Alright people, I have successfully tamed the beasts calling themselves my "parents". Now I am a free mind with money of his own to play music again.

I have a CTK-451 which basically is a 61 keyboard with unweighted and insensitive keys left from my childhood. Ha!

Jazz is what moves my spirit and so I want to get into music by what i like. Classical is very enjoyable also but Jazz is more "rock" and "let's move", which is what drives me to it every time.

When shown notes and I can tell you which is which and play it... slowly ... out of rhythm. Practice Practice Practice. I am aware of some basics of the circle of fifths but I am no prodigy.

Would you recommend me to take basic piano lessons first anyways(based on classical). If yes, I would "train" for the lessons on classical and study/play jazz in the rest of the free time.

What else could I practice?

For the keyboard I will get a full key, weighted(+sensitive) with midi or usb, piano.

  • +1 from me because I'm interested in this too but would also like to see whether people recommend learning to read music of learning/ playing 'by ear' Commented Apr 14, 2014 at 11:45
  • This question (and answers) might help you: music.stackexchange.com/q/410/9198 Commented Apr 14, 2014 at 12:07
  • Aren’t there jazz piano lessons anywhere nearby you? I’d be guessing most of the basics (getting your posture right, learning the keyboard) would be the same at first, but could diverge quite quickly.
    – Édouard
    Commented Apr 14, 2014 at 13:19
  • Something that may help here - www.coursera.org has free online classes from the Berklee School of Music - one of them is an introduction to jazz improv, which starts in 6 days.
    – tarun
    Commented Jan 27, 2015 at 13:25
  • @tarun, it does ask that you have basic improv background though. Might be a little advanced for someone just starting. Commented Jun 27, 2015 at 2:22

4 Answers 4


don't take classical lessons. It doesn't prepare you adequately for jazz. The problem is that classical teachers don't teach you about chords (harmony) and they don't encourage you to play by ear or to improvise - all of which are fundamental to jazz. So, my recommendation is to find a jazz pianist in your city, someone who plays in a way that you like, and ask them for weekly lessons. They can take you from the roots in blues, ragtime, that sort of thing, show you how to voice chords, how to play bass lines, and build your musical vocabularly on the road towards jazz.

  • I would like to read some more opinions on his suggestion.
    – user10099
    Commented Apr 19, 2014 at 17:49
  • I found my classical teacher to be this way. This doesn't sound like the standard, but I struggled heavily as I was trying to learn rock music with a classical focused teacher. The result was her encouraging me to buy sheet music of rock/pop books and playing them verbatim, with no education on what a chord was. I left there and started taking lessons from a rock teacher and my world opened up.
    – tarun
    Commented Jan 27, 2015 at 13:19
  • You can never know enough music if you want to play, so I don't entirely agree with this advice. However, Michael has a point. Improvisation uses an entirely different side of the brain than when you are striving to recreate a piece of sheet music accurately. Both are musical exercises and one informs the other, but they are not the same. Mainly you can't skip to a solution. Hurry slowly (festina lente, I think is the Italian expression.) Go after it from every possible approach, but is is essential to find someone to demonstrate how it is done - more a mentor than a teacher. Commented Jan 27, 2015 at 17:29

As a classically-trained pianist who is now beginning to learn jazz piano, I would recommend taking classical piano lessons because with that comes classical music theory which is an important thing to understand, regardless of your chosen style.

Once you are suitably adept with classical piano, you could then begin to learn the features and practices of the jazz genre, as I am. However, since you are only beginning to learn the piano then you are probably in a good position to try to learn about classical music and jazz at the same time. You could take lessons with a classical trainer, and then study jazz alongside it.

Regardless of how you structure your learning, I would advise learning classical piano, because it is a good place to start and you can then branch out into many different styles, using your knowledge of basic western notation. The fundamentals remain the same - time signatures, key signatures, the twelve-semitones octave etc.

Basically: take classical lessons, buy jazz books, study classical and jazz theory.

Hope this helps.

