This JazzPianoSkills Podcast Episode welcomes avid Jazz Pianist, Educator, and Entrepreneur, Josh Walsh
Welcome to JazzPianoSkills; it's time to discover, learn, and play Jazz Piano!
Every JazzPianoSkills 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, play with special guest, Josh Walsh. In this Jazz Piano Lesson you will:
Josh Walsh, Jazz Pianist, Educator, and Entrepreneur
About Josh's musical journey from being the founder and CEO of The Refinery (an e-commerce consultancy) to launching a Jazz Education WebSite Jazz-Library.com
Various practice approaches used by Josh Walsh to discover, learn and play jazz piano
Visit JazzPianoSkills for more educational resources that include a sequential curriculum with interactive Jazz Piano Courses, private and group online Jazz Piano Classes, and a private jazz piano community Jazz Piano Forums.
Thank you for being a JazzPianoSkills listener. It is my pleasure to help you discover, learn, and play jazz piano!
Dr. Bob Lawrence
Dr. Bob Lawrence 0:32
Welcome to jazz piano skills. I'm Dr. Bobby Barnes. It's time to discover, learn and play jazz piano. Today you are in for a real treat. I am joined by jazz pianist, educator and entrepreneur Josh walls. Josh is an accomplished pianist having studied classical piano at the University of Toledo and Cleveland State University and Cleveland Institute of music. In 2001, Josh founded the refinery, and e commerce consultancy, being CEO of that company was his primary career until 2021. When Check this out, Josh took a huge leap of faith, sold his share of the business and return to music full time, with the launching of a site dedicated solely to jazz education called jazz library.com. And that's jazz, hyphen library.com. both audio and video formats are available for this podcast episode. And of course, you can listen to the audio version of the episode through any of the popular podcast directories, I Heart Radio, Spotify, Apple podcast, Google podcast, Amazon, music, Pandora, and many, many others. Or directly on the jazz piano skills podcast website, where you can also watch the video of the show as well, which I strongly recommend doing. Now, it is my great pleasure and honor to welcome to jazz piano skills. Mr. Josh Walsh, Joshua Walsh, my friend, man, how are you? Dude, it's
Josh Walsh 2:16
so good to see your face. Well,
Dr. Bob Lawrence 2:18
likewise, you know, I've been threatening you now for some time to have you on jazz piano skills. And I finally I finally made my threat come true. And here you are. I'm honored to be here, man. Thank you. Yeah, you know, I'm thrilled because your story. First of all, your passion for jazz. And jazz education is unsurpassed by anyone. But your story is fascinating. And I've been wanting to get you on jazz panel skills for you to share your story with the jazz panel skills listeners, because I know it is going to have a profound impact on many of them. So you know what we're gonna jump in, because I try to keep I tried to keep each podcast episode to around an hour. And man, we got so much to talk about that we're gonna be we're just gonna be rocking it for an hour to get through everything. So let's, I'm just gonna turn the microphone over to you right now and kind of just share your story with the jazz panel skills, listeners, your childhood, how you got into music, and how it's led you to where you are today. So my friend, the mic is all yours.
Josh Walsh 3:30
I appreciate it. Thank you. It's honor to be here. So I started playing piano at a really young age. And without a whole lot of formal training. I came home from church one day and banged around at the piano when I was like three years old. Just trying to figure out the hymns and stuff like that. And mom and dad were like, well, we got to get this kid a teacher, right? And nobody wanted to take a teacher for the reasons that I know understand, because I don't want to teach three year olds either. So I you know, fast forward through like middle school and all this stuff. I really got into Boogie Woogie and Ragtime and all the fun stuff that that the girls loved. Right. Right. And, but I got into really serious, you know, highfalutin music to like, really like into classical music and was really intrigued by the virtuosity of like Vladimir Horowitz and these other players who just have an incredible, incredible technique, right? So when I went to school, I knew I wanted to make my living in music. So I went to music school in Cleveland, I went to two schools, went to University of Toledo first and then switched to Cleveland State because I could study at the Conservatory and I studied classical for four years and my my playing ability really went through the roof as you would expect from you know this from your proud time at University of North Texas, which you talk about all the time, right? When you sit in a practice room for six hours a day, you get pretty good.
Dr. Bob Lawrence 4:51
Yes, you do. Right. So
Josh Walsh 4:53
my technique really blossomed. But when I got to the end of music, I was like, What am I going to do as a career with this thing now like do I want to be a performer And travelled the world like Glenn Gould did playing the Goldberg Variations over and over and over for the rest of my life. I was like God, like I want more variety in my life than that. So I ended up realizing that the way you make a career is to be a music teacher, and I went to be a high school or middle school band director. And I did that literally for two days before I quit. I bought out of my contract, I left and I never went back. And it wasn't because I didn't have a passion for music education, clearly I do. But I hated the public school system, and the way that it taught and the way I assessed and also my gosh, the students in the band were not like me in band, right? Like they, they were either here because they had already taken their art class, and they didn't want another PE credit. So you know, I'll pick up the saxophone, they didn't care at all right? And so I just didn't enjoy that. So when I left music school, and decided I didn't want to be a teacher, I had this other business going on the side is kind of a hobby out of my dorm room. And I wouldn't did that full time. And I did that for 20 years. And I kept playing piano every day, because that's what I loved. But it became like, a passion project, not a career for me at that point.
Dr. Bob Lawrence 6:04
Right. Right. You know, it's funny that you bring up the high school, you know, middle school or high school band director, you know, job, unfortunately, man, that is really the choice that so many musicians are met with that, you know, you get go get a degree in music, and really your only options are, well go to teach at a, you know, great school, public, you know, Junior High High School, or even college for that matter. org or, you know, try your hand at performing full time. And if you're going to try your hand at performing full time, then why the heck did you go to college the to begin with, you might as well just go and study with some great players and pursue it that way. To be quite honest with you. So you know, it's funny that you bring that up, because when I was at the University of North Texas, they to get your doctorate degree at the University of North Texas at that time, now it may or may have changed. But at that time, you had to have three years of teaching experience. And I said, I said, well, no problem I got, I got three years of teaching experience, but they said oh, well, oh no, not studio teaching, not private teaching, you have to have classroom teaching, like junior high school, high school teaching. And I can remember saying, Look, I'll do anything that you want me to do. I will clean the campus on the weekends, I will do anything, but do not make me be a band director. And, and, but you know, it's not it's not a dig against band directors, because you know what, that's just a different groove. And I'm so thankful we have really passionate band directors 100% agree records in you, right? It's just a whole different thing. And, and it's kind of like what I tell the faculty here at the Dallas School of Music is that, you know, the faculty that work out here, our studio teachers, that's a very different thing than a classroom teacher. It's a very different animal. And so, with your passion for performing your passion for the study of jazz, I could see why. You know, I'm surprised you last two days, man, I thought I thought it would be more like two hours. You know,
Josh Walsh 8:18
I it was a tough decision for me because the music program in my high school was why I had the passion for music even still, that I do now. It was really influential on me. But I went in kind of naively thinking that the classrooms are full of people like me, and right and they just weren't. So I had an interesting epiphany though, while I was in music school, because again, I was studying classical music conservatory at Cleveland Institute. And I got hired as a organist at a black church. And I said, Sure, no problem, I can pull up the handle and play hands all day. So I showed up on my first Sunday, and the opening hymn was This little light of mine and I grew up by the way, I grew up Protestant in the Methodist Church. And This little light of mine was like a very strict like This little light of mine. It was not it was a different melody and everything and you would think of as the Trisha Henry, but that was what I knew. So I sat down at this at this piano with this black church and played it this way and nobody saying nobody. And it was this little church, maybe like 50 people. And I'm thinking, like, what the heck I'm thinking, oh, maybe I didn't do the intro the way they're used to. And so like I cut I, you know, asked for some graciousness, I started again and again, nobody's saying and I was like, what's going on? And this this old guy in the front row, he must have been 85 years old said who hired the white boy? So no, I know it's so funny, but this is really influential to me. They says this guy, this little guy in the front row just started clapping and started singing it the way that he knew it in the congregation came in and they went through the first two verses acapella and you know, then I picked it up. I was like, Okay, this is what we're Doing and then I went with it for a while. And at that point, I was like, what it like I went online and found all of this, these gospel players and there's a DVD set by you remember this guy, happy Trump, he had this set of instructional music sets, mostly for guitar players. Okay, I can't take the name of it. Boy, that's embarrassing. It was a really big deal. And he had this lady Ethel caffee Austin, who was this, you know, pianist at a Gospel Church, and boy could she play. And I realized at that point that she was not playing from the same theory book that I had learned. Right, right. It's like she didn't have words to describe the movements that she was doing in the voicings that she was playing and all this stuff, I watch this instructional DVD and kind of mimicked her and yeah, it was really
Dr. Bob Lawrence 10:48
wow, that's you know, that's that's some guts right there, man. Walking in to play gospel when you've never played gospel. That's, um, that's, um, you know, that's some courage there.
