I did just that - I arrived at my office one morning, sat at my desk, turned on a microphone, and started recording myself talking about How to Practice Scales, Correctly. I talked for about twenty minutes, turned the mic off, and then contacted a podcast hosting company (Buzzsprout) to upload my first episode. Needless to say, the first episode was not very polished and makes me cringe when I listen to it (which is not often - maybe twice in total) but it was a launch, it was the beginning of an amazing two-year journey that is just getting started!
The first lesson I learned about developing, producing, and publishing jazz piano podcast episodes (lessons) was that it was going to be difficult (actually, impossible) to establish a sequential educational order with the wide range of material that I was presenting. This was due to the fact that the JazzPianoSkills listeners are a very diverse group of folks ranging from beginning jazz pianists to advanced learners, to professional musicians and teachers. So it didn't take long for me to realize that I needed to cast a pretty large net with regards to covering various jazz piano skills in order to provide something of interest for everyone. However, even with the challenge of this reality, I knew that regardless of the simplicity or complexity of the jazz piano skills being taught each week, that my teaching must always illuminate and magnify the importance of knowing how to successfully discover, learn, and play jazz piano. In short, having a keen awareness that jazz is the study of "shapes and sounds" (not dots and buttons).
So, for the 100th JazzPianoSkills Podcast Episode, I thought it would be a good idea to illuminate and re-emphasize the importance of having a conceptual and physical command of the harmonic shapes and sounds of jazz (12 Notes x 5 Sounds = 60 Chords). Additionally, I had several requests from JazzPianoSkills listeners to do a little playing on the 100th episode and so I did. Towards the end of the podcast episode, I perform four jazz standards, "There Will Never Be Another You", "I Thought About You", "Fly Me To The Moon", and "Teach Me Tonight" - all tunes recently introduced in my "Standard Saturday" program; every Saturday I email out traditional and function lead sheets of a jazz standard along with an mp3 play-along track.
The second lesson that I have learned (again) is that the greatest thing about music is the people you meet through it. This truth was first taught to me by my very first jazz teacher Allyn Frandsen and has been reinforced by all of the wonderful JazzPianoSkills Members I have met over the past two years. I can not begin to adequately express my gratitude for all of the kind words and encouragement shared with me over the past two years - to sum it up in one word is easy - overwhelming! From the bottom of my heart, I want to express with the utmost sincerity a deeply heartfelt thank you to each and every JazzPianoSkills Member.
If you haven't checked out the "Celebrating 100 Episodes" I want to encourage you to do so. If you are not yet a JazzPianoSkills Member I want to personally invite you to join. There are several membership plans to choose from and I am sure there is one that will fit your desire to discover, learn, and play jazz piano!
Here's to the next 100 JazzPianoSkills Podcast Episodes!
Dr. Bob Lawrence