Our piano teacher Andoni explained how Jazz influenced him and his teaching style.
Why did you pick Jazz as your specialization?
I came from Gilroy where Jazz music was not very popular. At the time, throughout the country, there were Jazz bands at High School level. In Junior High, my music teacher said “We have a Jazz band and we need a piano player”. I had no idea what Jazz was so I got into it. What I like about Jazz is that you can improvise, while in classical music you need to follow notes on a page. I fell in love with that kind of freedom. So I decided to learn more and more about it and became a Jazz player. In my opinion, the classical music that we know originated in Europe, while Jazz is the classical music of America - a music form that is more relevant to me as a modern American. I like the way Jazz trains musicians. It trains them to hear it not just to read it, being able to play it by ear and being able to “jam” (improvising).
Do you think anyone can play Jazz or is it about a personality match?
I think anyone can play Jazz. I think we are all musicians. When you go to concerts, you see people get up and dancing. That is an example of playing Jazz, where the music and the audience start corresponding together. Of course, there are some people who are more gravitated to Jazz more than the others.
How do you incorporate Jazz into your teaching?
Sometimes, I teach music not just by notation, but also by ear training. What I do a lot with my students is singing along with them and tapping the beat, while they're playing.
What are the stereotypes or misperceptions about Jazz music that you always hear?
Some people don’t quite understand Jazz. Because it's all about improvising. Music is like languages. You can only understand it if you speak it. It’s the same thing for Jazz. It was a music that is designed and played for a certain group, you have to be able to hear it. Even if you don't know anything about Jazz, just try it, perhaps you will like it and be influenced by the music.
Who are your musical inspirations?
There are so many that you can't just pinpoint it to one. It's a whole body of work, it's a language. For example: Miles Davis, Chick Corea, Bill Evans, just to name a few.
Your teaching style in two words?
If you could call Andoni of 10 years ago, what would you tell him?
I would tell him like I tell any of my students now: practice, practice and practice! At least 30 minutes everyday. And to be very focused and live in the moment.
Your favorite music hubs in the Bay Area?
About Andoni (Level II Piano Teacher):
Andoni is a member of MTAC. He has over 10 years teaching piano to all ages and all levels in classical, jazz, and popular music. He specializes in developing a structured approach for each student to learn the foundations of musical performance. He is experienced in CM and ABRSM exam preparation.
M.M. from San Jose State University.
Schedule a piano trial lesson and get to know Andoni now!