Faster songs within Piano Groove?

Hi everyone.

I’m really enjoying the pro membership and learning a lot!

I’ve noticed however that many if not most of the songs here are slow to moderate tempo ballads, performed in a rather rubato manner. No doubt, that’s a critically important skill to develop.

That said, I’m wondering if there is also material buried within the course I’ve not yet discovered that will help me develop performing faster songs?

I do see Fly Me to the Moon is here, and All of Me is on the way; but are there others already here; or more snappy-toe-tappy up tempo swing pieces coming?

Also, I’ve often observed live jazz bands seemingly riffing over more modal sounding chord progressions – not really playing a recognizable “song”.

Is this kind of instruction here, or, perhaps on the way?

Again, thank you for all your efforts producing this exceptional material! You’ve helped me grow as a musician.

Doug Flather
Annapolis, Maryland

Hi Doug :wave: :

Welcome to the community area and I’m glad to hear you are enjoying the PianoGroove Pro materials.

Thanks for these great suggestions, here’s my thoughts:

Yes I find slow/medium tempo ballads to be the most effective medium to teach my harmonic concepts. This is why they feature so heavily in my lessons and courses.

I do also love playing ballads so I suppose I’m a little biased! :grin:

Yes absolutely.

In addition to “All Of Me” and “Fly Me To The Moon” which you already mentioned, here’s some other faster tempo tutorials:

Taught by Myself:

Taught by Tuomo:

We also have the blues section of the site. The blues progression can be played at any tempo and the jazz blues progression is great fun to play over with the iRealPro backing track app.

A quick sidenote:

From my understanding, up tempo jazz tunes are most often performed with a full rhythm section (drums, piano, & bass) which creates the energy to propel the music forward. This is one of the challenges when arranging up tempo tunes for solo piano.

That being said, if you have any particular tunes you would like to see covered, or better still, any favourite examples of faster tunes being played or taught (in solo piano style) on YouTube, then please post the tune names and/or YouTube URLs in this thread, and I will work out how we can teach these tunes.

Solo up tempo performances are not my strong point as a player, but within our teaching team I’m sure we can deliver any jazz style that our students want to learn.

We have covered some of the most famous modal tunes such as:

We’re always open to new suggestions too.

If you can post an example of “jazz bands seemingly riffing over more modal sounding chord progressions” - perhaps a link from YouTube, then I will know exactly what it is you are looking for.

I’m sure we can create a lesson on modal playing, or at the very least explain what the band is doing.

In terms of soloing over a modal form, my best advice would be to transcribe from a modal recording. Perhaps start with Miles Davis “So What”. Transcribe the piano parts and also the horn players to get a feel for modal improvisation.

If you’re new to transcription, check out Tuomo’s weekly transcription exercises:

Those exercises will equip you with the skills you need to learn directly from your favourite recordings.

My pleasure Doug.

I remember seeing your comments on PianoGroove’s YouTube channel when I posted my first tutorials back in 2015. It’s great to now see you here in the PianoGroove Community area!

It’s always wonderful to hear positive feedback on students’ progress and development. So thanks for letting me know!

Post some examples of the up-tempo & modal stuff you want to learn and I will figure out the best way to teach and present it :+1:


1 Like

Thank you Hayden for your rich and full response. I’m very much glad to be considered one of your learners; and again, very grateful for your instructional method, which I find very effective.

Thanks also for the references to some of the more up tempo works within PG. I’m certain they’ll keep me busy for quite some time.

I also agree with your observation about the jazz combo being a better match for faster pieces. In fact, that’s me. My wife is my bassist and I’ve found the Beat Buddy very useful for our emerging cocktails and dinner jazz set lists!

I find in addition to the wonderful stylings I’m learning via PG, I also need to cover material clients might like near the beginning of their events when a more enthusiastic feel is desired. Songs like On the Street Where You Live, L.O.V.E, String of Pearls, Take the A Train, Mack the Knife, Blue Skies – pieces that get the audience toe tapping and finger snapping. Currently, I find my playing a bit mundane and “basic” when I approach these.

