Podcasts



Herein, please enjoy free samples from the opening 30 seconds or so from every episode in the podcast series.  I hope you will enjoy these previews and I look forward to your feedback.


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Episode 00:  Welcome Message

Hello there, and welcome to this little welcome message that I promise will only take a few minutes of your time and which is very necessary listening.  No matter which combination of categories you have acquired, whether 1 + 2, 1 + 3 or all three, you would do well, at all times, to keep in mind the content of this introduction.

I have put together this podcast based solely on the comments my videos have received over many years, the personal emails I have exchanged regarding individual progress and the online sessions I have given, plus my teaching experiences over the years, general conversations with pianists and musicians of all levels, backgrounds and personality types, in addition to what I have attentively and casually observed online from articles, discussion groups and comments under all types of music-related videos.  Thanks to this conglomeration of awareness, I have become very sensitive to what is often missed, neglected and/or totally rejected from piano students' or enthusiasts' path and have come to recognise that, perhaps surprisingly to you, it rarely has anything to do with the Piano component - in terms of theoretical content, dexterity and touch - a little more so to do with the Body component - in terms of correct posture, applicable exercise and overall good health - but almost everything to do with the Mind component.

It is paramount that you understand that the Piano is an illusion; a metaphor.  The piano represents life itself, Your life, and the Mind mastery, as it is encouraged through the vehicle of Water Pianism, applies at and away from both your actual piano, as well as at and away from the piano as a metaphor.  The discipline of Mind mastery benefits you by gently moving you towards the realisation that whatever you do in life, and whatever life does to you, takes place in and is handled only by your mind; you have a choice how to act and react and the success of those comes down to your level of mind mastery.  I hope to assist, if even just a little, in your path towards 'Piano' mastery.

To quote Shakespeare, "All things be ready, if our minds be so".  Consider Water Pianism a guide to your achieving that 'readiness'.

You see, knowing scales and chords and playing them fast and in time mean nothing if you have not identified your true path or self-reflected on your authentic and musical personality; you are simply regurgitating knowledge and throwing it onto the keys.  So what?  The world needs individuality; a unique filter through which that knowledge can pass and be enjoyed by yourself and us.  You would be depriving us all if you failed at least to care about such things, even if takes some time to actually start implementing and eventually mastering them, in order to finally share them with the world and continue the spread of such wisdom, for it becomes your unspoken duty to do so.

This podcast is the first edition and I would like you to know that I remain open to constructive feedback in order to implement newer, more refined content into a second, third, fourth, continual editions so that it becomes more and more refined and beneficial to more and more people over time, and of course, I cannot do that alone.  This first edition is an honest first attempt to share as much applicable wisdom and knowledge as possible and I have been consciously selective in its content.  If enough people recommend something I have not discussed, this is an example of something I will implement in the next edition.  I have also been sure not to spoon-feed you.  Too often, educational resources involve 'copy me, do this' kind of instruction which is fine, to a point, but you are rarely encouraged to find out things for yourself which are applicable to your unique path.  With this in mind, understand that it is not my aim or intention to become 'just another educational resource'; there are already enough of those but not enough resources which encourage you to do more inwardly brain-work.  Therefore, personalise technical exercises, do further reading on topics of interest and work on areas of your mind that you have identified as weak or presently destructive.  No method or instructional book has been or ever will be written just for you, and Water Pianism is acutely aware of this, instead, encouraging you to write your own.

Use this podcast series in combination with my YouTube videos.  There is not one thing in this entire series which does not have a video about it so be sure to look there if you would like to see something in action rather than just hear it discussed.  You are, however, expected, for your own benefit, to visualise everything presented on your internal piano.  Please do not be lazy in this respect or your progress will be impaired and it will not be worth your time to continue.

Expect multiple listens of many of the episodes.  Just because there are 30 episodes does not mean that you spend 30 minutes on its content; it could be months until you move on to the next.  There is no rush; steady persistence is the secret.

I hope you will enjoy what you hear and please do feel free to provide feedback so that I may make improvements to the next edition based on what is most requested.  I am also always interested in personal growth, progress and enlightenment so feel free to share your story with me.

