Welcome David. I’d recommend starting with the practice plans that are listed with each beginning group of lessons. It has worked for me. (And I had around 40 years of not playing anything. ) Those boring bits will pay off in the future. And as the plans indicate, at least half of your time is with the fun stuff.
At any rate, have fun. I think you’ll enjoy the experience and will progress if you stick with it.
Thanks for sharing your performance of “Over The Rainbow” - I like your chord choices and it gives me a much clearer idea of the most suitable courses for you.
A first recommendation would be to add some kind of intro and outro to each tune you are playing. We have an introductory lesson here on the 1-6-2-5 progression which I think you will enjoy:
I see that you are playing “Over The Rainbow” in the key of C Major, and so that would make your 1-6-2-5 progression:
Cmaj7 / A7b9 / D-7 / G7
Of course you can add any combination of extensions, alterations, passing chords to this basic progression. More info on this below.
It can be nice to cycle around that for both and introduction and an ending to extend the length of any tune you are playing. The V7 chord (G7) leads back to the Imaj7 chord (Cmaj7) and so the progression is a cycle, and when ready, you can drop for the G7 straight into the start of the tune.
Most jazz standards tend to start and end on the Imaj7 chord so this kind of intro/outro will will have you covered for most tunes.
That could help with your “full hour of music” goal for the local bar.
I would recommend that you start studying the following 2 courses simultaneously:
Extended Chords & Voicings
This course introduces 9s, 11s, & 13s, and we look at some common extended chord voicings that are very useful to have under your fingers:
Altered Harmony & USTs
This course introduces the concept of chord alterations. I did see you played some alterations in your arrangement of “Over The Rainbow” - for example, at 0:43 seconds, you play A7b9
This course will explain the different ‘colours’ you can add to dominant chords to create more harmonically-complex and sophisticated voicings and progressions:
Intros, Endings, & Turarounds (optional, focus on the above 2 first)
This is housed as an “Advanced Course” but based on your performance, I don’t see any reason why you cannot learn the arrangements. In all of these lessons I demonstrate different ways to create extended intros for jazz standards:
I agree with @scott1 that it would be good to check out the Foundations Practice Plan.
I understand and appreciate that some of those exercises are boring, but they will give you solid foundations for the more advanced theory, and perhaps even highlight weaknesses in your playing that you didn’t realise.
Aim to play the following 2 exercises in less than 5 minutes each:
All 12 major scales and identify the notes numerically ie. 1-2-3-4-5-6-7 instead of: C-D-E-F-G-A-B-C and you must do this for all 12 major scales. Don’t skip this!!
3 note 251 progressions with root in left hand, and then 3rd and 7th in right hand - being able to clearly visualise the 7ths falling to 3rds in 251s in all 12 keys will help you greatly. The 3rd and 7th are the essential components of the harmony and so it’s important to be able to see that half-step relationship which will also help you in creating improvised melodies.
If you can’t do that, I would recommend spending 10 minutes on it each day until you can.
The other exercises (minor scales, triads, 7th chords) are all still important, but the above 2 are in my opinion the most important to learn thoroughly before moving on. It will simply save you time in the future.
Once you encounter upper structure triads in the “Altered Harmony Course” I highlighted above, you will see how important it is to be able to invert and manipulate triad shapes around the keyboard, and so as @scott1 says, working on the foundation exercises will pay off in the future.
Here’s what I’d recommend:
If you could make that 45-60 minutes per day into 2 hours each day, you will see much better results. I found it very effective to do 1 hour in the morning before I went to work, and then I would play most of the evening. Aim for 1 hour in the morning, & 1 hour in the evening.
Revisit and stick to what you are practicing. The key is to dedicate yourself to a consistent practice routine. Use the downloadable PDF resources and practice plans to give you that structure.
Don’t forget to have fun with it… This is supposed to be a fun hobby after all!! You have a nice goal to work towards with your “full hour of music by Christmas time” but also understand that learning jazz is truly a lifelong pursuit, there is always more to learn. I find accepting that takes the pressure off and makes the whole process more enjoyable. I just try to get a little better each day.
