Comments from Readers

metaphors Buy from Sher Music Buy from Metaphors for the Musician is available at select music stores nationwide. You'll find the book in the Seattle area at Capitol Music (7th and Virginia; 206-622-0171) and at the various Mills Music and Kennelly Keys outlets. Call first to make sure it's in stock!

Comments from around the U.S….


I figured that someone eventually would described how a jazz musician initially learned scales, chords, modes, etc, established the mental context, and then related these to meaningful improvisation and technique. You did — Thank You!

I am an aspiring jazz accordionist…yes, there have been great jazz accordionists (e.g., Art Van Damm, Frank Marocco). I have pursued multiple paths, have gone thru boxes of jazz books (Aebersold thru Levine) and worked scales, inversions, progressions, etc. I played for Frank Marocco a couple times and was ready to start jazz lessons, but tragically, he passed away this year. I’ve contacted local jazz pianists to see if they would take on an accordionist…no luck.

From the books I have studied, I am convinced that most jazz musicians do not remember (or know) how they made the leap from scales/chords to meaningful improvisation.

I started your book, Metaphors for The Musician, yesterday. I couldn’t put it down. I am currently traveling and running through your approaches mentally…I can’t wait to get home to do the serious work.

You nailed it…THANK YOU!

Dick Steichen
Albuquerque, NM



First, some context – I’m about 60, I’ve been studying jazz, mostly on the keyboard, for 40 years. On my own. Never having professional performing as a goal (I’m a Ph.D. statistician in educational research). I work at it for the pure personal pleasure of learning and growing.

I’ve tapped into literally hundreds of theory books, classical and jazz, in my self-study. Although there is still gobs to master, I thought I’d pretty much seen it all in instructional advice. That is, until I read your book.

The theory sections especially are a revelation. I guess I must have seen it before, I guess nothing can be really new in this realm, but your exposition of it is an eye-opener.

I just wanted you to know that I (and other isolated students) really appreciate your efforts. I enjoyed the book immensely and will continue to enjoy working at the ideas for some time to come.

Dr. Terry Froman
Research Services
Miami-Dade County Public Schools


Hi Randy,
I bought Metaphors for the Musician a few years ago and I just keep coming back to it again and again. I think the most powerful concept I got was the ‘practice sequencer’ metaphor. I use it almost exclusively now. I also liked how you presented the examples of how to progress from scales over chords, to licks to transcribing etc. There really are a lot of paths up the mountain. I own Levine’s Jazz Piano Book, and it is good too, but using your book at the keyboard is like having a teacher there with me. Although I am a serious amateur, I feel that I am a more complete musician for having applied what you have taught in this book.
Thanks, and hope to see you in Seattle sometime.

Michael Karns
Whitesboro, TX


Mr. Halberstadt,

I wanted to send you a note to tell you how much I am enjoying this
book of yours. I picked it up on Kindle from Amazon for a couple of
reasons. One, I was looking to get more proficient at my piano
voicings (I studied piano first but shifted to the bass guitar in high
school and have focused on that since) and two, I was looking for
something to read on my cell phone while I endured a kids pizza party I accompanied my son to for his T-Ball team.

Not only have I found myself completely satisfied on both levels
(Chapter 11 was a perfect starting point for me to get back into piano playing and I found myself reading page after page while my son ran around the pizza place with his teammates!) but I have found some very significant and perspective-changing information here that I had to write and thank you for including.

First of all, you’re a great writer and I really enjoy the anectodes
you share about your journey as a musician. Second of all, I REALLY
identify well with the way you communicate these ideas. Finally, I
feel like you have lifted huge burdens off of my shoulders that I have been carrying for far too long.

I was a very active musician in college, playing in several jazz
groups and traveling with an urban gospel group. After college I got
scared at my prospects of earning a living off of music in Los Angeles so I did the next logical thing and signed up for the Army as an infantryman. Life has moved quickly since that decision up until now (spent 7 years in the Army and got a wife, three kids and several memorable trips to foreign places on the way) and I now find myself with more time than ever to get back to playing and studying jazz.