Josh Walsh 10:59
Why did I was no courage because I was naive. I felt like, I fell on my face. It wasn't great. But I learned I learned a lot just from like this one lady, just you know, you can alternate the one to the four chord when you're playing the gospel stuff to create some movement and groove, and she did this thing. And I was like, What is that? And I'd never heard this sound before. Where did this come from? And I broke it down. I you know, it slowed the video down went frame by frame. And I was like, wait, this, this scale has eight notes in it. What were the eight note scales come from my, my classical background didn't teach me octatonic or anything, right? Correct. And I was like, what key is this in like there's a B flat and D flat and E flat and an F sharp? And I'm like, What is this? And of course, that's the diminished scale, right? And so I was like, well, where does this? How do we use it? How do we apply it. And this actually kind of led to something that was really important to me and learning to play jazz, which is that, like, all the books and materials, not all, but a lot of them are really glorifying the complexity of jazz and jazz theory, right? Like these big thick book and I love these books, jazz theory book by Mark Levine. It's a great book. But if you try to learn jazz by starting on page one, and working through the end, you're in for a bad time. Because all theory is going to do is describe to you what you already are playing or what you've already hearing, it's not going to give you instruction rulebook for how to play
Dr. Bob Lawrence 12:20
right? Yeah, this this is let's let's talk about this for a little bit, you'd mentioned that you discovered one of the epiphanies that you had was that that classical is white collar and jazz is from the streets that talk a little bit about what you mean by that statement.
Josh Walsh 12:36
Yeah, so I came from a white collar family and my dad was an executive at a big, big, big company. And I was learned that you break everything down, you codify it, you systematize it, you create standard operating procedures. And so the way that I was approaching music from a classical standpoint was you pull the the music up in front, you go two measures at a time you master those, and you build up a technique which is mostly like like muscular, right so it's like literally your technical technique for how you play and then you learn some musical skills for how to interpret things and those kinds of things. But when you when I think about jazz, like not all that goes away if you start by thinking I'm gonna play the standard I'm gonna memorize it and I'm going to learn how I play the head of the tune versus the solo of the tune and you memorize your your your patterns and all this stuff you lose the soul of it, which is the spontaneity and the the create the composition on demand that what it is jazz. And what I found is it's very it's not like a linear process refers to learn to play classical and then all of a sudden you start to introduce improvisation, it's like you have to go all the way back to the beginning to some sense in order to think about improvisation as a as a first party. foundational idea,
Dr. Bob Lawrence 13:48
right? Well you cannot you certainly cannot approach playing jazz like you would approach playing classical music that that is absolutely 100% true and it's it the reason I bring up your quote you know that classical is white collar and jazz is from the street I I always tell students that you know, I'm going to teach you I'm going to teach you how to play jazz from a street perspective. And then I'll explain it from from an academic perspective. Now the funny thing is the to say the exact same thing but they come at it from very different directions. And I always use like an example of you know, modes I always use modes as an example because you know, beginning jazz students always loved to get wrapped around these modes like modes are somehow the secret to playing playing jazz, and all modes art to your point earlier is that it's theory it's explaining where sounds come from. It validates sound right so you know, a street musician a street jazz er would play if you said to them play. Hey, we play the C dominant flat nine flat 13 sound They would play the street musician would play that sound, they'd start with a C dominant scale, they flat the nine and they flat the 13th. How hard is that? But the academic or the classical side would say, Well, wait a minute, whoa, not so fast. That's you know, that's the fifth mode of the harmonic minor scales, right? So if it's C flat, C seven, flat nine, flat 13, you have to start that F harmonic minor scale, starting on the on the C and play it all the way through, and then you'll have your flat nine, you'll have your flat 13. And of course, the street jazz musician would go. Seriously. That's how you think that's how you think about that. If that's how you think about it. No wonder you play like you play because that's impossible.
Unknown Speaker 15:40
I think go back in history. I don't think Art Tatum was thinking about that when he was, you know, sitting at a piano playing T for two, it was just in him. I would say as a more modern player, you can extract those ideas and recognize what they are practice those as a tactical exercise, but you don't think about it when you're creating or when you're performing. It just comes out.
Dr. Bob Lawrence 15:58
That's what that's what that's exactly right. You know, it's sound right? So it's you learn that's what I've always said, you know, jazz is the study of shapes. In the study of sounds, it shapes and sounds that jazz musicians Master, they don't matter. This theory, the theory is just an academic explanation of the shapes and sounds that the jazz musicians play.
Josh Walsh 16:20
I have a friend who I went to music school with who's a very, extremely talented classical musician, and wanted to learn more about improvisation. So he taught himself the blues scale, and he was like, well, cool. Let's jam out. So I went through the 12 bar blues we just didn't see here. Let me throw one. I'll show you exactly what I mean by white color versus black color. This will demonstrate it. Yeah. Yeah. So it was great. So if I play a C blues, you would think 12 bar blues, just as typical three, car three chord formula, C, F. But when I played it with him, I played more of a bebop blues, because that's what I like to play where I had to fast for.
And he kept up with me, okay, he was I put a diminished in the secondary dominant, and he freaked out. Because you're breaking the rules, man says, You can't play an a seven in the key of C, those that C sharp, that's not in the blues scale, that's gonna clash. It's not gonna work. And I was like, brother, if you're thinking about like, not breaking the rules, you're still thinking like a classical perspective, because we play from a different set of rules. Right? That's
Dr. Bob Lawrence 17:31
exactly right. Yeah. So you know, you mentioned I want to go back to you mentioned earlier that another epiphany that you had in your studying of jazz in your pursuit of jazz. Was that the intentional that jazz educational materials, and what you perceive as the intentional pursuit of complexity, I love this, right, the intentional pursuit of complexity. Can you talk, talk to us a little bit about what you mean by that?