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Category One

The Three Components of Water Pianism & the Mind Triangle

Regrettably, of the three components, the Piano component has always received the largest share of focus, with the Body component receiving a lot less but still drastically more than the Mind component. Discussion about why this may be is beyond the scope of this podcast series but rectification of this imbalance is central to its purpose.

The nature of this disproportionality and almost total neglect of the Mind is so prevalent that it has become common knowledge, not to mention an automatic expectation for outsiders to the piano world, that progress can only be made if at least one of the following conditions is met: starting at a young age, having many hours a week available for practice, being ‘naturally gifted’, having an inherent ‘sense of rhythm’, possessing big hands, having a musical upbringing or being able to afford lots of expensive tutors and perhaps going through famous music schools on the way up to concert pianist stardom.  Of course, it is also supposed that a piano is absolutely necessary and 100% of one’s learning and progress will only take place at the piano.  It is also assumed that one must adhere absolutely to a score without the freedom to either add notes or be flexible with the tempo, dynamics or structure.  Throughout this podcast series, you will become very aware that associating with extremes is dangerous and impeding; altering a strict score is considered abhorrent by some and is actively encouraged by others, if at least you can play it as written first.  Your particular situation, personality and peers will all be part of your decision to alter scored compositions but do always remember that extremes in mind and at the piano are to be avoided and that a personalisation should always be sought if you are to remain true to your path.

The Four Internal Philosophies

Considering that the Mind component is the most important of the three, it is unsurprising the four most valuable tools available to the Water Pianist reside in it.  They are known as: the internal piano, internal metronome, internal jukebox and internal manuscript.  These four philosophies apply at the piano but are best mastered away from it, for the piano often serves more as a distraction than an aid and spending too much time at it reinforces the false notion that the Piano is the most important component; you really don’t become a great pianist, whatever ‘great’ means for you personally, by just sitting at the keys doing technical exercises from a book and playing over and over repertoire you already know.  It is so very important to understand, and I will repeat this very often throughout the series, that the Mind component, along with its philosophies, is the most important.

I present these four philosophies not in order of importance but in order of regularity of use.  All four are as important as each other and must be mastered individually, even if used only rarely.  You can be sure that, once pooled together, the resulting authority you will experience over the piano will be remarkable and when I say “over the piano”, I of course mean both at and away from it.

Your Musical Personality

The traditional approach to learning how to play the piano is to acquire repertoire from your piano method book, teacher recommendation or exam requirement but the problem is that these are rarely, if ever, part of your musical personality.  Of course, one does not challenge this because one believes it is part of the process of ‘becoming a proficient pianist’, trusting the authority to guide them to dexterous brilliance.  Regrettably, this is rarely the case for the simple reason that the student never had a chance to discover what they like and dislike, and why, being able to explain both using musical terms instead of just saying, “I don’t like it”.  Knowing why you don’t like something is just as beneficial as knowing why you do like something.  Anyway, after years of playing set and/or recommended repertoire and perhaps, by chance, liking some of it, you will be so far from your natural path that it will be almost impossible to return… note the use of the word ‘almost’.

I have read quite literally countless messages over the decades, either directly to me or online, of advanced, proficient pianists complaining that they either lack the skills to play the music they love, despite being otherwise very dexterous, able and knowledgeable, or not even knowing what kind of music they want to play because they are so programmed to play particular music due to their past piano study requirements.  Once they realised they were free, even from a very early stage, to begin learning and then playing progressively better the music they naturally wanted to play, they improved quicker than any method book would have them progress and in addition to that, they were happier with what they were playing so were less inclined to give up or just play in a frustrated or bored mind-frame all the time.