One significant problem I encountered repeatedly, call me analytical, was running into what I felt was conflicting advice. There was a local bass legend in Los Angeles who told me all my previous study of scales and modes were not only worthless but would greatly endanger my jazz playing…then there was the next jazz guru who told me he was off his rocker and to get back into modes…then the old jazz cat who advised me to learn every note Ray Brown ever played and quit thinking so much…to the trombonist who gigged and wrote for Chet Baker and Joe Henderson that told me All Chord Scale Theory is garbage, Harmony is relative and all I really needed to do was focus on chromatic patterns and the melody…

Meanwhile I found myself really digging and identifying with Jamey
Aebersold methods who was the one guy everybody seemed to agree was offering the equivalent of jazz educational fluff.

So this cycle continued for me and I’d find myself abandoning one
methodoly/pedagogy to embrace another for a few months, quit that and embrace another and ad infinitum because I was under the illusion that one way must lead to enlightenment while all others were certain to lead me astray.

I feel like Chapter 20 was written just for me. You described my
situation (and my reaction) perfectly. What I really appreciated was
that following this description you offer real and useful approaches
to deal with this type of thinking. Another thing you mentioned
earlier in the book was how your mind is absorbing and hearing these ideas but until you unlock your physical potential to play them, they’re not able to come through. I can’t tell you how many times I have been practicing an etude or a pattern and just thought to myself, “This is pointless. I do not sound any more like Charlie Parker after memorizing this etude than I did before, only now I can play this jazzy line in Eb”. I am so glad that college girlfriend of yours pushed you toward teaching piano lessons! Between just those two concepts alone, seeing worth in the work I’m putting into my instrument and knowing that there’s some worth in all of these methods clears so much up for me. It sounds very simple really, but the cycle I kept finding myself in was really cheating me out of valuable and worthwhile practice. There would be a couple of weeks here or there that I would just get somewhat depressed and not even feel like practicing. So – thank you!

Sorry for the length of this email, if I’m ever in Seattle I would
love the chance to meet you in person, I owe you a drink at least. I
wanted to drop you a line to let you know how much you have really helped me to put things into perspective and keep pursuing this art form I fell in love with years ago.

Micah Stott

and two months later …

I’ve had this book over two months now. I wrote you once to tell you how great I thought it was during the honeymoon phase when I had just finished reading it (I know I wasn’t supposed to read it straight through like a novel, but I did 😉

I wanted to let you know that after two months of consistently working on areas and ideas brought to my attention through the book that I am playing and hearing jazz better than ever in my life. My practice is fun, my walking and solos have improved tremendously. My music teacher just told me last week that I have all the makings of an accomplished soloist, definitely something I’ve never heard before!

I’ve had the tools in front of me the whole time but I was getting caught up in so many similar situations as you describe in your book and now I feel like the sky is the limit.

Thanks again Randy, probably not the last time you’ll hear from me.



Hi Randy,
I’m a guitarist primarily, but have played piano most of my life though I have never practiced it they way I did the guitar. (A plus in some ways, a minus in others). But I LOVE your book, it’s opened a whole world of options to me and not just in my playing.
My “day gig” is teaching: guitar, piano, voice, mandolin….since moving to Nashville I have had to turn down requests for banjo and fiddle….and I’m working more and more with songwriters and aspiring artists, most of whom are coming to me to help them increase their technical skills and vocabulary. The methods in your book have been very helpful to me in my teaching….I was familiar with many of the concepts but the way you lay them out is excellent and really helped me organize how I present the material. When the students are advanced enough I recommend they buy your book themselves. I hope you’ve had some sales as a result.
The “harmonic astronomy” concept is especially of interest in my work with songwriters, who are often looking for greater understanding of harmony from a functional perspective. (They may not put it that way themselves, but as writers it’s what they need in my opinion). I’ve always heard the way notes exert influence on one another as a force akin to a gravitational pull, and so your approach makes perfect sense to me and is highly relevant to what I find many writers are looking for.
In addition to my private teaching and coaching work I also give workshops on a regular basis for the Nashville Songwriters Association, and will be teaching a harmony class this fall (among others) at SongPosium, an annual week of intensive songwriting study with classes and workshops. I plan to use the harmonic astronomy concept and would like to do so explicitly with credit given to you and your book. I do believe that the entire book could be useful to writers even if they don’t work in the jazz idiom and plan to pump your website and highly recommend they visit and purchase. Perhaps I might even be able to purchase a small quantity from you so as to make them available the day of the class.
Thanks for taking the time to read this, and for taking very sophisticated and complex material and making it accessible on a whole host of levels! I hope to make it out to the Pacific Northwest before too long, and will look out for your performances when I do.
All the best,
Dave Isaacs
Nashville, TN



