I have developed a unique approach to teaching improvisation. It is the result of over 35 years of personal experience as a pianist both in my own ensembles as well as my freelance work with other artists be they “serious” or more “commercial” in nature.

Steve was an excellent teacher for my 12 year old son, who has a strong interest in jazz. I found that his methods were perfect for him because he needed the challenge the Steve was able to give him. My son had been playing piano with another teacher where theory was not emphasized for about 3 years, and I appreciate the approach Steve takes to teach jazz piano techniques in depth, in a very organized method using a book he authored himself. He is great and very talented! I would highly recommend him to anyone who is interested in taking their piano playing to a higher level. – Christine

Teaching Policies

  1. Private instruction is $60.00 per hour.  If shorter lessons are desired, the cost would be pro-rated.  In other words, a 45 minute lesson would be $45.00.
  2. My book for your study, “Essential Techniques of Jazz and Contemporary Piano” will cost $20.95, payable at the first lesson or you can purchase the Book here.
  3. Cancellations must be made 24 hours in advance, or the student will forfeit the cost of the lesson. This policy works both ways, so I would forfeit the cost of a lesson if I failed to notify a student at least 24 hours before my own cancellation.
  4. Lessons take place in Los Feliz where the nearest cross street is Normandie & Sunset Blvd.
  5. Lessons may be scheduled at the students convenience for weekly or bi-monthly sessions. Additional scheduling will take place after each lesson.
  6. Prospective students should have the ability to read music and play a simple piece at the keyboard even if on a rudimentary level only. Lessons 1 and 2 cover rudimentary subjects and will help.

View Sample of Table of Contents

Part 1: Basic Techniques

Part 1: Basic Techniques

Lesson 1 Rudiments: Intervals and Triads

Introduction – Chord Symbols – Reference Table 1
Intervals – Reference Table 2
Intervals and Triads Exercise 1

Lesson 2 The Diatonic Scale Tone Triads

Introduction: The Diatonic Scale Tone Triads
Scale Tone Triads: Major and Minor/Inversions – Examples 2a-e
Assignment – Exercise 2a-b

Lesson 3 Simple Chord Progressions and the Circle of Fifths

Introduction and The Circle of Fifths
Keyboard Assignment: “Satin Doll”
Scale Tone 7ths: Major and Minor – Examples 3a-d
Voicings – Scale Tone 7ths: Chord Voicing Study – Exercises 3a-b
Voicings – Exercise 3c-d ii7-V7-I
Voicings – Exercise 3e – ii7-V7-I in Minor
Exercise 3f – Left Hand/Root 7-Root 3 Voicings

Lesson 3a Another Simple Chord Progression

Introduction – “I Got Rhythm”
Voicings – Exercise 3a and 3b
Keyboard Assignment: Melodic Exercises – Exercise 3c
Sketchbook Assignment 1: “I Got Rhythm”

Lesson 4 Harmonic Approach to Improvising | Chapter 1: Blues and the Dominant Cycle

Example 4: Blues Progressions 1-6
Dominant Cycle – Exercises 4a-d
Sketchbook Assignment 1a

Lesson 5 The Keyboard Bass

Keyboard Assignment Bass Lines – Exercises 5a-j
Writing Assignment
Exercise 5k

Lesson 6 Rhythmic Phrasing | Chapter 1: The Two Bar Phrase

Introduction – Reference Table 3
Note Value Divisions – Reference Table 4
Keyboard Assignment Examples 6a-i: The 2 Bar Syncopated Phrase
Exercises 6j-m: Written Assignment: Phrasing

Lesson 7 Linear Approach to Improvising | Chapter 1: Song Form

Introduction – Momentary Keys – Form Discussion
Sketchbook Assignment 2: Exercise 7 “Ornithology”, “In Your Own Sweet Way”, “Triste

Lesson 8 Introductions, Endings and Turnarounds

Introductions: Examples 8a-g
Endings: Examples 8h-n
Sketchbook Assignment 3: Written Intros/Endings

Part 2: Influence of Styles

Part 2: Influence of Styles

Lesson 9 Rhythmic Phrasing | Chapter 2: Early “Stride” Piano Styles and the “Polyrhythm”

Keyboard Assignment
Rhythmic Styles: Exercises 9a-d
More Rhythmic Exercises 9e-g
More Rhythmic Exercises 9h-j

Lesson 10 Harmonic Approach to Improvisation | Chapter 2: Harmonic Foundations of Bebop

Scale/Chord Syllabus – Reference Table 5
Scales and Chords: Examples 10a-e – Reference Table 6
Keyboard Assignment – Diminished scale: Exercise 10a
Keyboard Assignment: Diminished Whole Tone Scale & It’s Equivalents: Exercise 10b

Lesson 11 Harmonic Approach to Improvisation | Chapter 3: More Bebop

Sketchbook Assignment 4: Vertical Improvisation – Examples 11a-d
Dominant Alterations – Exercises 11a-h
Dominant Chord/Scale Syllabus – Reference Table 73

Lesson 12 Harmonic Approach to Improvisation | Chapter 4: More Blues and the Altered Dominant Cycle

Sketchbook Assignment 5
Example 12: More Blues Progressions
Altered Dominant Cycle – R.H. Exercise 12a
Double Altered Dominant Cycle – R.H. – Exercise 12b
Altered Dominant Cycle – L.H – Exercise 12c
Double Altered Dominant Cycle – L.H Exercise 12d
Sketchbook Assignment 6 – “Blues for Alice”

Lesson 13 Linear Approach to Improvising | Chapter 2: Modal Harmony

Introduction: How are Modes Used in Contemporary Song Compositions?
Solo Approach – Modal Improvisation in Jazz History
Listening Assignment
Diatonic Modal Harmony – Example 13a
Harmonic Definition in the Modes – Example 13b
Definitive Modal Chords – Written Assignment – Exercise 13a
Mode Exercise – Exercise 13b
Mode Recognition – Exercise 13c
“Landscape II”
Modes and Polychords – Example 13c
Modes and Polychords – Exercise 13d

Lesson 14 Influence of Contemporary and Latin Sounds

Latin Basics – Example 14a-b
Keyboard Exercises: Latin Piano Styles – Exercises 14a-g

Lesson 15 Rhythmic Phrasing | Chapter 3: More Polyrhythms and the Jazz Waltz

Rhythmic Subdivisions in the Jazz Waltz – Examples 1-4
Other Polyrhythms – Examples 5 & 6
Sketchbook Assignment 7

Lesson 16 The Soloist: A Combination of Approaches

Sketchbook Assignment 8

essential technique of jazz and contemporary piano

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