Metronomes & Finding Your Natural Limit

With regards to metronome usage, you will find two extreme parties whose claims are equally justified in their own right.  There are those who despise a metronomically perfect practice and performance and suggest feeling the rhythm yourself or together as a group, something that they say “comes with practice”, and then there is the other group who can’t fall asleep without a metronome and couldn’t imagine a piano music stand without one, no matter practice or performance.  The anti-metronomers proclaim, and quite justly so, that music is about feeling, interpretation and not being distracted by artificial external influences.  Even Liszt was against playing so strictly in time, stating in a letter to Schubert, “A metronomical performance is certainly tiresome and non-sensical; time and rhythm must be adapted to and identified with the melody, the harmony, the accent and the poetry…”  On the other hand, pro-metronomers will say that music is about rhythm and that rhythm itself implies steadiness; a drummer who can’t play steady will throw out the whole band and never get hired again!  A pianist who plays in a style such as ragtime with obvious timing difficulties would be embarrassing to listen to, if not a little frustrating and it is such situations which this group uses to justify the use of a metronome.  Scales and chord progressions and arpeggios are strictly executed according to a metronome and examiners will mark the student taking into consideration their metronomic steadiness.

As always, Water Pianism proposes two exceptionally applicable philosophies which come into play here:  personalisation and finding a balance between two extremes, having studied these extremes and understood them well.  After all, everybody listening to this episode has a different ability, path, theoretical foundation and sense of rhythm; some of you would benefit more from a metronome and others would find it distracting.  This is why it is dangerous to adhere to an extreme.

Dissection & Personalisation Philosophy

A great Master once gave a beautiful teaching of what Water Pianists refer to as the ‘dissection philosophy’.  Consider, a flower is made of non-flower elements.  She cannot be a flower on her own without her non-flower elements; she is aware that her existence is therefore only possible thanks to those elements that individually would not consider themselves flowers.  The Water Pianist sees music theory but more importantly repertoire in exactly this way.  By approaching complex ideas or pieces with the wisdom of dissection, one is less overwhelmed; the difficulty is then seen as a collection of smaller, non-difficult elements to be built up and blended together to form anything from a technical difficulty to a complete piece of music that can eventually be played with total mastery.

More often than not, unfortunately, pianists with little experience or technical ability are quickly overwhelmed and eventually give up altogether when faced with an as yet dissected difficulty.  Pianists with more experience and ability still struggle with pieces in different ways and sometimes never arrive at piece mastery either.  They may not give up but they are certainly negatively affected by their lack of progress and it shows in their playing.  It is safe to say, therefore, that dissection philosophy applies to all.

Practormance and Exertoires

One of the many reasons which brought Water Pianism into existence was my constant reading of and conversations about individuals getting totally bored with irrelevant or boring repertoire and irrelevant or boring technical exercises, not to mention stage fright or some kind of disappointment when performing in public if not fear-based.  Be sure that I do not imply that boring means not beneficial and I do not imply that irrelevant cannot be beneficial; in fact, these are not even my words but theirs.  Newcomers to piano are very often subjected to dry exercise drills and repertoire they do not enjoy, often because ‘that’s what the book says’ or ‘the teacher does it with everybody so I have to do it’; this is not the path to Self-mastery but long roads around it.  Rarely is a student allowed or even encouraged to identify their path to discover such things early on as their natural fingering, musical personality or natural style which does not mean they are to avoid the basics (remember, extremes are not welcome in the Water Pianism philosophy) but that the relevant basics might be mastered in a natural way.  This results is a higher level of enjoyment and the feeling of being on one’s path; success of one’s ambitions then feels closer and perhaps easier to achieve.

Misconceptions & Conscious Interference

Water Pianism discusses three primary misconceptions:  that black and whites notes carry some kind of different significance, that one plays with two separate hands of five fingers and that, theoretically, certain keys are easier or more difficult to play in or based on how many sharps or flats they have, as well as their commonality.  These shall be discussed and I shall give you some experiments to experience the truth for yourself but misconceptions also exist both at and away from the piano and as much in the mind as towards the body.  I’ll provide three common examples of those first, starting with your age, and then get into the primary misconceptions of Water Pianism.