Josh Walsh 18:05
Well, there's something enjoyable about the endless exploration and nuance of jazz, right? That there's always something new to learn, always something new to explore we some new alteration, to play with some new sound you've never heard before. And so I think when you're in the jazz community, and a lot of the books and teaching materials, love to like build up a library of all these cool things that somebody has learned over time. And instead you you fail to realize just how simple the fundamentals are, because you've gotten lost in the complexity. And what happens is, if you're a lot of the people that I work with our classical people who are trying to transition to play jazz, and they are in this mentality of a window, I'd finished learning the song. Like, when do I go from starting autumn leaves, and then when I can perform it, I'm like, well, you're never going to be done learning autumn leaves, you're always going to learn new techniques. Let's start here. Let's start with three note voicings and play it right and you can print By the way, once you learn three voices without unless you can play it like you can go out and perform it, and people will enjoy it and all that stuff. But you can put endless amounts of complexity on top of it. And I think what I mean what I mean, when I talk about glorifying the complexity is that we skip way too far ahead in the pedagogical technique of teaching somebody how to play jazz, that we rush through all the fundamentals, and it creates a bad and it creates an unrealistic expectation for how much work goes into learning the fundamentals. If you think you can breeze through knowing your rootless voicings in a couple days, so that you can move on to playing all these fancy scales. I mean, it took me months to know my rootless voicings to the point where I could actually play them. And so I think that it's kind of we have to be careful to recognize who the audience is that we're talking to and make sure that we're talking at the right level. Actually, the reason I know your podcast is because you from the very beginning you've taken a almost a sequential approach to adding new techniques and trying things and new voicings and your contemporary fourth voicings versus your traditional three note voicings like that I appreciate that so much
Dr. Bob Lawrence 19:58
right? Well, thank you, you know I, what I try to do through the podcast. And with jazz panel skills listeners, as well as with the students that I teach here at the Dallas School of Music. I bring this up all the time, right that, you know, your physical development begins and hinges on, on your conceptual understanding, and that if your conceptual understanding of jazz is skewed in any way, shape, or form or complicated or confusing or foggy, then it's going to be skewed and complicated and foggy in your hands as well. And and so if you're if you're thinking about this is why I'm always trying to avoid this unnecessary pursuit of this intentional pursuit of complexity by actually simplifying, really simplifying it. And I talk all the time about what we have, you know, we have two types of melodic motion and music. We have scale modes, we have arpeggio motion, it can go one of two directions, ascending and descending. I'm always trying to place things in a very simplistic framework, because it begins that way jazz players begin thinking that's how they think they don't try to complicate they try to simplify what they do.
Josh Walsh 21:14
Yeah, exactly. And our YouTube generation is making this worse. I mean, I love jazz YouTube videos. The next guy, they're fun, but you can sit in one afternoon and watch like seven five minute videos that all have wild techniques that you want to sit down and practice and all of those are going to take you weeks of work to work on and that's fine. Pick something that's at your level learn it add it to your your bag of tricks and move on to the next one. There's this add kind of always moving on to the next thing I had one of my students did exactly that. He came to me said, Look, I learned my altered scale. And I was like, Oh, that's great. Like that's so useful. What are you going to do with it? Right and he was like, I don't know. I was like, Well, why don't you play me a C altered scale and he right away played right through it and said, Okay, great, play me a D flat melodic minor scale. And he goes, Oh, I D flat. That's a tough key. I don't know my D flat melodic minor scale. And I was like, dude, like, Where do you think the altered scale comes from?
Dr. Bob Lawrence 22:02
You just played it.
Josh Walsh 22:03
Right? Exactly. Like that's what I mean, like you've you've rushed ahead to be able to play some technique, but you haven't taken the time to understand why it exists or how it works. And therefore you'll never be able to use it compositionally, it'll just be a little trick that you can pull out of your bag to throw over a g7 chord sometime.
Dr. Bob Lawrence 22:21
Well, yeah, and you know, and I think I think we all kind of get sucked into that trap at some time during our development where we think that the, the bigger the academic label or the fancier the academic layer per label, the cooler the technique must be, right. So you know, poly chords, poly chords, that must be some really cool stuff there, right? altered dominant scales, that must be some really cool stuff right there, right? Pentatonix, that might that sounds really cool. I think I need to practice that those Pentatonix right, or, or, you know, the list goes on and on and on quarter voicings. But the reality of it is, the reality of it is, if someone would just sit down and play some really fundamental thing could be just some fundamental block chords with a nice melody. And you play it with the right articulation and feel which this is what jazz is, it's an articulation and feel. And if you play those simple little chords, with a simple little melody with the correct articulation and feel, guess what you're playing, you're playing jazz, and guess what everybody's going to enjoy. You're playing. Right? It doesn't have to be it doesn't have to have all this complexity that we're always in pursuit of all the time.
Josh Walsh 23:35
The complexity is the nature of time, your own investment in your own playing, right, you have to start somewhere, because, again, I my student could play his altered scale in all 12 keys, but I don't think he could play a blues and put it in there. And and that's really sad. To me, it's like you've come at this the wrong side, you started with the flashy show off the parts of it, but you haven't built the foundation on which to apply it.
Dr. Bob Lawrence 23:57
Right, right. So talk a little bit, you know, you have left your 20 year, you've left your 20 year business that you've created that you built from the ground up. you've sold that company now you're back into jazz and jazz education. And you have this phenomenal site that you've launched called jazz. library.com. Correct. That's right. So can you talk a little bit, I know the jazz panel skills, listeners would love to know about this site that you've created and the resources and materials that are available for them to tap into to help them with their jazz journey. So talk a little bit about this, this venture now? Yeah, sure.
Josh Walsh 24:44
So I started it actually a few years ago with a company that I ran was a digital marketing company. We were blessed to work with some really big names in that space. And I learned a lot about digital marketing through that and I wanted to figure out how to apply those techniques that I learned in my marketing career. into the music side of things. Because frankly, the people who are the best teachers online, you amongst them are not the best marketers, they don't have the best online tools, websites, whatever, they have great content, fantastic content. But the but the technology behind the scenes is really lacking. And what I've found is that if you go, I work with a local, local community college jazz program here in town, and they still play out a Jamey aebersold books written in the 70s. And, again, we have the technology of YouTube and these YouTube personalities that are producing some great content and stuff. But where is the 2021 version of Jamie a result, it doesn't really exist, right? It's this, where's the app, YouTube generation of that real codify program, not just like the quick tips that go here and there. And don't get me wrong, there are people that have online courses that do great, I love your program. Like that's not a knock on any of those people. But I thought I had something to add to that space. So while I was running a company, I created this site called jazz library, which was an experiment to see if this would be interesting to people or not. And I started using my SEO content writing techniques to write articles to see if I could rank and compete with the big guys. And sure enough, I'm doing quite well with it. And so it's allowed, it's really opening the door for me to do this full time. So as you indicated, I sold my interest in the company after 20 years and retired from that. And I'm now doing this full time. And I'm one of the main goals I have of this is actually not just to talk to a musician who's wants to learn how to play because there's lots of like, overhead camera, you know, jazz instructional videos on the internet right now. But it's to build an appreciation for jazz for people who just want to listen to it and want to know more about what was Shukria thinking in this moment while he was improvising this. But also, maybe the bigger mission than this is to inspire that idea of improvisation as a life skill into kids who were younger and still developing. So the reason I'm working with the jazz programs in the community colleges in the high schools, is because even if you don't go on to be a musician in your career, let's say go be a salesperson, being able to think on your feet and compose and improvise as a life skill is so important to you. And that was something I didn't have when I started the company. I really found the parallels between my my jazz career and the mental skills that I developed as a human being from learning how to improvise, paid off and other areas of my life too. So I want to give someone just the freedom to create an improvise on the fly, even if it's not something you ever want to be become Oscar Peterson or something,
Dr. Bob Lawrence 27:23
right? It's fantastic. So when you go to jazz library, how is the site structured and set up? What what what what what are some of the materials that are there for folks to to utilize?
