Drowning in resources


So since I joined (a few months ago) I’ve used this site shamelessly little, and as each payment goes I out think either I cancel or I get practicing. I’ve chosen the latter for now, and have set myself up to do the foundation practice schedule - a little each night I’m in, and see how I get through it. I’m sure it will be painfully slow to start with.

What I’d like is a little pointer for what to share my practice time with, as I can’t just do scales - too boring. I know there are the ‘standards’ studies, which is supposed to be 30mins/50% per practice. I couldn’t easily find a link to where those all are, so would be great if someone could post those.

Also, as far as the rest of the resources goes, despite your incredibly detailed first response to me Hayden, I’m embarrassed to admit I have not ventured beyond ‘drills’. This inevitably will have been one of the reasons I have not been back to the site much, as it’s almost too much to contemplate.

If I do this practice schedule, are there maybe one or two other resources to look at that would be a ‘bit more fun’. I’m wanting to learn to improvise better, and also play by ear in a band in a more interesting way. I have a good ear for chords and harmony, but my brain is just not fast enough/confident enough yet of my inversions and rootless chords to ‘detach myself’ from the bass line and venture further up the keyboard, which on Rhodes is really where the fun starts.

I played yesterday in a big band (Sax) with a keyboard player who is probably one of the best pianists in the London (he’s the MD of a major West End show) and whilst I obviously have no expectations of getting close to that standard, it was so amazing listening to that level of natural talent that I’m determined to improve my own playing.

If there was a course you could recommend for improv, and one to help me ‘voice myself’ better in a soul/funk band on rhodes, that would be enough to get started on and to keep it interesting.

thanks again, and apologies for the slight repeat request for guidance.

Hi Richard,

I’m unsure how much of the guidance you have followed from our last conversation, but much of what you ask here, I already covered in my previous reply to you. Here it is:

To Cover Your Other Questions/Comments:

I appreciate that scales are not the most entertaining things to practice, but if we don’t know our 12 major scales numerically, then we are building on very weak foundations.

Likewise, if we can’t visualise and play triads, 7th chords, & 3-note 251s, then again, we have a large hole in our understanding of basic harmony.

For these topics we have the foundation practice plan. 1 hour a day is all it requires spending just 5 minutes on each of these foundational theory areas.

That’s the absolute essentials, then we have extended harmony, rootless harmony, and altered harmony which are the next courses I outlined in our other conversation.

However, if we don’t spend the time to master the basics in the foundations course, we are building on weak foundations.

Yes we have 2 index pages for this:

Yes the direction in each practice plan is to do 30 minutes practice on 6 x 5-minute theory drills, and then spend 30 minutes playing jazz standards and applying the theory in context of actual tunes. The latter is the more enjoyable part of studying jazz piano.

For improvisation and your ear skills, I recommended that you participate in Tuomo’s weekly improvisation/transcription exercises:


In our last conversation, I also recommended this course to you which covers more interesting voicing options and improvisation guidance to play in a band setting.

I recommended that you watched that course immediately to allow you to gauge your understanding of jazz harmony.

The lessons in that course incorporate theory on extended harmony, rootless harmony, and altered harmony and how to apply this in context of a band to play creative and interesting voicings.

To reiterate from my previous post, if we haven’t absorbed the more basic theory, we are trying to run before we can walk. If this is the case, the following courses should be completed after the foundations course:

  1. Extended Chords & Voicings

  2. Left Hand Voicings & Rootless Voicings

  3. Altered Harmony & Upper Structure Triads

For improvisation, you must be transcribing from your favourite players and recordings.

That is how we learn to improvise and develop our own sound. I explain more here:

If you have trouble transcribing solos from your favourite players and solos, then I recommend that you participate in Tuomo’s weekly transcription exercises which will equip you with the necessary skills to transcribe directly from recordings:


My pleasure Richard. I appreciate how daunting it can be when starting out with jazz piano. Ultimately, we must be realistic with the size of the task that lies ahead of us as a beginner.

