Tim Gross Bio
The Piano Genius training system was created by Tim Gross
Hey there, it’s Tim, and I’ve been playing keyboards professionally in rock bands, in duos with guitar players, and playing solo “piano bars” for the last 30+ years. The black and white photo above was taken in the ’80s at an L.A. club called Madame Wong’s West.
I’m currently touring the country playing keyboards in Rick Springfield’s band (he wrote “Jessie’s Girl” and has had 16 other top-40 hits as well.) I’ve also played with Cheap Trick’s singer Robin Zander and will be performing with the band Berlin’s singer Terri Nunn later this year. The photo of me to the left was taken performing at the L.A. Greek Theater last week.
My own bands (with me singing as well as playing keyboards) have warmed up for artists like Richard Marx, Firefall, Atlanta Rhythm Section, J.D. Souther, Booker T. and the M.G.’s, The Four Tops, Pat Travers, and Echo & The Bunnymen, I’ve performed with Musician’s Institute instructors on their campus for their music students, and I’ve played with many world-class musicians who literally have too many touring and recording credits to list here.
I’ve played in 20+ piece jazz bands and done solo piano bars. I’ve played music in paradise-like resorts and biker bars I was worried about getting stabbed in :-). I’ve played at large outdoor music festivals, and I’ve played in dive bars where there were only a couple of people there. I’ve played at drunken frat parties, and I’ve played “Here comes the bride” in churches at weddings. I’ve performed at highbrow classical music recitals playing a grand piano wearing a suit and tie, and I’ve had fights break out right in front of me in the middle of a song in a pub.
I’m not saying this to brag, I just want you to understand that whatever it is you want to be able to do on piano, I’ve probably done it and can help you.
Through it all, I realized one thing: Week in and week out, 10% of what I know is what I play 90% of the time.
And that’s what I’m here to show you, as quickly and as simply as possible.
Traditional Piano Lessons:
The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly
When I was a kid, I took classical piano lessons for about seven years. Every year I had to learn 10 new classical piano songs (Bach, Beethoven, etc) and perform them for a judge. I had to practice piano 30-45 minutes almost every single day, and I know you’ll find this shocking, but sometimes I really, really hated it!
At the end of each year I had to perform some of the songs I’d learned in front of a judge, and I always received a score within the top 2%-5%, meaning I was pretty good, but like I said, it wasn’t any fun. Every week I was given 8 more bars/measures of music I was supposed to learn (which was maybe about 20 seconds of music when played at full speed) and I laboriously practiced it every day.
When I was 14 years old I’d finally had enough, and I quit. My mom was disappointed, to say the least. and that’s when I discovered the worst thing:
I Couldn’t Play Anything On Piano
Other Than The 10 Songs I Knew
When I Quit Taking Lessons
Even after 7 years of learning to read music notation, I couldn’t just sit down and play notes on a page in front of me (which is called “sight reading”), I had to laboriously work through every note, every measure, and every line, and then practice it over and over.
It was frustrating. Tedious. Lots of work. And other than being able to play the 10 songs I knew, it felt like all the years of practicing I’d done were just a waste of time. (If you’ve spent time trying to learn to play the piano and don’t feel like you have much to show for it, you know how I felt.)
My First Band
When I turned 16, a friend of mine starting playing in a rock band with other kids our age and they needed a keyboard player. It sounded like fun, so I bought an electric keyboard and showed up at the first rehearsal.
And that’s when I discovered something that was (to me) shocking: They didn’t read music.
They learned their parts just by listening to the record and trying to play what they heard! I watched them play a few seconds of a song on cassette, then click “pause” as they played notes on their guitars/bass, trying to figure out what was being played on the recording. Sometimes one person thought they heard one chord, while somebody else thought it was different chord, and we’d play it both ways to decide which we thought sounded better.
The whole experience was completely foreign to me at the time. Until then if I’d wanted to try to play a song, I’d go to the store, buy the sheet music notation, and work really hard to learn how to play it. What they were doing was much easier and much faster.
Once you learned to “train your ear” to listen and hear correctly, going to the trouble to read actual sheet music notation just seemed like a waste of time.
Using the “number system” and training my ear to
pick out the notes and chords changed my life.
I’ve played in many, many bands and worked with a lot of talented musicians, and they all worked together and communicated together in the same way. I’ve lead rehearsals and recorded songs with top session players like Steve Hunter (guitarist for Alice Cooper and many others), and as I mentioned recently played keyboards for Cheap Trick singer Robin Zander (I got to play all the Cheap Trick hits, fun!), and every single time the musicians worked things out together the exact same way: They used their ears to play what they heard, and used the “number system” to describe to each other what they were playing and what to play.
That’s what I’m here to show you. It’s worked for me playing piano professionally for over 30 years, but to my surprise it’s completely unknown to an enormous amount of people struggling to play piano better.
The people who like my style of piano training really, really like it.