Reasons why giving piano lessons as a gift for Christmas is a fabulous gift idea!

Christmas gifts

You literally change someone’s life and who knows perhaps their destiny!

By giving piano lessons as a Christmas gift, you are doing so much more than simply giving a gift!

You can literally change that person’s life and even their destiny!

The piano is such a powerful and majestic instrument.

Learning how to play the piano can bring a lot of internal joy and satisfaction to the gift recipient.

Who knows, perhaps he or she can even become a professional pianist.

Or a fantastic and very keen amateur!

Giving a gift that can give a lot to someone is a gift worth getting!

Lady learning to play the piano

Learning how to play the piano is a lifelong skill and art form!

Once you learn how to play the piano, no one can take it away from you!

It is a skill for life!

It is also a great creative outlet, and there is a massive desire across the world to learn how to play the piano really well!

It is worth noting that learning to play well requires excellent education.

Especially when it comes to learning the tough technical parts a musical score.

By giving piano lessons as a gift for Christmas, you are giving someone so much more than a simple gift.

You are potentially giving someone the skill and the eternal gift of playing the piano!

That is priceless and gift worth getting!

Christmas with a piano

Giving piano lessons as a gift is very inspiring and very creative! It certainly beats most of the ‘dull’ gifts out there!

Let’s face it, it is quite hard to find that ultimate gift!

When you do a Google search for “Christmas gifts”, you will often struggle to find an inspiring and creative gift option (that is not kitsch!).

There are always good items here and there, but finding something truly special is really really hard!

The great thing about giving piano lessons as a gift, is that you give an extremely creative and inspiring gift!

You can also rest assured, that the education that will be provided by The London Piano Institute, will be second to none.

Once the gift recipient redeems the voucher, they will learn how to play the piano with the right technique without picking up bad habits.

At The London Piano Institute, we make sure that everyone receives world-class piano instruction from outstanding piano teachers!

Man giving a gift to his wife for Christmas

Giving piano lessons as a gift shows that you care!

By giving piano lessons as a gift, you are showing a tremendous interest in the gift recipient’s passions and hobbies!

It shows that you care deeply about that person’s interests!

It shows that you went the extra mile to find something really, really good!

Something creative…

Something out of the ordinary!

Something truly special!

lady playing on a grand piano

Piano lesson as a gift is the gift that keeps on giving

It is true, piano lessons as a gift is a gift that keeps on giving!

Imagine you offer a five lesson voucher (you can find the details here) to your loved one.

Five years later, that special someone is performing beautiful piano pieces with wonderful piano technique!

That is a gift in and of itself.

Learning how to play the piano has a multiplication effect.

It starts with a few lessons and then grows into someone becoming extremely passionate about music! (And good at playing the piano!)

It is really the gift that keeps on giving!

Woman smiling

The bottom line: you make somebody very happy!

The fact of the matter is, you will make someone truly happy!

Why not take the risk to do that this festive season?

By purchasing a piano gift to us, you will make someone truly happy!

We will post an exquisite gift voucher to your address of choice, with a personal message on the voucher. You can find details about that here.

Imagine your satisfaction when that someone special in your life learns how to play the piano really well!

Imagine how great you will feel when he or she learns how to tickle the ivories to absolute perfection!

Do something different this Christmas, and offer a gift that just makes sense!

Receive a beautiful gift voucher!

If you purchase a piano gift voucher with The London Piano Institute, you will receive a beautiful laminated gift voucher that you can present as a Christmas present.

Unlike a lot of mechanical vouchers, we add the personal message to each and every voucher and make sure that the spacing looks good for your unique and special message.

The voucher will be sent out to you first class by post.

Alternatively, we can also send a PDF gift voucher if you need the voucher immediately.

Piano lessons gift voucher

Where to buy your piano lesson gift vouchers online on The London Piano Institute

Please visit our gift voucher page.

You can then make a purchase directly (via Paypal) at our piano course gift voucher page.

We can also help you to purchase the voucher via email.

Contact  our manager Stefan Joubert at enrol@londonpianoinstitute.co.uk for any questions that you may have!

Payment can also be made via a credit or debit card (we use Square Up) or  alternatively by bank transfer.

You can view the gift voucher options here.

Discover how to get started with jazz piano as an adult. In this article you will get a much deeper understanding how jazz works!

Jazz piano

Learning to play jazz piano as an adult is one of the most rewarding things you can do!

It is, however, important that you understand the process of getting started with jazz piano.

Jazz piano is not easy to master, it requires a lot of practice and self-discipline.

It can be downright arduous at times, but the rewards are humongous once you get it right!

In this article, I will do my utmost to help you understand the journey and process of learning to play jazz piano as an adult.

Man memorising jazz piano licks

Learning to play jazz piano requires a lot of memorisation

To become proficient at playing jazz piano, you need a working command of voicings, melodic lines as well as the concept of superimposition.

All these elements require a tremendous amount of actual memorisation.

Memorisation takes time.

Therefore, it will definitely help to think of learning jazz piano in terms of an exciting journey rather than a destination.

You cannot really speed up the process too much.

The reason for this, is you need to know your chords or voicings inside-out, and be able to use them in a real “live” situation on the spot.

It is not simply a situation of cramming for an exam the night prior. (See the spacing effect on Wikipedia for why learning is greater when spread out over time.)

Your knowledge of jazz voicings, lines and superimposition needs to be embedded in your deep long-term memory and ready to be used at will.

At The London Piano Institute, we help all our jazz students by constant (fun) drills and practice to recall important voicings, lines and superimposition.

Unfortunately (and fortunately!), there is no quick method here.

Memorisation tricks go so far, but will not help you perform at will and creatively in a “live” situation.

The greatest secret here, is to enjoy the journey!

Do you speak jazz?

Excellent tuition makes it so much easier

There is absolutely no doubt, that great jazz education will help you achieve your goals much quicker than self-study.

You may not be able to practice 10-12 hours a day in the likes of John Coltrane and that is why you need someone to help you get there!

As an adult learning to play jazz, five sessions of 30 to 60 minutes is all that is needed at the first steps of learning. (Along with an hour of quality jazz tuition or more weekly.)

Once you get the fire of jazz in your belly, and you have the time, you can up your practice time to 90 minutes plus per day!

Jazz may be an arduous style to learn but with dedication it can be done!

So make sure you get excellent tuition – it is really the first step to your jazz success!

We offer students jazz tuition in the City and Mayfair in central London. Find out about our in-house courses here.

Alternatively, you can also explore online jazz Skype piano lessons from anywhere in the world with us.

Even if you do not study with us, find someone great to help you, and stick with a great teacher for at least five years!

That will really help you improve!

jazz playing on an old gramophone

Listening to great jazz with intent will help you get the “jazz feel”!

Whenever a student asks me what is the first step to learning jazz, I always reply: listen, listen, listen.

By immersing yourself in jazz music, you will get a “feel” for jazz!

It is also important to note that listening only to jazz piano is not advised.

Make sure you listen to jazz that features a saxophone, guitar or a voice. (Or any instrument for that matter!)

You want to immerse yourself in the language of jazz playing as a whole.

So listen to lots of different types of jazz.

Listen to jazz played on a vibraphone. Gary Burton is the master of this style!

Or even jazz harp and harpsichord – see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5gspuW2X_dw

It is amazing what is possible if you search and listen!

Make sure you listen to lots and lots of jazz!

In fact, during my University years when I studied jazz, I made a point of ONLY listening to jazz during my first year of studies.

I desperately needed to get acquainted with the style in order to excel with my studies.

Growing up I listened to classical music and rock…

Jazz is rhythmically the polar opposite of these styles and that is why you need to listen, listen and listen some more!

So take out your favourite device and create a repertoire of jazz to listen to!

jazz pianist improvising

Improvisation requires a complete understanding of chords, progressions and how to play through them!

Learning to improvise is definitely a wonderful experience.