Here’s 4 forum threads which you may find useful with your “full hour of music” goal:
my Name is Michael 55 years old and living in the southwest of Germany (Palatinate), surrounded by vineyards and forrest.
I´m here at pianogroove for my second day now and wanted to tell you a little about me:
I´ve been an accordion-player for many years now (not professional). Together with a saxophone player and a bass player we play Klezmer-Music most of the time.
Since 4 years I make coversongs together with my partner. She´s singing while I play guitar (acoustic) most of the time. But we also started to take some songs with piano in our repertoire (Adele, Norah Jones, Sara Bareilles …).
Now I found that the most interesting arrangements of modern pop-songs always almost contain elements of jazzmusic! And that´s when I started looking for online-courses on jazzpiano - and found pianogroove.
So here I am - still a bit confused with all that material offered - and looking forward to my “career as jazz-accompanist”
To work on your accompaniment skills, I’d first recommend checking out Lyndol’s course on “How To Accompany Singer”:
I’d also recommend working through our Beginner Jazz Courses, this information will give you the foundational information you need to be more comfortable and confident in all styles of music.
My opinion is that… No matter what style of music you want to play, having a good understanding of jazz harmony will always be as asset to you.
Jazz theory is the most complex and challenging to learn, and you will find that instrumentalists who play pop, funk, gospel, soul, R&B, HipHop, Neo-soul, etc… will have studied jazz harmony at some point in their musical development.
Ultimately, it will give you a deeper understanding of all music which will help with your performance/composition in any genre.
The jazz standards are simply nice ‘etudes’ in which to apply the theory and get familiar with basic harmony in all 12 keys.
I’m a half-decent pianist I guess, having done grade 7 about 20 years ago, and played on and off since. I studied music at degree level, as part of a music and sound recording course, but primarily played sax and cello when there. I now work with musicians a lot, but am a recording engineer for film and TV, rather than a performer, these days.
I have always wanted to play better jazz on the piano, but never really ‘learnt it’. Jazz, Soul, Funk and Blues are mostly what I listen to. I played in a soul band for about 5 years after uni, on Rhodes and Hammond, but always felt let down by solos and improv. I’m a fairly good accompanist, but really do stick to tried (or is it tired?!) and tested voicings and styles.
I’d love to expand my horizons in terms of scales, ideas, voicings, confidence in a solo, accompanying, etc. I’ve been lucky enough to play with some amazing keys plays in my time, and I know I don’t have the ability to hit those kinds of heights, but there’s still much room for improvement.
As I hit 40 this summer, I feel another mid-life crisis coming along and am attempting to reform my post-uni band. Hoping to break away from blues scales and play something that I’d like to listen to (even if the drunk people in the pub are usually appreciative anyway).
Be great to have a rummage around in here, although not entirely sure where I should start. I have a good understanding, up to a point, skill up to a point, and some experience. just not very much. Any pointers very welcome, and am perfectly happy to start right at the beginning if that’s the best approach.
Brilliant, your classical studies will certainly be an asset for you in terms of finger strength and dexterity.
I would imagine you have strong sight reading skills too. The key goals of the PianoGroove Course is to reduce reliance on notation and to help students understand harmony numerically… this allows us to be more spontaneous in our performance and improvisation… more on this below.
It’s also great that you have experience with other instruments… A nice variety of instruments too with sax and bass!
My opinion is that experience with any other instrument will broaden your musical perspectives, tastes, and influences which is always good when playing and exploring the jazz idiom.
However, there are a few things that are very important to have in place:
Learn major scales numerically, so that you see each scale as 1-2-3-4-5-6-7 instead of the actual note names. This gives you the foundations for exploring extended harmony, and altered harmony and it will make it much easier for you in the long run.
Understand the theoretical underpinnings of jazz voicings which are triads and 7th chords. There are exercises such as inverting triads and 7th chords which take a lot of time to fully master, so don’t let this stop you from progressing further on in the course. As long as you understand how to construct all triads and 7th chords, just revisit the exercises in the foundations practice plan now and again.
We must be able to play 3-note 251 progressions in all 12 keys in Type A and Type B. Without notation. It’s important to be able to visualise the 3rd and 7th of each chord, and also the voice leading of b7 to 3 in all 251s. Again this takes time, do don’t let it stop you from progressing in the syllabus, but make sure you are revisiting this until you have it fully internalised.
