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Piano Course Recommendations for Advanced players? (Read 1564 times)

Offline pianolover9

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Piano Course Recommendations for Advanced players?
« on: March 03, 2020, 05:02:49 PM »
Hello everyone,

I'm kind of new here and it's a pleasure to find this resourceful site.

I have been playing for 30 years and can play a LOT of things. I was taught classically by a Juilliard graduate for 2 years, use to practice 6 hours a day, and have been exposed to a pretty decent amount of material.

That said, it's been 20 years since I played anything classical and I primarily play Christian/Gospel music in modern churches.

Well, I have a second wind passion for really becoming a great musician and pianist.

I do not desire to become a concert pianist.

I noticed that I have a lack of repertoire in most genres (I can play things here and there but not pieces/songs from beginning to end), I'm not as fluent on the piano as I need to be (I see some musicians that seem to never play a wrong note and play very involved improvised passages), and I need much more vocabulary (licks, runs, etc) within my playing.

So I was looking online to see who offers some great training for intermediate to advanced players. I simply googled, "well rounded pianist" and came across BachScholar. He looks to have a solid training program but I wanted some reviews and came across one here on PianoStreet but seen he isn't very well liked around here. I didn't look too much into why he isn't (as of yet) but was wondering if some of you can chime in about him AND what other courses you would recommend for me.

As I mentioned, I need all the above but I was thinking, it would be great to play several pieces in ragtime, classical, pop, etc. That said, I'm not looking for easy piano arrangements, I would like to play advanced arrangements or at least at levels that show I'm at a very proficient one.

Online j_tour

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Re: Piano Course Recommendations for Advanced players?
«Reply #1 on: March 03, 2020, 08:16:27 PM »
Well, about the ragtime, you could certainly play Eubie Blake's "Charleston Rag," and from Joplin I like "Bethena" and "Solace."

For more stride piano, you could do worse than one of the defining classics, "Carolina Shout" straight off the James P. Johnson record.  A good transcription is in Riccardo Scivvale's book.  Not insanely difficult.

Fats Waller and Art Tatum, though, all I can say is "good luck!"  There are things in their repertoire that are just outright scary.

A good two-disc recording that maybe not everyone knows about is with both Jay McShann and Ralph Sutton on pianos. Called Last of the Whorehouse Piano Players.  I think they panned each pianist to hard left and right.  I think Milt Hinton plays bass and they've got a drummer.  That's old school, for sure, and they're not playing transcriptions:  they're doing it live.  And one by Duncan Swift called Scott Joplin and Jelly Roll Morton:  Piano Ragtime:  a good bit of improvisation and you can pick up some tricks there, for sure.

For Joplin, my favorite recording is by the late, great Janice Scroggins:  a very personal, rock-solid set of renditions, not at all like the ossified way of playing Joplin's music.  I'm unsure which of these are in print or even on CD.  I believe the Scroggins Joplin record is on "Heart Records," from Portland, OR, USA, and I think I've seen a CD reprint of the Jay McShann/Sutton record.  The Duncan Swift record, I have no idea.  It's on Black Lion records or something, and I highly doubt there's anything but a used LP you can find somewhere, which is a shame:  when I was a literal kid, that really opened my eyes to doing a bunch of improv "tricks" on a lot of familiar tunes.
My name is Nellie, and I take pride in helping protect the children of my community through active leadership roles in my local church and in the Boy Scouts of America.  Bad word make me sad.

Offline dogperson

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Re: Piano Course Recommendations for Advanced players?
«Reply #2 on: March 03, 2020, 08:48:06 PM »
No BachScholar is not recommended by members here.  I do not want to go into details, but I would suggest that you find some other training plan

Offline ranjit

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Re: Piano Course Recommendations for Advanced players?
«Reply #3 on: March 04, 2020, 01:04:04 PM »
As far as pop arrangements are concerned, some pianists I can think of who actually make advanced arrangements (you can find them on Youtube) are Jarrod Radnich (mostly well known movie scores), Jacob Koller (The Mad Arranger, jazzy arrangements), Animenz (plays anime music on the piano, uses a lot of idiomatic classical techniques), and Johnny May (ragtime pianist who plays mostly Disney music and famous pop songs).

