"Gotta get to my study room!"

AC #56 Tempus Fugit – This Is The Way We Roll – Old School

Tempus Fugit

In my previous post, (AC #55), I stated that “I’ve been super-busy”. Well, on that point and close to a year later, nothing has changed and that’s something about which I feel very good! Cool

I love being busy because I’d much rather “wear-out” than “rust-out”–if you know what I mean!! Time seems to pass by so much faster when I’m happily engaged in something and having fun with it. Otherwise, time seems to be an endless super-slow drag!

So, even though I’ve been happily engaged in other aspects of my work and the year has flown by, the fact remains that this is my first post of 2015 and it comes out near the halfway point of the year’s 11th month, and that’s a point about which I’m considerably less happy! Cry

Ultimately, I feel that all delays between posts, that are deviations from a regular release schedule–intended or unintended, short or extended–, are really just one type of “blog vérité”–if you will–which inevitably happens from time to time, whether you’re a one-man crew conducting nearly 100% of your business’ operations, like me, or a part of a staff. John Lennon sums it up like this, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans“! (“Beautiful Boy” )

John Lennon Front Cover

As I organize the activities of my days, I give top priorities to my wife, my family, and my students, and most of the time, everything and everyone else, including myself, comes after them.

During my sabbatical from posting, the behind-the-scene logs of my website and social media properties all show that people were, and still are, reading and watching in increasing numbers. I want to thank my new students who’ve recently signed up and also acknowledge the people who decided to subscribe and follow me, despite the fact that I hadn’t posted any new material all year–until now of course!  Thanks, guys! I’ve noticed all of you and I appreciate your visits.

I am very fortunate and blessed to be in the circles of some really great people and to be able to stay busy doing only the things I absolutely love to do–namely, learning and making music at home, teaching music in class, teaching music online, tinkering with computerized music technology, posting and blogging on my website, and helping people along the way.


“This Is The Way We Roll” – “Old School”

The video project, about which I spoke in AC #55, is finally posted.  I emphasize the word “posted” because in no way do I consider it “finished“… although I’ll bet that overshooting my originally stated release date spread by 6 to 9 months, any possibilities of “project manager” jobs coming my way are probably very much “finished“! Laughing I just don’t know how the time disappeared so fast! In any case…

This Is The Way We Roll” / “Old School“!  is now viewable here and via the links on my website’s front page. It’ll go “public” on my YouTube channel on Friday the 13th!

Two-song video

The project was done for fun as part of our studies on improvisation. It is not for sale.

When I approached my students, I promised I would not do or include anything that would make them or their parents ashamed to say they know me. However, when I looked at some of the videos my students posted of their own on their website(s), I realized I had a WHOLE lot of room in which to roam!–like the whole state of Texas, which would only take up a fraction of the safe areas available to me!  It was all done in a spirit of fun and I love it all!

Overall, I’m glad our project is finally released but I can’t believe I miscalculated the time it would take me to get it posted by a factor of at least two or three! There are more things I wanted to do and include and you’ll see lots of rough edges that I could have and should have corrected or fixed.

However, I really desired to get the project out before the end of the year, so I decided to “take a page” from the modern business practices handbook of the major software companies and release it now, in spite of its unresolved bugs, imperfections, and problems.  You know how they do it!  Maybe I’ll do some “point-upgrades” and releases as time goes on. I may include a few pop-ups here and there but I guarantee that I’ll never sink to sneaking in spyware! (Just kidding!)

In closing I want to say, “Thank you“, to the folks who made many behind-the-scenes contributions, and to my students who were brave enough to participate. We had some fun in the process of putting this thing together and I hope that everyone who views the video really enjoys it or can find at least a smile or two somewhere in the flick.

 

"Gotta get to my study room!"

AC #55 A Happy Holiday/New Year wish for you! (2014-15)

I hope you had a very happy holiday season and that 2015 will be a great year for you.

I’ve been super-busy lately, working with with my students on their lessons and on another video project in which a couple of my non camera-shy students have agreed to appear. We’re having lots of fun putting it together and it should be finished and posted here in the blog by mid spring.

Keep studying, practice well, and I’ll see you next post.

"Gotta get to my study room!"

AC #54 Even though you’ve never done that! Why not try it‽

During the 1990s (ancient history now!) I had several experiences with making music for a few computer/video games and other less populated outlets such as music for an ice cream truck, live “muzak” in grocery and department stores. When the opportunities were offered to me, I thought, “I’ve never done that! Why not try it‽” So I did, and I had loads of fun. I learned a lot about those particular aspects of the music business and I got to work with some great people.

Many years later, when Jason Peter, one of my local students who does in-office and online lessons, first started asking me basic questions about MIDI, sequencing, and electronic music in general, I was more than happy to share with him my experiences and what I’d learned.

Jason, who’s an awesome drummer, is still studying music with me today and I’m very happy that he has continued his involvement with keyboards and sequencing in addition to his other musical interests. On any given lesson day, he’s apt to bring a project to class on which he’s working and whenever he does, we make his project the focus of that day’s lesson.

Check him out just below in the short video he made about a project for which he composed, played and produced the music.


Jason is testing his light show systems in this clip.

So even if you’ve never taken an on-line or in-office piano or music lesson before, why not try it‽ Like Jason, you may discover that they’re fun and who needs to have less fun in their life‽

See you next post.

"Gotta get to my study room!"

AC #53 How To Use The Free Interval Study Script Utility

You’ll find this free utility inside of my store in the “Study Materials” section in the right sidebar. It is a script that can assist you in getting to know the functional names of most of the intervals contained within any give one-octave range. For anyone who may have questions about how to use the utility, here is a short video clip of me demonstrating a few examples of how I use it.