At 57 after playing bass since 18 I decided to learn to play jazz piano.  Crazy?  All of my friends thought so.  I love your music and thought I would try your book.  Thank you so much.  Your book, the approach you take and the lessons you teach have allowed me to make real, I mean REAL, progress towards my goal.  I have tried a lot of “Jazz Books” that were just a waste of time and money.  Yours is the real thing.

While I will never be a “great pianist” I am learning how to play what I hear in my head, thanks to you.
Bruce Dunston


Hi Randy,

My name is Az Samad. I am a jazz/acoustic fingerstyle guitarist currently based in Berkeley, California. My girlfriend (a singer-songwriter/pianist/ percussionist/guitarist) attended Taylor Eigsti’s workshop at the Jazz School in Berkeley and heard about your book – Metaphors For The Musician. Taylor was raving about the book – insisting it to be called “The Best Jazz Piano Book Method Ever!”.

We ordered the book from Sher Music soon after and now have been reading (and doing the exercises).

I was so touched when I read chapter 42 – A tale of two pianists – because I felt that you were telling my own story. I have never been very much a natural in music – it was a lot of hard work (and continues to be!) especially with jazz but it drives me and I enjoy it so much.

Thank you for writing the book and I want you to know that I’m practicing from the book too. (so it’s not just for pianists!!!)

Wishing you a great day!

Best Regards,
Az Samad


Dear Randy,

I have been playing jazz piano for about 6 years but I feel I am making my some of my best progress by settling in to your book.  There is so much excellent stuff in it, and after looking at many piano and theory books, I am really impressed at the originality of your ideas!

Like a lot of beginners, I have been stymied by what to practice. I’ll head off in one direction, get discouraged, and try another direction.  I think one of the best things I have gotten from it is, “Do what you love and you will start to learn other things in the process.” I suppose I have been told that many, many times in life, in many contexts, but at age 52,  it is starting to sink in…..and you helped make it happen.
You are a real teacher, as well as a beautiful musician. Your book has inspired a new level of honesty on my part.  Thanks so much for writing it.

Becky Liebman
Olympia, WA


Hi Randy,

I’m afraid I don’t have adequate words to express how much I am
enjoying your book, and how valuable to musicians I feel a work like thisis. I’m not a novice to music or jazz educators….I studied at BerkleeCollege for 4 years and then taught a guitar repair and construction course there for several years, and made friends with many fellow “professors.” I’d have to say that the richest part of my experience at and around the school, and that spanned about 10 years, was the assimilation of viewpoint and process that I gleaned from so many of these gifted and passionate people. It’s truly priceless.
I’ve only read one other book that I can compare to yours, a long
time ago. It was written by a gentleman named Chuck Anderson, and it was entitled “Music: Pursuing the Horizon.” It was about dealing with the emotional, spiritual, and social challenges of chasing an intangible. I believe he sold it from his home, through an occasional magazine ad. I never did meet another musician who had ever heard of the book. But it was a lifesaver to me on countless occasions.
I’ve met many educators, but few who are wonderful at being so
brutally honest with themselves (and the world around them!) and doing such a devoted and effective job at demystifying what is already a very challenging goal. It takes great heart, courage, and a sense of humor. Even  though I’ve just started reading the book, much like a novel, I had to both compliment, congratulate, and thank you for writing it. I’ve been in guitar repair and construction for about 24 years since graduating Berklee and have had a shop of one form or another throughout, and we’ve just built a teaching room and have some teachers and a lesson program evolving. Needless to say I am carrying the book in the store, and would love to share occasional snippets from the book with my teachers, for
their own broadening and to pass the knowledge on to their students.
I can honestly and accurately say that this book would have saved
me years of pitfalls, wrong turns, and frustration….and helped me love and understand the evolving process that much more. Thank you for taking the time to put such great experience and insight between those two covers. Hopefully, it’s going to affect more up and coming players than you and I can ever imagine.

