Sep 30 2011

Stay and Play Gold Practical Pre-School Award 2011

Stay and Play Gold

I am happy to announce that this album won a gold award this year!  I was musical director, co-producer and keyboard player when we recorded it June 2010.  Wendy and Janet and the Kids Music Company are a true force to be reckoned with when it comes to musical education for children.  Thanks guys!


The Practical Pre-School Awards exist to identify and reward excellence in the fields of educational equipment, childcare and books and toys, suitable for early years and key stage 1 children, for use in professional childcare and educational settings.

These settings include private and state nurseries, pre-schools, playgroups, childminders, after-school clubs, reception classes and infant schools.

According to psychologist Dr Amanda Gummer, of FUNdamentals: ‘A child’s early years are a rapid period of change; the child is developing quickly and needs access to different things at different times. ‘Children themselves, therefore, are crucial to the stringent testing process. As well as a scrupulous panel of practitioners, their input was key in testing every one of the products. And the testing has been tough, as it should be. Each product entered was tested in at least two separate settings by children and their carers.

Each setting has marked and provided a detailed evaluation of the performance of the product, against set criteria. This included key elements, such as appeal to children at both the start and end of the trial, durability, adaptability, educational value, play value, value for money, and many others. An impressive score of 90 per cent or more was needed for products to attain the much-coveted Gold Award, 80 to 89 per cent was required for silver, and 70 to 79 per cent for bronze.

Stay and Play Gold

May 15 2011

‘University Years’ 8th Note Studies

I wrote these studies when I was an undergraduate at the New Zealand School of Music over the course of 3 years.  Basically they are idiomatic prepared pieces designed to demonstrate the knowledge and application of the jazz vocabulary acquired at different stages of the degree.   My aim at the time was musicality and playability over technicality.  Some of these exercises include analysis but most just contain the written improvisation and accompanying chords.  Please feel free to download, play and get what you can from each exercise, the level will vary from piece to piece as some are written very early on in my degree.

All The Things You Are 8th Note Study

Autumn Leaves 8th Note Study

Bebop Scale Phrase

Caravan 8th Note Study

Cherokee 8th Note Study

Diminished Scales Phrases

Donna Lee 8th Note Study

Donna Lee Reharmonisation

F Blues 8th Note Study

Giant Steps Bergonzi Study

Just Friends 8th Note Study

Rhythm Changes 8th Note Study

Rhythm Changes 8th Note 2 Study

Solar 8th Note Study

Stella 8th Note Study

Stella 8th Note 2 Study




Feb 11 2011

The Brain That Changes Itself (interesting article on learning)

Below the link is a great article on a study into brain adaptation, this could be applied to music practise maybe? The book is written by Norman Doidge (MD) and may well be worth a read, the link is below, thanks!

The Brain That Changes Itself

An important example of neuroplasticity is how humans gain skills. Doidge presents an experiment performed by Pascual Leone in which he mapped the brains of blind people learning to read Braille. Braille reading is a motor activity, which involves scanning with a reading finger, and a sensory activity, which involves feeling the raised bumps. The brain maintains a representation of these sensory and motor aspects, which are located in different cortices. The blind subjects practiced two hours a day, Monday through Friday, with an hour of homework. The mapping of their brains took place on Monday, after the weekend, and Friday, immediately after their week cram. What the scans ultimately showed is that the maps dramatically increased in size on Friday scans but returned to a “baseline” size on the following Monday. It took 6 months for the baseline Monday map to gradually increase and by 10 months they plateaued. After the blind subjects took a two month break, they were remapped, and their maps were unchanged from their last Monday mapping. What this shows is that long lasting changes as the result of skill learning took 10 months of repeated practice. The reason why short-term improvements were made based on the Friday mappings, but eventually disappeared, is the result of the type of neuronal connections that were taking place. The Friday mappings were the result of the strengthening of existing neuronal connections. Monday mappings, though showing little progress initially and plateauing at ten months, were the result of the creation of new neural connections.

