J: It’s a lot to play, but playing piano is more about your intuition, than the muscles or anything. It’s a lot of mental focus; you have to pay attention and focus on exactly where you’re playing for a given sound, and you have to mentally prepare yourself mentally for each individual chord. You have to pay attention to the way the chords come together, how the notes are playing, how the notes interact with each other and when everything hits, and for how long. It’s very, very similar in that you have to pay attention to the way the musicality is coming together on the note as it’s coming out. For that reason, if you make sure you pay attention to the notes, you’re going to be in a very good position with any particular piano sound.
A: What were some of the most challenging and rewarding parts of the process?
J: The most rewarding part for me was just to put it all together and execute everything so that everyone understood it. In the process of teaching and playing, I have to take everything one at a time because there’s some new information we learn about how the music flows, and sometimes that knowledge is pretty overwhelming, and I have to take all that information and re-examine it. I’ve learned a lot from it.
A: How do you find time for teaching yourself?
J: It’s funny, when I was first learning how to play piano, I was learning the way I was taught in Chicago public schools. I was actually learning to play piano for an entire semester, and I’m not sure if it was because I didn’t want to have to learn to play guitar and have to take music lessons for the second semester, but I had to teach myself how to play the chord-by-chord structures, the notes, and how to recognize different melodies. I was trying to read my piano textbook every night, constantly, and I also was trying to learn more than I was comfortable with at the time. But then I took on my teaching degree and then I realized that teaching is not a passive process. You have to actively participate in your teaching. It’s not like, “You’re not to worry about what you’re teaching him, you’re to worry about what you’re teaching him.” You have to take responsibility in the teaching process. That’s a big thing for me to learn when I learn how to teach a person, and I’m so happy to be teaching for a very different
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