Consider your age.  You would not believe how many people have written to me to thank me for releasing them from the dreadful misconception that you can’t play the piano if you’re over some ridiculous age like 12 or 30; child prodigies who often, and please note my use of ‘often’, disappear into oblivion having added nothing to the world of music either in composition or education, are a constant source of this mindset.  What this ignores is that many pianists have also started ‘very late’ and have acquired theory, technique and repertoire to a very satisfactory and admirable level in age groups above 60 and do please believe me because they have been sharing their progress with me for many years.  The growing worldwide Water Pianism community is also proof of this whereby everyone supports everyone else and inspires others by sharing their progress and most of the members are at least 40 and total newbies to the piano world.  It can’t be denied that being very young takes advantage of a purer, more pliable, sponge-like brain but a black and white situation this is not.  This destinationless journey is not about becoming a world-famous performer, composer or needing the technique of Liszt to say you’re a pianist; it’s about Playing You and being true to Your path as soon and for as long as possible.  Your age is utterly irrelevant to the truth eternally present within.

The Grade Fallacy and Perfectionism Illusion

This episode is inherently the most controversial of the entire podcast series but not because I want it to be.  Some people are understandably very proud, protective and supportive of certain or traditional education choices which then render them a little more sensitive to ideas which challenge their point of view and experiences, no matter how justified both sides are.  I urge you to keep in mind while listening to this episode that Water Pianism is all about personalisation (which includes people who choose the graded exam path just as well as those who do not) and the avoidance of extremes.  If you feel challenged in some way, you would do well to recognise that that is only happening because your position on the matter is locked in to an extreme and totally disregards the other extreme (which is just as dangerous and limiting as yours).  Water Pianism encourages you to recognise and then care to understand both extremes of whatever the topic may be and to find your own true, personalised path between them whilst respecting the unique path of others without judgement.

The Mind of a Water Pianist

To be a Water Pianist is to be a devout student of nature, the mind and music itself and in being, strive to share relevant teachings with those in need, both at and away from the piano, because it is in service, giving and teaching that we learn more about ourselves and experience more enjoyment and success on our own destinationless journey.  In this episode, I’d like to share some of the more dominant components present in the mind of the Water Pianist because to play the piano well is hardly to do with having good dexterity and a vast repertoire but more so in caring to maintain a certain mindset and way of living.  Some of you may turn your noses up at such a notion or even choose to stop listening; well, quite, and I ask you to imagine such an individual at the piano if such is their attitude away from it!  Having a positive mentality towards yourself, others and what you and others do is an often neglected part of being a pianist and it is my ambition to help change this as much and as soon as possible… but I can’t do it alone!

Water Pianists are patient, inwardly and outwardly observing, eternal students whose practice and performances are a reflection of their confidence, authenticity and serenity which themselves are all the result of a deeper understanding of the nature of the mind and which naturally support each other; after all, one must acquire the confidence to discover their authentic Self in order to find serenity but this can be very difficult, especially when the only tasks presented to most pianists are to master a piece of disliked music for an exam or to master unrelated technical exercises using unnatural fingering to keep your teacher happy because ‘that’s what the book says today’!  How abhorrent.  So, are you ready to become a Water Pianist?  To ignore or reject negative ego influence?  To be fearless in public performance?  To be honest in repertoire selection?  To be unashamed of your true path and musical personality?  To have in you even the smallest desire to entertain, educate and/or enlighten others, no matter your current abilities or knowledge?  Be sure, just because what you think is not important may well be the spark that someone else needs to change their life, so value highly everything you know and everything you can do, no matter its significance to your mind or importance to your path.

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Category Two

The Three Unavoidables

Since this is the first episode of the category, I'd like to first present the structure.  Quite simply, it is theory first, technical exercises, in detail and with real piano examples, second, but you will still hear audio samples during the theory episodes to complement the content.  By all means, please consider what you hear on the piano in the theory episodes as technical exercises to adopt before the actual technical exercises are provided later, but more importantly, do not listen with the assumption that I only wish to bombard you with theory without demonstration because the technical exercise episodes will take into account the theory episodes, and expand upon them with specific technical instruction.  As always, in accordance with the Water Pianism philosophy, I reiterate that personalisation and an avoidance of extremes are paramount.  The theory section, please note, is not intended to be a reading of the Oxford Companion to Music; it is not my intention to repeat what already exists all over the internet and in thousands of books.  I wish simply to highlight specific areas of interest and use with applicable titles, and encourage you to go and do further reading if something is relevant to your path.  Since you are one of many unique individuals listening to this podcast series, your path and what applies to you, even how it applies to you, is very different from all the other listeners and this in itself makes it impossible to share what every listener needs.

