Yes, boring, classical, stick-in-the-mud Nelleke was learning some jazz piano. It was a lot like learning a new language, and it was fun!
PianoWithWillie from JazzEdge in exchange for my honest opinion. "This will be my catalyst," I thought.
PianoWithWillie is like an online piano teacher for the experienced piano student (JazzEdge has other programs for beginning students and younger children, such as Easy Piano Basics or HomeSchoolPiano). With a high speed internet connection, you can stream videos with a variety of "Foundational" (technique, rhythm, reading) or "Fun'dational" (songs and improvisations) lessons. Course materials and sheet music are also available for download.
Since it has been a while since I've played the piano regularly, and the whole world of jazz piano is new to me, I began to follow the "Piano Start" guide.
I downloaded and printed the course materials for the "30-Day Success Playbook" and began to go through them. I quickly realized that the first lessons were too easy for me, so I skipped ahead to Day 21 (with the teacher's permission, of course!). I easily sight-read all the music for the subsequent days, but began to realize that understanding all the complex chords would be a challenge.
I began to watch the video lessons corresponding to the days I found challenging. This is where I ran into trouble. We have "high speed internet," but we live in rural PEI where that doesn't mean much (Though I hadn't anticipated problems because Netflix and even YouTube work fine here.). Even with all the settings turned down to as basic as possible, the video lessons only streamed seconds at a time before stopping to load another few seconds. After chatting online with someone on the JazzEdge support team, I paused the videos for a few minutes to allow them to load more before playing. Even so, I could never get them to load more than three minutes at a time. Needless to say, this was extremely frustrating. I began to watch the videos while doing other things, just so the wait every couple of minutes wouldn't drive me completely crazy. Once I was done with the 30-Day Success Playbook and began to try other lessons, I realized that I did not have the same problem with all of the videos on the site. (My computer-tech husband tells me that they may have been recorded differently, and indeed, the videos that worked well for me did seem to be a bit older.)
Jazz was not a natural choice for me. However, I do like the complex chords and the clean sound of some jazz piano. And I found that PianoWithWillie is not at all limited to jazz, but has lessons on gospel music, pop/rock, blues, and even a bit of classical music! I spent the rest of my time on the "Fun'dational" side of the lessons, trying out different songs. I especially enjoyed "Precious Lord, Take My Hand." Having done that, I know I will need to dig into the more "Foundational" lessons to really get the most out of PianoWithWillie. I really want to learn more about chord formation now, and that's where I'll focus next.
SA said to me just last week, "Mama, I like the way it sounds when you play the piano." PianoWithWillie has done what I hoped it would --it has inspired me to play the piano regularly once again. And my children are listening. I am proud of how diligently SA is practicing his own piano lessons now, and I don't think it's unrelated to the fact that I have been practicing myself. I look forward to continuing to learn from PianoWithWillie.
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