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Play Jazz, Blues, Rock: Piano by Ear, Book 1.

Play Jazz, Blues, Rock: Piano by Ear, Book 1, by Andy Ostwald. Mel Bay Publications (#4 Industrial Dr., Pacific, MO 6306.9), 2003. 108 pp. $19.95.

Piano by Ear is an innovative approach to developing the aural skills essential to playing jazz, blues and rock piano. It is designed for those new to playing music by ear and improvising, but also would be quite helpful to those with some experience who need to develop better aural skills. Students will need to be able to play blocked seventh chords in one hand while playing single notes in the other hand, and read treble and bass clefs. Teachers need little to no previous knowledge of jazz, blues or rock piano because the instructions are clear, and an accompanying CD is an excellent source for instruction and inspiration, which also provides an excellent "should-sound" model.

Most jazz educators and jazz instruction books recommend transcribing to develop aural and improvisational skills. This book teaches transcription in a well-organized, step-by-step approach. The theory you need is presented clearly and succinctly as you need it. The directions are clear and easy to follow.

The organization of the book is based on key and scale structures, with each chapter introducing a new scale: C, F, G, B-flat, D, E-flat, A-flat and D-flat major respectively. Chapters include scale, chord and rhythm studies; listening and an "Improvisation Workshop." At the conclusion of each chapter is an absolutely wonderful "Practicing Page" that reviews all the skills and concepts introduced in that chapter and offers clear instructions about what and how to practice.

There is no doubt that author Andy Ostwald is an experienced and effective teacher. The organization of the book, the clarity of the explanations and the ingenuity of the "Practicing Page" clearly demonstrate mature pedagogy.

Piano by Ear, Book 1 definitely is going on this reviewer's jazz piano workshop "Recommended Materials" list, and the opportunity to examine Books 2 and .3 of the series is eagerly anticipated. Mark Levine, internationally recognized and highly respected author of The Jazz Piano Book, is quoted: "Piano by Ear is a welcome, modern, and original approach to ear training literature. It is a user-friendly, wisely written book series, and I highly recommend it." Reviewed by Ann Collins, Macomb, Illinois.
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Author:Collins, Ann
Publication:American Music Teacher
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Oct 1, 2004
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