In the early days, you should look at the blues scale as well as the pentatonic scale and start with easy improvisation.

As your experience grows, move to more intricate harmonic movements and expand your knowledge.

Learning how to improvise well, requires a complete understanding of harmony, melody and how they interact.

At a master level, you basically become a composer on the spot!

That means, you need to have a very large selection of melodic devices and options at your disposal in order to create melodies on the spot.

That is why it is difficult!

Doable? Absolutely, but it requires time, effort and application!

jazz pianist comping

Comping is the art of jazz accompaniment

The art of accompaniment in jazz, is an aspect of jazz performance that is difficult to master.

When we first learn how to play an instrument, we usually focus on being heard and on the art of improvisation.

When you accompany others in a jazz setting, your role as a jazz pianist is to very subtly provide a solid harmonic and rhythmic background for others to solo over.

This requires humility, teamwork and a willingness to let others shine!

When you comp (accompany) in jazz, the secret is to make the soloist or singer sound great.

You need to really listen to their improvisation or singing and then accompany accordingly.

You should make it easy for them to improvise or to sing or play the melody.

Your role here is to provide a solid back end – your role is to support!

The best way to learn about jazz comping (accompaniment), is to listen to great jazz playing.

Count Basie was one of the greatest jazz pianists and leaders in big band jazz.

Did you know he was initially a drummer?

I would highly recommend listening to a lot of Count Basie in order to get an understanding of how to comp sparsely. (His rhythmic and timing abilities are uncanny!)

You can also listen to Herbie Hancock and McCoy Tyner, as they both have a more aggressive style of accompaniment.

You can learn a tremendous amount by listening to both spares and aggressive styles of accompaniment.

Remember jazz is an individual art.

No two jazz players are alike.

Each jazz artist will have his or her own flavour of accompaniment.

In the early days of your jazz education, I would recommend copying the greats and incorporating their ideas into your own playing.

Of course, as an adult jazz piano student, listening to a lot of jazz is the best course of action!

You will find accompaniment and the art of comping very difficult in the early days.

That is why I recommend listening again and again.

By listening, you will develop your ear and learn the art of comping!

Once you have developed a feel for comping, then you can try it out at the piano!

Success comes to those who persevere!

Great jazz

Structure and form is everything in jazz!

In one sense, jazz is very simplistic.

In another sense it is very complex…

If we take the jazz standard “All the things you are” as an example, we note the following:

  • The composition is 32 bars in length
  • The chord structure is based around the cycle of fourths
  • The form is AABA with the last A being a variation
  • The entire composition is a series of II V Is (to a large degree)
  • The composition follows the classic – I IV VII III VI II V I cycle! (The first five bars: VI II V I IV)

The usual practice is to play the melody and then take turns soloing over the form of the song.

The harmonic structure stays exactly the same, the form stays exactly the same. (Throughout multiple solos)

As each instrumentalist gets a chance to improvise, nothing changes in terms of the structure and form.

So from a structural point of view, jazz is super easy. (We do not change the harmony on the second, third, fourth etc… time around!)

Of course, to improvise successfully over the changes, and make beautiful music is really not easy at all!

That is the challenge or game of jazz.

You have a set structure, and you have to improvise over the underlying harmonic changes.

In addition, during a live performance it is easy to lose your place in the structure.

That is why form and structure is everything in jazz.

You need a perfect roadmap of the composition inside your mind’s eye at all times!

5 Steps to starting jazz piano

Five steps to getting started!

Step 1: Listen to jazz

By listening to jazz you are attuning yourself to the sound and feel of jazz.

As a budding jazz piano student, you need to immerse yourself in the language and the culture of jazz.

I would recommend listening to jazz whilst studying the history of jazz.

There is a book by Ted Gioia called “The History of Jazz”. You can purchase that book on Amazon here.

Listen to jazz starting with ragtime and the blues.

After that you can listen to the early 1910s, combining earlier brass-band marches, French quadrilles, biguine, ragtime and blues with collective polyphonic improvisation.

Listen to Dixieland jazz.

Then listen to big-band and swing jazz.

Make sure you listen to Duke Ellington – he was and is a major influence on jazz!

Finally, you can get familiar with what we call “musician’s music” in jazz – Bebop.

Bebop is a musical style that is actually more of an art form then a commercial genre.

As a bebop musician you can showcase your musical talents and improvisational abilities without compromise. In bebop you do not need to only “play for the audience”!

From the 1950s onwards, jazz musicians also expanded harmonic possibilities.

Listen especially to Bill Evans amongst others.

Eventually jazz moved to modality and finally it moved to free jazz.

Free jazz is an avant-garde form of jazz.

Listen to Ornette Coleman

Listen to Sun Ra.

You may not like avant-garde jazz, but do listen to all styles of jazz in order to immerse yourself in the process of learning jazz!

I would recommend taking 15 minutes each day to just listen to jazz! (As part and parcel of your practice regime!)

Step 2: Take good quality jazz piano lessons

Taking jazz piano lessons with an excellent jazz piano teacher is the quickest way to learn how to play jazz!

By studying with a jazz instructor who knows all the ins and outs of jazz, you will make much faster progress than learning by yourself.

At The London Piano Institute, we have world-class jazz piano instructors who specialise in helping adults to learn jazz.

The good news is – you do not need any prior experience.

You also do not need to study classical music prior  to starting jazz.

You can start as a total beginner, and learn the intricacies as well as the simplicities of this beautiful language.

In fact, you can also learn jazz piano with us from anywhere in the world. (Provided you have a reasonable internet connection!)

We provide jazz piano lessons globally via Skype and Facetime.

The greatest thing about learning to play jazz with a top-notch instructor is that you feel supported.

You feel that someone is there for you every step of the way!

(In contrast, learning jazz by yourself is like stumbling in the dark… it is not fun and it’s not easy!)

When you study jazz piano with an expert, then you can expect results and make fast progress!

You can find out more about our jazz piano courses here.

Step 3: Learn jazz cycles

Everything in jazz is based on cycles.

Become a master of the I IV VII III VI II V I progression and you master jazz!

You see, jazz is quite predictable!

Jazz is actually easy, once you get the mechanics sorted!

Yes, making beautiful music takes lots of wisdom, time and experience.

It is not really complex.

But you do need a working understanding of chords, arpeggios and scales and how they relate over and across the different harmonic cycles.

Master the cycles and you master jazz! (Eventually!)

Step 4: Get to know the blues

The blues is a predecessor to jazz.

Blues and jazz have lots in common.

As a jazz player, you need to understand blues.

In my opinion, learning to play blues is a lot easier than learning to play jazz.

It is probably wise to start with the C Blues Scale.

The notes are: C Eb F Gb G Bb (Fingering: 1234 13 for the right-hand)

In the left hand play a simple blues tritone: E and Bb (Play the notes at the same time, and make sure it is not too muddy or too low on the piano!)

You can then play that simple tritone (representing the chord C Dominant 7 or C E G Bb) and improvise using the C Blues Scale.

Do not worry about sounding fantastic, just give it a go.

If you give it a go, you will get a little closer to what it feels like to improvise!

Small baby steps in the beginning is the key to becoming better!

Do not expect miracles or overnight success….

Stick at it, follow your teacher and do your daily practice!

Remember, only practice on the days that you eat!

Step 5: Make the standards your best friends!

Once you have made some progress in your jazz playing then it is time to get to know the standards.

Jazz standards are made up of a compilation of famous show tunes (and other tunes) that have become “standards” in jazz repertoire over decades.

You should find the I VI VIII III VI II V I cycle prominent throughout a lot of jazz standards.