Eric Miller
Hands on Guitars


Dear Mr. Halberstadt,

It wasn’t until I suddenly and with embarrassment welled up with tears on the Bart train from San Francisco back to Berkeley that I realized how much frustration, pressure and despair I feel being a 52 year old black woman taking her first jazz piano classes.

Of course it was those last words in your introduction chapter to “Metaphors for the Musician”


that abruptly released the white-knuckled, teeth-clenching grip I’ve had on the jazz chin-up bar…

Today at my monthly pilgrimage to the music store… I could smell your new book in the stacks even before I saw it.

“Lonnie, I just bought 5 copies of that book and they are selling like hot cakes,” Warren, the owner of the SF Music Center, said when I brought your book up to the counter. “It’s very good. You got the last one.” I thought, “Of course I did. This book has been waiting for me….”

So, I am emailing you to say thank you for the introduction to your book. I haven’t gotten further than that yet. But your comforting words, “It’s going to be all right,” released the sudden insight that I want to play jazz piano so bad that I’m overwhelmed by my own pressure to play before I die.

I, as you do, love the analytical parts of jazz. I giggle at the way the chords interconnect. I’m on the edge of my seat hearing stories of Parker and Gillespie taking chords from their enemies and making new songs. I am stunned at how my wonderful teacher in a millisecond can cause a song to swing superbly…a song that sounds brittle and rigid from my own fingers.

I just wanted you to know that I am very encouraged and comforted by your perspective and book. I wish you much… success with this book and I will recommend to my jazz classmates that they purchase a copy.

I have authored some technical computer books and I know from the examples and screen shots the kind of work you put into making this book come together.

Thanks for listening.

Lonnie Moseley



Metaphors arrived via UPS on Monday (I bought it on Sher Music’s web-site). I took Tuesday off to get into it. That afternoon I called the office–I have a day job–-and announced that I’d be on vacation for the rest of the week.

This book is not only a great learning tool, it’s a fun read. Parts of it, I’m convinced, are about me! You have catalogued most of my shortcomings as a jazz pianist without actually using my name. You have also acknowledged my strengths…. But most importantly, you have provided me with some very practical advice on how to improve and enrich my musical life. This is a book I can use every day…and will.

Thank you for creating Metaphors For The Musician.

Best Regards,
Stephen M. Roberts



I recently purchased a copy of your Metaphors For The Musician and I think it’s fantastic. I’ve been through a great many books over the past year…and I must tell you that your book is by far the best I have encountered thus far. Nicely paced, easy to grasp, interesting, enlightening, and highly motivational.

Just thought you might like to hear from a pleased reader.

Thanks again for a marvelous job. I’m just about to start reading you for a second time cover to cover.

Best regards,
Ron Spagnardi
Editor/Publisher of Modern Drummer Magazine


Hello Randy,

I am a jazz pianist/teacher in Chicago. I just picked up your “Metaphors” book and it’s great.  I found myself agreeing with almost everything that you’ve said!  Well done.

Chris White,
Instructor of Jazz Piano, Loyola University, Chicago, IL


Hello Randy,
I wanted to drop you a note and tell you how much I am enjoying going through and working on some of the many useful concepts, “practice boxes”, and on and on in your wonderfully useful and inspiring book “Metaphors For The Musician”. I have most of the other books in the genre, Mark Levine’s, John Mehegan’s, Dick Hyman’s and various others, yet I am finding that your book seems to be extremely “user-friendly”, from my point of view. Perhaps this is partly as a result of similar backgrounds: I, like you came to the piano “later in life”, actually around the same time as you did. Unlike you, I did not carry on, but left music as a career in the early 80’s to join the great(?) middle class, house in the suburbs, stressful job, etc., etc. It is only in the last 8 years that I have come back to music, in general, and to the piano, specifically, and as a result I am feeling the need to catch up as quickly as possible, (so much to do, so little time). I would like to think that I am progressing toward an ability to “play” jazz piano, and your book has given me, and continues to give me, many, many things to think about and to work on at the piano.
At any rate Randy, I did want to say thanks for the great book. I am enjoying it and putting it to very good use and suspect I will be drawing nuggets from it for days, weeks, months, and years to come. If by happenstance I ever do get up in your neck of the woods, I will definitely make a point of seeing you perform. I am certain that would also be a pleasure.
Best wishes,
John Davis
The American Music School

Dear Randy,

I just wanted you to know that I recently borrowed a copy of your book from a student of mine.  I have to say that it is the single best book on learning jazz piano that I have ever seen.  It is clear, logical, easy to use, not too dry, and covers a huge amount of territory without seeming too overwhelming.  I can’t tell you how impressed I am with it.  As much as I admire Mark Levine’s books I have to say your book tops it especially in terms of helping direct the student specifically in practicing.

