Students Play

Play the songs you love to listen to.

Here are some examples of Sudnow Method students – people, like you, who have busy, full lives – having a great time playing songs.

Here’s a collection of Sudnow students, mostly beginners, sharing their early attempts with ‘Misty’.

Misty has always been one of my favorite tunes. Some day I hope to play it as well as I have heard it sung by artists like Johnny Mathis. For now this will have to do. – Don


Here’s my submission for the Music Sharing Event. It’s ‘Misty’, but I’ve voiced it myself from the fakebook. I’ve stopped and revisited the Method more than once, so I wanted to voice this one myself rather than using Suds’ dots. I’m hopefully back to stay!


from Nick:

“My Funny Valentine” – to me, one of the most beautiful songs ever written, and one of the earliest I chose to learn after David introduced the Dot Songbooks. For the most part, I used David’s voicings, but as I moved through the song things began to happen, my hands throwing in notes here and there. I could hear the ending in my head, and eventually found it on the piano.

This was recorded on July 6, 2006. The next day was my wife’s birthday. I had been working on the song for a number of weeks, and thought it would be nice if I could capture a decent take of the arrangement. My playing was still a bit heavy handed at that point in time, but much of the expression was what I was seeking. And I’ve never played the ending better. Five years later, I still find much to like about this take. – Ken

I’ve always been intrigued by how incongruous this song seems in the context of the musical it first appeared in. At any rate this version might not appeal to Valentine LaMar but the song continues to be a favorite of mine. -Markham


Another fine rendition from James:


from Celia:


from Norman:

I’d like to share with you how I managed to choose“A Foggy Day” to voice and work up. It has never been one of my favorite standards. So  – here’s the story.

I was listening to some music of Chick Corea that I had downloaded from eMusic. The song was “But Beautiful”. Listening to his improvisation, I heard a bit of a tune that was very familiar sounding. It lasted just 2 measures – a nice swinging style to it. I listened again to the piece and realized he was playing 2 measures of “A Foggy Day”.

I searched in my fake book and found “A Foggy Day”. I tried to duplicate Chick’s sound for those 2 measures. At that point, I was hooked. I voiced it that day. Then, I had to take the style of those first 2 measures, and try to imagine what the entire piece might sound like.

My aim is to one day sound like there is no effort involved when I play. That’s what I’m working on. I know, it takes lots of repetitions (a few more months worth, years worth – who knows?)

So, here we are with my “Chick” version of “A Foggy Day”.  -Barb

Nick submitted this in absentia but we’re happy to have such a great example of his warm, thoughtful playing. 

The song is from the 1940 Rogers and Hart musical ‘Pal Joey’. There’s also a 1957 film adaptation starring Frank Sinatra, Rita Hayworth, and Kim Novak. (There’s an attractive group of actors!) – dmh

This was the first song I voiced after starting the Sudnow course 16  years ago.  I had learned about 15 songs using Sudnow’s voicing  before attempting to voice Bewitched which was about 2 years or so after starting the course. I have a repertoire of 40 songs but I have only voiced a total of 3 songs myself.  I prefer using the wonder Suds voicings and concentrating my time on playing them as well as I can.  I play publicly  about 10 nights a month during the months of Oct thru April.  The Sudnow method has changed the course of my life.

One of the great things about being able to “read” fake books is that you discover a lot of songs you didn’t really know. This is a Herbie Hancock tune from his classic 1965 abum “Maiden Voyage”, with Tony Williams, Ron Carter, Freddie Hubbard and  George Coleman. Great stuff! I was in Junior High School at the time but my friends and I were all floored by this album. Wish I could swing like that.

This arrangement of ‘Here’s That Rainy Day’ is very much Suds’s voicing as well as his suggestions for making it flow. I think it’s a beautiful song. -Peggy

(Editor: There’s an interesting back story to the little-known musical that this song came from – ‘Carnival in Flanders’. Delores Gray won a Tony for ‘Best Actress in a Musical’ in what remains the shortest-lived Tony-honored performance ever. The production lasted only six performances!)

Billy Strayhorn’s “Lush Life” has always been a favorite of mine. James’ post made me revisit the wonderful lyrics that Strayhorn created. It’s hard to imagine that Strayhorn apparently wrote most of this song when he was 16 years old.

Wikipedia says he wrote the song from 1933 to 1938. I’m not sure what that means but he only performed it in private until he and vocalist Kay Davis performed it with Duke Ellington at Carnegie Hall in 1948. I find the lyrics haunting and deeply sad. Perhaps colored by knowing something of Strayhorn’s life as an openly gay black man in the middle of the 20th century (there’s a good biography available, “Lush Life” – of course).

It took me awhile to recognize the irony – or perhaps double entendre – in the song title’s “lush” until I thought about the last verse.

My version imitates some of what Chick Corea did with the tune on his marvelous “Expressions” solo piano album.

I’ve always loved this tune. When David posted it on the website for us, I immediately began working on it. I’d been playing it for well over a year when a little introduction rolled out of my hands one day. It was the first time that had happened to me. With David’s voicings, and my intro and ending, here is “Someone To Watch Over Me”. -Ken

George and Ira Gershwin song from the 1926 musical ‘Oh, Kay!’

This song by Mack Gordon and Harry Warren is from the film ‘Iceland’, a WWII era movie featuring the three-time Olympic gold medal winning skater Sonja Henie. A charming, if unremarkable movie, but the source of what is arguably one of the most popular ‘jamming’ tunes for jazz musicians around the world.

I was used to hearing the song played up tempo but as I read the lyrics I realized that it’s really a very poignant love song and takes on a different character when played slowly. Many Sudnow students ask questions about ways to ‘fill the space’, looking for techniques to help add ‘substance’ to their playing. I have purposely tried to keep this song ‘simple’ in the hopes of demonstrating that even relatively straighforward approaches to good songs can result in good music – ‘good’ meaning I enjoy playing it.

Learn the basics of the Method well and there’s a lot of wonderful music at your fingertips, without needing a ton of technique.

I had been working on ‘Waltz For Debby’, the wonderful Bill Evans tune, for about two weeks when the arrangement seemed to come together (record time for me). I had worked on the song earlier that evening and was now getting ready for bed when I decided to run through it one more time. By chance, I hit the record button on the Clavinova. Completely absorbed in the sound coming from the piano and too tired to think about what my hands were doing, I captured what remains the best take of this or any other song I’ve attempted to record. -Ken

It is When I Fall in Love – with bloopers and far from how I would eventually like it to sound but hey-ho I have really enjoyed learning it the Sudnow way. -Carole

1952 – by Victor Young (music) and Edward Heyman (lyrics). It was introduced in the film ‘One Minute to Zero’ (with Robert Mitchum and Ann Blyth) – a romantic war film set during the Korea War. As an aside, it was the last film produced by Howard Hughes as owner of RKO Pictures.

If you have a recording you'd like to have included here please contact us. Thanks!


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