Guest Posts

5 Things to Consider Before Buying a Digital Piano

There’s a lot that goes into the decision of buying the best digital piano. For instance, are you looking to buy a fully-fledged digital piano or simply want a portable 61-key keyboard?  Are you interested in something portable to carry around when you’re invited to gigs or do you want a larger stage version? How about sound quality, polyphony, and the actual keyboard?

These are just a few of the many questions you’ll need to ask yourself as you work on your budget to find the best digital piano that suits your unique needs.

In this post, we look at the most important things you need to consider before buying a digital piano. The goal is to help you make a more informed buying decision when shopping for a digital piano that meets your needs and budget.

This list is by no means completely exhaustive but you can consider it as a guide to help you decide which type of digital piano should work best for you.

So, without much ado, here are the five key things to consider if you’re in the market for a digital piano.

Guest Posts

The Relationship Between Jazz and Gospel Music

Gospel and Jazz Music

The advantage of learning to play gospel music as a kid growing up in church was gaining the ability to hear and play piano (or keyboard). No matter how many rehearsals we held beforehand, the set-list never stayed the same during the actual church service. We had no other option as young musicians than to listen, figure out, and learn on the spot during the service. Frustrating as this experience was back then, I developed my ability to hear and play unwittingly and prepared myself for my journey into the world of jazz. 

I fell in love with jazz after looking for a greater musical challenge, feeling that gospel music as a genre had become redundant in form. Learning to play jazz has definitely broadened my musical horizon. It continues to excite me as I explore it even further, discovering the endless wonder of musical expression. 

Differences between Gospel and Jazz

  • Gospel music features composition, while jazz features improvisation.
  • Gospel music utilizes straight rhythms, while jazz uses swing rhythms instead.
  • Gospel music incorporates chord structures and progressions corresponding to a melody, while jazz pushes further into more adventurous harmonic, melodic, and modal expressions.

The History of Jazz

Jazz as a genre originated in New Orleans around 1895. A combination of marching band music, ragtime, and blues, its widespread use of improvisation differentiated it from all the other earlier styles. Prior to the birth of jazz, western music composers wrote music on a piece of paper, then musicians would do their best to play exactly what was written in the score. The birth of Jazz broke from that tradition, as songs became a frame of reference for musicians to improvise instead. Though some virtuoso musicians weren’t exceptional sight-readers, their playing still thrilled their audiences, and their spontaneous music resemble the joy and adventurous spirit of that age.

Despite the differences between Jazz and Gospel, they actually have much in common. 

Similarities between Gospel and Jazz?

These genres have more in common than you may realize, and blues served as a bridge between them. Dating back to the 1800s, when “call and response” was established as a form of expression, African Americans celebrated Christianity through the expression of music in a new and soulful style. This style touched hearts with its powerful lyric and melodic repetition. Musician Thomas Dorsey, 1930s, is father of this “Gospel” style.

Many contemporary artists, such as Mary Mary, Mahalia Jackson, and Kirk Franklin, served as crossover artists within these genres. They paired their strong faith with expressive jazz techniques, harmonies, and instrumentation. More and more, we are seeing many talented artists, with both a strong calling to serve their church and a deep faith, who also want to pursue a full-time musical career. They have found a way to use their creative passion by blending the Gospel and Jazz genres together. One such artist is jazz saxophonist Kirk Whalum. 

Another example is Niki Haris. She combines jazz and gospel music together brilliantly in live performances, showcasing her vocal execution, lyrical commitment, and thorough instrumentation. She reaches both Jazz and Gospel audiences alike.

“Faith” is another strong concept that ties Jazz and Gospel music together. A “spiritually guided” direction gives sustenance to our hopes and dreams, from a biblical standpoint. The other direction of faith is found in daring to articulate an artistic vision and expressing something that’s both broader in scope and far more personal. 

In Gospel music, “faith” is essential, while in Jazz music, it’s more of a distant goal. Though aims may differ however, both paths continually influence one another. For example, gospel music would not have evolved apart from the artists who felt the need to hear and express something beyond the ecclesiastical music that preceded them.

In an interview with New York jazz trumpeter, composer, and educator John Raymond, conducted by TGC (The Gospel Coalition), considered this question: “How has becoming a Christian shaped your work?” His answered, “The Lord has used Jazz to make me into someone who trusts him. Jazz is improvised and messy. When performing, I don’t know exactly where my fellow bandmates or I are going. This spontaneity runs right up against my impulse to control. But God has used jazz to teach me to trust his grace, let go of my grasp, and live moment by moment through the Spirit. And this hasn’t just shaped how I play music; it has also shaped how I parent, how I teach, and more.”

About the Author – As an avid piano dreamer, Lucas has immersed himself in all things keyboards and music for more than 12 years. This captivating journey has inspired him to launch where he likes to share everything he’s learned over the years with his fellow musicians. Lucas collaborated first-hand with many accomplished musicians and participated in numerous musical projects of note. From teaching to performance, consultation to making music, he’s been turning his piano dreams into reality for more than a decade.

Guest Posts

Learn to Mix Jazz Guitar Chords to Piano Chords

Being a guitar player with a piano or keyboard player in your band can be one of the trickier situations to deal with in jazz. This mostly becomes a problem when we are discussing accompaniment or “comping.” Now, in my experience, most of the old-school cats will tell you that only one of you should be comping at a time. However, there are some opportunities for the two to have some interaction. There are some considerations to be observed when approaching this. A quick look at the keyboardist and you can decide who is going to comp for which soloist. Sometimes, the guitar player will be the main accompanist and sometimes it will be the keyboard player. Today, we will talk about a few of those including textures, rhythm, and voicings as a guitar player trying to add to what the keyboard player is already doing. It is important to always listen and only contribute when you feel that there is space for something. Many fellow “compers” will prefer it if you do not add anything to what they are doing. Therefore, it is important to check in with them once in a while and try to keep eye contact with your band mates in general.

Guest Posts

The Beginner’s Guide To Mastering Jazz On Guitar

Jazz is an amazing fusion of multiple genres, developed in New Orleans through African-American communities in the late 19th century. Although initially controversial, jazz found its place within popular culture and the scene is still thriving today – its relevance is seen in movies, games and continues to influence pop music immeasurably. Blending blues, ragtime, classical and other popular genres of the era, jazz drew on these influences and broke the rules of them all to create a highly distinct sound. As a beginner, learning jazz guitar can initially seem daunting. This tutorial will require some basic knowledge of chords, scales and harmony, but is beginner-friendly enough to give you a great introduction to playing jazz on your guitar. If you want to learn how to master jazz on guitar, practicing the following regularly will help you reach your goals faster as you begin to connect the dots.

Guest Posts

An Array of Horns, Smoothly

Somehow, smiling while keeping his embouchure as he plays sax, Audley Reid is a sight to behold and a feast for the ears. The groove and funk spilling from his horn catches the audience in an acoustic vise.

He’s performed internationally including in his native Jamaica. A strong figure in the Chicago smooth jazz scene, he can easily slide from smooth to Caribbean to R&B or from Christian to straight-ahead. His CD titled “A Plays E” was ranked #3 by Smooth Jazz and More internet radio.