I recommend buying the following book: The Hal Leonard Real Jazz Standards Fake Book: C Edition 

According the Amazon:

This second edition features a magnificent compilation of over 250 standards of jazz repertoire in new easy-to-read authentic hand-written jazz engravings, including: Ain’t Misbehavin’ * Angel Eyes * Bein’ Green * Blue Skies * Brazil * Crazy He Calls Me * Desafinado (Off Key) * Fever * Good Morning Heartache * Here’s That Rainy Day * How High the Moon * I Can’t Give You Anything but Love * I Got It Bad and That Ain’t Good * I’ll Be Around * I’m Beginning to See the Light * I’ve Grown Accustomed to Her Face * Imagination * It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing) * It’s Only a Paper Moon * Just in Time * Lazy River * Midnight Sun * My Favorite Things * My Funny Valentine * Mood Indigo * Moonglow * Moon River * Old Devil Moon * People * Route 66 * Satin Doll * Sophisticated Lady * Speak Low * Star Dust * There Is No Greater Love * When Sunny Gets Blue * Witchcraft * and more.

They are basically over 250 songs in the book.

Of course, when learning you do not need to get to know 250 tunes!

But you do need to get familiar with some of the most famous jazz standards such as:

– How High the Moon
– Ain’t Misbehavin’
– My Funny Valentine
– Here’s That Rainy Day
– Autumn Leaves
– Speak Low
– All the Things You Are
– The Girl From Ipanema

Once you master the tools of the jazz trade, then it is time to apply the concepts over the tunes!

As you can see, learning to play jazz is a tremendous amount of hard work.

The secret is approaching it as a fascinating journey!

Take the first step and the rest will follow!

Make sure you learn how to play jazz with an excellent instructor!

Once again you can find details about what we provide here.

I would like to remind you again – listen listen listen – jazz is all about developing your ear and getting an understanding of the structure and form of the particular repertoire in question.

I wish you the greatest success in your jazz quest!

May you achieve all your dreams!

Group lessons are a fantastic way to learn how to play the piano. In this article discover the benefits of group piano lessons!

Group piano class
Students learning how to play the piano in a group class and having a lot of fun at the same time!

In this article, you will discover why group piano lessons is well worth your time. Yes, one-to-one lesson do have some clear advantages, but so do group classes. In a group you develop your ensemble skills, musical ear and you can learn from other people’s playing. So without further ado, here’s why you should seriously consider group piano tuition.

Group piano lessons are both fun, educative and super-rewarding!

Make sure you join a group piano course with us sooner than later and make your boldest piano dreams come true!

Learn to listen

During your group piano lessons, you have to listen to your fellow classmates in the group

Learning to listen to others whilst playing your own piano past is a crucial skill that can be especially useful when playing in an ensemble or group format.

During the group classes at the London Piano Institute, I often ask the class to play the major scales (and minors) all at once. Of course one scale at a time, but through all 12 keys.

I usually count in the class and then each individual will play the scale over two octaves at the same time.

It may seem like an easy exercise, however, each participant has to play the correct sequence of notes in perfect timing to each other.

This is a brilliant exercise in ear training!

In order to form a harmonious sound and to play in time everyone has to participate.

A true exercise in ear training that will help you understand music so much more!

music score

You get to know music theory so much more…

In a one-to-one piano lesson there is rarely time for proper music theory education.

I have found that due to the nature of group piano lessons, it is so much easier to integrate music theory as well as harmony.

Music theory is a crucial part of learning the piano. Remember confidence breeds competence.

By understanding the inner workings of music better, you will have a much better understanding of each piano composition you play.

You will be more confident and your playing more competent.

timetable

You will benefit from rescheduling advantages in your group piano course

At the London Piano Institute, we generally allow 2 lessons to be rescheduled on the condition that 72 hours notice have been provided (per quarter).

In our group piano classes we have more flexible policy.

You can replace any lesson (up to max 3 per quarter) with another group class at a similar level.

Alternatively, you can also request an online home-study lesson instead. (where available).

Due to the nature of group piano lessons, we are able to provide you with more flexibility.

Please remember, at the London Piano Institute, we always try to be as accommodating as possible.

We aim to give you the smoothest possible course experience.

Group of friends

You get to meet interesting people who shares a common passion – the piano!

By learning to play the piano in a group format you get to meet amazing people from literally all walks of life.

In our piano group classes we have lawyers, doctors, writers, actors, chefs, personal assistants, art directors, photographers, accountants, students, fellow musicians, investors, traders, business owners, singers and people from all walks of life.

It is a wonderful opportunity for you to learn to play the piano and make new friends in London who share a common passion.

After your piano lesson, you can even go out to a restaurant and enjoy a great meal together …music is wonderful!

Music brings us together and makes the world a much better place!

Another great reason for you to join a fun, educative and exciting group piano class!

Metronome pocketwatch

You drastically improve your timing and ability to play in time with others

By learning to play the piano in a group format you drastically improve your musical time keeping abilities.

The ability to play in time with other musicians is simply indispensable!

By studying in a group format, you automatically improve your timing skills.

During your weekly group piano lessons, you will have to play scales, arpeggios, compositions with your fellow class mates in time.

By having to play exercises in an ensemble (group) format, your timing capabilities improve week upon week.

In addition, at the London Piano Institute we work with a metronome.

A metronome is a time-keeping device patented in 1815 by Johann Maelzel as a tool for musicians, under the title “instrument /machine for the improvement of all musical performance called Metronome”.

You can also discover metronomic advice in following article: How to practice the piano with a metronome.

You can download a high-quality metronome app here.

Lady sight-reading a piano score

You drastically improve your sight-reading

Learning how to sight-read properly is one of the most important aspects of becoming a pianist.

A good sight-reader enjoys playing the piano so much more!

With great sight-reading skills, you can simply pick up a piano composition at will, and play it to a reasonable standard at first glance.

During your group piano lessons you will often have to sight-read easy piano compositions in a group format.

This is particularly effective as you have to read the score on sight with your fellow classmates without the option of correcting mistakes. (This is part and parcel of sight-reading, you fix your mistakes in the next piece!)

The reason for this is the fact that you perform and practice together in a group and you cannot stop as you will hold up the entire group.

This is the correct method of practicing sight-reading and at the London Piano Institute we take great pride in always helping all our students learn the right habits and techniques from day one!

Gramophone

You will develop a keen musical ear

During your group piano lessons at the London Piano Institute, you will be introduced to a wide range of musical styles including classical, jazz and pop.

As you will often perform and practice these styles together in a group format, you will develop a very keen musical ear.

A solid musical ear will help you with all your future musical development.

Whilst learning to play the piano in a group format, you will at times play the bass or lower notes on the piano.

At times you will play the mid-range harmony and at times the high-range melody.

So in a nutshell, you will be introduced to the entire range of the instrument.

This indispensable experience will help you develop a very keen musical ear!

You will also play through all the primary musical scales, giving you a solid head start in your piano education and development.

Working in a team

You learn how to work in a team!

By studying the piano in a group, you will learn the all-essential skills of working properly in a team.

In a team, you have to be patient and work with others in an effective and harmonious way.

You will learn a lot about teamwork during your weekly group piano lessons.

At times, you will be frustrated and impatient during your piano lessons.

Perhaps you will struggle to play a certain passage in time with the rest of the group.

Once again, this provides you with an opportunity to improve your communication and team skills.

It’s amazing, isn’t it?

Group piano lessons is simply wonderful, helping you with essential skills and to fulfil your musical passion!

Women performing on the piano

You learn the skill of performing in front of a live audience

Playing in front of an audience can be a very daunting experience.

Most people do not have a fantastic time when they perform for the first time.

This is due to a lack of skill and knowledge of how to perform!

In a group setting, you will get numerous opportunities to perform live in front of your fellow class mates.

You will practice the art of performing in front of others in a non-judgmental and ‘easy’ setting.

This will prepare you for more formal performance opportunities at a later stage. (If that is your cup of tea!)

Patience is a virtue

You cultivate patience and perseverance

By learning to play the piano in a group, you will cultivate lots of patience and perseverance.