Key Signature, Cycle & Chord Progression Philosophy

Why do keys exist?  This should be answered first.  Then one can ask what to do with them.  A key is another word for a major scale and you already know how to make those from the previous episode so are surely working on their mastery as we speak.  Perhaps you have heard sentences similar to, “This piece is in the key of X”, or, “My favourite key is X”, or, “Practise this exercise in every key”?  So many newcomers to the piano and its associated music theory are confused by the word ‘key’ and then, as I will explain momentarily, ‘key signatures’, but the funny thing is that ‘key’, ‘key signatures’ and what you are mastering, ‘major scales’, are all labels of the same thing:  the template of the major scale: whole, whole, half, whole, whole, whole, half.  It is this simple: the ‘major scale’ is the resulting seven notes of that template, starting on any of the twelve available notes from the chromatic scale, with those twelve available notes being called ‘musical keys’, so when you know a major scale, you have become familiar with a musical key.  The key signature, which could actually be called ‘a major scale signature’, is exactly that: a ‘signature’ telling you which notes, as a result of the major scale template, have been altered to adhere to that very template.  Altered?

Key Signatures, Dynamics & Ornamentation

It is quite uncommon for the three elements of music theory which are the title of this episode to be grouped together but the reason I have combined them is because practising dynamics and ornamentations is very much enhanced when exercises involve time signatures, which themselves are then understood, or more importantly, felt, to a much higher degree.  By the end of the episode and once you start playing around with all three, it will all make much more sense.  I’ll begin with time signatures but I’d like to explain why time signatures must be felt more so than only understood in theory.
We are so programmed to feel four beats to a bar that we are blinded by what that even means when it comes to music theory.  Even the most unmusical people who have zero knowledge of music and haven’t touched an instrument in their life, still know that most music requires them to feel four beats and then start counting again.  Most of the repertoire from the last 300 years has been written in what is called 4/4 time; it’s impossible to avoid it.  The Water Pianist sees time signatures in much the same way as major scales, meaning that, even though they’re all inherently the same in principle, some are traditionally withheld because they’re less common.  The problem with this is that newcomers believe that less common means more difficult; why else would they be withheld?

Minor Scales, the Emotional Centre & Acquiring Repertoire

The first thing is minor scales, and there are three of them.  Some of you may be thinking, “No, there’s more, what about modes, they have minor scales!”  Just remember, this is entry level content.  Other minor scales are, however, discussed in the jazz piano and composition category, so hold your horses!  No matter the minor scale anyway, each one comes from a modification of the major scale.  If you remember the major scale/flat key philosophy, this will be easy.  You would also do well to remember the template away from any key, then apply it to one, as and when is necessary.  Minor scales are one of those things that mainly appear in exam syllabuses; if you’re sight-reading, you don’t need to know them because you’re just reading the music (in the same way you don’t really need to know anything about naming chords or identifying progressions when sight-reading, as long as you can read the notes and markings; the composer worried about all this stuff for you).  If you’re composing melodies, you don’t really need to know what scales you’re playing because if ‘these notes’ sound good and are to your liking over ‘those chords’, then that’s great!  Minor scales, therefore, unlike the major scales, are just one of those things which are either avoided on purpose (but nothing much is lost), or forced on you via an educational source, usually not having any real actual application or direct benefit on your playing or musical personality.  After all, not everybody wants to become a music teacher, concert pianist or certificate collector (is there a word for that hobby?  There should be.)

