Noah Kellman – A Generous Flood of Jazz Inspiration
For pianists and teachers interested in exploring the rich online resources of creativity and tips on modern piano improvisation, New York City based Noah Kellman is probably a familiar and popular name. Piano Street had the chance asking Noah a few questions about his work.
Noa Kellman’s presence on Instagram and YouTube has attracted some 200 000 subscribers. His focus there is on simplifying modern improvisational music concepts into digestible and useful methodology and demonstrating these techniques through his own short performances and how-to-do-it tips. Also instructional videos focusing on different areas of playing piano jazz is offered in a variety of formats and courses.
Here is an example of a tutorial in which Noah covers adding upper extensions like 9s, 11s, and 13s, which is a key ingredient for beautiful, jazz and neo soul piano voicings. Notable pianists like Art Tatum, Robert Glasper, Bill Evans, Chick Corea, Keith Jarrett and Brad Mehldau uses chord extensions in different ways in their playing and in order to sound professional, understanding these concepts is essential.
PS: Noah, We can find and enjoy your work on a multitude of platforms and in many different formats on the Internet. Production and distribution, sure, but let’s get to the core of everything. Noah Kellman – the pianist. Can you tell us about your background and present life as a musician?
NK: It’s funny to think about in retrospect— but I actually did have one of those cliché “ah-ha!” moments when I first heard jazz. A group of high schoolers played a concert for us little kids (I was around 11-years-old), and I literally said out loud to my mom, “I want to do THAT!” From there, I was fortunate to have parents who supported my love of music and to grow up in a jazz community with very tasteful, kind musicians who mentored me for many years. I worked with my private teacher Rick Montalbano for around 10 years, attending every jazz education opportunity I could get my hands on, including many summer intensives and masterclasses. Then, I finally went off to The Brubeck Institute, where I studied for a year with another incredible teacher named Joe Gilman and on occasion received feedback from the great Dave Brubeck himself, a deeply kind and special person who I will always be grateful to. I’ve had the great fortune to have been directly educated in one form or another by many jazz greats, including Christian McBride, Nicholas Payton, Terri Lyne Carrington, Larry Grenadier, Curtis Fuller, Terrell Stafford, Taylor Eigsti, Dr. Billy Taylor, Danilo Perez and so many others I’m just forgetting at the moment but whose education has influenced me greatly. Presently, I have my own musical projects I’m working on (in fact, my debut album is currently in the process of being released across all platforms), and also love playing with musicians such as Chad Lefkowitz-Brown, Brian Newman and many others around NYC when called upon. I’m also deeply devoted to education as it often inspires me to come up with new ideas and perspective on the very concepts I’m practicing. That said, I’m also finally bringing my performance and composition back into top gear as well, so you can expect to hear a lot more music coming soon!
Piano Street: Your presence on a multitude of platforms is rich and vast and offers inspiration, tutoring and deep study. How would you describe your many ways of distributing your music and impetus digitally?
Noa Kellman: With regard to my Internet presence, my main goal is actually quite simple and even a bit cliché – try to always provide as much value to my audience as I can. That means coming up with new ways of teaching concepts that are yet unclear. That means producing quality content consistently, and trying out new ideas in order to improve. That can translate to new software, platforms, and other new ways of approaching teaching, creating content, and distributing it. Sometimes my ideas don’t produce the result I was hoping for, so I simply pivot or move onto something else. There’s a fine balance between creating good content while ensuring that you’re not burning yourself out, but are providing excellent value to those who look to you for inspiration, entertainment, and knowledge.
PS: Personally I follow your daily flow on Instagram. Can you tell us how you organise your contents and and your ideas on choosing and providing material in different ways thematically?
NK: I’ve always been someone who enjoys thematic media consumption. So if I’m excited about a new medieval movie, for example, I might try to immerse myself with medieval-themed movies, video games, music, and even food. I like to do the same with my content when I can, in a way! So if I’ve been focusing on adding new chord voicings to my musical vocabulary, for example, I like to also create an educational resource that I can both use myself and release as a product for my audience. I create videos around that resource, and theme my short-form content around it as well. Now, I’m very much guilty of not following my own advice here because often it’s just tough to keep up with everything and stick to an exact schedule, but that’s my ideal philosophy on content curation.
PS: How do you plan to develop your ideas and platforms in the future, any wishes?
NK: With regard to my internet presence, my main goal is actually quite simple and even a bit cliché— try to always provide as much value to my audience as I can. That means coming up with new ways of teaching concepts that are yet unclear. It also means producing quality content consistently, and trying out new ideas in order to improve. That can translate to new software, platforms, and other new ways of approaching teaching, creating content, and distributing it. Sometimes my ideas don’t produce the result I was hoping for, so I simply pivot or move onto something else. There’s a fine balance between creating good content while ensuring that you’re not burning yourself out, but are providing excellent value to those who look to you for inspiration, entertainment, and knowledge. I hope to leave a real, lasting impact on people whose goal is to learn a modern approach to cutting-edge harmonic and melodic ideas. I hope to even hear the results of my lessons come out in their teaching someday! That said, it’s really easy to get lost nerding out from the teaching perspective, so one other big near-term goal is to put out a lot more of my own music.
30 seconds Noah Kellman on TikTok