As you know I have…divided my interests in many different areas and in fact I consider jazz more of an influence than truly my music.  Most of the reasons for that are positive and have to do with other interests both intellectually and aesthetically.  But I can’t help but feel that a small part of it has to do with the fact that I had a few horrific teachers when I first became interested in jazz piano, the kind of guys that said, “When you see a Gmaj7 chord you can play these voicings and these scales” without any sense of WHAT to do with those materials, why they worked (or didn’t in many cases) and above all with no sense of chord tones, leading tones, and how rhythm functions in melody, etc., etc.

Anyway I wish I had had your book then!

All the best,
Wayne Horvitz


Randy,…wanted to say great job on the Metaphors book. The first time I saw it, I was struck by the cosmic analogy…believe it or not, I’ve used the same concept over the years for certain students, but did not take it as far as you have, with moons etc. And, your section on lesser known tritone resolutions was very illuminating. I also liked the diminished patterns, and the over the barline ideas. But, the very best thing of all was just the way you presented yourself…very conversational, and the tips you gave for getting through gigs, hiring others, etc., were right on the money. I’ve freelanced around Denver for 20 years now, and I couldn’t agree more how important it is to be a decent person…playing with jerks has lost its appeal, and I avoid it whenever possible. A marvelous book.

Neil Haverstick


I have to thank you for your book. It has cleared up things for me that most of the others (and we won’t mention the big ones) just didn’t. It is the most helpful periodical on jazz piano I’ve ever spent a buck on – and I’ve spent a lot!

Cliff Panetta



Thanks for writing “Metaphors for the Musician.” What an eye-opener! I’ve been looking for a book like this, and I finally found it. Thank You. Thank You.

Justin Greenwald


Dear Randy:

I purchased your book about two weeks ago, and love it. I started learning saxophone about 2 years ago, and thumbing through your book at the music store, I just knew I could learn so much about becoming a better musician even if it was written by a pianist. I was so right.

Many thanks for a truly outstanding book. I’m certain I will be referring to it for a long time to come.

Jerry Szubin
Bloomfield, NJ


Hi Randy –

I’m an audio professional with 30 yrs keyboard experience and a raft of albums and gigs under my belt. I’ve been making the transition from art rock to jazz over the last 2.5 years. It’s been a challenging but extremely fulfilling road – I’ve been taking lessons, classes at a jazz school here in the Bay Area, reading everything I can, and playing with a quartet on a weekly basis. It’s coming along, but never at a pace I’d like.

Anyway, I found your book at the NAMM show last month, and have been utterly immersed in it every since. It clarifies and adds a very human face to the issues that we face in trying to become jazzers. Far more approachable and understandable than (other books I have read). I teach as well (Pro Tools at a community college level as a side gig), and know the challenges involved in getting complex material across in a friendly, non-threatening manner.

You’ve hit it on the head – at least for me. Your tone and approach are terrific. I wish you lived down here – I’d love to take a lesson or two from you. In any case, I’ll try to make your Yoshi’s gig in April,
schedule permitting.

Very best regards,
Nick Peck


Randy, I just wanted to tell you how much I love your book.  I’m a long-time guitar player who has recently taken up the string bass, and I think that your ideas are “right on.”  Thanks for writing such a terrific book.

San Francisco


Dear Randy,

I participated in the Jazz Workshop last month and attended your classes on intermediate music theory. I want to let you know how very helpful and interesting I thought your classes were. I learned a lot, especially about the most consonant scales, and really enjoyed the daily classes.