Developing these virtues are of the utmost importance for your future music development.

You will definitely need lots of patience and perseverance when you attempt to learn a more difficult piece at the piano repertoire.

That is why cultivating patience and perseverance is absolutely essential for your piano success.

How will you develop patience during your weekly group class?

You will develop patience and perseverance in the following ways :

  • When playing scales with your fellow class mates in harmony and time.
  • When waiting for your turn to play your composition
  • When you struggle with a passage and you have to perform it in front of your class mates
  • When someone in the group is a little behind (of course if someone is too slow for the group we will arrange another course …..not to hold the class up)
  • During your private practice
  • When playing compositions in harmony with your fellow class mates

The fact of the matter is that it takes time and input to become better.

The time factor is why patience is so important.

By learning in a group, you automatically develop patience and perseverance.

If you are serious about learning the piano, then you must cultivate these most-important virtues.

With them, you can conquer mountains and make your boldest music dreams come true!

Apply to join

How to join one of our exciting piano group courses

If you want to join one of our exciting, fun and educative group piano courses here are the steps:

  1. Contact Stefan our manager at enrol@londonpianoinstitute.co.uk with subject line: “group piano course”.
  2. You will receive a reply within 1-2 working days. (With the above subject line probably on the same day where possible)
  3. Stefan will send you full course details. In a nutshell, it is £185 per calendar month for 4 x 60 minutes and there is also a one-time registration fee of £95 payable upon joining.
  4. Once you have selected the group class that suits, your class will usually start the following week where possible.

The whole process is quite straightforward and the entire enrolment process is taken care of for you.

Remember you do not need any prior experience. You are very welcome as a total beginner!

Finally we hope to provide you with outstanding piano instruction that will be a life-long gift to you!

You can join at anytime during the year – so contact us now.

The II V I progression is the harmonic motor of jazz music! Jazz harmony is based on the cycle of fourths and II V Is are the king of fourths… Understand the II V I and you understand jazz!

Pianist playing jazz

Let’s face it.

Jazz is a style of music that moves in cycles and is quite predictable from a harmonic point of view.

Even though chord movements in jazz are predictive and reasonably straightforward, many melodic and harmonic variations can be created on the spot. So within a predictive and ‘set’ framework we have freedom to make things less predictive and more colourful!

Most of the progressions in jazz moves in the cycle of fourths. The II V I is the most important progression, and knowing how to improvise and use this progression intimately is of paramount importance to your jazz piano playing!

The chord progressions and movements of Johann Sebastian Bach is also very similar to jazz compositions. (Bach is a big fan of harmonic cycles!)

The wonderful pianist Jacques Loussier has demonstrated this throughout his musical career!

Cycles, cycles and more cycles… study cycles and YOU will understand the internal motor of jazz!

Jacques Loussier Play Bach Trio - Jazzwoche Burghausen 2007

The II V I progression is derived from the cycle of fourth progression through the tone center!

Knowing your keys inside out is a must!

If you want to become a competent jazz pianist, you have to know your keys – yes all 12 of them!

I frequently ask my students to say and play the following cycle throughout all 12 keys: (The Cycle Of Fourths Diatonic Progression)

  • I Major 7
  • IV Major 7
  • VII Minor 7b5
  • III Minor 7
  • VI Minor 7
  • II Minor 7
  • V Dominant 7 (Final tension)
  • I Major 7 (Back home – resolving the tritone!)

In the key of C Major this would be:

  • C Major 7 or I Major 7
  • F Major 7 or IV Major 7
  • B Minor 7b5 or VII Minor 7b5
  • E Mnor 7 or III Minor 7
  • A Minor 7 or VI Minor 7
  • D Minor 7 or II Minor 7
  • G Dominant 7 or V Dominant 7 (V7)
  • Then back home to C Major 7 or I Major 7

It is basically playing harmonies through a key in the cycle of fourths (within that key or tone center).

As a jazz pianist you need to know this progression in all it’s inversions throughout the piano.

By doing this essential groundwork, you will internalise all 12 keys (eventually) and drastically improve your ability to improvise over chord changes!

Take a look at the last three chords in the Cycle of Fourths Diatonic Progression:

  • II Minor 7th
  • V Dominant 7th
  • I Major 7th

That means that the movement of the cycle of fourths throughout a tone center will have the II V I as it’s final set of chords!

Also, it is vital that you also look at this part of the progression:

  • IV Major 7th
  • VII Minor 7th b5
  • III Minor 7th

From a superimposed point of view, we can also see this as:

  • II Minor 9th (Rootless)
  • V Dominant 9th (Rootless)
  • I Major 9th (Rootless)

As you may know, playing the bass or root note is not always necessary in jazz as the wonderful bass player will take care of this important task!

Study the Cycle of Fourths Diatonic Progression and you will definitely get much better at this wonderful musical language called jazz!

A visual diagram of the Cycle of Fourths Diatonic Progression:

I recommend that you study the diagram below and try to play the chords on your piano.

Remember, actually trying it will always beat just reading about it!

You will also need to get the sound of the progression into your musical ear!

II V I Cycle of Fourth Progression
One of the most important progressions in jazz!

Why is the II V I progression so prominent in jazz?

Why is the II V I progression so prominent in jazz piano and jazz playing?

What makes it so special???

At the very essence it has certain harmonic factors that needs to be considered.

  • The II Minor 7th is basically a sub-dominant function chord that PRECEDES the dominant chord.
  • The V Dominant 7th is the dominant chord containing the tritone which cries out for resolution. (Hence why the Superlocrian mode works so well or the half-whole scale!)
  • The I Major 7th is the home key or the final resolution!

All chord progressions in tonal music follows this sequence to some degree:

HOME – AWAY FROM HOME – TENSION – RELEASE (BACK HOME)

That is the way music works!

The II V I progression allows for a chromatic bass line with the tritone substitute dominant chord

Another quality that is inherent in the II V I progression is for us to create a II bII I progression.

This is an optional step – used by lots and lots of jazz musicians to add a little extra flavour in their II V Is!

Bear with me a little…

I know it is not bII but rather tritone substitute dominant 7th to I.

I’m just writing it in the above manner to make understanding a little easier!

The traditional II V I:

D Minor 7

G Dominant 7 (Contains T2 or F and B)

C Major 7

The tri-tone substitute II V I:

D Minor 7

Db Dominant 7b5 (Contains T2 or F and B)

C Major 7

The basic II V I progression on the piano in the key of C Major:

The II chord – D Minor 7th:

Description: The subdominant part of the cadential progression. The chord the precedes the dominant tension chord. 

Jazz players will often play a F Major 7 as a substitute chord to get D Minor 9 (with no root). Remember the bass player takes care of the root.

The chord diagram below contains the basic ‘vanilla’ voicing of the chord – the actual root position D Minor 7:

D Minor 7 - II

The V chord – G Dominant 7th:

Description: The dominant part of the cadential progression. The G7 chord contains the tritone. I call this particular tritone T2. The notes are F and B. Basically the 4th and 7th degree of the C Major scale… The tritone SCREAMS for resolution. That’s why we can often go ‘wild’ with our improvisational ideas on the V7 chord!

Jazz players will often play a B Minor 7b5 as a substitute chord to get G9 (with no root). Remember the bass player takes care of the root.

The chord diagram below contains the basic ‘vanilla’ voicing of the chord – the actual root position G Dominant 7:

G Dominant 7th - V Chord

The I chord – C Major 7th:

Description: The tonic (HOME) part of the cadential progression. The I Major 7 chord represents home: a place of security, a place of rest, a place of arrival. 

Jazz players will often play a E Minor 7 as a substitute chord to get C Major 9 (with no root). Remember the bass player takes care of the root.

The chord diagram below contains the basic ‘vanilla’ voicing of the chord – the actual root position C Major 7:

C Major 7th - I Chord

Real music examples with II V I: using the structure of jazz blues as a study of II V!