I am hoping that as I master your principles like Upper Structures and TriTones, that might transfer effectively.

I also find mixing in latin-fused pieces resonate with audiences. Kudos for your bossa courses. I’m also keen to approach faster pieces like Mas Que Nada and Wave.

Warm wishes to you from the States. I do still travel to London on business several times each year, so if you’re ever out gigging, I’d welcome the opportunity to come support you. You’re doing a great work Hayden. Please do keep it up!

Doug Flather

Brilliant - this is exactly what I needed.

Leave this with me and I will chat with our teaching team.

Check out this course Doug which should give you some insight into comping that in corporate USTs and quartal vocings:

We do have a tutorial on Wave, check it out here:

Such a groovy tune!

Jovino teaches it brilliantly and gives a nice background on the composition.

Thanks Doug, much appreciated.

I’m aiming to start a band in the near future so I’ll keep you posted on any gigs.


Hi again, thanks for all the suggestions
Here’s an example of what I meant

It’s possible i don’t understand what I am listening to, but esp after about 30 seconds it sounds like a lot of almost random stacked fourths in the left hand and then various noodling scales in the right. Perhaps you would consider this more free form style playing in one of your Five Minute master classes?

Thanks for sharing this Doug.

I will take a detailed listen and we can certainly cover the technique in a masterclass or full-length lesson.

Anything you’d like to learn from a recording, post it here in the forum and we will add it to our upcoming lesson schedule.

I’ll post all updates in this thread :+1:

Hi Everyone, I’ve memorised 9 of the standards so far, although I haven’t studied much of the theory because at the moment I only want to practice what I perform.
Don’t you think that once you have learnt Hayden’s great arrangements you can speed up or slow down or play in different rhythms as you want? do you agree?

Hi Simon,

Great job memorising 9 jazz standards. Once you have learnt 20 standards or so, you will begin to see many similarities in the harmonies and chord progressions.

With each tune you learn, the easier it becomes to arrange and interpret new tunes.

In terms of speeding up, slowing down, and changing the rhythmic feel, yes absolutely! We have the freedom to interpret tunes how we like. That’s one of the fun things with jazz music.

Check out the iRealPro app if you haven’t already, you can change the feel and tempo at the click of a button which is handy for experimenting with this stuff.

Here’s a screenshot of the different rhythmic feels you can play around with:

Many of the ballads I teach sound great at a medium/up tempo.

Here’s a post on iRealPro setup:


I think it’s a great idea to have some PianoGroove lessons covering this type of playing style, but also understand that there are some special challenges in this area because if your ears aren’t developed, it’s very difficult to keep this kind of modal improvisation sounding substantial. It devolves into patterned noodling extremely easily unless you are hearing ideas in your mind and then executing them with intention, because the harmony simply doesn’t provide anything to hide behind like it does with tunes where the harmony moves around more.

So I think @Doug_Flather, you in particular can see from your own perspective that there are a few obstacles that perhaps lessons can help with, if I may break it down a bit:

First, you need a bit stronger ear training to recognize that the stacked fourths (which you ARE hearing correctly – good job!) in Effendi are not random at all – they are actually structured around two very specific scales. Can you pick out what the scales are, and can you map out the form of the piece, i.e., when does it switch between them? Once you have that, you will have something to start to work with for improvisation.

Second, the melodic part, and as you know already, Tyner’s melodic improvisation draws heavily on a level of technical skill that few of us have under our fingers. For those of us who don’t have that kind of technique, we are missing an important tool that he uses to add emotion and excitement to his improvisation, and sometimes it’s hard to work out what we might replace it with. That’s one reason why it’s hard to be McCoy Tyner! :slight_smile:

But with all that said, I’m confident lessons can help make some of what he’s doing more accessible, and I’m looking forward to seeing and/or helping that happen.