#3 - Rootless Voicings Practice Planner

Practice Plan For Rootless Voicings Course

Our rootless voicings course is a core part of our jazz piano syllabus here at PianoGroove.

Most of these lessons were inspired by my own influences, mainly Bill Evans, and his unique use of the rootless voicings with tensions and colours. The feedback I receive from students on these lessons has been great and so I’m excited for launching this practice plan series.

Rootless Voicings Take Time To Learn

I know first hand how much work is involved in learning these voicings. It’s a journey that we take over many years. The exercises I have included in this plan are ones that I revisit frequently and I’m sure they will be a great asset for all who want to improve their understanding of jazz harmony.

Download The PDF Practice Planer:

Rootless Voicings Practice Planner.pdf (1.9 MB)

This PDF practice plan contains 6 drills and exercises to master rootless voicings. Each drill comes with an associated video which are listed below. The first 3 drills are harmony focused, and the last 3 drills are improvisation focused.

Slot 1 - Rootless Voicings Stride Drill:

This is one of my favourite ways to use rootless voicings, I play the bass note way down in the lower registers, and then I come up with my left hand to play the upper extensions and alterations. Such a great way to add colour and texture to the chords I’m playing during ballad performance.

Slot 2 - Major 251 Stride Drill

For practice slot 2, we add major, minor, and dominant voicings together to create the major 251 progression. We will play the root in the lower registers, and then bring our left hand up to play the voicings.

Slot 3 - Minor 251 Progression Drills

One of the intricacies of minor harmony is the variety of colours and tensions we can add to the chords in the minor 251 progression. This gives us a huge amount of variations to work on. For this practice slot we cover the basic progression and also highlight a number of variations we can work on.

Slot 4 - Major 251 Improvisation Drills

For practice slot 4, we take a simple chord tone line around all 12 rootless major 251s. We then look at some variations and extensions you can add to the melody and finally we will deconstruct a more complex bebop line.

Slot 5 - Minor 251 Improvisation Drills

For practice slot 5, we will be exploring similar drills and exercises covered in slot 4, but this time we will be applying the drills to the minor 251 progression. We start by introducing another simple line based on chord tones and arpeggios. We then apply this to the minor 251 in all 12 keys.

Slot 6 - Transcribe Your Own Material

For practice slot 6, we will explore how to find your own melodic ideas and drill through the exercises we have covered earlier in this practice series. We will analyse a short melody transcribed from a Red Garland solo and then incorporate this into the line we covered in practice slot 4.

Any questions with the contents of this practice plan? Let’s continue the discussion below.


Video 2 where we combine the voicings into the major 251:

1 Like

Hayden , could you advise please ,am getting confused as to the correct order of the PRINT OFF ‘PRACTICE SCHEDULE’ sheets

Firstly: On the ‘Rootless Voicings Course’ the print off schedule has 6 ‘Drill’ boxes. Only the top box mentions ‘Stride’ Rootless Voicings Practice Planner.pdf (1.9 MB)

…Is that the only part of the schedule we practice as Stride ,then continue the other excercises NOT in Stride format , or, is it all STRIDE?


I have pianogroove homepage opened. I’ve selected ’ Jazz Piano Foundations’ left hand tab. (3 tabs up on screen)…

Is it best for beginners to the website to just go left to right & not delve into lessons like ‘Rootless voicings Stride Drill’

i.e go in this order:

2)Extended Chords & and Voicings
3)*Mastering Left Hand Voicings

Is that the correct way to approach learning here ? (systematic/HEADINGS & CHAPTERS always in order)) ?

Hi Niall,

Great questions here.

Firstly, I still need to record exercises 3 - 6 in this practice plan. I arrived at the 3rd exercise and realised we had already covered it in a similar format in the course here:

I will prioritise completing the plan and aim to get the other 3 drills finished in the next week.

For now just work through the 2 stride exercises, and perhaps the iRealPro app exercise above.

Rootless Voicings do take a while to master by the way Niall, so you could also move onto the course on Altered Harmony which will be Practice Plan #4:

Remember that you can work on multiple courses in tandem.

Just exercises 1 & 2 are Stride Style in this practice plan.

The rest are rootless 251 drills where we play the whole voicing in our left hand, and I’m devising some right hand melodic exercises to play simultaneously.

They will be completed shortly - I will notify you as soon as they are ready.

Yes that is the order they have been created and the order that they should be followed.

You will see that in the practice plan section of the forum, they are labelled 1, 2, and 3.

The next is: #4 - Altered Harmony & Upper Structure Triads. which is an intermediate course.

You can certainly work on 2 courses at the same time.

Perhaps alternate the Foundations Plan, and also the Extended Chords Plan each day of practice.

Also remember to study the actual theory lessons in the course too.

Any further questions just let us know.

1 Like

FYI everyone - The PDF Practice Plan Series for our rootless voicings course is now finished.

I’ve updated the first post in this thread with full descriptions of each practice slot and links to the videos.

Here’s the 4 new videos for those working on this area of the syllabus.

Slots 3 through 6 are all improvisation focused and tie in nicely with Tuomo’s new section on improvisation/transcription exercises:


1 Like

Thanks. This is very helpful.
Dr. Dean