Don’t practice; PLAY! Just like a toddler learning to speak English, we master the language of music by playing around: finding patterns, trying out ideas, and jamming with others (in this case, 150 great backing tracks to play along with). Designed by Michael Katz, who began his jazz career at the age of 12 when he sat in (on sousaphone!) in a Chicago jazz club, Taming the Wild Piano is a unique piano course that teaches you to improvise—even if you’re a beginner, and even if you think you can’t.
The website offers eight introductory videos to help you begin, covering such topics as building the major scale, stacking thirds to create chords, how to find the relative minor of any major key, and—most important—how knowing and practicing these simple techniques can add color, interest, and fun to your playing. Be sure to watch video 8, “No Wrong Notes”—a reassuring concept, yes? The website is young, but Taming promises to add additional videos suggesting additional ways to enhance your improvisation practice.
If you’re a student, you’ll love this different approach. If you’re a teacher, or an experienced music-maker, you may look skeptically at some of the written materials. “This is too hard for my beginners to read/play/understand!” you may say. In fact, just the opposite is true. By presenting this course by ear, offering written materials only as supplements to the main ideas, Michael Katz makes it possible for even rookies to get started playing sophisticated rhythms and keys we usually think of as complicated (like F#). You owe it to yourself to visit this site and check it out!