This is an incredibly common question and there are a lot of opinions on the subject. I have to admit, I do have a viewpoint which I am happy to share with you.
I know a lot of teachers and I’ve known some over the years who worry when their students begin to branch out into jazz, rock or other styles. A common concern is that their students will lose the delicate touch needed to perform Classical music. An even bigger concern for many teachers is that jazz being an improvised style will effect the accurate representations of the great Classical repertoire.
Here is a parallel that may shed light on the subject. Imagine you’ve grown up in the United States and learned English your whole life. One day you decide to learn to speak French. Will this effect your abilities of speaking and comprehending English? I don’t believe so. I think it could present an opportunity to expand your horizons. However, it is necessary to be clear what style of music you’re playing.
The style of music you play extends far beyond the differences in jazz or Classical. If you are playing 19th century music of Chopin, you wouldn’t want to impart the Baroque style of Bach in your playing; it’s a completely different type of music and style. Each period of Classical music has its own set of demands and styles unique from one another.
When it comes down to it, as a pianist it’s best to have a multitude of different styles you can perform. Whether it’s jazz, Baroque, Classical, or whatever it might be, the more styles you can have in your musical arsenal the more marketable a musician you can become. Not only that, but different musical genres offer unique rewards.
I often encourage my students to explore different styles of music. If you want to have a career performing music it helps a lot to have many different talents and styles available. One of my students, Bijan Taghavi who just turned 16 has been studying piano with me for many years. He has performed incredibly complex pieces, has won competitions and even performed concertos with symphony orchestras. (Here is a performance he gave last year when he was 15 playing the Grieg Piano Concerto.) Recently he has gotten into learning and performing jazz – here is a performance of him playing Summertime as a Tribute to Oscar Peterson on KX 93.5 in Los Angeles, California. Has it hurt his classical playing? Not at all. The big challenge he faces is having enough time to keep learning both styles of music! On top of that he is also an accomplished guitarist and bass player! Good luck Bijan!
Thanks again for joining me Robert Estrin Robert@LivingPianos.com (949) 244-3729
This is an incredibly common question and there are a lot of opinions on the subject. I have to admit, I do have a viewpoint which I am happy to share with you. I know a lot of teachers and I’ve known some over the years who worry when their students begin to branch out into jazz, rock … Continue reading Does Playing Jazz Hurt Your Classical Music Skills?Read More