I'm getting a bit lost with the foundation songs

Hi all,

The last 2 weeks I have spent working and finishing the first Foundation Course and getting a pretty solid understanding on the 2-5-1 and Diatonic 7th chords. But the last 2 days, working on the first song in the piano foundation practice makes me feel quite overwhelmed with the pace of the lesson, Like there are so many chord changes happen at once and I couldn’t do it at all. It feels like I have practiced all along but now applying it to play is complete different to how I learned with the foundation course. And I have been playing classical music for a while, so getting into this world of not playing like how it’s written is challenging for me.

If you have any suggestions, thank you for your help!


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My only suggestion would be to continue to add songs. As you progress, you will see repetitions of what you have learned in theory and it will start to fall in place. In the meantime, enjoy the beautiful tune you are learning. It takes time, so be patient, but most of all have fun!


Thank you Celia for your kind word. I will break down into smaller steps then practice until I master a part before moving on.

I always need the context of a SONG to help me learn any theory,
Pick a tune you enjoy, and take that lesson, and it’s related theory lessons. Makes it more fun also.

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Hi @hoang :wave:

Welcome to the PianoGroove Community!

That’s brilliant and congratulations for making this progress. The 251 progression is a core pillar of jazz harmony and so learning this in all 12 keys will do you huge favours later down the line.

As @celia and @LoriNelson mentioned, learning the jazz standards is a very important aspect of mastering the jazz language.

Above anything else we must be enjoying studying jazz and so I advise students to dedicate half of their practice time to theory drills, and half to playing jazz standards. This is how we apply the theory and you will learn a lot just from playing the songs and tunes.

Yes the “How To Read Lead Sheets / Tune Up” lesson does include some more advanced theory such as extended chords and chord alterations. In hindsight I wish I hadn’t included it as I receive many questions on it. :sweat_smile:

When I was just starting out with jazz piano my teacher introduced me to some advanced concepts early on which really ignited my interest in jazz, and this is what I was trying to do in that lesson.

In the beginner jazz standard course referenced below, we stick exclusively to roots, 3rds, and 7ths so I think you will find those lessons easier to work with.

I say to all students, that if you encounter some theory that doesn’t make sense, don’t worry about it and the full understanding will come with time.

Whilst it’s good to play tunes with just R-3-7 when starting out, it’s also nice to ‘get our toes wet’ with some more interesting voicings. My view is that students should alway be ‘getting their toes wet’ in more advanced theory. That is how we progress. Initially we don’t understand, but at least we are exposing ourselves to the theory. which is the first step to understanding it.

I would recommend that you study multiple courses at once, so start with the following 3 courses:

Now you will certainly encounter theory that you don’t understand, but remember that this a good thing. I want to be pushing your understanding of harmony in these lessons.

Much of the theory is interrelated and it will give you more of a sense of progression when you see how the foundational material is applied and developed in the course on extended chords, and also why it is important to first learn the elementary materials such as major scales, triads, 7th chords, and the 3-note 251 progression.

We must also be patient with learning jazz Hoang, just like learning any language it takes time. Your classical studies will certainly be an asset to you but now you are learning the language of jazz which is very different to classical piano.

The Importance Of Listening

Listening is also very important, make a playlist of every song you are working on and spend at least an hour a day just listening to jazz and enjoying the music.

Related Forum Posts For You

Finally Hoang, here are some beginner-focused forum threads which I think you will find both useful and insightful:

Read over the above threads as a priority.

I’m here to help should you require further assistance :sunglasses:


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Hi Hayden,

Thank you a lot for your reply. Because I was intimidated with the content, and for a moment I thought this wasn’t for me. But hearing you breaking things down and telling me it’s a part of the process, make me feel more relaxed and not too overwhelmed.

I have a question. When you’re playing Jazz Standard songs, the 2-5-1 will stick to one key only or will it just moves freely and corporate a lot of different keys within one ?

Hi Hoang :wave:

Good question!

In most jazz standards the harmony ‘modulates’ or ‘moves’ through different key centres and so yes we often see many different 251s in a single tune.

This is one of the things that makes jazz music so dynamic and exciting to listen to, because the harmony is constantly modulating.

It’s common for the tune to start on the root of the key, but not always. Often jazz standards will start on the ii-7 chord of the key.

Whilst a jazz standard is written in a specific key - let’s say Eb Major - the harmony will move around to incorporate other 251s than just the 251 in Eb Major.

Some very common modulations are to the IV chord of the key, and also to the relative minor. The more jazz standards we learn, we start to see that in fact many of these tuness are very similar in their harmonic structure.

We do have a lesson where I break down the harmony of “There Will Never Be Another You”, but as a jazz beginner you may find this to be a little advanced:

My main recommendation Hoang would be to check out this post where I explain how we can cover virtually all keys in just 6 jazz standards and I show how different 251s are found in the tune:

Hope that helps!