Nov 26 2009

Jazz Piano Workshop Handouts

Below is a link to some handouts for a jazz piano workshop that I ran for the ABRSM. Topics include voicings, change running, modes, swung quavers, nomenclature, lines & practice routine. I use these regularly in my lessons so I thought that you might find it useful. Please drop me an email on if you use this material, many thanks Mark

Jazz Piano Workshop Handouts

Autumn Leaves

Please note that the melody is written in a simplified form, and is a guide only, embellishments & syncopation are expected.

Modes for Autumn Leaves
scales & modes are a group of notes, a pool if you like from which you can draw your ideas.

C Dorian mode (2nd mode of B flat major scale, or c major scale with lowered 3rd and 7th)

F Mixolydian mode (5th mode of B flat major scale, or f major scale with lowered 7th)

Bb major scale

Eb lydian mode (4th mode of B flat major scale, or E flat major scale with raised 4th)

A Locrian #2 mode (6th mode of C jazz minor scale, or natural minor scale with lowered 5th)

D superlocrian mode (7th mode of E flat jazz minor, also called altered and half whole scale)

G jazz minor scale (melodic minor ascending)

G dorian mode, or c mixolydian mode (same notes)

F dorian mode, or b flat mixolydian mode (same notes)

Jazz Swing Quavers
Now play the slurred notes at full value (don’t shorten) but with less emphasis.
This is an exaggerated rough guide to jazz swing feel and phrasing note length, weight of accent etc are all open to personal interpretation the shape of the melody and use of different rhythms will also determine the articulation used .
The only real way to get an idea of jazz swing is by listening to recordings made by great players.

Voicings For Autumn Leaves

Chords can be divided into 3 groups, major, minor, and dominant
Learn to recognise a major ii v i progression & the qualities of the chords involved (m7, 7, Maj7)
Learn to recognise a minor ii v i progression & the qualities of the chords involved (m7b5, 7(alt), Min7
Your chord must contain at least the 3rd and 7th (guide tones)
Build your chord from either the 3rd or the 7th upwards (there are usually 2 voicings per chord)
Avoid playing the root in your voicings
Keep movement between chords to a minimum (just like J.S. Bach!!)
Extend the m7 and maj7 chord to the 9th with the 5th
Extend the dominant chord to the 13th using the 9th (omit 5th)
Use alterations on the dominant chord especially in a minor ii v i

Nomenclature of jazz chords
There are 3 types of chord group, major, minor, and dominant. When you are reading chord charts you will need to be able to recognise which symbol belongs to which group. Often beginning improvisers get confused between a dominant chord and a major chord, whilst only a semitone different, the function of the chord is ENTIRELY different.

Here are common ways major chords are written

Here are common ways minor chords are written

Here are common ways dominant 7 chords are written

Here are the 2 ways a half diminished chord is written

Please note that jazz use extensions such as 9th, and 13th rather than 2nd and 6th to imply that the interval is ADDED to the existing chord and doesnt replace a note. e.g. C9 means a C7 plus a 2nd, Csus2 would imply that the 3rd is replaced by the 2. A C6 chord is just a c triad with the 6 added, however a C13 is a dominant chord. Jazz musicians will usually play a C7 with either a 9th or 13th anyway, so C7, C9, & C13 are the same practically.

Blues scales for Autumn Leaves

G blues – This is a good blanket scale to use when your brain aches from thinking too much!

B flat blues – you may wish to try this scale over autumn leaves, see what you think!

Change running exercises

Digital pattern exercises
1235 321 1235 321etc.

Jazz lines (ideas)

What makes a solo interesting?
Repetition, Sequence, Dynamics, Range (high, low etc), Accents, Rest and Silence, Rhythmic Variation
Variety (but not too much), Blues scale, Tension and Release, Motifs
Knowing where the guide tones are (3 and 7)
Trills, Glissandos, Swoops, Staccato etc
Emphasise pretty sounding notes, 7ths, 9ths, #4ths
Always try to buiid your solo, tell a story and make it go somewhere

Above all of this, the main thing you need to do is LISTEN, it helps swing feel, improvisation, style
and generally helps you build a solid jazz vocabulary!