The PianoGroove syllabus follows a modular structure when each course builds on the last.

Spend one hour per day following the practice plans and you will see rapid improvement and progression.

Hope this helps and good luck!


thanks for that (again!). my scales are pretty much down, but that’s only about 5% of the picture. i’ll get drilling on the rest of the practices.

I look forward to watching those other videos, and it’s good to hear you recommend dipping toes into various other of the resources at the same time as doing the exercises.

I have now bookmarked this so that I don’t lose it again! sorry again for that.

Hi Richard, I find myself either completely OCD and learning a tune or a topic, or too busy to practice, it varies; I do know that for ME, it is very important that I blend small bits of time learning theory and drills with PLENTY of FUN and that means take one of the more simple tunes and actually just learn that tune using that lesson video, don’t worry as much on whether I know my theory, but just learn and play a tune via one of the lessons; later down the road I realize that I actually silently absorbed some understanding in spite of that not being the focus. the manner in which Hayden teaches the jazz standard actually uses those building blocks. none of us get all the knowledge suddenly, and we often underestimate when we do actually “get it”. relax and HAVE FUN with it. Good luck to you.

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Lori…like you I spend plenty of time working on the standards. Of course, I do work through the topics too. However, the more standards I work through, the easier they are to learn as much of the theory is repeated so it starts to sink in. For example, a lot of the time I am able to anticipate the next chord and I recognize the suspended resolving to the 3rd. Those progressions start to sink in when you use them over and over in context of various songs. There are lots of “aha” moments! I am having a blast!!!

Hang in there Richard…this stuff takes a lot of time and I expect to be working on it for years to come. However, it can be a lot of fun when you hear yourself play a beautiful tune. And…if you dedicate your time to practice each day…all of a sudden you will start to see the improvement. I just started last September and already see so much progress. Good luck!

Hey Richard
The learning process is different for everyone, but what we have all in common are those times when we doubt and stagnate.
Don’t be discouraged… every day a small step leads us to a long journey…
Keep it going and have fun !


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thanks everyone. I put in a good hour or two last night to get myself started with the drills. Got a bit confused with a few of them - but have posted questions about them on the page for the foundation practice plan.

What I’m really interested to see is how/when the hand shapes of the various 7ths chords and diatonics become muscle memory. From noodling on the piano over the years my muscle memory for the 7th chords is good on the ‘basic’ keys, but hopeless elsewhere. Great to think that i will slowly get to learn the more obscure chords and keys from memory and be able to fall onto them without thinking. That’s the plan I guess, anyway!

Is it recommended to say each chord name out loud when playing it, to aid the memory? Or over the weeks/months of practicing does that just happen anyway?

In my personnal case, im here since february, and for 2 months i did practice the foundations nad some tunes with it, with 7th chords i didn’t really know anything, but within 2 months i just could play my chords eyes closed really, what i did is say the name of the chord outloud, it may sound stupid but it really helped me, and take the time to see exactly where the notes are for each chord, if you do it every day, there’s no way you can’t see improvement, and know for me, a Gbmaj7 is as clear as a Cmaj7. Also you can vary the way you practice, there’s always a way to improve !
Hope this helps, even just a bit :smile:

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that’s great to hear. yes, for me, when it comes to the likes of Db Maj 7 that would take a moment for most of the inversions, whereas GMaj7 would fall easily.

How does this ‘say the chord name out loud’ approach sit with the
“don’t think about the chord root note (C, G, etc), just the number in the scale (I, IV, V etc)” principal that is mentioned a lot? For me I’ve always done chords by name, but i totally get that chord numbers is good too.

Start the drill with Dbmaj7 each day for the next week and I’m confident that it will be just as comfortable as your Gmaj7 within a week or so. The first day or 2 will be tricky… but stick at it and it will come naturally.

