Press Reviews

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!

“Metaphors will help you become your own teacher, simplify the complex, and provide tools, ideas, and methods to help build your own jazz identity.”
Scot Ranney,

Read the whole LJP review


“…a treasure trove of detailed, hard-core technical information, practice routines, advice, diagrams, music samples, and entertaining stories…. Part of its charm is that it’s not the typical “how-to” instruction manual, but rather a non-dogmatic collection of pearls, gathered over the years.”
Paul de Barros, Seattle Times

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“Metaphors, comprehensive and upbeat… a significant jazz instruction resource, highly recommended for the dedicated student musician.”
Jason West, Jazz Steps

Read the whole Jazz Steps review


“In his book, (Halberstadt) displays…the ability to think his way into the heads and hands of less experienced players and then lead them along…It’s all very clearly laid out and plainly stated in an encouraging style.”
Earshot Jazz, January 2002

Read the whole Earshot Jazz review, the review is on page 3.
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“Northwest jazz scene musician Randy Halberstadt has created a remarkable guide for aspiring and seasoned jazz pianists in his well-written book. It will give many hours of learning and entertainment to those who play or enjoy jazz piano. A great helpmate and reference work!”
-Lee Prosser,

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“Aspiring jazz pianists won’t want to miss Halberstadt’s fresh insights and down-to-earth suggestions. The 325-page folio-size book (bound with plastic rings so it will lie flat on a music stand) includes thoughtful and sometimes surprising mini-essays on the art and craft of improvisation, and it’s well illustrated with tons of musical examples. Halberstadt starts with some basics on scale fingerings, so even newcomers to jazz will be able to get up and running — but if you’re a more accomplished player, the chapters on gigging, comping, soloing, and composing will offer plenty to dig into.”
-Jim Aikin, Keyboard Magazine


With a quarter-century of experience teaching jazz piano, Randy Halberstadt approaches the subject of learning music (music in general, not merely jazz piano) sagely and philosophically…Through colorful, imaginary examples, Halberstadt seeks to jumpstart the brain into degrees of freedom required for a successful jazz state of mind…Halberstadt’s method moves away from rote rehearsing simple building blocks into shorter steps of logical progression that add variety to the learning process…From fast fingerings to proper professionalism, Metaphors is a cornucopia of talent catalysts.
-Tom Schulte,

Read whole Rambles review


“There are lots of good ideas here, pointers for the most effective use of your practice time, tips for improving your improvising ability, how to listen more effectively, some practical theory, and bandstand skills.   Watching Randy Halberstadt at work in clubs and concerts over the years, I knew he had some practical advice, and some of it probably as useful to pros as well as students.  There are numerous examples and variations, to illustrate different ways of approaching material.

“Organized in a straightforward way with language to match, it isn’t the usual pedagogical approach.   Like any art, jazz can’t so much be taught as learned if useful information is presented in a favorable setting.  There’s lots of nuts and bolts here, but presented with humor and patience.   Randy teaches at the Cornish College of the Arts.  We’re lucky to have someone teaching jazz piano with the sensitivity and depth he has.”
Jim Wilke, “All That Jazz,” on National Public Radio


Halberstadt has essentially compiled a supplement to basic theory texts, focusing in on certain problems he has encountered his students struggling with. …As implied by the title, metaphors abound…To give you an idea, chapter names range from “Marinade for Your Ears” and “Jazz Quilt” to “Harmonic Astronomy” and “Cop-out Scales.” As (he) notes, you will likely find some exercises helpful and be able to do without others. Written for piano players, topics include chord voicings, modes, motivic development and practice techniques. If you’ve been struggling with specific problems and find that metaphors are helpful, pick this one up.”
-Jonah Berman, Jazz Times


“Chuck Sher, publisher of many excellent jazz and Latin bass texts as well as the definitive set of jazz fake books (The New Real Book series) has recently added two new instruction books to his catalog of interest to improvising musicians. The book most likely to be passed over by bassists is Randy Halberstadt’s Metaphors for the Musician: Perspectives from a Jazz Pianist.

The word ‘pianist’ in the title is not completely misleading, for Halberstadt has included a few specific technical suggestions for playing jazz piano…. Metaphors, however is much more than a new jazz piano text. Filled with unique inspiring ideas, many originating from extra-musical metaphors, Halberstadt combines practical information with detailed practice suggestions for all aspiring improvisers….Much positive and useful advice is to be found in the sections relating to practice habits and developing improvisational concepts. Here Halberstadt shares ideas and exercises taken from his years developing his own skills and his experience teaching at the Cornish College of the Arts. He makes strong issues of the importance of painfully slow practice, prioritizing musical elements, and finding new improvisational ideas through the imposition of forced limitations. He presents his arguments and ideas in a conversational tone that challenges the reader to take a healthy, disciplined approach to musical exploration and not succumb to the pitfalls born of sloppy habits.

In the section entitled ‘At the Gig,’ he illustrates many of the most problematic and unprofessional behaviors seen on bandstands everywhere and gives excellent advice on how to keep your sanity and even find inspiration on the most mundane society dates. Perhaps most compelling and inspiring of all is the ‘Paths to Success’ section that ends the book. As Halberstadt alludes, all great music is inspired by an infinite variety of fertile, imaginative sources. He asserts that we are each a source of great music, we need only fill our days with musical activities that feel right and success will come back to you in the form of progress and opportunities. Halberstadt has some insightful musical activities to suggest in filling those days.”
-Hans Sturm
Bass World (journal of the International Society of Bassists)


Randy Halberstadt’s Metaphors for the Musician is one of my very favourite jazz books. Again, this is not a jazz manual but a collection of hints and tips regarding some of the most common issues that Randy has seen students struggling with .

Whereas Mark Levine’s approach can be erudite and professorial, Randy’s is friendly, informal and designed to put you at ease. The book is filled with metaphors, personal anecdotes, humour and a warmth that hardly makes it seem like you’re learning anything at all. This is the book to turn to if you’re feeling insecure about your playing or having a ‘I’m never going to get there’ moment; Randy’s voice is always understanding, sympathetic and reassuring.

His ‘harmonic astronomy’ metaphor is particularly novel and illuminating and is highly recommended to the beginner looking to figure out how the harmony in jazz standards functions.

As the author is a pianist, there is also a wealth of information on chord voicings and here you will find information on voicings for solo, duo, trio and quartet playing that can serve as a basic toolkit for playing in any situation.

As Randy says himself, Metaphors for the Musician is not designed to be a how-to-book but is a collection of ‘nuggets’ designed to sit along more comprehensive books on jazz theory and improvisation.

-Barry Dallman,


Read a feature article about Randy from his hometown newspaper, the Odessa American!

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