The Three Sight-Reading Philosophies

Even if sight-reading is not something you plan or even need to be able to do as part of your path, it is still an exceptionally beneficial mental exercise.  And who knows, perhaps one day, your musical personality will suddenly involve music that must be sight-read to be played, or you may wish to start composing, and you’ll be thankful that you have at least a solid understanding of it thanks to this episode.  Whilst a Water Pianist may not be a master sight-reader on the spot because of their path, you can be certain that they could, very easily, if they wanted to, because they have understood and regularly practise the powerful content of this very special episode.
The three philosophies to be introduced and expanded upon are:  first of all, that sight-reading involves an absolute mastery of which notes the lines and spaces, including two ledger lines above and below, of both staves, represent; secondly, that sight-reading involves an awareness of note values and score markings; and finally, that the Water Pianist practises and enhances sight-reading abilities away from the piano on their internal manuscript, occasionally combined with their internal piano, at every possible moment, but has mastered, and I mean absolutely mastered, the first and second philosophies before even approaching the piano or opening up a score.

The Three Exercise Philosophies

This is one of the longest episodes and for jolly good reason; not just because it is the final episode before the technical exercises begin.  The Water Pianist spends time mastering and maintaining abilities in three key areas:  the mind, the body and the piano.  Without all three of these components working in harmony, your piano playing will be far from the level it could otherwise be.  Consider, you have great dexterity and a patient mind, yet didn’t master the twelve major scales or how to play chords for your favourite music.  What about if you have great sight-reading abilities and a calm, positive mind, but never spent time on technical exercises for dexterity and precision?  Or worst of all, a wonderful technique, a huge book-shelf of theory, yet the most disgracefully arrogant, impatient, easily-frustrated, Self-serving mind?  The exercises to follow this episode are therefore divided up into these three components.

Individual Fingers with Scales & Chords

This is the first episode of this category which contains the actual technical exercises to execute at the piano.  They will increase in difficulty theoretically, obliging me to share a little more theory; mentally, obliging you to develop a greater mental mastery; and technically, requiring a more significant reduction in conscious interference, along with greater finger dexterity and precision.  One never stops employing technical exercises and mastery does not mean abandonment.  Further, remember the practormance philosophy?  Be sure also to note which fingers or whole hand tires first with each exercise; this highlighting of weaknesses identifies fingers or hands which need to be enhanced in whichever way the particular technical exercise revealed.

 Natural Fingering with Scales & Chords

In the previous episode, I presented scales and chords being executed by individual fingers and single-finger combinations only.  Doing that has its own countless benefits but now, I will encourage you to do the same but using your natural fingering.  This should be very enjoyable and revealing.  Please be sure, however, to avoid extremes:  natural fingering isn’t fixed forever and just because it’s natural, doesn’t mean it won’t harm you in the long run.  Remember to sit in the same position, without energy puddles and to warm up for a few minutes before rushing to the keys.  Natural fingering only applies when these conditions and realisations are met.  To identify natural fingering, make sure you know the shape of the scale or chord in question on your internal piano first, then eye it up at the piano before closing your eyes and feeling the most comfortable fingers and hand positions, making sure, again, to create no energy puddles (especially a sagging wrist).

Using & Abusing Scales and Chords

This episode follows the previous two for good reason.  Whilst they focused on the reinforcement of shapes, precision, natural fingering, key orientation and using individual fingers from each hand, this episode will take a nice big step forwards and use them in different ways.  As a reminder, don’t forget that technical exercise mastery is eternal and has a daily presence in the life of the Water Pianist.  Do not assume that one particular exercise is more valuable than another since everybody is on a unique path and has very different needs and ambitions to yours, rendering the unavoidable content and how it is mastered, via whichever techniques are necessary, very flexible.