Josh Walsh 27:35
So there's kind of three areas and because, by the way, I sold the company two months ago, so a lot of this is in works and still coming. Most of the content that's on there now are really deep dives into instructional content. And they're they're aimed for who my students are, which are classical players that are trying to learn how to get into jazz for the first time. So it's on how do voicings work at a fundamental level? How do they sound? How do you play them? How do you practice them? How do you put them through the paces and keys? How do you then translate those into tunes? How do you perform with those techniques, and these are really deep dive articles on on that stuff. The YouTube channel is going to be focusing more on the jazz appreciation stuff. So it will be you know, pulling out two to four measures of an interesting solo and just talking about what makes it interesting and those things from a music theory perspective, but not from the perspective of learning how to play and perform it. For the really serious people that want to pay me some money to do this. I'm doing live workshops once a week that are free to everybody. And those live workshops, go into an archive and you can always watch the latest one for free in the new in the future you'll be able to pay to watch the full archive to access all the archives of everything that I have.
Dr. Bob Lawrence 28:46
That's fantastic, man, I need to check out I need to check that out. Man I need How do I get signed up for that just
Josh Walsh 28:51
give you one. But it's it's still it's still coming. Right? So there's a lot of things that are still in motion and half baked and all that stuff. But thank you know, I would love love to share it with you. Yeah.
Dr. Bob Lawrence 29:01
Yeah, that's awesome. So okay, so you teach you have you know, they're a studio where you're working with, as you mentioned, classical pianist, you know, people that have played for a while you know, and have achieved a certain level of proficiency on the instrument and they're playing class classical literature. And now they're, you know, got the jazz bug and they're wanting to learn how to play some jazz So talk a little bit about how you help somebody getting start navigate the jazz waters here and and start get started in the jazz in the jazz world. What do you do,
Josh Walsh 29:39
I have a very different approach to teaching from just than I've seen anybody else do and I can think the pandemic is okay, because I don't sit down with people one on one side by side for 30 minutes every two weeks or something like that. Instead, we trade three to five minute videos over text messages, or we use an app called Marco Polo. So it's like texting but with video and so they set it up. Next to their piano, they play something, they send it back to me. And then we can have an ongoing conversation all the time about how things are playing, we can train a three minute video, I'll send backs and went back and yada, yada, yada. And that's because a lot of these people are busy adults who have life and are difficult to actually come in for lessons and find time to practice and all that stuff, right. And what I found from that is it allows us to work better in bite size pieces, instead of like, okay, go work on this big thing for the next month. And we'll come back next month, and we'll see how you're doing. It allows us to really nitpick on how do you finger the pentatonic scale in this particular key? And how do we work through that? And how do I apply it and, and those kinds of things. So it's really I like working in really small bite sized chunks.
Dr. Bob Lawrence 30:38
Yeah, that's, that's really good. That's really good. So do you. So is it all then are they initiating then the video, they're sending you the video clip when they're ready to send you something of them plane and then basically you're assessing that and then giving them feedback and guiding them based on what you viewed in the video.
Josh Walsh 31:00
Exactly, answering questions that they have helping them work through things to challenged or if they play something, they do something wrong, pointing it out and talking through that. You know, I was listening to your, your interview with the guy who's working with you. Henry,
Dr. Bob Lawrence 31:17
who wrote Oh, Dan Hearle Yeah, Dan,
Josh Walsh 31:21
Hearle. Thank you. My brain is in here, right? Yes. This is your interview there. And he was talking about like, you really can't teach jazz, you have to do jazz and learn it yourself. But you can use a teacher as a way to kind of encourage this discourage this point you in this direction, Hey, have you thought about this, that kind of stuff. So that's really the approach that I'm doing. I'm not working very much with very absolute beginner jazz players. They're people that are just, Hey, I'm playing with this tune. It sounds the same way every time I play it. What other things could I do? What new technique could I add in here? And how do I play with that?
Dr. Bob Lawrence 31:51
Yeah. So what are the biggest struggles that you're finding students are having that based on your experience and what you're witnessing through these videos? What's the biggest challenge is that there?
Josh Walsh 31:59
There is inefficient practice. Okay, practicing things that are too big or too hard for them. And thinking that I can just put my head down and grind through it. Right? Yeah, like, again, if you want to sit down and go through all your rootless voicings, but you don't know your three note voicings yet. I mean, it's just going to be painful and well, and not sticky. And I see so many people that are jumping ahead, trying to learn things that are too difficult for them.
Dr. Bob Lawrence 32:25
Yeah, it's probably something that they've heard about through, you know, you know, poking around online, you know, maybe through YouTube or, you know, some some method book or something. And is that, yeah, that sounds good. So I got to, I got to start tackling that. But the
Josh Walsh 32:38
progressions that I teach are minute, they're almost laughable how small they are. I'm like, Okay, well, when you're going from one chord to the next try doing to go to the third note, right? Okay, now play, pick up, eight misbehave, and do that between every chord change, figure out how to go to the third of the next chord. Now, that's absurd, and it sounds terrible. But you've now built the muscle in your hand to learn how to do that framing, then you go into, well, let's look at enclosures and chromatic enclosures and those things and you start to get into what I really, really love. What really woke me up was Barry Harris's methods of teaching, which are again, all built on really, really small building blocks that you ingrain in yourself one at a time. And just trying to move too fast, I would say is the biggest mistake.
Dr. Bob Lawrence 33:22
Yeah, absolutely. The students want to move too fast. They want to this sounds crazy, but they want to play songs. And who doesn't, right? This is what you when you go to study music, you think I'm going to go learn an instrument and I'm going to play songs. But I always say, well, this, I tell my students I'm going to teach you how to play 1000s of songs, I'm not going to teach you to play a song I'm going to teach you how to play 1000s of songs. And you know, that's hence where the name jazz piano skills comes from, because there's a set of skills that you have to have a command of and if you get a command of those skills, then your playing and performing journey has begun. And if you can't, you cannot skip over that you have
Josh Walsh 34:08
to practice playing songs. Of course I know you're not saying otherwise. But your what you call paper practice that I've heard you talk about so many times. I mean, it's important you have to have really focused practice on one particular technique and you know, really woodshed it out and then apply it to tunes right away in order to make it stick.
