The Merriam School of Music offers students the opportunity to study jazz piano at both an intermediate and advanced level. This can be done through our regular Private Piano Lesson program, as well as our Enriched Jazz program.
It will give students real-life performance opportunities, chances to learn from working professionals in the jazz scene, and generally acquire the fundamental skills needed to begin an exploration of the jazz piano idiom.
Examples of jazz pianists include: Oscar Peterson, Chick Corea, Bill Evans, Herbie Hancock, Nat King Cole
The Enriched course is only available by audition, and entry is not guaranteed. There is also a limited number of spaces available each year.
Equip students with an existing foundation in piano playing with the essential skills needed to begin learning how to play jazz. This will include improvisation techniques, applied harmonic theory, rhythmic training, and opportunities to play in jazz ‘combo’s.
Each class takes place between one teacher and one student, for either 30 or 60 minutes. It also includes monthly masterclasses with industry professionals, as well as enhanced performance opportunities. All events and additional classes will be provided in advance to parents.
Jazz Pianos Lessons
|Length:||30 / 60 min|
|RCM Exam Compatible:||N/A|
|Start Date:||Throughout the year|
Students entering jazz studies at the Merriam School of Music should already have a basic foundation in piano playing. The recommended minimum would be a minimum Gr. 6 RCM level, or the Merriam Curriculum Advanced 1 level.
Repertoire / Memorization
Jazz students will be taught a range of jazz standards considered necessary to participate in group playing environments. This includes songs such as “Autumn Leaves”, “All The Things You Are”, “Summertime”, and “Girl From Ipanema”.
Technique / Rudiments
Knowledge of and fluency in the modes of the major scale, the blues scale, as well as some basic “licks” are all taught and expected.
Students are taught to recognize melodies, intervals, and harmonic progression by ear. This significantly aids in the speed of repertoire learning, as well as enhances the memorization process, and creates a greater versatility in ensemble or band settings.
Students at every level are taught to recognize and play in real-time: individual notes, chords, melodic passages, and full two-clef writing
Students in the Jazz Stream will learn the art of improvisation from working Jazz Professionals in the Toronto scene. Most Enriched Jazz students are able to improvise at a similar level to 1st year college students.
Music is increasingly created with, and enjoyed through technology. Students are given the opportunity to connect with modern music technology as a part of most performances, as well as the classroom learning environment. Technology is presented as a tool to further their explorations of rhythm, composition, and improvisation.
Applied Harmony (vs. written harmony only)
This approach treats the study of harmonic progression as directly connected with the study of performance, rather than a separate academic approach not connected with performance. Students learn to understand the harmonic motion of the pieces they are playing, increasing their depth of understanding and interpretation of those pieces. It also gives them an advanced understanding of how harmony influences improvisation and composition.
Applied Rhythm (vs. written rhythm only)
Studying rhythm in an applied sense vs. isolated requirements will increase students’ capacity for contemporary playing, as well as a stronger sense of pulse across all genres of music. It also encourages the use of rhythm as a compositional and improvisational component.
Merriam has more than a dozen instructors that specialize in jazz, notably: Brian DeLima, Tim Cousins, Stu Harrison, Len Feldman, and Amanda Tosoff.
Ongoing and relevant experience in the Toronto Jazz scene is considered crucial, to ensure that playing levels are high, and that there are regular opportunities for students to witness their instructors performing.