Even after advanced classical studies, students may not have these foundation in place. So that’s a few things I’d recommend working on as a priority.
Next for voicings, check out these courses in the following order:
That is a lot of work/material there Richard, but the theory lessons in those courses will give you a huge pallate of new ‘colours’, ‘textures’ , and voicing techniques to add to your playing.
It’s hard to gauge your exact level, but perhaps check out this course first:
This is one of our advanced courses and builds upon many earlier theory topics.
I try to unite a lot of other areas of the PianoGroove syllabus to show an ‘end result’ of learning the different types of voicings, and studying/transcribing jazz solos.
The harmonic lessons in the course cover extended chord voicings, rootless voicings, and upper structure triads, and so if that stuff is new to you, then it would make sense to study the courses bullet pointed above.
Finally moving onto improvisation:
In my opinion, transcription is by far the most effective way to learn to improvise.
To become great improvisers, we must listen to jazz regularly - both live and off records - and we must also transcribe lines and solos from our favourite players. This is why we set up the listening area of our forum to allow our students to share and discover new records.
This is how we develop our ‘own sound’ when improvising. Everyones’ ‘sound’ is very personal to them because it is a manifestation of the musicians, artists, and recordings that they have studied and transcribed from.
When listening and/or transcribing, it might take months or even years for those sounds to show up in our improvisation, and so I like to look at it as a musical investment for the future.
We have a course on transcription here:
I recently made some blues transcription lessons too, check out the thread here:
Our 12 bar blues improvisation course covers some very important improvisation concepts:
Check it out here:
This course was designed for beginner students, but it should open your eyes to the other options aside from the blues scale improvisation and how this all ties together.
Throughout the course I talk about the importance of transcription and so it will give you some useful insight and guidance for this. The course currently finishes with the transcription study highlighted above.
I also teach the course with iRealPro as the backing track, and so all the voicings and concepts covered will be perfect for playing with your newly reformed uni band
A final note…
I hope this stuff helps give you some guidance Richard.
We have some new initiatives coming up soon in the forum to help students with improv. One of my goals for this year is to give students the structure, direction, and encouragement they need to become proficient improvisers.
wow thanks for such a long response. I will go through that a few times to make sure I’ve understood it all. I surprised myself that I could still more or less play all the scales, even tough I’ve not done any for 22 years! Not sure how much of that ‘finger dexterity’ remains! From the sounds of some of the scales, there’s a bit of work to do there.
I’ll take my time learning all those 251’s in each key, and then move on from there.
thanks again and I’ll ping in any questions I have as I go,
Wellcome Richard ! hoping hearing you soon your playing here …
Maybe you could join me in my practice plan so we could be encouraging each other, i would be happy to take the basic with you .
take a look and please contact me if you are interesting
:… i am looking for a little team to keep improving Here i expose the all idea :
What a great objective - to reform your old band. Folks here have all kinds of reasons for wanting to learn (or re-learn) so just enjoy dipping your toes in whatever appeals to you in here as you get to know the resources. You will find your niche in what your instincts are looking for and have great fun in the process.
yes I’m very lucky that there may be an avenue opening up to play more. As I had a play through some of our old tunes this week it dawned on me that my aspirations and skill level are quite far apart! Really looking forward to a point in a few months when I’ve spent some good time each week working through these things. the first few weeks are always the hardest with learning anything, as the changes take a while to come.
Still banging my way through scales at the moment, trying to warm the fingers up a bit, but looking forward to getting into the 251 bits and also chord voicings.
My name is Anne and I live in Canada next to the beautiful Rocky Mountains.
Who I am.
I trained as a music teacher in Scotland many years ago and in a different life. I now do my dream job which is director of music in a church. This allows me to both play and teach music.
Why I’m here.
I bought the pianogroove course as a birthday present and it’s one of the most exciting presents I’ve had. My aim is to sound more like a ‘laid-back’ jazz pianist😎 and to improvise around a melody. I already do that to a certain extent in the worship band but it’s a different style of playing. I also need to work more on voicing and simplifying my style as I have a tendency to play big chords with left hand arpeggios, giving me thinking time. It sounds ok but not what I want. I’m also looking forward to learning more about walking bass lines as our band doesn’t have a bass player at the moment and I have to fill in the bass line as well as supporting the harmony and fill-ins. So far in this course I have spent way more time on theory than actual playing.