Dr. Bob Lawrence 34:27
Well, and you have to you have to, you know, to I tell students, they have to keep moving, you know, like I always tell the story of a student that I have. He's an engineer, great guy. And he says to me, he comes in he makes an announcement in a lesson one day says, Bob, he says I'm going to I've decided I'm going to practice in the key of C until I get C down to I really feel I have mastery of the key of C before I go on to the next key and and I said to him and his name happened to be Bob too and I said Bob I'm going to just tell you right now you're going to be in C for the rest of your life. And he said, What? And I said, Yeah, man, I said, you know, if you want to get good at C, I said, you need to practice in the key of F. And if you want to get good in the key of F practice in the key of B flat, then if you want to get good and B flat practice in the key of E flat, and that the point I was making to him is that man, dude, you gotta you got to be cycling through the data, you got to be constantly cycling through the data. And when you cycle through the data, don't make the mistake when you go on to practice in the key of F don't start tomorrow, when you start the key of F tomorrow. Don't start with this mindset. Well, wait a minute, let me see how much I remember in the key of C before I go on F. Because C was yesterday, C was yesterday, you're practicing f today. So don't make that mistake, because then you get sucked back in the sea again. So I'm always encouraging students that you got to be cycling through the data, you have to for every single practice session, you have to have a single practice objective, what is the objective? What what is it that you're practicing? Why are you practicing it? How are you practicing it, and then that's your plan. And if you haven't decided that before you sit down on the bench, it's too late, it's too late. Because you're going to be you're going to be grazing you're going to be roaming around practice and a whole bunch of things. And I think I think that's touching upon what you're getting at this with, you know, trying to do too much. Trying to do move too quickly. can get you can get, you can actually create the stagnation.
Josh Walsh 36:34
Yeah, I'm curious if you disagree with me on this part, though. Because I think you have to apply these new techniques that you're learning to tunes right from the beginning. And your point about learning to play in the key of C is great, it's but as soon as you think about, well, what song are you going to play what jazz standard you're going to play that's in the key of C, because they all have two, five ones that modulate every three bars to some other key and you got it? You can't play a jazz standard in the key of C, correct? Right? Right, you it's just not, it's not a real tune. So I like to take one little technique, practice the heck out of that teak so that it's comfortable in my fingers. But through that you have to apply it to songs at the same time, you have to practice both the technique in isolation and in the application of tunes. So if you're learning your block chords with your diminished movements in between them, any tune that has a scale movement in it, you should be throwing those movements in place just to really nail them to learn them in all the keys and and get them in practice musically, not just in your fingers technically.
Dr. Bob Lawrence 37:33
Yeah, I think I think you need to apply skill sets to, I think, I think it begins the way I always like to teach in the way I like to practice. I like to isolate first I isolate technique based on sound. So if I'm working on a specific technique, I'm going to apply it to a minor sound, or I'm gonna apply it to a dominant sound everything everything for me and music is sound based. So it's always is it minors that have to manage as at the managed as a dominant what it what is the sound? And then what what technical skill Am I applying to that sound, and then I practice that technique to that sound. And then then I moved from, from one sound to multiple sounds, in other words, a progression, a 251, or a 16251, some kind of harmonic motion, that we know all these songs are made up of these harmonic motion. So So I always work from isolation, isolation of a sound, then harmonic motion, incorporate harmonic motion of a sound, and then finally, to a tune. You know, because because these tunes, you know, I always tell this story, too. I remember an old jazz or when I was growing up, I was maybe about 1415, maybe 16, somewhere in there. And he, this jazz guy could play any tune any key. Anytime. And I was always amazed that that and I remember I asked him one time I said, his name was Warren. And I said, Warren, how is it that you know, so many, so many songs? And he looked at me as if I asked him the dumbest question on the face of planet Earth, with great confusion on his face. And he took his little cigar out of his mouth and he said, he blew smoke free said what are you talking about? He said, they're all the same. And I went, What the heck is this kooky guy talking about they're not all the same. You know, Misty is not the same as satin to hell, satin bow is not the same as confirmation confirmations. Not the same as the night in Tunisia. I mean, these are all very different songs. What's he talking about? women you know now 45 years later, I know exactly what he's talking about. Because the depth of his his musical understanding was that all these songs have the same types of harmonic motion twos go into fives, go into ones go into six Let's go into flat six is going to flat twos. And after you play those enough times, you know, it's like how many times you have to hear a dog bark before you recognize that it's a dog barking, right? How many times you have to hear a 251 before you realize that's a 251. So why I like to practice I go to harmonic motion, common motion that is found within all these tunes, because it's setting them up to be able to play 1000s of tunes because they're going to be recognizing these same patterns that exist from song to song, the song, the song. And then on top of that, the ear training goes skyrockets. You know, so I agree with you, eventually, it's got to get to a tune, but the way I work I go, isolation to progression, then to tune.
Josh Walsh 40:44
Oh, we're on the same page.
Dr. Bob Lawrence 40:45
I agree. Yeah. Yeah. So it's Yeah, it's as long as
Josh Walsh 40:49
you aren't learning the technique for this one section of this one tune and then you don't leak anywhere else, right? It's Oh, my
Dr. Bob Lawrence 40:56
gosh, I definitely agree with that, right? Because I tell students you can't do what do you think you're gonna drop, kick that into a song, you know, like, you're gonna be successful, just drop kicking that in somewhere, I mean, that just doesn't really work. It doesn't really work that way.
Josh Walsh 41:10
Again, like my example or anywhere you have scale motion, one of your available tools to you would be this block cord with the diminished movements and stuff inside it. And you've got to be able to do that on any tune that's got scale motion, right?
Dr. Bob Lawrence 41:24
How do you encourage students to use technology in their development and study? Or do you?
Josh Walsh 41:32
I don't actually all that much. So like, I keep a practice journal that is as low tech as possible. You've seen,
Dr. Bob Lawrence 41:41
you've seen, that's all
Josh Walsh 41:43
on my website.
Dr. Bob Lawrence 41:44
That's old school. I like it. Man. That's old school. And I'm all I love old school.
Josh Walsh 41:49
Yeah, sorry. I come from a tech company, right? I was a software programmer. So I wanted to invent software to fix all my problems. But what I found for me was that nothing was more, nothing was a greater procrastinator to keep me from practicing than getting lost in some technology setup. So I have some like spreadsheet, like things that I use for tracking my practice in addition to my journal, but know the practices at the at the piano. So the tech the technical tools that I use are, what keyboard VST am I playing from? And what sounds Am I using and that stuff? It's it's all about the creativity of it, not the teaching method?