I’m sure many of us are guilty of neglecting certain keys, and that’s why it’s important to not always start in the white keys when drilling theory (C/G/F etc… )

Make a conscious effort to start drills/exercises on the opposite side of the circle in Gbmaj/F#maj and soon enough everything will level out.

Ultimately, all keys are equal.

It’s very important to proportionately allocate our practice time on all 12 keys for chords/voicings/progressions/scales/lines/licks/patterns etc… I know this sounds like a huge task at first, but it gets easier and easier, and then becomes the norm.

Interesting question Richard, my view is that both are useful depending on the context.

When taking a voicing around all 12 keys - particularly when starting out with 7th chords - I found it beneficial to say the chord name out loud as I played each one. I found this helps develop an association between the chord name/chord quality/chord symbol, the hand shape/position, and finally how it sounds.

When reading from lead sheets for example, when we see a chord symbol, having practiced in this manner can help us quickly visualise the chord shapes/chord tones because we have already linked the chord name/symbol to a particular shape on the keyboard.

I found this approach to be most effective with -7b5 chords which can be very tricky to visualise on the spot.

The other side of the coin…

When dealing with progressions - For example 251s, 1625s etc… - it’s always best to think in terms of numbers related to the parent key. This way we are ‘lumping together’ chords into useful and functional blocks of harmonic vocabulary. It’s simply more efficient when playing from lead sheets, analysing changes, communicating with other musicians, etc…

Also when chord extensions/alterations are involved I only think numerically.

By learning the numeric construction of a particular voicing or lick/line/phrase, we then have the ‘blueprint’ to take it around all 12 keys.

I was going to add more here on thinking in terms of ‘colour’, ‘texture’, and ‘flavour’, but I’m publishing a practice series on altered harmony shortly, and it will be more appropriate in that thread. I don’t want to digress to far away from the original question here… I have a habit of doing that! :grinning:

Hope that helps Richard :+1:

I didn’t receive a comment notification for that page… i just checked the page too and I couldn’t see any new comments.

Let me know if I have missed something there. Happy to answer your questions here in the forum, or on the lesson pages you are working on.


I forgot to write them! will do it now :slight_smile:

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thanks Guillaume, I need to do that!

For all of us “drowning in resources” and daunted by all there is to learn, we just need to keep in mind the following from Confucius:

:musical_keyboard: It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.

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Another cliche is:
Practice makes Perfect!

I have to chime in as well, I have been drilling chords and voicings everyday for the last 2 months, and the difference is night and day. I can visualize every 7th chord (major, dominant, minor, diminished, half-diminished) in any inversion in any key, at around 80 bpm (I’m pushing for 100). I never would have thought that would be possible. Similarly, I am getting fluent with all the scales (major and the minor scales), less than the chords voicings. Now suddenly all the more advanced topics seem much more attainable and “easy”. My next steps are going to be drilling chord progressions (not just 2-5-1). It really pays off.

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As for the drowning in resources thing. I can understand the feeling of “absorbing more resources will make me a better musician faster”, but really I got to the conclusion that most of jazz harmony / exercises can fit onto 2 pages, and that’s enough for to practice for years.

I keep things interesting by playing against different beats, or trying to make little songs out of the voicings i’m drilling. For scales, I’m mostly focusing on technique and speed, which takes away from the boredom of just playing the notes. That’s also because I’m not very interested in soloing (yet?), and more into harmony and theory.

Awesome! I’m really glad to hear on your progress Manuel :grinning: Congrats!

The addition to the 251 progression, the 1625 progression is a very useful progression to know in all 12 keys.

Adding the VI7 chord creates a ‘circular progression’ that’s nice to loop around whilst experimenting with different voicings and melodies.

Here’s a couple of lessons on 1625s, the first taught by myself, and the second by Lyndol:

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I have started 1625 indeed! I am doing a lot of 51 with different alterations and 1625 (just standard voicings) for now. This will take me a few more weeks before it gets ingrained, I can’t wait.

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@manuel3 what do you mean by practicing chords at a 80 bpm ?