But the most important “take away” from my week at the Jazz Workshop was a small section in your book on how to practice. That section urges students to start new pieces very slowly. All my life, I’ve been a “Ready, Fire, Aim” guy, jumping into things too quickly and then having to backtrack. However, for the past three weeks, I’ve been learning new pieces using your method. I start at a tempo that feels much too slow and then gradually increase the speed. The first couple of days of practice are frustrating, but then – much as you predicted – it gets to be fun to be able to play a piece consistently well and at higher speed.

So thanks, both for your classes and for some very useful guidance in your book.


Comments from around the world!

Dear Randy,

I have been reading – and using – your book Metaphors for the Musician lately and have been meaning to thank you for some time for this impressive and helpful work. I’m a guitarist rather than a pianist, but your presentation is so clear – and so lively and pertinent – that everything makes sense. In fact, I prefer to hear music explained from a standpoint that goes beyond the limits of my own instrument since this provides a broader – and more interesting – perspective. Like Mark Levine’s Jazz Piano Book (another great book), it also makes me want to study jazz piano!
Yours is one of a handful of books on jazz  – or music theory in general, but from a player’s viewpoint – that I would wish to have with me on a desert island. You have managed to explain in plain and simple terms what I feel I have been fumbling to understand for years from a multitude of other sources. It’s hard to see how anyone could provide a more encouraging text than you have, and while while I am envious of those learning music from you personally, I am extremely grateful to you for having taken the time to express and transmit so much of your knowledge![Your book] is valuable for music students in general, but it is a precious jewel for the self-taught musician, since you have distilled so much knowledge that can only be garnered through years of experience in the classroom and on the bandstand that cannot possibly be acquired by normal guys like me who are trying to pull all the threads together in piecemeal fashion. The way you have organized your presentation is of immense value in this respect since it helps people like me structure their learning.

Many, many thanks – I will keep spreading the word 🙂
Kind regards,
Pat Saunders (Paris, France)


Dear Mr. Halberstadt,

What a great book you have written!  I am a classically trained pianist, now teaching philosophy at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, Canada, and a bit of an amateur jazzman. I’m simply writing to let you know that your Metaphors are better than anything I have ever seen in the field, and I’ve been struggling with the voicings and the skills for a few years now, with lessons here and there and a few books – some generally very good, like Mark Levine’s.  In any case you explain things in a way which is absolutely original, poetic and which provokes without fail a sense of discovery.  I’m not usually inspired to write such laudatory messages, but you really have done something quite brilliant.

Bravo, and many thanks for sharing your insight, your art.

Daniel Regnier


Dear Randy,

I bought your book on kind of a splurge when I visited Sher Music’s site. I was there to get a different book, and then I looked at yours a little bit..and well, I thought I’d give myself a present.  And what a present it has been.

That was about a month ago. Now, I am still toward the beginning of the book, following your “don’t just read it — do it” advice. As a relative beginner with piano, though with a lot of musical experience, I’ve got to say that your book is going to take its place alongside a few other music books I covet religiously. You have such a great teacher’s mind — you have done what all my great teachers have ever done — you’ve taken difficult concepts and talked about them in clear terms. Somehow, despite the fact that you’ve become a great musician, you are able to see things through a novice’s eyes, and you are able to teach things in a concise and clear way that I haven’t seen anywhere else. The chapters for fingering inversions and scales have already taught me so much — and so clearly!

Also, I love that you talk about your love for your work and how that is such an important part of your playing and teaching. Again, like other great teachers, you teach much more than the topic at hand. Anyone reading your book with learn about much more than just jazz piano. It’s an inspiring text and I’m feeling so lucky to have it.

Great thanks to you, and best of luck to you.

Nat Carney, Osaka, Japan.


Hi Mr. Halberstadt,

I’m a bassist…from Italy. I’m 30 and I’m currently trying to finish my studies of philosophy… Music is my true love and, even if I don’t do gigs anymore, I still play some bass and guitar at home . Obviously, since I like slap, I like Marcus Miller. I’m his fan number 0 (I heard that someone else is fan number 1!), but I do listen to a lot of different music and I love the piano, even if I can’t play it. I find that a good piano teacher can be the best music teacher of all, and it was with this in mind that I decided to order your book Metaphors for the Musician as soon as I saw it in the Sher catalog…I’m writing this because I…began to read your book and I’m really impressed. I began with Chapter 5, “The Sequencer,” where there’s the trick to learn the changes of a tune: interesting!I just finished reading the introduction now (I finally decided that this is a book worth reading from start to end!!). Your experience is very humanlike, not just another “monster” who at 6 could play Bach! I have the suspicion you are a monster NOW though:-)  I feel encouraged to go on with my musical studies. Thank you, good work (or maybe “good passion” is better?) and I hope you come to Italy for some gigs.


