12 keys (1-4-5) blues practice drill

Hi Hayden, maybe it’s not strictly a ‘Jazz’ request ,but , when you’re schedule allows for it would you consider creating a method for students to Practice the 1-4-5 BLUES please?

Something like you’re other practice drill methods for TRIADS, CHORDS, STRIDE ,with a PDF to work from( makes a huge difference having methodical Practice planner in front of you) practicing the chords ,left & right hand.

Main reason’s being
1)playing with guitarists they use a lot of guitar key’s
2)you can end up on an old upright piano, a half tone above or below concert pitch, you can end up playing Blues in Ab /Dd…etc (rarely, but it happens)
3) fingerings for BLUES scale(s), 12 keys(desirable ,not essential)

I’ve tried writing out a method myself a few times, never sure how to simplify the ‘Drill’ down to make it practical enough.

Any practice ideas would be great ,or a practice-along-with short video.

sincere thanks,


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Hey @niall :wave:

Yes I have been working on new blues lessons this last month, did you see my lesson on F blues for solo piano? You can find it here:

Is this the kind of thing you are looking for?

The structure of the course preview lesson is:

  1. Triads
  2. 7th chords
  3. Just 3rds and 7ths
  4. Counting the blues in 12/8
  5. Suspended triad fills
  6. Simple melody drills
  7. Simple melody and fills
  8. Passing chords, walk-ups, walk downs, basic turnaround

For me this is the base of the blues, and then once we are comfortable with these areas we can incorporate more interesting melodic and harmonic material which is what the next lessons will cover.

Yes absolutely once we have the course format we can create a PDF practice planner which can be applied to other keys.

Please take a look at the course intro lesson above and let me know if this is the kind of thing you are looking for. I’m working on more lessons that follow the same step-by-step structure as the introduction lesson.


Hi. I think a practice planner is a great idea. But I would like to go a step further and suggest a drill guide. You outline great drills to practice to build the techniques. I would suggest building a guide to these sequentially. Three columns: skill, description, notation. So for example, with the Misty course, arpeggio drills - triads, then the pattern for major (3,5,7,9,R,3,5,7). Than the minor pattern. Like list all the drills and a reminder on right column of what it is. I create notes from lessons for this purpose.

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Great idea @rickgoulburn - I think this would work particularly well for the slow blues material.

I’m certainly not a blues specialist but I’m enjoying deconstructing various components of the style and small pieces of vocabulary and then gradually layering everything together.

I’m aiming to have the next batch of lesson recorded this weekend and I can start to map out the drill guide.

I’ll a post an update here once it’s coming together.

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I wasn’t initially thinking covering anywhere near that much detail Hayden. More like you’re ‘DRILL’ series here i.e:

Whatever you thought was necessary to be 12-KEYS ready, for the 1-4-5 BLUES ,in a Jam situation (literally a Johnny B Goode Rock n Roll Blues) A way to cycle thru the 12 Key’s,

Drill 1)1-4-5 Major Triads (1 = 2 x inversions ?)
Drill 2)1-4-5 (4)-note chords
Drill 3)1-4-5 4 note rootless
Drill 4)12 keys Minor & Major Blues scale
Drill 5)12 keys Minor Major (5-note) Pentatonic (2 octave fingering-I’ve found the maj/Min pentatonic FINGERINGS challenging due to less notes creating bigger gaps to cover)

Left Hand practice (for playing with bass player)
Right Hand Practice (w/out bass player)

So, just Drills, no Blues licks, no theory involvement (though that depends what you advise & there is Major/Minor Pentatonic PDF’s already created on Pianogroove ,but not 2 octaves)

Does any of that help or make sense?

thanks again,


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I just watched the intro lesson, and it’s excellent! Really looking forward working on the material and to more lessons in this series. Some detailed/broken down practice drills would be great, as the lesson is packed full of ideas to internalise. Thanks for your hard work Hayden - my playing (and understanding) has improved so much since I found the site.

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