Although I’ve spent my entire life creating music, I suspect I’m a bit hesitant in case I can’t put theory into practice. There are a lot of beginners who are far better than me. I’ve listened on the forum to other people’s playing and I’m very impressed by what they can do. If I’m not creating music I’m listening to it.
Even though I am a competent pianist I decided to start at the jazz foundation course, quickly working my way through it. I’m working at the beginner’s course at the moment but I’ve also dipped into bits and pieces of the various other courses just to see where they’re going. I’m very tempted to jump in at the deep end but I’m trying to keep on track. I think it’s very important to have a firm knowledge of the basics in order to get to where you want to go with confidence.
As well as using the real books I’ve also picked up a couple of books arranged by Brent Edstrom, challenging pieces but more interesting than the standard jazz arrangements. As I’m used to analyzing music this has allowed me to see on the staff the knowledge I have learned in pianogroove.
When it comes to learning I’ve found combining different sources particularly helpful not only in terms of theory but also as inspiration. I have quite a few jazz theory books lying around my piano but pianogroove is the by far the best teaching programme there is as it is a clear, and well organized tool for learning.
P.s. If anyone wants to ask me more about my job as a church musician go ahead. I’ve never joined an online forum before so I’m a little nervous but I have enjoyed reading it very much.
Wow, it sounds fun to be the musical director in a church… What a wonderful place to share and teach music.
Yes we do recommend our students to start with the beginner courses to ensure they are comfortable with the foundations. With your previous musical experience I’m sure you will be familiar with much of the material but it’s certainly worth refreshing your knowledge.
Yes I agree it’s always good to search for different perspectives and sources of inspiration.
One of my goals with PianoGroove is to provide a wide range of teaching styles from our team of teachers.
All of the styles we teach at PianoGroove are interrelated and the Beginner Jazz Lessons feed nicely into the rest of the syllabus.
For example, to play the Bossa Nova and Samba lessons, it’s important for students to understand concepts such as chord extensions and rootless voicings which are covered in the Beginner section of our Jazz syllabus.
All of your progress is saved onto your Student Dashboard, so you can take multiple courses at once and keep track of your learning journey.
And that’s great to hear you like the PianoGroove program. We have put a lot of work into structuring our syllabus and so it’s wonderful to hear this kind of feedback
If you read some of the posts above here, you will see my recommendations for developing at improvisation.
Listening and transcription is very important and is the ultimate source of inspiration.
Most of our Beginner & Intermediate Jazz Lessons are dedicated to teaching voicing styles and options and so you will find lots of advice and guidance within those courses.
If you have any specific questions with voicings just let me know and I’m more than happy to help out.
When playing without a bass player, generally we should be including the root in our voicings to establish the basis of the harmony.
It might be nice to check out Lyndol’s lessons on how to accompany singers:
Lyndol provides a methodical approach, starting with simple triads and then gradually layering in the complexity with 7th chords, and extended harmony.
For Walking Basslines…
I created a series of walking bass lessons in the following course. “Georgia On My Mind” may also be a nice tune to play in church, it’s a beautifully soulful tune:
Tuomo created an interesting Masterclass on 12 bar blues walking bass:
And finally Lyndol talks about walking basslines here for “Georgia On My Mind”:
For myself Anne, the key was understanding and accepting that there is no ‘finishing point’… there is always more to learn and so I like to look at it as a journey that I’m taking for the rest of my life.
I find this outlook ‘takes the pressure off’ as sometimes it can be frustrating when progress is slow as it often is with learning jazz harmony.
I just try to get a little better each day when I sit down at the piano.
Absolutely…we have plans to expand into all styles of improvised music and I’ll certainly be in touch when we are ready to develop the church/gospel side of the syllabus.
Thank you for sharing your story - I enjoyed reading it and I’m sure our other students will too.
There is lots of useful information and inspiration here in the forum so spend some time to familiarise yourself with the different areas.