Jazz for classical pianists – this weekend’s jam

Double bassist, saxophonist and grand piano in the main hall

Jazz evokes many reactions from the classical musician: memories of the “C” piece in the ABRSM syllabus, an unattainable hazy dream, even terror! Well, the amazing David Hall brought the genre into gentle, accessible focus on our first Jazz for Classical Pianists weekend at Finchcocks. Find out more below…

Man playing grand piano with saxophonist in background

The weekend was ram-packed with information, practically applied in interactive workshops. Guests learned about 4-note chords, shell voicing, walking bass for solo pianists, A and B voicings, how to build a melody when improvising, jazz scales, structure, changes, form and style.

Woman and man playing duet at Steinway in workshop

The class was a mixed ability one spanning from intermediate to advanced, with many different experiences of classical education and jazz experience brought to the table. Guests could explore a particular focus in their one-to-one lesson, but David is highly skilled at differentiating tasks during the group workshops too, so everyone could have a go whilst warmly supported by the other students!

A highlight for everyone was Saturday evening, where guests were invited to join double bassist James Sunney and David Hall on saxophone in a jam – and accompany host Jennifer Maslin singing should they wish. Many were brave and took the plunge, some for the first time ever! Making music together was so uplifting and made for a very jolly time.


Lightbulb moments from some of the guests also included:

  • Hear the improvised melody in your head before you play it on the piano.
  • Listen to recorded solos, transcribe and learn them to add to your own inspiration and influences.
  • Decide on and set a pulse and groove before you do anything else.
  • To improve, you need to put in disciplined work on voicing, which is apparently called woodshedding!
  • “OMG, that’s how jazzers do that!when referring to walking bass, voicing and many other techniques covered during the course!
  • Think, plan and “hear” ahead.
  • Harmony is in the right hand, not the left. This is often the opposite in classical piano music.
  • Getting over the fear of playing in front of other musicians and audience.

And, as a final postive piece of inspiration, we thought we’d leave you with a photo of the Finchcocks autmnal sunrise that greeted us so beautifully on Saturday…

But it’s not too late to get in on the fun!

We will be running the course in a year’s time and currently have four places left. So challenge yourself in something new and take the plunge into the wonderful world of jazz!

For booking enquiries, please complete the booking form at the bottom of the course page.