Experiencing Freedom at the Keys

Improvisation is not only a jazz piano concept.  One can, surprisingly, improvise with the scales and chords themselves; in fact, this is the first step to improvisation, as discussed in the jazz piano and composition category.  Being able to improvise is not about ‘sounding jazzy’ in this context, it is about helping you to become a spectator to your hands whilst reinforcing and eventually confirming to yourself that you know all the major scales and chords as part of the unavoidable content, plus that which is necessary to your path, which probably includes minor scales and more ‘advanced’ (I really don’t like that word) chord types.
These are not necessarily technical exercises but they can indeed involve or be totally executed using a particular technique such as individual fingering, octaves, a focus on dynamics, time signature practice, etc.  Or, of course, simply play what you want, how you want.  As always, the Water Pianist avoids extremes.

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Category Three

The Four Jazz Philosophies

As you may expect, the first episode is going to bring to your attention immediately that jazz takes place in the mind just as much as classical piano mastery and personalised technical exercises do.  You can only play on the piano a jazz that already exists in your mind.  If you have done nothing towards acquainting yourself with jazz as a topic with a diverse history and colourful musicians to study, and not just a genre to listen to, you are doing yourself a great disservice.  The jazzy Water Pianist recognises, understands and applies the four following jazz philosophies before going near a piano:  listening to and studying the genre, overcoming the fear of spontaneity, establishing the improvisation framework and feeling the swing.  These are not in order; they are all as equally valuable as each other.  If one is missing, you will always fall short of your improvisation ambitions, no matter how strong the other three are.

Scale Ownership, Target Note Philosophy & Note Value Awareness

I’m going to start this episode by introducing the next episode first, but don’t be confused, it all makes sense.  The next episode will present three philosophies which are theory based and apply very much at the piano, eventually becoming active elements of your jazz path.  However, in this episode, I’m going to present three philosophies which will still eventually become active elements of your jazz path, but which are not particularly theory based and can apply both at and away from the piano; at, because you will personalise technical exercises and master them, and away, because they are concepts that you can master on your internal piano and hear in the jazz you listen to.  I thought it would be most helpful to separate them in this way and start with the more away from the piano considerations first, then presenting the at the piano content.  Why?  Mind>Body>Piano… that’s why.

Diminished Groups, Extensions & Upper Chord Structures

You already know how to name chords within an octave.  There are the two primary triads, major and minor, plus the ‘other’ triads (sus4, sus2, augmented, diminished and flat 5), and then the four primary chord types which are the two primary triads with the major or dominant 7th on top.  One can then easily find the 6th and minor 6th based on the major scale, too.  Since I have not explicitly discussed the two diminished chords and the four groups of whole diminished chords in previous episodes or categories, I will do so right now, before finally stepping you over the octave boundary and leading you into the jazzy world of ‘extensions’.  Internal pianos at the ready for this very, you have been warned, intense episode.

The Scales & Chords or Major & Minor Modal Theory

As you may have noticed, each episode’s title throughout this series has reflected the order of the content presented in the episode itself.  Sometimes, the order didn’t have to be as it was, and other times it was beneficial.  This episode’s title reflects perhaps most strictly of all episodes, the order in which I must present and you would do very well to master, the content:  major modal scales followed by related chords, then minor modal scales (all three minor scales) followed by related chords (for each minor scale).  Major scale mastery is absolutely critical to understanding modes since they are based entirely on major scales.  You will struggle tremendously, not only to comprehend the content but also in using your internal piano and playing modal scales or chords at the piano, without major scale mastery.

The Blues

It’s easy to talk about the history of blues, and it’s not too difficult to discuss it theoretically, but it is nigh on impossible to describe it; it has to be felt, with everyone feeling it a little differently, and as Hamlet said, “Ay, there’s the rub”.  How, then, should one approach the blues in an educational setting, as is the intention of this podcast episode?  Water Pianism, being founded on such philosophies as:  the avoidance of extremes, the personalisation of practice and performance elements, and an awareness of one’s musical personality, thus, true path, promotes a non-judgemental, educational and hopefully revelatory personal journey of discovery into the world of blues, from its earliest years and instruments (including voice), and passing through each decade until you reach your present day.