II V I in Jazz Blues

Exhibit 1 – G Minor 7 to C7 resolving to F7:

The standard 12 bar jazz blues progression is a wonderful basis for the study of II V I progressions.

Let’s consider the move from bar 4 to bar 5 – called exhibit 1.

In bar 5 we are resolving to the IV chord. In exhibit 1 we have a II V moving to the IV7 chord progression.

The correct analysis here is II of V7 of IV and then V7 of IV (A secondary dominant chord).

A perfect II V I resolution resolving into the IV chord of the blues!

Exhibit 2 – E Minor 7b5 to A7b9 to D Minor 7:

Let’s consider the move from bar 8 to bar 9 – called exhibit 2.

In bar 9 we are resolving to the II Minor 7 chord. In exhibit 2 we have a minor II V moving to the II Minor 7 chord.

The correct analysis here is II Minor 7b5 of V7 of II and then V7 of II (Another secondary dominant chord).

A perfect II V I resolution resolving into the II Minor chord!

Exhibit 3 – D Minor 7 to G7 to C7:

Let’s consider the move from bar 9 to bar 10 – called exhibit 3.

In bar 10 we are resolving to the I7 chord. In exhibit 3 we have the diatonic II V moving to the I7 chord.

A perfect DIATONIC II V resolution resolving into the I7 chord!

Exhibit 4 – D Minor 7 to G7 to C7:

Let’s consider the move from bar 12 to bar 1 – called exhibit 4.

In bar 1 we are resolving to the I7 chord. In exhibit 4 we have the diatonic II V moving to the I7 chord.

A perfect DIATONIC II V resolution resolving into the I7 chord!

A great example of history repeating itself!

II V I tritone sub in Jazz Blues

Exhibit 1 – G Minor 7 to Gb7b5 resolving to F7:

Tritone substitution creates chromatic bass movements and they can really make your jazz/blues playing a lot more interesting!

Please note that the tritone of C7 and Gb7 (I call this one T1) is ACTUALLY the same – the notes are E and Bb!

Let’s consider the move from bar 4 to bar 5 – called exhibit 1.

In bar 5 we are resolving to the IV chord. In exhibit 1 we have a II tritone sub V moving to the IV7 chord progression.

The correct analysis here is II of V7 of IV and then tritone sub V7 of IV (A tritone sub secondary dominant chord).

A perfect II tritone sub V I resolution resolving into the IV chord of the blues!

Exhibit 2 – E Minor 7b5 to A7b9 to D Minor 7:

Let’s consider the move from bar 8 to bar 9 – called exhibit 2.

In bar 9 we are resolving to the II Minor 7 chord. In exhibit 2 we have a minor II V moving to the II Minor 7 chord.

The correct analysis here is II Minor 7b5 of V7 of II and then V7 of II (Another secondary dominant chord).

A perfect II V I resolution resolving into the II Minor chord!

Exhibit 3 – D Minor 7 to Db7b5 to C7:

Let’s consider the move from bar 9 to bar 10 – called exhibit 3.

In bar 10 we are resolving to the I7 chord. In exhibit 3 we have the diatonic II  tritone sub V moving to the I7 chord.

A perfect DIATONIC II tritone sub V resolution resolving into the I7 chord!

Please take note again the tritone (F and B) belongs to Db7b5 and G7. (They share the same tritone… I call it T2!)

Exhibit 4 – D Minor 7 to Db7b5 to C7:

Let’s consider the move from bar 9 to bar 10 – called exhibit 4.

In bar 10 we are resolving to the I7 chord. In exhibit 4 we have the diatonic II  tritone sub V moving to the I7 chord.

A perfect DIATONIC II tritone sub V resolution resolving into the I7 chord!

Please take note again the tritone (F and B) belongs to Db7b5 and G7. (They share the same tritone… I call it T2!)

ONCE AGAIN: A great example of history repeating itself!

In conclusion

Jazz is a complex style with cyclical underlying harmonic structure. The secret to really becoming accomplished at playing jazz is to thoroughly internalise the important cycles such as II V I or I VI II V or III VI II V.

This requires dedication, study and introspection.

The language of the cycles needs to become second nature if you want to learn how to make serious progress in your jazz playing going forward.

Remember the old saying “Rome was not build in a day”… therefore give yourself LOTS of time and space to explore and you will get there!

The more time you spend with a free open mind whilst practicing, the quicker you will see results and improvement in your own jazz performance.

I wish you the best of success with your jazz journey!

The best application for practicing your II V Is:

I highly recommend iRealPro as a serious practice tool for any budding jazz pianist!

You simply cannot afford to practice without this amazing tool.

In fact, now that it is available, jazz is no longer a secret… Now EVERYONE can learn how to play jazz!

The only barrier to entry is practice, practice and some more practice!

Make sure you get the iRealPro application right now and drastically improve your jazz piano improvisation and comping!

I also highly recommend Frank Mantooth’s voicings for jazz keyboard

Frank Mantooth is a master at making complex jazz voicings really really easy.

I cannot recommend Frank Mantooth’s material enough.

I really recommend getting his books on jazz voicings as this will really help you with your II V I and overall jazz studies in the future.

Recommended book 1: Voicings for Jazz Keyboard

Recommended book 1: The Best Chord Changes for the World’s Greatest Standards

Frank Mantooth recommends the best chord changes to make learning the best standards really easy! A true gem for any aspiring jazz musician!

Perhaps you are thinking: I would love to learn jazz piano and really become competent at playing jazz!

jazz pianist

Well, you are thinking productive and positive thoughts!

The truth is, excellent jazz piano education is the fastest route to becoming a successful jazz pianist!

Jazz is a tough nut to crack and requires hours and hours of dedication, but I can absolutely assure you that it can be done!

With enough determination and a long time-frame with top-notch jazz piano lessons, you can make your dreams come true!

Do you need prior experience?

Absolutely not!

If you want to learn jazz, you can start immediately even if you have never ever played a note in your life!

All that you need is passion, a willingness to learn and the ability to continue through testing times!

Playing jazz is great… it is a strict framework but within that framework you have the freedom to TRULY express yourself and improvise and play in waves of music!

If you want to know more about our jazz piano courses, please visit our jazz course page here.

Yes, you can improvise! You must simply believe! Discover the first steps towards learning to improvise in this article!

Jazz improvisation

Improvisation is the art of rehashing sequences of melodic and/or harmonic configurations to make your own music up on the spot.

True improvisation is rare.

Most musicians who improvise will rehash licks (melodic fragments), lines (melodic fragments), scales and arpeggios to fit the underlying harmony.

True improvisation happens when a musician moves into the fourth dimension.

The fourth dimension is where the musician literally lose track of time and this earthly realm and play notes that he or she would never usually play in the same musical scenario.

It is as if that musician has lifted the earthly realm and moved (temporarily) into another dimension!

I know it sounds eerie… but it is exactly what happens when TRUE improvisation occurs.

The type of improvisation that we will discuss in this article is more to do with the re-hashing of notes/lines/licks/arpeggios and scales.

Let’s call this basic improvisation.

So without further ado let’s discover how you can learn how to improvise on the piano as a beginner!

Step 1: Play a root note in your left hand – let’s start with the ‘F’ note!

Step 1 play the F note on the piano

To make improvisation sound pleasant to the ear it is always easier with some sort of harmony.

As this article is aimed at beginners, we will start with a very very simple idea.

Just play a low F on the piano and hold that F note down.

If you know how to play an octave, then you can play the F note as an octave to create a stronger harmonic sound.

Step 2: Play up and down all the white notes of the piano

Play all the white notes on the piano and you get the Lydian mode

If you play up and down the piano’s keyboard and ONLY press the white notes whilst holding down the F bass note, you are essentially improvising using a Lydian mode or scale.

The Lydian scale is a very bright and beautiful scale.

