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How To Comp: Two Handed Jazz Blues Chord Lesson 

 Here's a free lesson I just shot for the website www.freejazzlessons.com I really go into depth on how to play rootless jazz piano chords and voicings behind a soloist. There's some cool chords and rhythms in there. I'm excited to share it with friends in Chicago and around the world!
 
This video lesson combines 2 of my favorite styles. Jazz and Blues. I even throw in a couple gospel chords in there for good measure too! If you're interested in learning more about this style o any other jazz piano…Read more

Paying It Forward 

When I graduated Berklee in 20002 they had a great career assistance program in place.  This program allowed recent grads to get in touch with successful musicians who were living in the city the recent graduate was planning on moving to.
   
 
I didn't know very much about Chicago nor did I know much about the music business here.  I just knew I wanted to be there.  I received many great tips along the way about the best neighborhoods to live in, restaurants to eat at, how to avoid parking tickets, how to get…

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How To Choose the Right Piano Teacher Article #1 

Many future piano students are overwhelmed by finding the right piano teacher.
Finding a teacher that understands your individual goals and can help you achieve them can seem very difficult.  Here is just a few tips to assist you in selecting the best piano teacher for you. 


1. Choose a teacher with lots of professional performance experience. 

If you study with a teacher who has very little experience in the real world of performance they are teaching based off of what they think "may" work.  On the…

Mr. Barry Harris: A force to reckon with 

Barry Harris is one of my heros.  Not only is he just a truly phenomenal piano player but he was also one of the first jazz educators ever.  Barry is 81 years old and still teaching in NYC.  His love and commitment for helping others learn music is second to none.  Thank you Barry for your inspiration.

Thoughts On Becoming An Expert Piano Player 


I’ve always believed people have unlimited potential for learning music. If they put the time in to really develop themselves anything is possible. For years I’ve conquered limitations within my own musical development and have helped my piano students consistently do the same for themselves.

The problem that comes in is that most people aren't focused enough to actually put in time consistently for the long haul. So, instead of actually exploring their own talent deeply and completely they'll…Read more

Dealing With Stage Fright At A Recital Or Gig. 

Do you get nervous before you perform?  Have you avoided any opportunities to perform for fear of making mistakes in public?  You're not alone.  Fortunately, there are some really effective strategies to overcome your fear of playing in front of an audience.  When practiced properly performance becomes a true pleasure.

Playing at a recital becomes much easier if you practice the art of performing. One way to practice performing is to do it in an incremental way. You can actually study peformance in a…Read more

GUEST POST: Karate-Chop Your Music and Your Life 

The following is a guest post by Mark Powers. Mark is a world percussionist and world traveler who blogs for creative-types at PowersPercussion.com. In addition to performing and teaching, Mark has released Ritimista, a world percussion play-along CD and is former co-holder of the Guinness World Record for Longest Drum Roll by a Group.


I don’t know that James Wing Woo has ever strummed a guitar or tapped a drum. But I do know that the legendary Kenpo Karate Master (who turns 88 years old next week) has…Read more

Cool Technology Tips for the Serious Practicing Musician #1 

In my last post I talked about the dangers of too much technology.  In the spirit of fairness and alternative viewpoints I'd like to talk about some ways technology can help us as musicians as well. Technology can be an amazing gift for practicing musicians if used the right way. It seems like every day, another cool, unique tool is hitting the market for musicians to use. Today, I am talking specifically about tools that help musicians practice. Technology used in connection with disciplined practice…Read more

Turn Off Your Crackberry and Create Something! 

Today we get so caught up in technology that we forget how important creativity is to what we do. For many people the barrage of email, Facebook messages, Twitter, text messages, and other types of electronic communications have taken over their lives. It’s getting harder and harder to find that uninterrupted time to do good creative work like practicing your instrument, writing songs, making art, and even just living a healthy life. Being accessible 24 hours a day and constantly being distracted by…Read more

Musicians - How to Make Your Website More Marketable 

 Musicians are often folks on a low to no-budget plan when it comes to marketing. Plenty of people would rather craft a website themselves or have a  friend do it for free than pay a webmaster a few hundred bucks or more to make one. While I have no argument whatsoever against saving money,  having a website sufficient to meet the needs of your product is absolutely essential to moving forward in your career.