Offline pianolover9

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Re: Piano Course Recommendations for Advanced players?
«Reply #4 on: March 04, 2020, 08:23:37 PM »
I really appreciate you all for the input. Thanks a bunch!  :)

Offline timtim

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Re: Piano Course Recommendations for Advanced players?
«Reply #5 on: March 04, 2020, 08:56:07 PM »
I really appreciate you all for the input. Thanks a bunch!  :)

I know BachScholar from youtube only, but for training I would definitely stay away. Look fro Graham Fitch's https://practisingthepiano.com/ (there lots of things) and videos from Pianist Magazine, of which many were also done by Mr Fitch.

Offline dogperson

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Re: Piano Course Recommendations for Advanced players?
«Reply #6 on: March 05, 2020, 12:06:07 AM »
Graham Fitch is outstanding— but his is classical training

If you want non-classical, you might look at Duane Shinn’s course.  I have not personally taken it
Here is some information
http://forum.pianoworld.com/ubbthreads.php/topics/2944827/1.html

Offline pianolover9

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Re: Piano Course Recommendations for Advanced players?
«Reply #7 on: March 05, 2020, 02:16:23 AM »
Wow. So happy I posted in this forum. I wasn't sure how active it was. Keep em' coming guys and gals. Thanks!

Offline ranjit

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Re: Piano Course Recommendations for Advanced players?
«Reply #8 on: March 05, 2020, 04:04:37 AM »
If you are looking purely at training for intermediate/advanced players, Josh Wright, cedarvillemusic and Paul Barton have videos on Youtube you can look into. Josh Wright has a paid ProPractice series in addition to his regular Youtube channel, and while I haven't checked it out myself, it may be worth looking into. I personally love Josh's teaching style -- his videos are like fountains of wisdom and insight to someone relatively inexperienced (that is, me ;D).

Online j_tour

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Re: Piano Course Recommendations for Advanced players?
«Reply #9 on: March 05, 2020, 04:13:08 AM »
I'm going to keep going with the "non-classical/legit" music idea.  I reread the OP and...I'm still not 100% sure.  I didn't notice at first that the OP has been working steadily in sanctified music.

But, as far as "fluency" — I think I know what that means, at least to me.  Not just what chords or even voicings, but how to get from, say, "A" to "B" on the spur of the moment. 

Yeah, there's good old theory, and using the diminished chords and other passing chords, but maybe the OP already knows a good bit of that kind of "on the stage, think on the fly" thing.

Tricks as far as how to "connecting chords with linear harmony," which is the title of a great book (IMHO, about the best "jazz/pop" "theory" book there is) by Bert Ligon, well, then that's jazz and that's a whole discipline in itself.  I mean, just so many ways to do it, so many styles.

For things that "sound impressive," what I've been liking, in the car on the cassette deck (I'm not that old, my car stereo just is kind of not been well taken care of) is Kenny Drew, on "Prelude to a Kiss," "Caravan," "I'm Old Fashioned."  I don't recall the two albums those are from, but it's a good mix of what's now considered the "classic modern" style.  It's not stride piano, but it's a little bit more earthy than earlier than Bud Powell's virtuosic tales, and with some slightly more interesting or fancy textures (arpeggios in thirds, and a few more substitutions).

I don't know of any transcriptions of those, but you could figure it out, I'm sure.

TWO people who are more players than just teachers, although they've worn both hats, are Mac Rebennack (RIP!) for a solo piano style (get all of his instructional tapes/videos from Homespun Records — the first one originally released on cassette tape or VHS from the mid-1990s is the best.  I still have the cassette tapes and sometimes play them in the car.  Lots of subtleties.  It comes with a book of partial, rudimentary transcriptions, which will get you started, but most of his performances on the tape are rather subtle), and Barry Harris (many of his group lessons are on YouTube — he has an idiosyncratic theory of jazz harmony, which I don't really get, but it's all on his recordings from the late 1950s and 1960s and beyond, and he really breaks things down in a nice way while demonstrating on video).