Dr. Bob Lawrence 42:24
Yeah. Do you? Do you use anything like I real pro band in the box of GarageBand? You know,
Josh Walsh 42:32
yeah, Logic Pro, I real Logic Pro is my music production stuff. But I use I real pro to practice and jam along with. Actually, this is a fun tip. If anybody's really nerdy about music production, you can export the ireo Pro files as MIDI files, import them into logic and put real instrumentation and run them through humanizing algorithms, and actually make them sound a million times better. And I use that when I go out and play at hospitals and stuff like that. And I want to play the backing track. I don't open the cheesy I real pro backing tracks, but I've created ones that sound much better, actually using a real pro as a starting point. But now those are great techniques. I mean, we talked about this when you joined me on my show a few months ago, back when red garlin wanted to play with this tree and wanted to practice like he had to get all those guys together in a warehouse somewhere in practice, and now we can just like sit down at 2am turn on the iPad and I real pro and go
Dr. Bob Lawrence 43:27
well, and that's why, you know, a lot of times I hear jazz musicians knock like the technology like I real pro and I'm like, come on, man. That's, that's a fantastic practice tool. Because it's simply it's like a flight simulator for airline pilots, right? You know, in the old days, the only way that we could test our skills with our development of time and feel and articulation was to go to the jam session. And and quite honestly, there's a lot of embarrassing moments at jam sessions. And that's the only way that you would be able to cut your teeth but and don't get me wrong, I love the jam session. I think that's fantastic. However, for us to be able to practice in the confines of our home and to have a you know, a musical metronome, if you will, a musical metronome that's keeping time and allows us to place the musical concepts that we're we're practicing to place them into a context a musical setting a musical context, even if it is cheesy if people right it's you got to listen beyond that you got to hear beyond that and and drop your skills in the time because I think that's the hardest thing that all jazz musicians have to develop their sense of time their sense of field their articulation and, and I tell students all the time, man, I can't teach you that. No teacher can teach you that. You have to experience that to develop that. And I think that's what Dan Hurley was probably getting at when when he was on jazz piano skills talking about that. And I think I real pro i think i real pro allows us to do that. Right?
Josh Walsh 45:00
Oh absolutely, it gives you a gives you a. If nothing if it does nothing but create a better metronome for you, then it's worth it, but it can do so much.
Dr. Bob Lawrence 45:09
And I like how you said that it's a lot better metronome a big time, a lot better metronome. Yeah, it's
Josh Walsh 45:14
metronome, you can learn to play bossa nova against I mean, try doing that against the square metronome.
Dr. Bob Lawrence 45:22
Right. So I want you to go back, you mentioned Barry Harris, a little earlier. So talk to talk to the jazz piano skills listeners about the influence that Barry Harris and his teachings have had on your, your plane and your approach to teaching as well.
Josh Walsh 45:40
You know, for people who know who Barry is, in his studies, they know what a legend that he is. He's an absolutely amazing, incredibly gifted player and should be recognized for all time for his talents as a player, but he's going to go down in history as being the great jazz educator. There. There were nobody will ever replace that seat that he's hold he's held. And there are a lot of people who know a lot more about Barry than I do. He used to run a weekly workshop in New York City that anybody could show up and pay five bucks or something to just sit there for three hours and learn from from the guy who,
Dr. Bob Lawrence 46:13
you know, it's That's amazing.
Josh Walsh 46:14
It's It's incredible. Five bucks, and you can go in and I never had the privilege of visiting.
Dr. Bob Lawrence 46:21
Yeah. And there was probably somebody complaining about that too. Right? Five bucks. Are you kidding me? Man? You know,
Josh Walsh 46:26
my friend Chris Martin was was kind of his driver and studied with him for for I think 20 years, and needs to take into all these different gigs and stuff. And he's like, very, you got to raise the prices. And I think he went from nine bucks to 10 bucks one year, because he it wasn't about the pursuit of a business. for him. It was about the musicality, and sharing. Yeah. Right. But he's a tough guy, a tough teacher. He's a he loves everybody. But man, is he tough on you on terms of being a good teacher. And so I never had the privilege of actually studying in person with him never going to Windows workshops. I've watched every video that I can find I've read everything. And part of the problem is he never prepared anything, he would show up to these workshops with no agenda, no technique to skill, and people would show up and they would start playing and he'd be inspired and he would teach something. And so there isn't like a method book according to Barry Harris, his technique that you can go through you have to discover for yourself but there are a few he's really well known for his six diminish concept and people kind of know the the things that I've read online and the like the videos I've watched route six diminished only really scratched the surface as to how deep I think it was as a kind of a concept to him. And when you really get into his Have you heard his evolution story about like, chromatic became whole tone, which became diminished became dominant. And I'm like, Oh, my gosh, I have to throw away all of my theory in history where you start with the major scale, and then you build everything by altering notes of the major scale. Like he doesn't think about that at all. But also to think about a guy who is a complete Bebop legend. He doesn't think about any chords because in seventh chords, he doesn't play ninth chords, or 11th, or 13th, or alteration, he plays them. But he doesn't think about them that way. And you're like, well, how would you play them and not know what they are? and not think about them? He doesn't play Bebop scales. He's like the Bebop God. Right. It was really fascinating journey for me to, to isolate and break those things down and start to bring those ideas into my playing. It made an incredible difference in my own playing, and I hope that I can use my platform to share some of his ideas with people.
Dr. Bob Lawrence 48:29
Right? Yeah, you know, I'm a big fan of that, you know, this, learning the seventh chords and just what you're doing is, you know, Barry would not think that he was playing, you know, nines but if you played an E flat major seven oversea minor, you're playing you arpeggiator, E flat major, seven over C minor, you're up in the upper extensions, right? You're you're playing, you're playing the nine,
Josh Walsh 48:53
let's talk when you find a G flat major seven. So here's misty, according to him. When I heard him say that, I was like, Whoa, what is this? So if you can't see it, it's E flat, g be natural, and D, and then you're like, he resolves it here to a C, and you're thinking if you're thinking about E flat major seven as being this your way off of what he's thinking about, right? And I was like, What in the world Where is that coming from? And as you explore, you learn, what he's thinking about is he's got an E flat chord, which in his sixth diminished scale would alternate with an F or with a D diminished chord.
And he's borrowing notes between the two so these bottom two notes are E flat, and the top two notes are the D diminished. And of course, he was into six chords as his building block, not seven correct. So you would you would resolve it to the to the sixth See, and I had never thought about major seven chords as being dissonant chords until I heard him do. Let's see, how does he do it? He doesn't like this. Something like this.
Dr. Bob Lawrence 50:17
Josh Walsh 50:18
So it's major seven to six. And you're like, that's absolutely a dissonant chord. it resolves there, I'd never thought of the major seven as being a dissonant chord to the six, right? And right that like, again, these little tiny things were just like, like just exploded in my head of different ways you can apply these to tunes,
Dr. Bob Lawrence 50:38
yeah, this mastery of tension and release, right, and there's videos, you know, listeners can go out there and Google, Google, Barry Harris, and get all kinds of videos of him explaining and, and PDFs that download. It's incredible resource.
Josh Walsh 50:56
He did an amazing series, most of his stuff is old, from the 80s or 90s, that are recorded and old VHS tapes that are kind of hard to follow times from plays live workshops. And they're worth watching. But if you start the Jazz at Lincoln Center, had the foresight to sit him down and do a high production value free seven series, seven episode series on YouTube, that's it's really a good introduction to what he's talking about. Right? But nothing, nothing has been more influential to me than studying the playing in his teachings and applying those sounds to tunes because it sounds so authentic, in a way that just picking up the real book and playing songs, I would have never learned that on a minor chord that a minor seven chord is not a one chord, a minor seven chord is never a one chord. It's always a minor six chord, because the minor seven was once the result down a fifth.
Dr. Bob Lawrence 51:47
Right, right, right. So okay, so sorry,
Josh Walsh 51:50
I'm off on a tangent now.
Dr. Bob Lawrence 51:52
Oh, no, it's awesome. Man. I want to go back to and touch upon jazz library again. So ultimately, where are you heading? What's the ultimate vision for jazz library down the road here?
