Elena Cobb didn’t start out teaching creatively. When she began teaching in U.K. she came across lots of students who wanted to “play for fun”. This was a bit of a foreign concept to Elena, having grown up with very serious classical music studies. She went on a hunt for fun repertoire for her students, and gradually started to compose her own.
When she saw the ABRSM jazz syllabus she was inspired to incorporate some improvising into her teaching as well. As she started to explore improvisation more, the tunes started to flow and Higgledy Piggledy Jazz was born.
The Higgledy Piggledy Jazz book has helped to get so many students started with improvisation, and I’m so excited to get Elena’s thoughts on teaching creatively in today’s interview.
In this episode, you’ll learn:
- Why Elena wrote the Higgledy Piggledy Jazz books
- How to get students improvising in a no pressure way
- What students often really mean when they ask to play jazz piano
- How to make jazz less intimidating to classically trained students
- Why you need to understand that in jazz you don’t need to change every note
- How to get started with just one note and a great rhythm
- How teaching creatively can take just 5 minutes of lesson time
- Why backing tracks are so valuable to get students really listening
- How Elena grew from a self-published author to a publisher of other composers
Items mentioned in this podcast:
- Higgledy Piggledy Jazz
- ABRSM Jazz Piano Syllabus
- TTTV002: Using Piano Improv to Create a Musician for Life with Christopher Norton
Thank you for Tuning In!
There are a lot of podcasts you could be tuning into today, and I’m grateful that you’ve chosen mine.
Being a full-time teacher myself, I know how busy teachers are and how much time, effort and passion we put into our students. Sometimes, the last thing we want to do in our time off is listen to more piano teaching stuff! So, well done for using this time for self-improvement.
Whether you’re at the gym, on the bike or in the car, I know that you and your students will get lots out of what you learn in the long run. Just make sure you try out some of the ideas before they get lost in the business of your next lessons.
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Do you take a few minutes of every lesson to improvise?
Is teaching creatively a regular part of your lesson time? Have you used any of Elena’s resources to open up your students to improvisation?
What’s your favourite introduction to improvisation for beginning students?