I think that with this book you really have filled a hole in the landscape of jazz education texts. Your smart metaphors help the reader so much and the book is all pervaded with positivity. I express one more time the joy of have found such a beautiful book and I hope the next will come very soon.Best regards,
Pier Francesco Lostia


Dear Randy,

I hope you’ll forgive the first-name terms but after reading your book I felt Mr Halberstadt just wouldn’t do! I’m writing to thank you for Metaphors for the Musician. You should know straight off that I don’t make a habit of writing fan mail. But my girlfriend has been suffering for a week now with me going on about how ‘everything’s becoming clear now’, so I figured I could use another outlet.

Briefly, I am a thirty-year-old British guy living in Prague and trying to figure out how to play jazz piano. I studied classical viola as a child, and played in orchestras through university. I’ve been playing piano by ear for twenty years but only really discovered jazz when I moved to Prague in ’96. I’m happy to say there’s a vibrant local scene here.

As soon as I read your introduction to ‘Metaphors for the Musician’, I was hooked. At last, someone who played a different instrument first but who kept getting drawn back to the piano! Although you started seriously while still at college, your experiences have given me heart. I feel that I am facing – and starting to overcome – the same obstacles. And thirty isn’t so old, right?

I actually have a good ear and have never had problems playing standard pop material, but I found the whole ‘rootless voicing’ approach to jazz completely alien to my way of thinking. I also couldn’t see how it was worth learning a bunch of scales and modes; or rather, I couldn’t see how I could ever apply them.

Although I only got your book a week ago, I’ve read through the whole thing. (I’m your type of student who likes to see the whole terrain mapped out first and then break it down into pieces and investigate one bit at a time.) I’ve started to extract principles and exercises for my practice routine and I’m noticing improvements already.

I appreciate the way that your text is complementary, rather than exclusive. I already owned Mark Levine’s excellent ‘Jazz Piano Book’ and your text has really opened it up for me. The great thing I’m finding about jazz theory and practice is how that, the more I learn and understand, the more I realize that all the teachers and authors are basically imparting the same information. There is no magic solution!

Surprisingly, I find this very reassuring. Although everyone teaches
fundamentally the same thing, they all approach it in different ways. Your way happens to work for me and is providing the key to unlocking all the rest of it.

I’m also finding your methods tie in well with classical piano, which I
started studying six months ago with an excellent teacher. He was
particularly impressed with your scale charts, by the way. Also, I’ve found that the ‘sequencer’, ‘target bombing’, and ‘slow practice’ techniques adapt equally to a classical approach.

I’m now clocking an average of three hours of daily practice and can see the results in both genres. (I know! Without a job to worry about, you’d figure I could do more. But my other projects are ‘mastering’ Czech and writing a novel. Glutton for punishment, me.)

Of course, with my current focus on music, I expected to make progress even using the resources I had before buying your book. But I feel Metaphors for the Musician will enable me to make a quantum leap in my development. And that’s giving me a big morale boost. Although we Brits are not prone to bouts of American-style self-confidence, I feel I can see the light at the end of the tunnel and, for once, I’m pretty sure it’s daylight and not an oncoming train.

The timing of getting your book couldn’t have been better. I’ve studied enough now that your concepts often seem to clarify or confirm something I already half-knew, rather than seeming totally new and overawing. It’s also funny that I was away from a piano for a few days a while ago and I started to think that there must be a better way of learning voicings ‘cold’ than going round the cycle, since I felt that I was learning voicings in a mechanical rather than intuitive way. I started pondering a system for randomizing progressions. Sure enough, before I could finalize my own version you saved me the trouble with your excellent randomized charts!

Once again, thanks for making the effort to produce a truly useful and inspiring book. (By the way, when I do work, it’s within the writing and editing field. I can only imagine what a nightmare it must have been to proof your text and typeset it as elegantly as you have. Congratulations on that, too.)

