Andy Ostwald playing piano
andy Ostwald

Play Jazz, Blues, & Rock


book & audio series

Play Jazz, Blues, & Rock PIANO BY EAR book & audio series

“There is no doubt that Piano by Ear
is the work of an experienced

and effective teacher.”

from Ann Collins' review in

American Music Teacher

Books 1 through 3 of Andy Ostwald's PIANO BY EAR book series


Sample Recordings
and Book Overviews


Piano by Ear books are available in print and as
ebooks. Each book features its own easy-to-download
set of recordings.

Piano By Ear Book One
Piano By Ear Book Two
Piano By Ear Book Three

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In the Continental US

Book One

print book
with audio


Book Two

print book
with audio


Book Three

print book
with audio


Piano by Ear eBooks are available from the
publisher, Mel Bay Publications. The following
links will take you to their website:

Mel Bay Publications logo

Feel free to contact me.

Author: Introduction


Welcome to Piano by Ear! This introduction to jazz, blues, and rock piano will offer clear explanations of relevant music theory, and guide you step by step as you develop your skills.

Above all, Piano by Ear will help you explore and develop your ability to improvise. Rather than rely on sheet music, you’ll learn to rely on your ear and your creative instincts.

Piano by Ear will take you from jammin’ on a couple of easy chords to playing your own solos within the jazz, blues, and rock traditions. Music theory and improvising principles will be introduced as they become relevant to the music you’re creating.

The Piano by Ear recordings are offered as a source of inspiration as well as a means of instruction. Most notably, they’ll introduce you to the practice of learning by ear, directly from recorded improvisations.

Learning by ear will foster your ability to relate to music based on how it sounds rather than how it looks on paper. This, in turn, will help you “take your eyes off of the page,” and create music of your own. By starting simply and providing careful guidance, Piano by Ear will make the time-honored practice of learning by ear readily accessible.

Piano Ability

You’ll just need enough technique to play chords with your left hand and single notes with your right hand at a relaxed tempo. You’ll also want to have some experience reading music so that you can identify the notes in the written examples.

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Author: Sample Recordings & Book Overviews Header

Sample Recordings

& Book Overviews

BOOK ONE will introduce you to the art of improvising with music that’s both rewarding to play and easy to understand. You’ll learn key improvising techniques and gain valuable hands-on experience.

Book One Improvisation:

BOOK TWO will introduce you to more advanced melodic, harmonic, and rhythmic possibilities.
The improvisations that you’ll be creating will be firmly rooted in the jazz, blues, and rock traditions.

Book Two Improvisation:

BOOK THREE will further develop your skills and understanding, and set the stage for you to begin improvising within the context of your favorite (and 1000’s of other) jazz, blues, and rock songs.

Book Three Improvisations:

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Author: Reviews Header image


[…] Ostwald emphasizes the most important skills to develop as an improviser: …melodic inventiveness, an awareness of phrasing, a highly developed aural acuity, and openness to experimentation. […] If you spend your practice time as he suggests, your chops and ears will come together in short order, and you'll be well-prepared to make a serious approach to jazz, rock, gospel, blues, or any other style that involves improvisation. […] The beautifully recorded musical examples provide inspiration as well as first-rate practice and transcription material. I’d recommend these books to anyone, even experienced players who may feel they have some gaps to fill in their aural and technical abilities.

— Ernie Rideout
editor-in-chief of
from his editorial review

*   *   *

“There is no doubt that Piano by Ear is the work of an experienced and effective teacher. The organization of the books, the clarity of the explanations, and the absolutely wonderful ‘Practicing Pages’ demonstrate mature pedagogy.”

— Ann Collins
professor emeritus of Jazz Studies
at Western Illinois University,
from her review in

*   *   *

[Piano by Ear] effectively introduces improvising, ear training, and music theory, and features beautifully performed and recorded musical examples. I recommend Piano by Ear for self-study as well as for private and group instruction.”

— Dee Spencer
co-director of the
Jazz and World Music Program
at SFSU; board member of The International
 Association for Jazz Education

*   *   *

Piano by Ear lays out clearly, for the first time in my memory, a method for developing the art of playing by ear as it relates to playing jazz, rock, and the blues. What’s more, the recorded improvisations are of very high quality and should prove both motivational and inspirational.”

— Ken Durling
retailer of
music method books

*   *   *

“Piano by Ear is a welcome, modern, and original approach to ear training literature. It’s a user-friendly, wisely written book series, and I highly recommend it.”

— Mark Levine
author of
The Jazz Theory Book
and other titles

*   *   *

Piano by Ear provides a clear, practical, and enjoyable way to acquire both the skill and the understanding that lies at the heart of improvising.… Listen up folks, these books are a bargain at any price.”

— Phyllis Villec
editor of
from her editorial review

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