Josh Walsh 52:10
Yeah, and the vision for the website is to be really a comprehensive source for jazz theory techniques, almost like an open source textbook. ideas that people can use, right? A Wikipedia kind of of sorts of really comprehensive in depth jazz knowledge, as opposed to things that are just flying across the surface. And that I hope will encourage people to dive into more of the commercial efforts, both that I produce, but that other people produce to maybe go to school or to study with a real teacher or buy commercial books or other programs or things like that. But if someone is sitting at home during a pandemic, with a piano in the house, they've always wanted to learn how to play and they don't have a whole lot of money. I would love for them to open this up and have a place to start from.
Dr. Bob Lawrence 52:48
Yeah, that's fantastic. Is there a possible jazz library podcast in the future? My friend
Josh Walsh 52:56
is, you know, I got I got a whole bunch of ideas. But right now like, I've got to rebuild the site. I've got some YouTube videos to produce I've got Yeah, I got all the live workshops to do every week. I'm pretty overwhelmed with that. But I think in time it could be.
Dr. Bob Lawrence 53:11
Yeah, why not? Right? Yeah. It's, it's a great, it's a great, it's a great format.
Josh Walsh 53:17
I'm still trying to figure candidly, how I transitioned out of I was an executive running a rather significant company into now being a content producer full time, it's an old habits are dying hard in some ways. And so as I kind of get my stride and my comfort and my feet under me, in that regard, I have lots of ideas of places to go.
Dr. Bob Lawrence 53:36
So, all right, I'm going to I'm going to do a little rapid fire with you. I do this with every guest on jazz piano skills. I'm just gonna lightning out. Yes, lightning round, right? So I'm just gonna throw out some musical skills, some musical concepts.
Josh Walsh 53:53
Don't tell me it's like Donna Lee and B flat or something? No, no,
Dr. Bob Lawrence 53:57
no. No, no. From an educator from an education perspective, all right, I want you to give I want you to give some tips based on your experience what you would for the jazz piano skills listeners, how you would encourage them to think about these skills and practice these skills. So I just, you know, I'm going to start easy with you right? scales, regardless of what type of scale major scale minor scales, altered scales. Regardless, what advice would you give jazz piano skills listeners about practicing scales?
Josh Walsh 54:33
If you don't know them, like you know your wife's face, you should or your husband's face. You should practice them more but once you do, practice them intense practice them and contrary motion, practice them, you know, my joint friend Jeremy Siskind has this thing where he puts a metronome on at like 100 beats per minute and he says, okay, play a minor and you just play eighth notes a minor all over the place, you never stop and if you miss the metronome, if you screw up right, then you're out and you got Do that for like five minutes straight where you just play E minor with a with a metronome at 100 beats per minute. I think that's an amazing exercise.
Dr. Bob Lawrence 55:06
It's very challenging. Yes. Okay, so what about voicings? This is a this is an area where a lot of students get tripped up how to approach and practice and study voicings.
Josh Walsh 55:23
I'm going to come back to Barry Harris on this, which is probably an answer you haven't heard hear from somebody else before. But his approach to voicings is so simple and yet so authentic that I would spend a lot of time mastering six voicings and his Polly chord concepts on those, right. So if you're playing a dominant chord, like a C seven, you play a G minor six chord on top.
Dr. Bob Lawrence 55:44
Right, right. Right. Okay, so what about leading into that then? What about your training? What kind of advice would you give folks a retraining is always a big topic? You know, I have students asking, you know, how can I, how can I better train my ear to hear musical sounds musical progressions?
Josh Walsh 56:04
Well, you can do one of the really boring, you know, note comparison interval comparison tools, there are a million online that you can buy and it's essential, you have to be able to play this and sing a fifth up and all that kind of stuff. absolutely have to do that. I love Amy Nolte, his concept of point and sing, if you haven't heard that, where she she plays this reference note, and she sings a line, and she sings a continuous line and she just checks herself as you go occasionally. So she's fingering the lying that she's singing, but not playing the notes. And every once in a while just hits the note to make sure she's still where she thinks she's supposed to be. And that creates the sense of instead of singing along with your playing, playing along with your singing, and how you can become much more musical and think about your improvisation, like your singing more organically right out of you instead of putting scales and techniques and arpeggios into your solos. So right, Archer, you're training to me is that being able to take something that's within you and get it out through your hands?
Dr. Bob Lawrence 57:00
Yeah, very good. All right. What about I know you're big on this? What recommendations would you give to jazz piano skills listeners about transcribing transcriptions?
Josh Walsh 57:13
Well, I have a lot of my own advice to listen to hear. I love transcribing stuff. You know, you and I nerd it up for a long time about bread. Matos Blackbird transcription,
Dr. Bob Lawrence 57:22
we're gonna do an episode on that here soon. Yes.
Josh Walsh 57:25
But just because I was. But I think you what you need to do is after you've transcribe it, don't transcribe it, so that you can perform it like you don't need to rote perform somebody else's transcriptions. What you should do is learn look for one thing to learn out of that from that Brad mehldau. So I could have learned 1000 things. But the thing I learned that really stuck with me is that every one of his phrases starts at a different part of the measure, there isn't through the entire like two minutes solo, I don't think he plays any lines, the start and the end to one back back with each other, it starts in the end one then the next one is his first one is and a one going up. And then his next one is three going down. And the next one is the end of two going up. And then the next one is before going up. There's so much variety about crossing the bar and breaking things down, that you when you transcribe something, you need to look for one little thing like that, and it's okay if it's only taking two bars of an Oscar Peterson solo, and look at those two bars and play them and figure out what's doing and learn one little thing from that, then apply it to your tonal centers and apply it to your tunes. Yeah, but yeah, I think a lot of my classical friends transcribe things so that they can sound like Oscar Peterson, they pick up the oddest computers and Omni book and they want to play the solos as written in there. And I'm like, here for bedtime.
Dr. Bob Lawrence 58:33
That's, you know, I heard you know, Michael brecker said that he never ever transcribed a solo from beginning to end, he would just hear something that he'd like, and then he would transcribe that little snippet. And learn from that snippet. You know, and yeah, and I think, you know, you bring up a good point, you know, that that's really the way to try to approach you know, what, you're going to try to extract something out of a solo that you can that you can grow from.
Josh Walsh 58:59
I wish I could say I hadn't spent enormous amounts of time transcribing a solo from beginning to end because it probably was a waste of time in so many ways that would have been better applied. Looking at one little phrase and transposing that phrase and twisting it around and putting it into tunes and,
Dr. Bob Lawrence 59:14
yeah, right. So okay, so what advice would you give, you know, and I know you have experienced with this because you have so many classical pianists that are studying with you. What advice would you give for somebody who says, you know, I'm just going what's the best way for me to start trying to learn how to improvise? What is what's the best way?
Josh Walsh 59:37
I think it's two broad question, what would you what style do you want to sound like, do you want to sound like, let's say, Bebop, you wanna learn to improvise like Bebop? Well, you learn your arpeggios up and your scales down. And you sound like Bebop. I mean, that's really really oversimplifying, right? That's bebop scale up. arpeggio up, scale down. Learn some of those. Barry Harris dominant chord dominant scale rules and things like that, that he puts out right? beginning to improvise though I would start with singing, just in general, not playing. So play the chords but he himself sing a solo, like say, two bars of a solo, not a whole head, like two bars, stop, and then play what you just say. That'll help you really think about kind of like what the ear training come up with the invent the idea in your head first, then apply it and I think you'll find things that so many people struggle with, like, how do I come up with a motif that I explore and play with over a couple rounds through the changes come out more naturally, when you're singing them? Or, or that kind of stuff?