It is also a scale that asks questions.

Questions such as: “Why are we here on planet earth?”

“Where is the outer edge of the universe?”….

OK, perhaps I am taking it a bit far, but do try to play it – you will be pleasantly surprised!

It is bright scale with lots of warmth, but unlike the major scale it does not resolve itself completely…

Whenever I play the Lydian mode I am always left with a question mark…

It is very satisfying, but at the same time it speaks of the secrets of the universe!

Enjoy playing around the Lydian scale – you will have a really good time!

Step 3: Learn the blues scale to ramp things up a little!

C Blues scale on the piano

The blues scale is a fantastic scale!

It sounds great and it is pretty easy to make it sound musical!

The blues scale is a 6 note scale consisting out of the following degrees: Root, b3, 4, b5, 5 and b7.

It is a wonderful scale and you can have hours of enjoyment once you get to know it inside out!

If you really want to go all out and start having some fun and improvise, you can also download the following App: https://irealpro.com/

Inside of the song list in irealpro (the App), you should be able to find a tune called “Simple Blues”.

You can use the backing track as your accompaniment and then try to play around with the wonderful blues scale in C!

You need to play the C blues scale with your right hand.

Step 4: Believe in yourself – YOU CAN DO IT!

Women believing in herself!

You may feel a bit ‘silly’ when you

try to improvise at first, but it is vital to give yourself the freedom to make mistakes and give it a go.

You need to let go of controlling the notes and just let your fingers flow.

At first I would recommend playing the notes in any order as you prefer.

Do not worry about sounding great or doing it right.

Just be in the moment and go for it!

If you follow the instructions above you will enjoy the beautiful sound of the F Lydian mode to your heart’s content!

Simply BELIEVE in yourself and do give it a go!

The sky’s the limit and you can do it!

Step 5: Consider taking up some jazz or blues piano lessons to learn the tricks of the trade!

Learn in London or from anywhere in the world via Skype!

Stefan Joubert teaching jazz piano to Nevine at the London Piano Institute in Mayfair

 

Learning to improvise at an advanced level requires excellent piano education.

You need to understand quite a bit of musical theory (in a nice way!) and you need someone who can teach it to you in an easy-to-understand manner.

At the London Piano Institute we offer piano improvisation classes for beginners who have always wanted to learn how to improvise.

We also believe that absolutely any adult can learn how to improvise and that you do not need any prior experience or ‘talent’. (Actually we believe that you ARE talented!)

If you want to find out more about our jazz or blues improvisation options, please view the following pages:

Remember contrary to popular belief, you do NOT need any prior experience.

You can learn jazz WITHOUT knowing anything about the instrument at all.

Yes, learning jazz properly will require time and effort and self-study, but it is absolutely possible!

Allow yourself the freedom to do what YOU have always wanted to do!

Give it a go and learn how to improvise as an adult beginner today!

Please contact us to find out more about our improvisation piano classes.

The importance of taking your piano lessons weekly. Why you need to persist and persevere to become the pianist YOU want to be!

Beginner-Piano-Course-with-Celine-Gaurier-Joubert-in-London-Mayfair

Taking weekly piano lessons is the best way for you to make SERIOUS improvement in your piano playing!

At the London Piano Institute we offer excellent quality weekly piano lessons in London.

It is our utmost desire to help YOU as an adult succeed at playing the piano and we will do everything in our power to help you learn!

Success is build upon a solid foundation.

We do not neglect important foundational elements.

We want to help you learn and get ‘there’ as quick as possible, without compromising quality!

In this article, you will discover why weekly piano lessons is paramount.

Learning how to play the piano is something that many adults want to do!

Women dreaming of flying

In my daily teaching studio, I often hear adults tell me: “I have always wanted to learn the piano! It was a dream and finally, I can make it a reality!”.

I personally think it is wonderful to hear someone pursue their dreams!

We have one life and we have to make the most of the time that we have and definitely DO SOMETHING just for us!

If you are considering piano lessons, then you absolutely need to read this article.

In today’s world we get bombarded with information and how-to-instructions!

You may have watched several YouTube piano tutorials and even tried to play a little by yourself.

What we lack is good-old-fashioned world-class piano instruction and that is what we have set out to offer you at the London Piano Institute!

So without further ado, lets go right into the reasons why you need to take piano lessons with an excellent piano teacher in order to become proficient at playing the piano!

Weekly piano lessons with a great teacher can motivate you and help you with your piano-workout discipline!

Lady training with weights

Learning how to play the piano requires a frustrating component (for some) called practice!

If you want to get better at playing the piano, you will absolutely need to practice and put in the required time to improve.

Practising piano is not always fun!

It is sometimes boring and at times downright frustrating!

If you play the same piece for the umpteenth time and make the same mistakes over and over again, you WILL feel like pulling your hair out!

However, do not despair!

If you have a great piano teacher who provides you with excellent piano instruction, you can simply ask him or her what to do!

Tell them you are frustrated and share your feelings…

If they are any good, they will DEFINITELY motivate you to get better!

Of course, whining does not help, you should only speak to him or her if things are tough. (In that manner)

A great teacher will then remind you that every single pianist in the world has been at EXACTLY the same place again and again.

Frustration and hard work is part of the process of becoming a pianist.

You do not become a pianist without working really hard and developing excellent habits to conquer the complex world of playing music!

What a great teacher will do for you here is to get you to believe in yourself again and take up the baton and start practising again!

So the motivation that you will get from excellent piano lessons are of itself of tremendous value!

Weekly piano lessons will help you develop the correct technique, habits and mindset

Hands on a grand piano

Playing the piano requires a proper technical foundation.

Without a proper technical foundation, the building will crumble. (In this case your piano playing)

By studying the piano with an excellent piano teacher you will learn how to sit correctly, play correctly, move your hands correctly and so much more!

You cannot hope to learn this by yourself on YouTube!

It is too complex and it requires the input of a professional who has spend years learning the art and craft of piano playing!

You need a SOLID technique and that can only be acquired with the help of an excellent piano instructor during your piano lessons!

By taking weekly piano lessons you are committing to the process of learning the piano

process

Learning how to play the piano is a process that takes time and effort.

By attending weekly piano lessons with a great piano teacher, you are showing that you are a committed individual and that you are taking it seriously!

My very best piano students study with me at least twice on a weekly basis.

Some of our students at the London Piano Institute even attends classes on a DAILY basis.

Is this overkill?

I personally do not think so!

If you want to improve your playing you need quality input.

You need excellent weekly tuition.

You may not have enough time to attend on a daily basis, but once per week should be the bare minimum if you want to see serious results.

Of course, attend your weekly piano lessons is commendable, but you also need to attend your daily private piano practice if you want to see results!

You will increase your piano playing incrementally on a weekly basis (until it explodes!)

pianist

Do not be fooled!

We do not make progress in life with one big change and suddenly see the success that we’ve always wanted to see.

No, real change happens day by day.

“We are what we repeatedly do!” the great philosopher Aristotle said about 1700 years ago!

The key word here is: “repeatedly”.

By taking weekly piano lessons, you are creating the best possible environment for you to thrive as a piano student!

Sure, it will take time, effort and great education, but by showing up to your piano lessons on a weekly basis you will definitely make great progress!

One of the reasons why we (generally) do not allow a lesson per fortnight in our standard courses at the London Piano Institute is because we know that it generally does not work well.

We have discovered over the years that it is the weekly appointment in person or via Skype that makes all the difference.

The truth is, anybody can learn how to play the piano.

All you need is excellent piano instruction on a weekly basis and the ability to practice what is necessary on a daily basis.

Everything else is superfluous!

After some years of arduous study, you will play the piano!

It is basically a mechanical process.

It requires dedication, effort, and weekly input!

Weekly piano lessons will help you to benefit from EXCEPTIONAL growth!

Growth

Your primary goal when it comes to learning how to play the piano is to get better at playing the piano!

