For All We Know

A few months ago, my instructor tried to teach me to “play the lyrics”, and I was baffled. One of the things he’s having me work on is solo piano playing, in ballad form. Apparently the melody was getting lost in all of the fancy stuff I was trying to do. The melody is the … Continue reading

Less is more – Black Orpheus.

I’ve been taking beginner improvisation classes with Tom Dempsey for the past couple of months at the NYJA.  He made us play scales.  Lots of them.  Sometimes over and over for nearly half an hour.  I have to admit that I would space out a lot of the time, and mess up, not because I … Continue reading

Summer Jazz Immersion Workshops

Last month, I spent half of my precious time off from work immersing myself in – what else – jazz. It was a pretty neat experience!!  The NYJA offers week-long jazz immersion programs each summer.  I had just started studying jazz consistently only a month before the workshops started, but I decided to be brave and … Continue reading

Georgia on My Mind

Here is a clip of me playing Georgia on My Mind. I first fell in love with this song when I heard Ray Charles’ recording, which is probably the most well known version.  It’s interesting to note that Georgia wasn’t written by Ray Charles, as many may believe, but by Hoagy Carmichael back in 1930. … Continue reading

Autumn Leaves solo – Take 2

OK, I tried soloing again a couple of days later, except this time: 1. I play the melody the first time around.  It sounds pretty hollow and boring without Adam, my piano instructor, playing the walking bass by my side. 2. I tried to make a decent ending instead of allowing a train wreck to … Continue reading

Autumn Leaves solo – Take 1

There is nothing like making music.  Here is a short 1.5 minute recording of me soloing over the classic Autumn Leaves.  You probably wouldn’t know it was Autumn Leaves if I didn’t say so, because I do not play the melody at all.  I didn’t do this on purpose – the standard way of soloing … Continue reading

Improvisation miracle

Improvisation comes as naturally to me as flying might come to a penguin.  For the longest time, I’ve wondered whether it would be possible for me to ever learn to improvise.  I didn’t apply this question only to jazz music.  I had difficulty improvising in other areas – such as when I was learning how … Continue reading


I won’t forget the moments where certain individuals have said or done something to encourage me to pursue playing again. One friend said : Once a musician, always a musician, Susie! Another time, I ran into this drummer on the subway.   I knew him only through a mutual friend and we were never really … Continue reading

The Universal Mind of Bill Evans – Part II

I continue my discussion of what I’ve gleaned from Bill Evan’s documentary here. Bill demonstrates the process of spontaneous creativity by changing up harmony, melody, and rhythm of a song – the 3 elements of music that the jazz musician improvises on. After he plays the melody and chords just as they were written, he says … Continue reading