By the time I was in my early teens, I have been exposed to quite many genres of music. I was enjoying everything I was listening to, be it classical, jazz, pop, rock, etc. as long as it was pleasing to my ears. So, I was listening to a lot of music and trying to digest it all.
I tried to make some sense of all the music I was listening to by attempting to analyze what I was hearing. I would hear a chord sound and go search for that sound on the piano. I would try my best to transcribe a melody and figure out the chords to a song that I particularly liked. Then I would play it on the piano imitating the groove of the music to the best of my ability.
It was at that time when I was beginning to be intrigued by jazz music. It was everything in jazz: the melody, the rhythm, the harmony and the synergy among the musicians in a jazz performance that captivated me. Jazz was so complex and intimidating for me that I desired to know more about it. It was from loads of listening to jazz and trying to figure out the complexities of that genre that got me hooked on jazz. The more I listened, the more it impressed upon me the virtuosity of the musicians and minds that these musicians possess to create such music. So, I decided I wanted to go the jazz way too. I wanted to have the musical and mental skills to be able to perform jazz.
While I was still in a classical music program, I embarked on a self-taught jazz program since there was no one who could teach me jazz. I was merely imitating what I could gather from the jazz recordings. As the saying goes: If at first when you do not succeed, imitate! It was from lots of listening and exploring jazz on the piano that got me deeper into jazz.