Monthly Archives: July 2014

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AC #51 Block Chords Revisited: A watching & listening post!

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is a subject about which I first posted in AC #22. I teach this subject in depth to intermediate and advanced students who want to undertake and learn this demanding style of piano playing.

However, in this Watching_and_Listening_Postpost, I won’t “talk shop” or speak to you about any techniques on how to play them.

Instead, I’ll focus the video spotlight on Milt Buckner and Andre Persiany (sometimes spelled “Persiani”) and let them show and give us some examples of how block chords sound and how much fun they can be as the two of them stage a very humorous and playful piano battle.

The overall quality of the video isn’t the best ever produced but the most important things about the clip still shine through! Several quotes! Lots of fun & love!

Since this is a “watching and listening post” only, let’s start by watching these two masters at work. Enjoy!


Four select audio-only clips that showcase more of Milt Buckner‘s “block chord” Style!

If you’re interested in adding more block chord stylings to your piano playing, be sure to listen to more of Milt Buckner in this context and the any of the many pianists like George Shearing who cite him as their main influence for adding the block chord style to their pianistic abilities.

Well, it looks like Milt and his friend may soon drive off in their band truck after the photo op, so I’ll hop into my Radio Flyer wagon and head home to study.

“Gotta get to my study room!”

See you next post!

"Gotta get to my study room!"

AC #50 Musical talent: Do you have it? Here is a way to tell!

Here’s how you can tell if you, your child, or someone you know has a talent for music.

One of the oldest and surest ways to tell is to notice if an ability to pick out melodies by ear on the piano, whole or in part, is present.  People of any age who can play and reproduce melodies on the piano, on their own, without having any music lessons, have a natural talent for music.

On one hand, there are many children who’ve demonstrated this ability at ages as young as two and three and discovering this talent at such early ages gives children a chance to get an early start on their musical journey.

On the other hand, there are many people who’ve gotten started a little later or a lot later and many of this group have often discovered they, too, have this natural ability to pick out melodies and even more.

Keep in mind that as melodies are being picked out, perfection is not required because flawless execution is not the decisive factor in determining whether or not a talent for music is present. As long as songs can at least be half-way recognized, talent is present and lessons are in order! If you can even partially pick out any of the melodies below, I’m interested in working with ya.

However, even if you feel you don’t have this ability because all of the melodies you pick out are not even remotely recognizable, don’t despair because if you like music and music speaks to your soul, chances are your talent is hidden within you and needs to be uncovered and developed. This ability can be learned through “ear training” and practice.

Picking out melodies may be described as the ability to find a starting source pitch by ear, reproduce it on the piano, and then match the intervalic movements of each subsequent melody note in relationship to the last or previous note that was played and correctly identified. Simply put, it’s a kinda “what-is-this-note-and-where-did-it-go-from-here” exercise and your success at picking out melodies depends your skill at distinguishing half steps from whole steps.

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As a follow-up to post AC #49, here are ten melodies on which you can practice and sharpen your picking-out-melody skills. Each song, with its multiple courses, repeats three times.

This activity works best if you use a piano, a keyboard, or some other real-world instrument, but If you aren’t near one, try using this onscreen piano keyboard just for fun to play along.

The levels of difficulty range from fairly easy to a bit arduous. Try a few! See how you do!  Ha Ha

AC-50-Song-1 (Click the encircled down-arrow to download.)

AC-50-Song-2 (Click the encircled down-arrow to download.)

AC-50-Song-3 (Click the encircled down-arrow to download.)

AC-50-Song-4 (Click the encircled down-arrow to download.)

AC-50-Song-5 (Click the encircled down-arrow to download.)

AC-50-Song-6 (Click the encircled down-arrow to download.)

AC-50-Song-7 (Click the encircled down-arrow to download.)

AC-50-Song-8 (Click the encircled down-arrow to download.)


A short revisit post on “block chords” is coming soon, so here’s a song with a “blocked melody” .

AC-50-Song-9a (Click the down-arrow to download. A Tempo)

AC-50-Song-9b (Click the down-arrow to download. Slower)


Here’s a jazz tune with a bluesy melody.

AC-50-Song-10a (Click the down-arrow to download. A Tempo)

AC-50-Song-10b (Click the down-arrow to download. Slower)

Good luck, have fun!

See you next post.

"Gotta get to my study room!"

AC #49 For kids of all ages! Use your ears to learn this song!

This is an “action” post where your ear training capabilities are called into action. Should you choose to accept this challenge, get your instrument ready then follow these instructions:

1. Activate the MIDI file to listen to it and play the mystery song melody by ear, note-for-note.

Mystery Song (Click the encircled down-arrow to download.)

2. Practice it until you have it memorized then you should be ready for steps three and four!

3. Solve the Maestro Jigsaw Puzzle to hear him play along with a mildly orchestrated version.

4. Your mission is to play along with the Maestro and his orchestra!

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The Maestro will play the song three times per puzzle solution–once for each of his admirers! This allows you to have some extra tries at learning to play the chords by ear. Also, upon solving the puzzle, an optional download link for the orchestrated version is revealed inside the puzzle!

If you aren’t near your own instrument, try using this onscreen piano keyboard to play along.

Have fun and good luck!

See you next post.

"Gotta get to my study room!"

AC #48 Happy Birthday America! (2014)

Happy Birthday wishes out to America and all of her citizens during this July 4th holiday week!

The clips give a small glimpse into the artistry of “Papa” Jo Jones (drums), Jimmy Slyde (tap), and George Benson (guitar). Their mini-jam session is on a tune titled, “Mr. X”.


Mini jam session on “Mr.X” Listen to or work with an mp3.

* Click the encircled down-arrow to download this mp3 version of the clip to your computer.


Although there’s no piano in the clip, piano students can still interact with it and use it from an educational standpoint by doing any or all of the following challenges:

* Figure out the song form
* Figure out the key in which this tune is being played
* Figure out and write/play the melody
* Figure out and write/play the chord changes
* Write/play your own bass line for the melody/head, or the melody and solos too
* Write/play your own piano part for the melody/head, or the melody and solos too
* Do some transcription work on George Benson’s orchestral-like “hits and punches” only
* Do some transcription work on the solos of any or all three of the participants

That’s all for now. Have a great holiday week! Enjoy!

See you next post.