Finally, I hope to organize a jazz festival in Prague in the next few years. If it goes ahead, I’d be delighted if you could come and play with your trio. Maybe by that time, you could flog a bunch of copies of ‘Metafory pro hudebniky: perspektivy z jazzoveho klavirsty’!

Best regards,
“Practicing in Prague”


Hi Randy!

This is Lyndon Aguilar from the Philippines. I’m a jazz theory professor teaching at the University of Santo Tomas Manila Philippines, and I use your book as a textbook in my class. The first time I heard about your book I was…skeptical; I thought it’s just another jazz theory book, with the same content as other jazz theory books. But I was wrong man. When I first read it, it’s like you’re talking, teaching me face to face, it’s like a personal approach, a one-on-one personal lesson from a great musician. I really like your book. It’s user-friendly for my students and for me. Next school year we are planning to open a new course: it’s a bachelor of music major in jazz performance. We are the very first to open this course in all conservatories in our country. And the very spark of it is you, Randy! More power to you!!!

Take care,


Hey Randy,

This is Marcus here. I’m a student at a music college up in Edmonton, Alberta Canada (Grant MacEwan College, if that rings any bells).

I had them order your book in my first year in piano, because I liked the sound of it (“metaphors…”) and they finally got it last year. I kept taking it out, but never got a chance to dive into it.. but the first couple of pages kept drawing me to it.

Eventually I got a copy of my own, and I really love it, so, so much.. you have no idea how much comfort, consolation, demystification, insight, and light-hearted yet deeply caring and humorous spirit into music your book has provided… I feel relieved to go back to your book when I’m feeling confused at school (always… hahaha).

I always recommend your book and Kenny Werner’s book too for myself and specific music type personalities if you know what I’m saying. Anyways, just wanted to say thanks a million–you’ve touched my musical life deeply and personally! 🙂

Thank you again
Marcus Fung


Hi Randy,

May I say that although I had read about your book in many places (it is promoted by a lot of the “studious” bassists on a   forum/site at, for example) I hadn’t purchased it and added to my library until I heard your playing on a Mimi Fox album I bought recently and then I saw your name in the credits and put 2 and 2 together, as we say. Nice playing too!

I have all of the Mark Levine stuff, loads of arranging and composition stuff, I’ve done the Dick Grove courses etc and bought just about every worthwhile theory book ever published (I am not kidding – it’s been necessary because of the poor quality of instruction in my part of the world – although facilities have improved over the last 5 years or so) and I reckon I could virtually replace them all with just your one superb book, at least for the information I  have sought on my quest for musical knowledge over the last 40 years or so. I am not a theory junkie by the way, I just like to understand the mechanics of music because it certainly helps a musician to get where he wants to go in a much “straighter line”.

Metaphors for the Musician also covers one of the most important areas of musicianship that is ignored or badly detailed in other books – practising. Your detailed instruction and explanation should be in the ownership of every musician who wants to develop and become proficient on their instrument.

Thank you again.
Robert Laing

******************************** reviews

If you play jazz piano, this book is a necessity!! Randy Halberstadt puts into text, elements that are not always first on your mind. I have been playing over 30 years and have just about EVERY jazz piano book there is, and this should be your “piano bible”.

Not only will this book show you how to get great at your playing, it shows you how to practice as well. I can hardly put it down. I thank Randy for taking his time to write a book like this.
Joe Mankowski (Buffalo, NY)


You can read this book at your instrument, or not. I’m rereading it now for about the 4th time and still getting a ton out of it. I couldn’t practice for the last several days, but I read a few pages here and a few pages there. Last night I finally got to get back on my piano, and everything I read flooded back, and I had a great practice.

I found this book, and then discovered that the author is local here in Seattle. I made it my task to become his student. He is such a great teacher, and his teaching and style is right here in this excellent book. Even my other jazz piano teacher has his own copy. I put this book right up there with the Jazz Piano Book by Mark Levine – something that every aspiring jazz pianist should own and reread frequently.

Mark Burton (Seattle, WA)


This book makes you think. But it also fills your practice sessions with “Aha!” moments. While the format is simple, the author does put you through your paces…This is a rare book. You ought to have it whether you’re still struggling with faking or already working the music circuit.

Timothy J. Spencer (Federal Way, WA)

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