Free Coursera Online Course “Introduction to Improvisation” by Gary Burton

Recently, I’ve found the great online education platform that partners with top universities and organizations in the world to offer courses online for anyone to take, for free. Browsing the Music category of their course offers, two online courses by the well-reputed Berklee College of Music jumped off the page, and I immediately enrolled in the 5-week Introduction to Improvisation course hosted by the great vibes player Gary Burton. According to his website 39,000 other people had the same idea. Read more

Learning Funk Piano I

Long time, no post … hope to change that from now on!

When it comes to funk and its realization on the piano, I’m pretty much of a rookie. Good thing that there are helpful and capable musicians out there who take the time to create comprehensive tutorials meticulously dissecting the building blocks of a funky groove. Jonathon Wilson at GrooveWindow is the man I’m talking about: He created a great resource for aspiring funk pianists on the web and even provides backing tracks, MIDI files and sheet music for his various grooves and licks that he discusses on the site. Read more

Dealing with Frustration in the Practice Room

Jazz Advice is one of those few jazz websites I stop by several times a week, and I can hardly remember a visit when I didn’t find fresh content, let alone the wealth of articles that has already ammassed in the archives.

Today’s essay on Dealing With Frustration In Practicing Jazz Improvisation really strikes a chord with me (pun so intended!). All too often I catch myself playing along a rendered Band-in-a-Box accompaniment over and over again, hoping that this time I won’t get stuck at a specific passage or that sudden inspiration will hit me enabling me to cope with a particularly difficult (frequently equalling “under-rehearsed”) progression.

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Useful Software and Apps for Jazz Musicians

In this post I’d like to share with you some, if not all, of the software and tools I use on a regular basis and which I have come to consider indispensable in my jazz studies in general and in my practice routine in particular.

This list is by no means exhaustive and will most likely be updated from time to time.

Ear Training

  • Karajan iPhone app ( This iPhone app (also available for iPad) is a neat tool for ear training on-the-go and especially useful for learning and practicing intervals and scales (from traditional Western modes to scales relevant in jazz like altered, whole-half diminished or lydian dominant, it’s got them all!). Check out the free demo
  • EarMaster 5 ( This comprehensive ear training software (available for PC and Mac) features over 650 progressive lessons covering all levels from absolute beginner to advanced musician. The best part is that it comes with a set of lessons specifically designed for the jazz idiom. Great tool to practice identifying, transcribing and playing intervals, chords, harmonic progressions, scales, modes, rhythms and melodies! Supports MIDI and microphone input.


  • Transcribe! ( Slow down any tune (audio file) to a speed of your choice without changing the pitch and analyze any part of the sound spectrum for the specific notes that are played. Facilitates transcribing your favorite solos immensely! Read more

First post // Rendition of Jobim’s “Triste”

My name is Johannes Pohl. Originally, I’m a classically trained piano player, but since 2010 I’ve been studying jazz as part of an evening training program at the Neue Jazzschool München e.V., majoring in jazz piano and minoring in electric bass.

I haven’t set up this blog to showcase my playing. Primarily, I’d like to use it to track my progress and keep me on my toes, to get in touch and talk shop with other (aspiring) jazz pianists around the world and to share useful practice tips or web resources.

Some weeks ago, Peter Martin – known for his free 2 Minute Jazz Piano clips – launched a website offering online Jazz Piano Lessons. Of course, I jumped at the chance of learning from this great musician.

As part of an ongoing challenge in the forums to select and learn a new tune every month, practice it thoroughly and then post a recording for the other members to comment on, I’ve posted the (first) rendition below of this month’s pick, “Triste” by Antônio Carlos Jobim.

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