By taking weekly piano lessons with an excellent piano academy in London you are proactively choosing to become a better pianist.

Weekly piano lessons will help you benefit from exceptional growth.

Exceptional growth happens when apply yourself wholeheartedly at every lesson with your piano teacher.

Missing lessons, rescheduling appointments is not the way to grow.

The secret is attending every week of the year… yes up to 52 weeks a year if possible. (Of course we do take breaks, so in reality you will really receive 48 lessons per year if you attend weekly)

In my opinion if you want to really get explosive piano growth, then you should attend EVERY opportunity at hand.

Be at every concert.

Attend every masterclass.

Participate in every seminar… and throw yourself in with plenty of zeal and zest!

The more passion you apply to your learning the better you will become! (In a shorter period of time)

In conclusion:

Lady thinking

Your piano future is in your hands.

You are the master of your fate.

You decide your limits!

I recommend that you do everything possible to improve.

If you are able to, I suggest attending twice weekly!

My best success stories come from students who see me for 2-3 hours each and every week.

Remember you get out what you put in!

You must make the choice.

YOU must decide to be great!

Success will happen when you choose.

So to conclude: get the best quality piano lessons on a weekly basis to give yourself the BEST chance of becoming the pianist that you deserve to be.

Mix that up with regular, focused practice and the sky is the limit!

Yes, I believe YOU can succeed!

Never, never, never give up! You are closer than you think to your piano success!

Never Give Up - Winston Churchill

Run before you walk

Women running

As humans it’s natural to want to run before we can walk.

Sometimes the bridge just seems too far.

Maybe you’ve come to a point of giving up and are deciding not to cross the bridge at all!

Would you let a fellow student give up?

After you’ve watched her put the time and effort in?

Heard her play well at her level. Seen her happy playing. Watch her stumble at a few blocks.

But you know it can get better for her. Now think of yourself and don’t do it.

You think I can’t do this.

Well, you can.

Take a breather.

Get some perspective and continue.

It is possible to look past the “can’t” and just get on with it.

With a little patience and thought you can go on.

To finish something you started.


Moments of frustration

frustration

Think of something else you learned and had moments of frustration – driving lessons?

Driving is about co-ordination, coordinating multiple facets at a time to get the vehicle from A to B in one piece.

You don’t jump in a car one day and know how to do it.

There is a fundamental practical part to driving but what about all the theory that goes with it.

As an adult that has driven for many years we almost do it on auto-pilot. But you had to start somewhere.

Learning the piano at any stage will be the same rocky road, no one says it will be easy.

A testing one on the ups but a pleasurable one on the downs.

But as we’ve deduced you have chosen to learn this beautiful instrument so keep going, do not throw what you have done so far away.

You will regret it in later years.

You have put so much into it thus far.

Please keep going.

Never give up on a passion.

Or what has become one.

It’s a beautiful skill you have. Many people don’t put the effort in but so wish they could do what you do.


Learning the piano

success

Learning the piano at any stage will be the same rocky road, no one says it will be easy.

A testing one on the ups but a pleasurable one on the downs.

But as we’ve deduced you have chosen to learn this beautiful instrument so keep going, do not throw what you have done so far away.

You will regret it in later years.

You have put so much into it thus far.

Please keep going.

Never give up on a passion.

Or what has become one.

It’s a beautiful skill you have.

Many people don’t put the effort in but so wish they could do what you do.

At the London Piano Institute we always encourage all our students and will do our utmost to help you learn this beautiful immortal instrument.

We have lots of options available for piano courses in London and you can view the course options here.

If you have any questions regarding starting to play the piano and you want to enrol in an adult piano course, simply contact Stefan at enrol@londonpianoinstitute.co.uk

Who knows what the future holds for you? Rachmaninoff, Bach, Chopin, Count Basie or Jelly Roll Morton?

The answer to the question is in your hands… simply NEVER NEVER NEVER give up!


Discover 10 reasons why you really do not need to know anything at all about playing the piano prior to starting out

No prior experience required

There are things we all wish we had started sooner. From learning a new language, taking up a new sport, or mastering a musical instrument – many adults simply don’t try to learn a new skill because they think they’re too old to start as a complete beginner now.

If you’ve been thinking about learning the piano but have been disheartened by a lack of prior experience, here’s the truth: you can start learning the piano at any age.

At the London Piano Institute, we pride ourselves on offering first-class tuition to adults with absolutely no prior experience necessary. Even if you’ve never touched the keys in your life, we can guide you through the steps you need to begin learning the piano, today. If you need more convincing, check out 10 reasons why the piano can be learned by anyone – no experience necessary!

Reason #1 Piano is a skill that simply needs to be learned

Like every new skill, to play the piano you first need to start from the beginning. You don’t need to remember past lessons or attempt to learn the basics by yourself – in fact, this is a sure-fire way to take up more of your time! Whether you are starting as a complete beginner or with a little experience, you still need to go through the same learning process to create the muscle memory need to play the instrument.

A person who learned piano as a child and has forgotten most of the technique is going to have little advantage over a complete beginner in adulthood. All you need to do is apply yourself to learning a new skill, and practice – no matter what age you are and at what level of experience.

Reason #2 – You already have the three most important skills: discipline, focus, and motivation

Adults have a huge advantage over children when it comes to learning the piano in that you are more likely to be at your class out of choice, rather than because your parents are forcing you to go! Beginners are therefore more disciplined with their lessons, more focused on learning, and far more likely to stick to a consistent practice schedule.

With this level of discipline and focus, even with no prior experience you should go from beginner to an experienced player with our expert guidance! (On the condition that you practice!)

Reason #3 – A structured course is perfect for total beginners

You don’t need experience to start learning the piano as an adult, but a structured piano course will do wonders for how quickly you develop your skills. Our piano instruction cuts no corners – you will receive a solid foundation that will take you from the very first introduction to playing the piano, to eventually learning more complicated compositions.

It will take time, but even with no prior experience we guarantee our courses alongside your motivation and regular practice will take you to the level you want to achieve.

Reason #4 – Starting your lessons with no prior experience guarantees better habits

Prior experience is not always a benefit – in fact, improper learning can actually cost you a lot more time and money in the long-run. Having the wrong teacher or trying to self-teach can be a quick way to develop bad habits that are difficult to re-learn. With no prior experience, you’re guaranteed to be taught perfect habits from the beginning with our highly trained teachers!

Reason #5 – Your teacher is a specialist with inexperienced adults

At the London Piano Institute, our lessons are designed specifically for adults. Learning as an adult is different to learning as a child, but our classes are designed to tackle this fact and overcome any obstacles you may face by learning at a later age with no experience.

Our teachers are trained to identify any problems you are having, and to work with you on these before moving on – ensuring you have the solid foundation in playing the piano you need before moving to more complicated lessons.

Reason #6 – Learning piano just needs practice and time

To master the piano, you need to practice repetitively. This helps to create muscle memory and will help the lessons and skills you’re learning really stick in your mind. While prior experience may make this muscle memory return a little quicker, someone without any previous experience is certainly capable of making the same progress – if not better!

Reason #7 – Adults are always capable of learning new skills

Our brains are capable of learning new things throughout the entirety of our lives – those neural connections may be a little slower as an adult, but they’re still perfectly capable of forming! Whether you’re 5 years old or 50, you can pick up the piano as a complete beginner and still make amazing progress with quality instruction.

If you’ve been putting off learning to play the piano because of a lack of experience, don’t let this stop you. Our teachers will guide you through every step, and make sure you’re comfortable with the speed you’re learning at, at all times.

Reason #8 – You can learn anywhere, anytime

Have you been meaning to pick the piano up, but can’t find a good teacher local to you? Well, now you have no excuse! We provide Skype and Facetime lessons that allow us to teach our students wherever they may be in the world. With classes specifically designed adult learners, you can start learning the piano today and be well on your way to gaining valuable experience in the instrument – even if you’re a total beginner.