Even with its limitations, which are documented in the script’s on-board instructions, I still like to use the script because it can be run off-line directly in your browser. It may be run manually or automatically, and it hardly takes up any hard drive real estate because of its very small file size which makes for a fast and easy download!

Download the script then “kick back” and use its hands-free mode to be quizzed on ascending and/or descending intervals within an octave.

See you next post

"Gotta get to my study room!"

AC #52 From My Westin Hotel Copley Place Boston Archive!

During the 14-years I spent as one of the resident pianists at the Westin Hotel, Copley Place, Boston, MA, I accumulated many experiences and stories I’ll be sharing with you from time to time about my experiences with lots of very interesting people I met at the hotel.

One such story about how I first met a very special person came back to my mind instantly while reading a post in another blog in which this person was mentioned. Let me tell you…


One night during my first set, as I was playing a few solo-piano warm-up songs before bringing out the rest of my trio,  I noticed some faint flashes of light coming from the rear of the room.

PopupSpySpecs Thinking it was someone with a camera taking tourist photos, I just ignored it. However, when the flashes continued with increasing frequency, I ruled out tourist picture-taking!  These flashes seemed to be directed at me specifically to get my attention. Was this person sending me a message in Morse Code or playing a practical joke or some kind of prank on me? I became more and more curious as it continued!

mystery-man-smilesSo, near the end of the first song, I turned my head slightly toward the back of the room and I spotted the source of this mysterious happening! It was coming from a very well-dressed gentleman also in a tuxedo who was seated alone at the very last table in the back of the room and he was looking through something he was holding in his hands which was pointed directly at me. I turned my head back towards the piano and got back into the music.

The flashing continued consistently throughout my warm-up. As I signaled for the bassist and drummer to come on up, I took a short break to introduce myself to this gentleman but by the time I arrived at his table, the mysterious contraption he had in his hand was nowhere in sight.

I introduced myself to him and he said his name was Jimmy Lyon. At that time, I had no idea who he was and I asked if he had any requests. He said not right then but he’d be back in a while after he played a set or two across the street at the Copley Plaza Hotel. That told me he was a pianist so I knew I’d go visit him on my first break but before he departed, I asked him about the object which had been reflecting the spotlights back into the corner of my eye!

He apologized for the distraction because he didn’t realize a reflection was occurring! I assured him it was very faint and that I was fine with it and not offended in any way whatsoever… I was just curious as to what it was. So he took the object out of his pocket and handed it to me.

Pop-up-01

It was a very classy looking flat rectangular box that looked much like a personal cigarette case but when a special button was pressed, it turned into a set of pop-up adjustable-focus-telescopic binoculars!

Pop-up-03He said he liked my playing and he wanted to see how I was voicing chords and making runs. Rather than stand right behind me to look over my shoulder, he said he preferred to sit in the back and watch with his pop-up specs. Both of us started laughing so hard!!! Right away I knew he was a wonderful guy with a great sense of humor!

Pop-up-05I took a look through those binoculars and though they were small, their telescopic ratio was very good with great clarity! As I recall the account now in 2014, I still laugh about it!

Shortly after introducing ourselves, both of us went back to work but as I got back to my bandstand, I asked my bass player, who was either Teddy Kotic or Rodney Richardson at that time, if he’d heard of a pianist named Jimmy Lyon. He said he certainly had heard of him and he gave me the “411″! That’s how I first met and learned about Jimmy Lyon!

Eventually Jimmy returned that night with his “pop-up spy specs” Pop-up-02to check us out again and with every opportunity I’d get, I’d go across the street and listen to him for what turned out to be MY “nightly piano lesson”! From my point of view, I believe I learned more about voicings from him than he learned from me but we continued our frequent visits with each other during the rest of his tenure at the Copley Plaza.

I was working 7-nights a week at the Westin and he was working 6-nights a week. I learned a lot from Jimmy in the short time I knew him and when the time eventually came for him to return to his home in Paramus, NJ and his gigs in NY, I thanked him for his kindness and let him know that I was very much looking forward to his next return to Boston, but it wasn’t meant to be. He passed away all too soon! What a song specialist! A true gentleman through and through! I was very privileged to have been able to count him as my friend for the short time I knew him!

Here are five audio clips I recorded of him (with his permission) that you’ve never heard, unless you were there the nights I recorded him. The audio quality is not the best you’ve ever heard and you’ll hear people talking throughout each song. if you can ignore the distractions and you want to hear Jimmy playing solo-piano in a very relaxed mood, then here you go! Ear training students, beginners, intermediates and advanced, might use these files as source material too! Pick out some melodies, or chord progressions or voicings that interest you. In any case, enjoy!

JimmyLyon-02

Looking At You (Click the encircled down-arrow to download.)

Begin The Beguine (Click the encircled down-arrow to download.)

I Concentrate On You (Click the encircled down-arrow to download.)

You Turned The Tables On Me (Click the encircled down-arrow to download.)

Memories Of You (Click the encircled down-arrow to download.)

Jimmy Lyon (R.I.P)
Full Name : James Frederick Lyon.
Profile : American jazz pianist.
Jimmy worked, among others with Mabel Mercer (singer), June
Christy, Polly Bergen.
Born : November 06, 1921 in Morgan Village, Camden, New Jersey.
Died : November 28, 1984 in New York City, New York. (Cancer)

See you next post.

Art'sCornerWagon_MT199

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

01-B 02-L 03-O 04-C 05-K

06-C 07-H 08-O 09-R 10-D 11-S

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.

Get Adobe Flash player


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.