ETA, I should be remiss if I didn't give a shout out to pianostreet's own perfect_pitch:  he has some rather technical arrangements of pop music stuff.  I've only heard a bit, and he refuses to do one of "Waltzing Matilda," but he's got videos and scores up you can check out.  I think he's Australian, though, so he might be hard to understand at first.   ;D

And, equally, ted from here continues to post some astonishing improvisations:  I don't know how he does it, but maybe he'll come over and explain some of it. 

My name is Nellie, and I take pride in helping protect the children of my community through active leadership roles in my local church and in the Boy Scouts of America.  Bad word make me sad.

Offline ted

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Re: Piano Course Recommendations for Advanced players?
«Reply #10 on: March 05, 2020, 10:32:36 AM »
..And, equally, ted from here continues to post some astonishing improvisations:  I don't know how he does it, but maybe he'll come over and explain some of it.

Thanks for the mention. I have attempted to teach what I do on several occasions, only once in person. My tuition of Derek, a member here who no longer posts, and who has been a close musical friend for almost twenty years, has been a raging success, but the others not so much I'm afraid. I am inclined to think that Derek always possessed a tremendous creative drive to start with. He doesn't sound like me, he sounds like himself, which is really the only state any creator should embrace and the only state a teacher should want to see in a pupil. Emulate as many people as you like and absorb from them all you wish, but avoid being absorbed by them. To do so is to live somebody else's dream.

All I post is improvisation so it might surprise most forum members that I can actually play quite a bit of classical, stride, ragtime and other idioms. j_tour's suggestion of ragtime and stride transcriptions is excellent. I love ragtime, and there has been more ragtime created and played in the last thirty years than in the whole of its history. David Thomas Roberts has written ragtime derived music of impeccable quality, always from the heart and to the heart, at once personal and universal. Scores can be purchased from him directly on his website. Frank French, a pianist of amazing accomplishment, has also written very fine pieces, available for purchase on his site. Then we have Scott Kirby, Reginald Robinson, Brian Keenan and Hal Isbitz, all provide scores for purchase. So ragtime is unquestionably a fine choice for study.

Like j_tour, I also love stride and swing and, as practically all performances in these styles have now been very capably transcribed, there is little reason not to study it also. I posted a couple of these here many years ago, Johnson/Scivales and Williams/Williams.

https://www.pianostreet.com/smf/index.php?topic=22764.msg253083#msg253083

Transcriptions are funny things though, and the problems are not at all the same as those we encounter with, say, a Liszt study. Firstly, some transcriptions are not quite right in places, in that the written version, if dutifully learned will not produce the precise effect of the recording. Then there is the question of whether we want a precise copy anyway. Do we not want to put something of ourselves into it ? I think so. As j_tour also points out, Waller could span from C to A and Eubie Blake and Luckey Roberts were just as bad (or good). They hammered down rapid filled tenths like most people play triads. But don't despair. Stephanie Trick's Waller is most exhilarating and she has small hands. By far the biggest difficulty is getting the felt rhythm, and that cannot be transcribed beyond a certain point anyway.

Scivales is good, and Dapogny's complete Morton (Smithsonian publishing) is magnificent. Morton's music is, for me, very difficult, I still cannot play it to my satisfaction. It's physically manageable but hardly anybody can get his distinctive rhythmic personality. John Gill could but he was one of a kind in many ways. Paul Posnak's transcriptions are good but few. In my view, as a transcriber of stride, the Englishman John Farrell stands out. Sadly, he died about ten years ago but what an ear and memory ! His work, comprising hundreds of pieces, can be purchased from his daughter's website, www.johnfarrellcollection.com

It is late here and I almost forgot. I feel it is of immense benefit to continually expand one's listening in eclectic fashion, and not just piano music. I don't know how or why it works but listening to everything from symphonic pieces to guzheng music, from the old to the modern, rejecting as little as possible, has a wonderful effect on the unconscious when it comes to creating one's own music and improvising.
 
"We're all bums when the wagon comes." - Waller

Online j_tour

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Re: Piano Course Recommendations for Advanced players?
«Reply #11 on: March 07, 2020, 12:56:02 AM »
All I post is improvisation so it might surprise most forum members that I can actually play quite a bit of classical, stride, ragtime and other idioms.

I think it's pretty clear from your playing that you can play the lights out in a stadium. 

