When I was a kid, I loved to play piano.
What I didn’t always love was my teacher’s choice of songs. I played exercises, marches, classical music, a little jazz and pop. Mostly, they were songs I did not know from before. They were not songs I loved or listened to.
Jewish Music, Please!
At some point, my mother asked my piano teacher to teach me some Jewish songs. My teacher found one book which featured a handful of classic Jewish tunes, like Adon Olam and Avinu Malkeinu. She also brought a book of Fiddler on the Roof. And she told my mother that if we found the sheet music, she would teach me how to play any song we wanted.
We found some sheet music. I don’t remember what song it was, but it probably looked something like this:
My teacher took one look at it and declared, “This is way too easy for you! There aren’t even any left hand notes here!”
I never did learn to play much Jewish music with that teacher.
Trying Something Different
After five years, we searched for a new teacher. Learning to play Jewish music was the number one criteria. And Jewish music I certainly learned to play!
My teacher wrote the music on the spot. It looked something like this:
And I had plenty to play in my left hand!
As it turns out, those letters on the top (called chords) tell you what to play in the left hand. And you don’t even have to go through the trouble of reading all those left hand notes! Wow! What a bonus!
I was hooked. I ran to the piano first thing when I came home from school each day. I played when I needed a break from studying. I even managed to play with a broken wrist!
This new way of playing literally changed my life. I quickly learned how to play by ear, compose songs, and work out harmonies. I could play any song I wanted. Freedom!
From there, I went on to play for the local day school’s siddur and chumash plays, lead the band in my high school production, and head choirs at camps and other schools. I also continued to broaden my musical knowledge by learning to play guitar and saxophone. I loved music theory, and actively sought out information to help me play and understand music better.
My hope and my dream here at PlayJewishMusic.com is to share with you the possibility to play the music you love. Join me on the journey!
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