Reason # 9 – Age can be an advantage

If you’ve got a genre in music that inspired you to start learning the piano, you may have an advantage even with no prior experience! It will surprise you how quickly you can identify tunes and even scales in well-loved songs, and even with no technical experience you may still find some elements of learning the piano familiar to you.

Reason #10 – Dedicated beginner lessons for adults

The London Piano Institute is one of the only schools that takes on students at any level of experience. Our teachers are trained to deliver dedicated instruction at whatever level and depth you need – so even if you’ve never touched a piano before, we’ve helped many others in the same situation develop the skills they need and to successfully learn to play the piano.

Whether you’re a complete beginner with no prior experience, or have had a few piano lessons in the past, at the London Piano Institute we pride ourselves on providing a quality piano instruction that will help you build a solid foundation of the instrument with great habits, and eventually move on to beautiful, more complex compositions.

No matter what level of experience you are at, our teachers are able to assess your needs and ensure you’re receiving the right tuition for you. Get in touch with us to book your first ever piano lesson today!

Find out more about our piano courses for absolute beginners

If you are ready to start and you want to learn how to play the piano with the correct technique, sound and posture – please do contact us here.

You can also visit the following pages to find out more:

» See our special message for absolute beginner piano students here

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10 Pertinent reasons why you should take up group piano lessons!

Group piano lesson in the City of London

A group piano lesson in the City of London with Stefan Joubert

There are several fundamental benefits to why you should consider group piano lessons, though it primarily comes down to the stimulation and interaction that is generated in such group environments. Studies have shown that students in group learning environments tend to thrive faster than those working alone. Generally speaking, this can allow for a higher level of critical thinking and problem solving, while helping build performance skills and confidence. This article observes 10 reasons why you should consider group piano lessons.

Reason #1 – In a group piano class, you will learn new perspectives

Throughout your experience as a piano student, you’ll slowly and gradually develop your own approaches to playing the piano. This will be supervised by a piano teacher that is there to guide you through his/her own knowledge and experience. While this may often times work well, there are other ways to thrive faster and more effectively. Group piano lessons can help you learn through the perspectives and approaches of other students. In a group environment one has access to the learning successes and mistakes of other students. As such, you can improve your own regiment through the learning experiences of others while evaluating learning approaches in a variety of ways.

Reason #2 – You will develop consistency in your piano playing!

As with most things, an essential aspect of becoming a more proficient pianist involves frequent practice. We all have different schedules and different priorities, and it may sometimes be difficult to develop self-discipline to practice consistently. Taking group piano lessons tends to motivate students to prioritize attending classes and practicing (as most will not want to lag behind their peers).

Reason #3 – Bypass the monotony of practicing alone!

Practicing piano by yourself is a necessary process in every pianist’s journey. This, however, can at times become a monotonous activity with little stimulation. Group piano lessons can help bypass the monotony of practicing alone, and can also be highly motivational. Because of the social aspect of group piano lessons, you always have access to other players around to discuss issues whenever you’re struggling with something.

Reasons #4 – Find peers in your piano group class to emulate

One of the biggest advantages of taking group piano lessons is that you are able to study with other students who may inspire you to become a more proficient player. This can happen from a variety of factors: you may be inspired by another student’s approach to learning, technique, phrasing, or combination thereof. Being inspired by another player is a good thing, but learning together with that player is even better. Being around that player in a group piano lesson environment will allow you to mimic and emulate strong players around you, and this will make you a better musician.

Reason #5 – Improve your speed and quality of learning through the group class experience

Group piano lessons not only allow you to give and receive feedback on your playing, it also allows you to hear feedback on the playing of your peers. Through this dialogue, one can challenge assumptions, share diverse experiences, debate learning practices, and pool together knowledge and skills. On the other hand, if you practice piano by yourself you will always approach piano playing from the same perspective. Although this may at times be fine, having access to new perspectives can help you learn things quicker and more effectively. This will lead you to think in more depth about your own position within the group. As a result, you’ll develop critical thinking skills while developing your performance practice.

Reason #6 – Group piano lessons is an encouraging and challenging environment

In a group piano lesson environment, students will often encourage each other, and will also challenge each other as well. Encouragement usually happens when lower level students witness the accomplishments of higher-level students. Students will also share personal opinions and goals. They will talk about their own experiences, successes, and struggles in the learning process. This is a great way to learn tips and tricks. Students tend to get caught up in the collective learning pace of the group, and get inspired to work at the pace others are working.

Reason #7 – Accountability

If you know others are relying on you, then you will do what you have to do to get the job done. As such, it becomes difficult to procrastinate in the group piano lesson environment. When taking piano lessons alone, students may often lack the initiative or motivation to practice. When in a group piano environment, other students will often hold you accountable if you fail to attend class or practice. This often helps motivate students who may need the extra push.

Reason #8 – You will learn more about yourself and your ‘hidden’ piano talents and abilities!

Learning in a group piano environment will allow you to identify your own strengths and weaknesses. Sharing experience and knowledge in a group setting will not only help you develop your own piano skills, it will help you better understand what, how, and why certain practices make you a better pianist. This enhanced self-awareness will sharpen your overall approach to learning and performing on the piano.

Reason #9 – Learning to play the piano in a group builds confidence

Learning and playing the piano in a group setting will allow you to practice and perform in front of other people. We tend to use music as a form of expression and communication. As such, becoming comfortable with playing in front of others is an essential aspect of learning to play any instrument. Although this is usually harder for music students that practice alone, in a group setting this becomes an organic process.

Reason #10 – Group piano lessons are cheaper than individual lessons without losing quality!

A practical thing about group piano lessons is that they are cheaper than individual lessons. Group piano lessons give you access to a piano teacher as well as feedback and knowledge from other students in the room without having to make a big financial commitment.

Find out more about what the London Piano Institute offers in terms of group piano tuition

If you are ready to start and you want to learn all the basics of playing the piano in a formidable group setting, please do contact us here.

You can also visit the following pages to find out more:

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Discover famous individuals who also play the piano!

Grand piano in a hall

Here at the London Piano Institute, we believe that anyone can learn to play the piano. If you’re willing to learn and dedicate your time, you can do it – no matter your experience, age, or Twitter follower count! Did you know that these famous faces are also proficient at the piano?

Clint Eastwood

Fact of the day: as well as being an actor and a director, Clint Eastwood is also an accomplished pianist! Before becoming an actor, Eastwood seriously considered pursuing a career in the world of music. He didn’t give up his passion for the piano once he became one of the world’s most famous acting stars, however, as he composed the score for his own films such as Mystic River, Changeling, and even Million Dollar Baby.

Britney Spears

Despite being constantly on the go since the late 1990s, America’s favourite pop princess has taken on the task of learning the piano in her spare time. You can see her perform one of her biggest hits, Everytime, in this vintage clip from an ABC special about her life on the road.

Richard Gere

If you’ve ever seen Pretty Woman, then you will have seen Gere’s piano ability for yourself. Not only did he play the solo piece featured in the classic film, he also composed it himself! His interest in music started early on his life, playing several different instruments when he was in school – including the piano, and even composing pieces for his high school’s productions

Condoleezza Rice

Probably the most accomplished player on this list, the former U.S Secretary of State learned how to play as a teenager. Before doing her degrees in both Economics and International relations, she dreamed of one day becoming a professional concert pianist

Robert Downey Jr.

When he’s not starring in blockbuster films like Iron Man and the Sherlock Holmes series, Robert Downey Jr. is also a keen pianist. He’s played the instrument and had an interest in music for many years, performing in bands and even releasing his own album in the early 90s before becoming one of the world’s best loved actors.

Want to follow in the footsteps of these A-list celebs? We can help! Get in touch with the London Piano Institute to book lessons with a professional teacher with years of experience guiding adult learners

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