Playing jazz piano in a band
Piano has the privilege of being an ideal solo instrument, but playing with other jazz musicians will inspire your creativity and do wonders for developing your ears, time-feel, and repertoire.
For jazz piano students interested in pursuing a career in music, playing in jazz combos will be a way of life. For students taking jazz piano lessons purely for pleasure, Piano Teachers Connect highly recommends seeking out other jazz musicians to collaborate with, and finding as many opportunities as possible to play in jazz ensembles.
One of the easiest ways to play with other jazz musicians is at the jazz clubs, during open jam nights.
But before you head out to the jams, you need to be prepared. Our jazz piano teachers have played in some of the best bands, with some of the best jazz musicians in your city's jazz scene.
We can arm you with the jazz piano skills necessary for playing in a group:
- How it works: Professional jazz musicians from different parts of the world, speaking different languages, can meet each other for the first time, on stage, and perform. This isn’t magic - it’s easily achieved by knowing a few common tricks of the trade.
- Knowing the form: Jazz standards are short pieces, often 32 bars long. The form is repeated many times during the course of performing one piece, and it’s your job to keep track of where you are. Head nods, eye contact, and musical cues are among the ways jazz musicians communicate the end of their solo, a return to the “head”, or the end of the performance.
- Trading 4s: Alternating 4 bars of improvisation by the drummer and the other musicians is a common practise you should know.
- Your left hand: The fastest way to make a jazz bassist angry is to play low bass notes with your left hand. Our jazz piano teachers will teach you left hand rootless voicings, to be used when playing in a band with a bass player, while your right hand takes the melody.
- Comping: Now that the bassist is happy, our next concern is the saxophonist (or vocalist, trumpeter, or other melodic instrument). With another instrument taking the melody we need two-handed, rootless chord voicings, to offer harmonic and rhythmic support only.
- Group Interaction: Listening for melodic and rhythmic motifs created by other musicians and knowing how to respond to them, sensing when to play more, when to play less, and when to stop playing are essential aspects of group interaction.
- Repertoire: Our piano teachers can teach you how to expand your repertoire quickly and efficiently, and what tunes you need to know before heading out to play with other jazz musicians.