Zero-waste mum of two. Travelling, cooking, playing music. Always a paperback in my handbag. BBC (British-born-Chinese) from Hong Kong.
Her captivating music
Over a decade ago I got attracted by the amazing piano work from Hiromi Uehara. This young, talented and passionate contemporary jazz pianist from Japan is one of the modern piano legends. I was lucky enough to see her show with Stanley Clarke in North Sea Jazz Festival 2010, Rotterdam, and a couple of other shows in amazing venues in Europe. The audiences (including myself of course) were totally blown away by her piano technique and emotions that she’s able to channel through the concert hall.
Hiromi Uehara Sheet Music Download?
Since the first acquaintance with her music, I started searching for her sheet music and wanted to learn the way her arrangement and improvising technique. While searching for her sheet music, I also read articles about her style and the concept of jazz improvising. All these readings have then inspired me to give up searching for her sheet music or attempts to rely on transcriptions.
I was able to found a couple of those. Here are some previews and free pages.
Hiromi Uehara Place to be Piano Sheet music Preview
Using Ears Versus Using Eyes
I myself, like many children started learning piano, begin with learning classical music with the classical method, note-reading. Reading notes is one of the essential skills that classical music students ought to master. After years of playing, you would not be surprise that one would rely on reading notes more than using their ears to ‘visualize’ music. It has grown into an impediment of me (yes sounds ironic but it's so true to many classical piano players!). If you are reading this and have the same problem, I hope this article would really help you.
For Hiromi’s music, of course I believe it’s transcriptable, with certain skill and available time. Yet, to truly equip yourself with the ability to play jazz music, besides having lesson with appropriate teachers, you would have to understand the music’s structure from scratch.
The best way to do this is to use the ears, yup, your own ears, located on both side on your head. :)
Check out Sheet music from Hiromi
How-to Start Jazz Ear Training
Sounds like a dump title, isn't it? How to train your ears? But for some classical musicians, this is such a tricky topic that some of us are even ashamed to admit.
When I go to jazz concerts, I can't really hear what the bass player plays, I can only see what he/ she is doing but can't even hear the sound of it. Such a shame right?
I started my jazz piano lesson 4 years ago (I will write about my journey of unrooting my classical-me to a jazz-me). The moment my teacher played a record and asked me to replicate the baseline, i was like ' huh? what baseline?'
Well, it needs to start somewhere.
So, step-by-step guide in ear-training:
1. Look up a song (in Spotify for example, where it's easy for you to pause) you would like to learn, or something you really like. It's not necessarily a jazz tune. Now sit next to your instrument.
2. Listen to the chord or baseline, try to find the same note on your instrument, in my case, piano.
3. Start slow! First few times if you don't get it, don't worry! It is totally normal. Don't get frustrated as well. You are just like one of us! Try to do a few times, if it doesn't work, just stop and start again.
4. After several attempts of the same song, you should be able to find the baseline. Paying attention to the melody line also helps as this would help you to find the tonality of the song.
5. Keep trying and don't give up
6. You will notice your hearing ability would improve in time!
Next to ear-training, get to understand some basics would definitely help too!
Tony Winston's recommendation and tutorials
Back to Basic
Many Jazz musicians suggest jazz newbie to first get familiar with various jazz chords and their different positioning variations. This is to get your ears familiar with the sound of Jazz chords and later on be able to improvise from these chords.
If you have gone through practicing major and minor scales when learning classical music, you would understand the importance of learning the chords and scales and how your ears can adjust to the sound.
I've attached here some chord lists here as your visual aid for the start of a Jazz journey!
Jazz Chord Table
Look for Great Books and Online Material
There are many talented people out there who are generous to share their playing online. One of the ultimate sources of video reference is YouTube. There are many good videos made by pianists showing you their jazz playing skill and improvising techniques. Advantage of having a video is that you can replay and replay, and practice on your own, until you can get the music through your head.
A easily understandable and well-planned book is also crucial. 'The Jazz Piano Book' by Mark Levine has been translated in multiple languages and has been a handbook for jazz musicians world wide.
The Jazz Piano Book by Mark Levine
One of the most recommended Jazz Piano book for self learning
The ' Real Book' Jazz standard series
There are supporting tracks and tutorial videos available to supplement the book as well!
Practice Makes Perfect!!
Like any other kind of music genre, the golden rule to success is still to practice and practice, and never give up when encountering difficulties. Hope the info would help and wish their Hiromi Uehara's music can inspire you as well.
I will write about my journey of switching from deep-rooted classical pianist to jazz pianist soon. Stay tuned!
© 2010 Moxy Lewis
Michael Frederick on March 13, 2011:
This Hub was really a helping hand for me as a novice piano player.
Thank you so much for this fantastic Hub!