One of the most important aspects of playing the piano is the way you can personalize your performance of a song. Although there are many music collections that include written arrangements of songs by Jerome Kern and other well-known composers of selections from the Great American Songbook, there's a better way to individualize your interpretations of the standards.
The method that I created over the past 4 decades of teaching and performing is called the:
The TAP System brings together 3 important strands of my natural musicality. One was my extensive musical training, another was years of solo piano performance and the 3rd was my belief in the importance of creative self-expression which would help my students to play the music they love.
During the 1990's, while I was playing hours of solo piano gigs every week, I was also working on 2 Master's degrees at New England Conservatory. I was so engrossed in what I was learning, that it enabled me to crystalize my approach to playing and also my approach to teaching my students.
Several years ago, I had an adult student who worked on many standards and she developed quite a repertoire. She went on to perform at assisted living and other facilities and after doing this for several months, she began to expand her repertoire even further. She contacted me and asked me to recommend accompaniment styles that she could use for several selections for her growing list. She had developed to the point where the ability to adapt and express a whole repertoire of songs had become a joy and part of her creative experience. The reason for my student's request was that she had learned one of the most important principles of TAP: the left hand is the Count Basie Band found in my article: The Key Is In the Counting.
By that I mean, focus on the LEFT HAND accompaniment, play it with precise timing, a strong rhythmic feel and then play you will become free to embellish and elaborate on the melody played by RIGHT HAND.
Interestingly enough, today's featured selection, Yesterdays was written by a composer who did NOT like musicians interpreting his songs in different ways. Jerome Kern believed strongly that the way his songs were performed in their original styles in Broadway Shows, films, etc., is the ONLY way that they should be performed. So I suppose I owe Mr. Kern an apology, but if I do, then so do hundreds of other musicians. You see, many of Jerome Kern's songs are perfect for arranging, great vehicles for improvisation and always maintain their musical integrity despite the style of the arrangement.
Although my performance of Yesterdays uses a rubato introduction, I played most of the song with a Latin rhythm. That said, I've also played it as a swing tune and have heard Wynton Marsalis' version of it as a ballad.
Using the Principles of the TAP System, Diana Performs Her Arrangement of Jerome Kern's Yesterdays
Wondering How Diana's TAP System Can Help You Transform Your Piano Playing?
It's easy to find out when you check out the Transformational Approach to Piano Website Page.
Diana Mascari has taught piano to hundreds of adults and children for more than 40 years. She holds two Masters of Music degrees from New England Conservatory and taught keyboard harmony to music majors while pursuing doctoral studies at Boston University. Her work as music director for a multi-cultural Presbyterian Church has continued for four decades, and her jazz and classical compositions have been performed worldwide. Diana has been performing for more than 50 years. From solo jazz piano (her first love) to commercial groups touring the East Coast to leading her own jazz ensembles at many colleges and jazz clubs throughout New England.