  • I get that is your experience, but does it mean it’s necessarily the right way? Especially if OP has no interest in playing classical music — this could very well be discouraging
    – Édouard
    Commented Apr 14, 2014 at 13:16
  • OP describes classical as 'very enjoyable', and I was careful not to say that it is the right way. My answer says: I would advise.... I wasn't trying to say that the way I learnt is the best way, by any means. I was trying to recommend it though, and I think my answer balances the two.
    – Poben
    Commented Apr 14, 2014 at 16:07
  • Yeah i have thought about pretty much the same but was not sure if this wouldn't be "too much". I'll try it this way. I bought a book from Frank Sikora(its on german; dunno if its available in english) which was advoctaed as one of the best on jazz improvisation/theory and as a pretty straightforward book. The thing about the tutor is the monthly pay 65-85€/month and especially the driving time i could practice. I prefere autodidactic measures most of the time anyways but i would need quality resources nontheless. "Pebber Brown" on YT has straightforward videos about music theory. Any other?
    – user10099
    Commented Apr 14, 2014 at 16:39
  • In the UK, ABRSM are some of the best providers of theory books, and they also run exams. With practical, I don't really know - I have always relied on a teacher. A search of Amazon would probably give you some good results.
    – Poben
    Commented Apr 14, 2014 at 17:06
  • I also suggest learning classical playing first. Sight reading and theory are so important. These days theory includes jazz anyway, and once you can play you can take impro lessons. You have to have the foundations to build upon. I say this because it is so very hard for the other musicians when some guy turns up thinking being able to play somebody else's riffs by heart makes you a jazz musician, while not even knowing what transposition etc is.
    – RedSonja
    Commented Mar 11, 2021 at 13:09

I never took classical piano lessons, but it does help to a degree. It helps with sight reading, should you ever decide to sit in a session and everyone are reading charts arranged for originals, etc. It helps with basic chords. Mostly Major and minor triads in different inversions, with different bass notes from the same chord. (typical feature in classical music), diminished and augmented chords. Lots of these types of chords are found throughout latin/cuban music and gospel. In saying that, Jazz is all about feel. I have been playing jazz piano/ latin/ blues etc professionally for over 20 years now, and I also teach jazz piano. I have seen the great advantages of classical technique through most of my Japanese students. (I live in Japan) It's a common thing here for kids to take up piano at such a young age. So by the time I receive any students wanting to learn "jazz" (usually in their teens) A lot of the technique is already taken care of, and I can then focus on the feel, and introduce to them new rhythms, harmonies, scales, chord progressions, and sounds. Thelonius Monk had terrible looking fingering to many pianists, BUT he had GREAT feel, introduced amazing ideas, and figured out his own technique. It all depends how far you want to take it. If you want to play like Oscar Petersen but can not play fast runs like he can, that's when classical training from a GREAT TEACHER will help you. Ofcourse you need to put in the work. If you want to sound AMAZING without those fast runs, then just focus on your feel, by listening to as many great recordings as possible, and trying to mimic what you hear. Rhythm, melody. There are great jazz tutorials online.

here are some cats that never had any classical training:


A classical education ultimately prepares you for sight-reading and reproduction. But in the process, there is of course a lot of execution skills as well as getting exposed to a lot of different thoughts and media.

There is no way to get exposed to music better than playing it. Should someone wanting to be a poet recite other people's poetry? How else is he going to acquire a feeling for the meters?

Saying to skip a classical education since you want to play Jazz anyway seems to me like wanting to skip grammar since you want to become a modernist writer anyway. Or wanting to skip perspective since you want to become a cubist.

To be an artist worth listening to, you need to be in control of your execution. A classical education is all about control of execution. What is lacking is the control of variation, so yes, at some point of time you'll likely match your teachers' interests and specialization to your own.

But the basics are pretty much the same, and there is certainly also "migratory" material like Scott Joplin's piano ragtimes which you can pull off just fine using classical education but which are sort of stepping stones into non-classical interpretation.

  • 1
    most jazz musicians did not have a classical education, so I think one needs to look at the road they took Commented Feb 4, 2015 at 0:24

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