Friday, August 27, 2010

What is this blog about?

Come along for a ride with me!  I'm going to start exploring the question of whether it is possible to pick up jazz piano -from scratch- past the age of 50. 

As background, I had taken jazz guitar lessons on and off for quite a number of years.  I had some really fun teachers that I'll tell you about some time.  But I was not really learning a completely solo style.  At the same time, being a rank amateur I had zero opportunity to ever play with others.  Not a good combination :-(

So it was getting really stale, and at the same time a piano entered our house.  I bought my wife Celia a beautiful Schimmel piano for her birthday a few years ago.  She and my daughter Olivia took piano lessons for a couple of years.  It was great to hear that sound in the house.  I noticed that I was listening to a lot more Bill Evans, Tommy Flanagan, Keith Jarret and Bill Charlap on my IPOD than I was was listening to my guitar favorites like Wes Montgomery.  Hmmm.

And then it happened.... Everyone quit their piano lessons and stopped playing altogether.  The piano was just sitting there calling my name.  There was no way that I could let it sit there with no players.  So I took up piano lessons and only take out the guitar(s) every once in a while now.

The nice thing about playing music is that you can do it at a million o'clock at night.  Every other hobby has gone by the wayside - giving way to the demands of a high stress job, family, house - all that stuff.  Hiking, fishing, camping, softball teams, etc - are all things that waved bye-bye to me long ago.

But playing music is a real meditation.  You can do it in those times of night or morning when there is actually time.  It doesn't matter whether there is anyone listening (and EVERYONE hates jazz, so nobody is ever listening) but you can lose yourself playing a nice ballad with a glass of wine by your side.

Anyway,  I got this little plastic recorder called a Zoom H3 for Christmas 2009.  So I've been recording some practice versions of songs that I'll post and make some commentary on.  Hopefully we'll be able to see some progress.  I've never been interested in technique players.  I've always preferred beautiful and unexpected phrases.  At least that is my excuse for having zero technique on any instrument :-)

I can't let this intial post go without linking to my piano teacher Ed Mascari.  Ed has been a lot of fun to work with.  I had chosen him because I could see from his postings that he had a long history of playing and teaching jazz.  I kind of felt bad when I showed up the first day and told him that I had no intention of reading real piano music (only fake sheets), or developing a lot of technique through scale drills.   He took it right in stride and off we were.  So if anyone lives in the Natick or Hudson Mass. area and wants to learn piano, look up Ed!   


  1. Congratulations Ken.

    You have created a wonderful vehicle for sharing your music with others.

    Keep up the great work!
    All the best of success to you.

  2. Nice blog Ken! I will be reading it...

  3. Great blog, Ken!

    I'm somwhere in the same field: jazz, amateur piano, 50+, blogging, programer, even my family risigning to hear jazz ))

    As my blog activity I translate some articles and posts from English to Russian on piano for amateurs. I translated your initial post and published it in my blog So, hopefully, you will have a strange flow of lookers from Russian domains soon. )) At least, you see that there are people who listen to your music.

    While translating I was listening your music. Really well done, man!

  4. Soltem,

    Thank you! I was just telling someone the other day that being a jazz fan is lonely, but that the internet opens up a way for amateurs that are still passionate about the music to connect - across the world! Thank you for the link...