Dr. Bob Lawrence 1:00:37
Right? You know, it's interesting, a lot of times with students with improvisation, I think it always begins rhythmically, right? Because everybody wants to think about what notes should I be playing? And I always go like, Well, okay, here's, here's the note you should be here. How about play the notes, see, and only the Notes See, now really improvise something rhythmically with the note C. And, and, and, of course, everybody struggles with that. And so my point always is, well, you think that's going to get easier when we add two notes? or three, or four? or five? I mean, right? So the way I like to approach that improv is like, here's a note. do something with it. Congratulations. This is improvisation. Right?
Josh Walsh 1:01:18
Listen to her. Romi she does these whole solos where she's on one note,
Dr. Bob Lawrence 1:01:23
it's Yeah, right. Right. Okay,
Josh Walsh 1:01:25
you taught me that actually on our thing. I bought a snare drum rudiments book, your recommendation. Oh, good deal, because I would take some solo line that I thought was interesting, or that I thought was boring. And then I would apply the rhythm from the snare drum rudiments book. And I was like, wow, wow, that's interesting. Now, it wasn't the notes that turned out my notes were fine.
Dr. Bob Lawrence 1:01:43
Right. And you know, it was interesting. You know, we always play scales with the same rhythm. Isn't that funny? We practice scales with the same rhythm instead of changing the scales rhythmically. Right? Right. There's another great exercise for students to do. Okay, what about you mentioned song. So let's talk about repertoire what what is the best way? What's the best advice that you can give students to begin developing some repertoire, learning to
Josh Walsh 1:02:10
listen to tunes, listen to the standards. So, you know, I like all the new modern jazz stuff. I'm a young guy, like the Starkey puppies, and Shawn Martens and those things, but go back to the standards, because the thing that's really unique about jazz as a culture is that there's 1000 recordings of autumn leaves. And if you have a Spotify subscription, you can listen to all of them. Right? Right. So you can you can learn to hear the variety of different things that different people have done with that, I would say, from there, then you start to learn the harmonic structures you talk about, once you know your two, five ones, you'll start to hear them inside other tunes. And you can almost play these other tunes automatically. At that point, right? Once you've kind of learned, oh, I can go to the seven to the three to the minor six, that's just a 251, a minor 251, and the tonic key. Once you start to hear those concepts inside the other songs, the other songs almost come out. So that's how I built my repertoire, I was by learning all these harmonic structures first, listening to a particular tune, recognizing those things by ear not from looking at the real book, but by ear, recognizing those harmonic sounds within the tune. And then moving on to the next one.
Dr. Bob Lawrence 1:03:13
Yeah, I always, you know, all the old jazz was always used to say to me, man, they say, Bob, if you can't sing the song, you can't play the song. And, you know, they were really big on knowing the lyrics. And listening, the vocalist sing, you know, the, the melodic line, right? Being able to actually sing the melodic line. Starting with that, and I think sometimes we students, we forget about that, right? I mean, we dig into learning to tune and we really don't know the melody. We couldn't sing
Josh Walsh 1:03:44
it. You know, you could hear it in their solo, too, if they don't know the melody.
Dr. Bob Lawrence 1:03:47
Oh, my goodness, gracious, right? It jumps out. So well, my friend, listen, we could sit here for another key, believe it. We've done this now. And we've been sitting here for an hour, man. Well, it's hard to believe. So we can we could do this for another three hours, no doubt. But I cannot begin to thank you for taking time out of your day to join me and introducing you to the jazz piano skills listeners in the jazz piano skills community. So on behalf of all the jazz piano skills, listeners out there, Thank you, Josh, thank you for taking time and spending time with us today.
Josh Walsh 1:04:25
That's really been an honor. You're at the top of my podcast subscription list. So I listened to you every week. so honored to be here. Awesome.
Dr. Bob Lawrence 1:04:31
Awesome. I appreciate it. Yes. And you know what, this is the first of many man, we got to have you back on, because we got a whole lot more stuff to talk about. So we will we will plan that for a future date as well. So all right. All right, Josh. Thanks so much. Jazz panels. Oh, hey, before we do that, where can they can jazz library calm right. Jazz high social library, jazz hyphen, live. dot com.
Josh Walsh 1:05:01
You can find out jazz library Twitter.
Dr. Bob Lawrence 1:05:04
Fantastic. And then this this podcast episode will not it will be available not only audio format but it will be available video format as well at the jazz piano skills YouTube channel. So everybody check that out. So awesome, Josh, thank you again, my friend. It's been a real pleasure. Absolutely. I hope you have found this jazz panel skills podcast with special guests, Josh Walsh to be insightful, and of course to be very beneficial. When I favorite mentors and teachers of all time how Franzen used to say to me after every lesson never forget. The greatest thing about music is the people you meet through it. And the privilege of knowing Josh simply confirms aus sentiment 100% don't forget if you are a jazz piano skills member I will see you online Thursday evening at the jazz piano skills masterclass. 8pm, central time to discuss this podcast episode featuring Josh Walsh in greater detail, and to answer any questions that you may have about the study of jazz. As always, you can reach me by phone 972-380-8050 my office extension is 211 by email Dr. Lawrence Dr. Lawrence at jazz piano skills calm or by speakpipe found throughout the jazz panel skills website. Well, there's my cue. That's it for now. And until next week, enjoy the journey. Enjoy the pearls of wisdom, shared by Josh Walsh, and most of all, have fun as you discover, learn and play jazz piano
Jazz Pianist, Educator, Entrepreneur
I'm Josh Walsh, a professional jazz pianist, teacher, and entrepreneur based in Cleveland, Ohio.
As a child, the jazz piano seed was planted when I found an early interest in boogie-woogie and blues piano. I spent many afternoons in the living room with sunglasses on pretending to be Ray Charles. A yearned for the stride left hand of Fats Waller and Art Tatum.
I assure you, it wasn't much fun to listen to 8-year-old Josh try to rock out like Dr. John, but the journey had begun.
I got more serious about my future at the piano when I went off to college, where I studied classical piano at the University of Toledo and Cleveland State University. Through those studies, I gained a more diverse appreciation for all forms of music.
College did wonders for my playing technique, where I improved fluency in scales, arpeggios, and became comfortable across all the keys and tonalities. The nerd in me really loved learning more about music theory, and I took every course the school would let me.
I studied privately with a number of remarkable piano teachers, most notably at the Cleveland Institute of Music with Margarita Shevchenko, the winner of multiple international piano competitions.
After college, I narrowed my piano study to focus on jazz, which has been my passion ever since. Over years of continued study, both independently and with great private teachers, I've broken down what I've learned into a personal notebook. That notebook has guided me in teaching students of my own for many years and informs most of what I write here on Jazz-Library.
In 2001 I founded The Refinery, an e-commerce consultancy. Being CEO of that company was my primary career until 2021 when I sold my share of the business to focus on Jazz-Library full time.
I hope this resource is helpful to you on your journey in your own playing.