Specific Jazz Techniques, Thought Processes and Repetoire Application

Most of the previous episodes’ content required the Mind component to be used, for very good reason, with a little of the Piano component for those few times you went to the piano to hear chords and scales, or to hear that which you had already mastered in your mind, all on the assumption that you do Body-component exercises as part of being a Water Pianist anyway, no matter what you’re playing.  In this long episode’s three sections, I will first provide you with a selection of at-the-piano jazz piano techniques, primarily for the right hand, followed by a few words on the ‘no idea!’ philosophy and the three-step path to improvisation.  At the end, I’ll provide an example of how you might approach the selected piece.

Jazz Piano-Specific Exercises

Do not attempt these exercises if you do not spend or have not spent time with the technical exercises of category two.  Playing jazz still requires excellent finger-work, dexterity, co-ordination and all the benefits and elements that those technical exercises help to master and maintain.  These jazz-centric exercises, therefore, will absolutely assume that your major scales are mastered, you know or can find instantly any and all chord shapes, including inversions; that you know the three minor scales and understand major and minor modal theory and related chords.  It is also assumed you know the blues scales or can apply any template of any other scales you have learnt to further personalise these exercises.  In addition, it is assumed that you often listen to jazz and blues, are able to hear your inspirational source, are not playing for egotistical reasons to satisfy false external influences and have a patient, inquisitive mind.  It goes without saying that you can also, and sometimes should, master these exercises on your internal piano before doing them at the piano, and that you have understood and can feel ‘the swing’ and play in different time signatures, especially 6/8 and 3/4, the next-most common time signatures after 4/4.  You are encouraged to personalise all technical exercises; what follows is simply a guiding technical exercise framework which involves the most common elements of jazz piano and thanks to which any listener of this episode intending to become a proficient improviser within the Water Pianism philosophy will surely benefit.

Composition as a Path & Introductory Advice

The follow discussion is by no means a personal attack or judgement, it is an observation without opinion.  It is my obligation to bring this to your attention in the hope that you will be inspired to be different.  Who knows, maybe the next Beethoven is listening?  A simple search online for ‘own piano composition’ will make my point immediately obvious:  far too often, which does not at all mean ‘always’, the left hand will be playing a root-fifth-octave ostinato (a repetitive melody) and the right hand will be playing an often white note-based melody (because Am and C major are common, ‘easy’ keys for so many), using primarily, if not entirely, the notes of Am/C major (the same notes, of course), and the chords moving, more often than not, between 1, 4 and 5, or 1, 5, 6 and 4… two of the most common progressions.  Regrettably, there is only so much one can do with such a limited musical vocabulary and I think it’s fair to say that the time has come to stop this monotony and encourage potential composers to move onwards and upwards from this now very established musical direction of piano composition.

Originality, Form Analyses & Elements of Interest

The content of this episode presupposes that you have spent some time on the questions and content of the previous episode and have acquired some answers and achieved some realisations pertaining to your path as a composer, whether casually for fun or as a serious career endeavour.  In this episode, and still before we jump onto the piano of course, I will bring to your attention the most common forms of composition from different genres and eras, such as the much-loved 32-Bar form used in a lot of jazz, and having a look at scoring film music, as well as giving you some things to consider which are often neglected too much, such as ear-catching intros and outros that actually sound like outros, transitions between sections and creating tension throughout the piece.  It is all well and good coming up with nice melodies and chord progressions, but they require some well-thought-out conscious involvement if you’re to keep the listener, and even yourself, emotionally involved.

The Act of Composition

 I will demonstrate a few composition ideas which I have not prepared at all and explain what I receive and how I will use it in harmony with (pun intended) theoretical concepts and some degree of traditional expectation by the listener (for example, I wouldn't compose an 11-Bar Blues or start with a chorus; things like this).  I will explain my process, share other methods and use different styles whilst also focusing on different areas of the piece in question (dealing with introductions, outros, forms, transitions, key changes, tension, themes, and such things).  By all means copy me if you think it will help you to get going, but do so with the absolute awareness that by doing so, you are totally rejecting your own inspirational source, and that does kind of go against everything Water Pianism, and this whole podcast series, stands for!  So copy if you want, but do so with this in mind and start listening to your own inspirational source as soon as possible.

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