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Jazz Piano Basics

A Group Course for Intermediate Students

Next course starts 29 April 2019.

‘Jazz is a mental attitude rather than a style. It uses a certain process of the mind expressed spontaneously through some musical instrument. I’m concerned with retaining that process.’
– Bill Evans

‘Get up from that piano. You hurtin’ its feelings.’
– Jelly Roll Morton

‘Having had only “classical” training in the past, I have learned so much from this course. The approach to teaching jazz is both friendly and effective.’
– B. Moran

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Course Description

Taking place in Waltons New School of Music’s Digital Piano Lab and taught by one of the finest jazz pianists and teachers in Ireland, Jazz Piano Basics is a hands-on course designed to provide piano students of at least intermediate level (Grade 5 or equivalent) with a solid foundation in jazz piano. The course explores the unique rhythmic, melodic and harmonic aspects of jazz music and provides some basic approaches to playing in the genre, including:

  • Formation of chords and common chord progressions
  • Understanding and memorising ‘charts’ for standard jazz tunes
  • Improvisation – both melodic variation and soloing
  • How to accompany and play with a group
  • Voicing techniques
  • Aural training, intervals and chord recognition

In addition, students will work on another essential aspect of jazz – timing and ‘feel’ – that can best be developed both by listening to and playing with each other in a group setting. The distinction between practising improvised music and playing improvised music will also be discussed, as will the influence of the blues. Finally, students will learn from the masters by listening to recordings of great pianists in different settings and will be given specific practice exercises to develop their understanding and technique at home. For the last two classes, students will have the opportunity to apply their skills by working with a professional jazz bassist and jazz drummer.

For any piano student who has ever wanted to find out what jazz is all about, this is an ideal introduction to the form.

Participating students should be able to sight read intermediate level pieces reasonably well and have a working knowledge of scales and chords, but no previous knowledge of jazz is required for the course.

Jazz Piano Basics is one of the New School’s group courses. We also offer private piano lessons in a range of genres for students of all ages and skill levels. See Piano • Keyboard Tuition for more information.

Techniques Covered

A video demonstration of some techniques covered in the course:

Johnny Taylor

Johnny TaylorJohnny was born in London and studied classical piano and clarinet from a young age, playing in orchestras and receiving an ABRSM diploma in piano performance. After moving to Ireland, he studied music at Trinity College Dublin, where he was elected a Music Scholar and graduated with a First Class Honours degree in 2006. After studying with a scholarship at Berklee College of Music in Boston, Johnny returned to Dublin and began playing jazz full time. He currently leads his own piano trio as well as playing regularly in the groups of several notable Irish musicians, including Mary Coughlan, Nigel Mooney, Linley Hamilton, Aoife Doyle, Emilie Conway and Loah. One of the finest jazz pianists (as well as one of the busiest musicians) on the Irish music scene, Johnny regularly performs in Dublin and around Ireland and has performed at major festivals in the US, the Caribbean, other European countries and the Middle East. He has taught at the New School since 2007.

‘Having benefited and been inspired by so many wonderful teachers over the years – people I’ve studied with, people I’ve played with, musical heroes whom I love and whose music enriches my life – I consider myself honoured and fortunate now to be in a position to share the knowledge and experience I have and continue to accrue with others through my teaching work. For the most part I work with students in the realm of improvised music, ear-training, playing without sheet music, all the while dismantling the notion that “you either have it or you don’t”. As a wise improvising musician once said, you must first learn the rules and then forget them.’

Johnny’s free improvisation to the animated short film Three for Four.

Johnny performing with his trio (Damien Evans, Bass and Dominic Mullan, Drums).

Johnny recording Duke Ellington’s ‘Sophisticated Lady’ with the Suzanne Savage Quartet.


‘A great way to immerse yourself in a different musical world.’
– N. Collet

‘Johnny Taylor is exceptional. As a former classical piano teacher to diploma level, I can safely say he is the best teacher I have come across and I consider myself very fortunate to have done so.’
– J. Dunne

‘A solid introduction to jazz and improvised music-making. Johnny is not only a great jazz musician but a supportive and inspiring teacher.’
– E. Grennan

‘Great foundation for a jazz beginner. Johnny has a very positive, open and encouraging approach.’
– S. Malin

‘An excellent introduction to jazz piano and improvisation. Playing with other jazz musicians at the end was a great experience!’
– C. O’Brien

Have you taken – or are you taking – this course? We would appreciate it if you could take a few moments to give us your feedback in a brief online questionnaire about it.


2018-2019 Third Term Course Schedule & Fee

8 weeks, 29 April – 1 July 2019
(No classes on 6 May & 3 June)
Mondays 7 – 8 pm

Tuition Fee: €170


Enrolment for this course requires a completed Enrolment Form and full payment of the course fee. Places are limited to eight, and are available on a first-come, first-served basis, based on the date of enrolment. A number of our group courses fill in advance of their start dates, and early enrolment is recommended.


Purchasing this course as a gift?
Please complete a Gift Certificate Booking Form.


Questions about the course?


Jazz Piano on YouTube

Thelonious Monk (1917 – 1982)
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