 In 2010, the top two income streams for independent recording artists comes from record sales and…Read more

How Do I Get A Record Deal? 

I  received an email from a reader a couple days ago asking my advice on how to get a record deal in 2010.  I know that many of you have the same question so I'll post my response.  I have changed the first name just to protect the reader's privacy.

Hi Suzanne,
   I have to be honest with you.  Getting a record deal is getting harder and harder these days. Record deals are no longer what they used to be. As a result of illegal downloading of music the record companies have really lost a large hold of…Read more

The Music Career Memory 

     I had a really fascinating moment musically speaking a few minutes ago and figured I'd share it with you.
I'm currently putting the finishing touches on the design work for the release of my "Learning Chicago Blues Piano" Instructional DVD. I just posted one of the song snippets on my listen page (check it out here "Steve's Boogie" under Blues Keys).
     As I was posting this song I ended up getting a moment to listen back to some of the older pieces I've recorded over the years. I almost never…Read more

Your Reputation As a Musician 


Musical Utopia minus 1


I just finished hosting a jazz jam session at my place in Chicago. It really was a lot of fun and almost an entirely positive situation. It was the type of jam where everybody was eager to play, learn, and to share their musical knowledge. This truly creates a wonderful environment to create music in. It's a rare experience for me these days. There was just one slight exception though to my "Musical Utopia". The drummer never showed up! He had committed and confirmed but was…Read more

Inspiring Quotes for Musicians and All Creative Thinkers 

Here is a small sample of some of my favorite quotes.  These little word gems both inspire and challenge me as both an artist, musician and human being. 

"You miss 100 percent of the shots you never take."
—Wayne Gretzky

"We are what we repeatedly do; excellence, then, is not an act but a habit."
—Aristotle

"A wise man gets more use from his enemies than a fool from his friends."
—Baltasar Gracian (Spanish Baroque author)

"Do not seek to follow in the footsteps of the men of old; seek what they
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Concepts For Creating a Compelling Musician's Bio 

Every professional or aspiring professional musician needs a bio. Your personal bio is your way of introducing yourself to both fans and music industry types in a way that puts your best foot forward.  Here are some very important concepts to keep in mind as you craft your own bio.

Know Your Audience


Before you begin your bio make sure you have a clear idea of who your audience is your writing to. What details will the people who are interested in your music and your business want to know about you?…Read more

Hammond B-3 Drawbar Tips For Piano Players 

Many piano players who start playing Hammond B-3 Organ find themselves intimidated by the concept of drawbars. Piano players are used to creating tone from their hands, wrists, fingers, and the way they use their body to strike the piano. In the beginning, manipulating tone with levers and buttons can just feel strange. Here are a couple approach concepts that can really help you start your own map of the the "B-3"!

1. First, just memorize the general sound/feel of 4 different drawbar settings.…Read more

Owning the Right Gear 

If you’re like me you’ve spent an absolute absurd amount of time working on your music and getting your playing together. Good instruments are essential to help transfer the sound and depth you've worked so hard to acquire.  It's only fair to your audience. I don’t care how great of a player you are it will diminish your sound and your message playing on below average gear. Why would you ever want to do that? I try to get the absolute best gear I can afford.

For example, keyboards that have poor…Read more

Essential Musical Skills: Sightreading 

Although you can get by in this business without reading music it becomes a crutch, is impractical, and limits your gig options greatly. Most people have to be even more developed in another area of their musicianship to make up for a lack of reading skill. It’s similar to your 5 senses. If one of them is weaker or non existent then you’d have to be even stronger in your other 4 senses to survive.

For those of you who don’t read music please keep this in mind. Learning to read music is very easy.…Read more