What do I do now?
Practise Swing rhythms over familiar scales
Practice major 251 in both hands through cycle of 4ths, best choice
Practice major 251 in left hands through cycle of 4ths, play 251 exercise in right
hand practising swing rhythms
Seperate Chords types and practise through cycle, chromatically and randomly until
you know the chords quickly
Practise minor 251 in left hand , best choice
Practise minor 251 in left hand, play 251 exercise using Locrian #2, Superlocrian, and Jazz Minor scales

Buy a real book and play chords from any tune making yourself fluent with your new jazz voicings
Buy Jamey Aebersold backing tracks and play along either with chords & tune or try soloing
over the changes too!
Just play, be creative, listen and have fun playing jazz!
There is a huge recourse of jazz tutorial material available to buy and study, or book a series of private
lessons from a tutor, study at one of the jazz courses available in both Auckland based universities.

Sep 16 2009

Brad Mehldau’s Blackbird Solo

I have prepared these as part of my postgraduate study, my only request is that if you use them then please drop me an email to let me know. Thanks and enjoy!!

Blackbird Solo

Blackbird Leadsheet

Sep 16 2009

Brad Mehldau Solo Analysis

This is a paper that I have written highlighting the harmonic exploration of some of Brad Mehldau’s solos. I have chosen solos found in Mehldau’s contemporary repertoire from pieces as Day is Done and Riverman (both Nick Drake Covers).

Brad Mehldau Solo Analysis

Excerpt included below….

In an interview with downbeat magazine Mehldau explains to Dan Ouellette, “it’s hard to talk about this without coming off as sounding pompous but I have my own voice. Without getting too technical, I have a certain way of approaching melody and harmony that some people might recognise as my own” (In Conversation with Brad Mehldau, 2008)
Brad Mehldau’s piano playing is intelligent, harmonically and rhythmically complex and unique on many levels. It is surprising therefore that there are only a handful of academic papers and other documented analysis focused on his music. This research topic is aimed at increasing the body of knowledge on the subject of Mehldau’s approach to improvisation and performance throughout his career to date. The researcher is particularly interested in these “technical” aspects of melody and harmony that Mehldau refers to. Can these be understood and applied by others? Or is it a case that Mehldau’s music is simply greater than the sum of its individual parts?

Due to time constraints, the researcher hopes to analyse two elements of Mehldau’s playing during the period of one academic year. These two contrasting topics are listed below and have been purposely chosen to provide research based on both specifically focused, and also a more general analysis.

With particular reference to Radiohead, Nick Drake and the Beatles, what are the harmonic improvisational approaches to Mehldau’s adaptation of pop songs? Can these approaches be formalised and applied to other vehicles? This is quite a specific topic and hopes to draw conclusion from analysis of a very small section of music, namely Mehldau’s contemporary repertoire.

Jan 21 2009

ABRSM Professional Development Day 2007

ABRSM Professional Development Day 2007

ABRSM Professional Development Day 2007

Jazz Workshop (a transcript of above)

The Jazz Workshop will be designed specifically to give participants an understanding of improvisation and jazz performance. The workshop is geared towards bridging the gap between traditional education and the ABRSM Jazz Course. It is ideal for teachers with students who wish to experiment with jazz and need help knowing how to approach the topic. The session will be interactive, with Mark demonstrating on the piano and attendees trying some of the topics first hand on keyboards provided. By the end of the class you will be able to play at least one lead sheet and will understand swing rhythms and common jazz scales.
Mark Baynes is a British born jazz pianist who has been living in Auckland for two years, performing nearly every day at venues around the city. Mark is a “Schools Link Organisation” member, liaising with the Education Department of the Auckland Philharmonia, and providing teaching solutions aimed at satisfying Music Technology school education requirements set out in the New Zealand Arts Curriculum. He regularly receives referrals from the New Zealand School of Music, helping students prepare for the BMus Jazz Performance Degree offered in Albany and Wellington.

Dec 19 2008

New Piano Teaching Flyer

New Piano Lessons Flyer

New Piano Lessons Flyer