In fact, that was the reason I mentioned you in a thread for a student. 

The proof is in the results, and you happen to have plenty.

Quote
Morton's music is, for me, very difficult, I still cannot play it to my satisfaction. It's physically manageable but hardly anybody can get his distinctive rhythmic personality. John Gill could but he was one of a kind in many ways. Paul Posnak's transcriptions are good but few.

Do you mind going on a bit more about this?

For me, it's the feel of a lot of the looser LoC recordings of Morton that I can get, as well as interspersed stuff, of course, but the sticking point for me is that Ferd will do stuff like (top finger, RH, octaves), go from 5-4-3-5:  that's, to my mind, stuff I see in early romantic rep, but it's not necessarily natural for just playing something like "Tiger Rag" or whatever.

I noted with interest your call-outs to recent ragtime composers.

Do you have any thoughts on Bill Bolcom's music?  Back in the day, I was just a little kid (literally) but I still like playing, like two of his things.  Not like Joplin's like "The Easy Winners" where you can just take it out, fast or slow as you want, corny old chord progression.
My name is Nellie, and I take pride in helping protect the children of my community through active leadership roles in my local church and in the Boy Scouts of America.  Bad word make me sad.

Offline ted

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Re: Piano Course Recommendations for Advanced players?
«Reply #12 on: March 07, 2020, 04:07:33 AM »

Do you mind going on a bit more about this?

For me, it's the feel of a lot of the looser LoC recordings of Morton that I can get, as well as interspersed stuff, of course, but the sticking point for me is that Ferd will do stuff like (top finger, RH, octaves), go from 5-4-3-5:  that's, to my mind, stuff I see in early romantic rep, but it's not necessarily natural for just playing something like "Tiger Rag" or whatever.

It is hard to comment on why I do not yet understand Morton. I used to have a similar problem with James Scott in earlier years but that was largely physical, because I overplayed him, used far too much technique. It took me ages to realise that the ebullience and energy of Scott simply come naturally from playing the big chords lightly without leaning on them.

Unfortunately Morton doesn't seem to yield such an easy strategy. Dapogny, in his copious notes, claims Morton played very close to the keys, using an almost legato, weight effect. I tried that and it made things worse if anything. I haven't put the hours into Morton that I have into other things though so the fault, if such exists, could well be lack of discipline. Funny thing is that I play Frank French's "Bucktown Buck", ostensibly written deliberately in Morton's style, very easily and enjoyably, as I do pieces like David Thomas Roberts's "For Kansas City" and "Waterloo Girls". It is still one of life's little mysteries I'm afraid.   


Do you have any thoughts on Bill Bolcom's music?  Back in the day, I was just a little kid (literally) but I still like playing, like two of his things.  Not like Joplin's like "The Easy Winners" where you can just take it out, fast or slow as you want, corny old chord progression.

Oh yes, Bolcom is a wonderful musician and pianist, broadminded and eclectic. "Graceful Ghost" and "Seabiscuits", in particular, are very fine compositions.
"We're all bums when the wagon comes." - Waller

Offline pianolover9

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Re: Piano Course Recommendations for Advanced players?
«Reply #13 on: March 10, 2020, 08:15:27 AM »
Truly appreciate everyone's input here. Very insightful.

What I mean by fluency, I mean when a player seems to be error free over a progression with several chordal changes and tasty melodic improvisational motifs such as this award winning producer/pianist Rodney East and please listen all the way through as you can hear classical influences throughout:



I can play things similar in fashion but not as seamless, as fluent, or without thought. I don't know if he's played these passages so many times that it's second nature or if he is improvising on the spot. Though I can play some advanced pieces, I seem to lack in certain areas such as the fluency he has. Sometimes I think it's a matter of more practice in these areas.

It's amazing to me because even though I've played most of my life, I still lack in so many areas. I sometimes feel bad because I feel I should be more fluent. I started piano late (16 years old). This guy started at 4 and he's a couple years older than me. So I don't know what to make of it really.

That said, I'm not confident he could rip a ragtime or classical piece or even salsa montunos like that. He is a gospel church musician so his "bag" is in that genre and perhaps can we say he specializes in it and it's just a matter of ones whole life in that particular style?