Hi, I’m Artemis – I joined PianoGroove a few months ago. Since I was 13 years old, I’ve wanted to become proficient enough as a jazz keyboard player to play with a combo, or to accompany a vocalist. 50 years later, I’m still an advanced beginner, but am determined to make some real headway over the next 6 months into “beyond beginner” territory. I’m a naturopathic doctor, and finally have more time to devote to practicing the piano than I have in the past. PianoGroove is a wonderful resource – I’m so glad to have stumbled upon it!
Welcome and thanks for the introduction on your background.
Great to hear that you now have more time to dedicate to practicing.
Based on the information you outline, here’s what I would recommend to achieve your goals:
That is a very realistic goal: here’s is some direction
If you want to play with other musicians, you must listen to trios, quartets, quintets etc… This will help you understand your role in the band as the piano player.
It will also help you absorb the feel and style of jazz music when playing with other musicians.
Here’s a thread with many albums that will get you started. - Listen every day, and you will become a much more grounded musician.
Pick a medium-up tempo tune, a few examples could be “Autumn Leaves”, “There Will Never Be Another You”, or maybe just the 12 Bar Blues.
Learn the chord changes so that you have them completely memorised. You do not have time to stop and think of the chord changes. You must know them.
Learn how to play rootless voicings so you don’t need to think about it. So that you can play through the form with your eyes closed. Here is the course on rootless voicings: Left Hand Voicings For Jazz Piano - Rootless Voicings
Use the iRealPro App to simulate playing with other musicians: iRealPro Backing Tracks Setup - #5
How To Play In A Jazz Band: How To Play Piano in a Jazz Band | How To Jam With Other Musicians
This is related to (1) … It’s very important that you try to transcribe from the records you are listening to. Check out the course on transcription for more information:
How To Transcribe: How To Transcribe Music By Ear | Jazz Piano Transcription Course
Every line that you transcribe, You must transpose it to all 12 keys. Do not skip this step.
Otherwise, the whole process is pointless and you will not see big improvements.
Once you have followed the above steps, you should find opportunities to play with other jazz musicians.
It may be worth checking out meetup.com for jazz jam nights in your area. You can also search Google, or ask at the local jazz club. Playing with musicians that are better than you is a surefire way to improve.
Check out Lyndol’s Course on “How To Accompany Singers”:
Lyndol sings and plays, and so she gives a unique insight into working with singers.
I would recommend finding a singer to work with on a regular basis.
Perhaps you could search on MeetUp.com or perhaps at a local jazz jam.
I’m sure you can find a singer who is looking for an accompanist. You could work on the tunes that Lyndol covers in her course, and then when you feel comfortable move onto a jazz standard of your choice whilst still following the principles that Lyndol outlines in her course.
I hope this helps Artemis.
If you have any further questions, we are happy to help.
Many thanks for your feedback, Hayden – much appreciated!
My pleasure Artemis.
Thank you for sharing your goals.
I’m sure that other students with similar ambitions will also find this information helpful.
Really spend time on step (1) to immerse yourself in the music.
Hi everyone. Excited to start learning some jazz skills. My goal is to learn jazz piano over the next 10 years. Right now I have two young kids that take up every spare moment of my day. I have maybe one hour free every night. I’m going to try to put that to some practice. Maybe only 30 min per day. But over time I might learn something. I’ll check back in 10 years and let you know how it goes.
Excited to have you on-board here too!
Your 10-year comment made me chuckle
If you are completely new to jazz piano, but have some prior piano experience and can read music to a basic level (treble clef) then I’d say 2 years is a good amount of time to see real progress and be able to entertain others whilst playing in a ‘jazz style’.
This is a goal for many students: to play for their personal pleausre, and perhaps occasionally entertain others.
Now, here’s a couple of things you should keep in mind with practice time:
1) Practice time at the piano
There is actual practice time where you are sat at the piano - for yourself, you’ve said 30 mins - 1 hour a day.
The first thing you should do is break that up into small “slots” of practice time - 10 to 15 minutes.
That way, you will be able to cover 3 - 6 topics in 1 sitting.
If you’re completely new to jazz piano, here’s what you could spend those 10 min slots on:
- major scales
- major 251s
- rootless 251s
- minor 251s
- listening and emulating recordings
- playing and learning a jazz standard(s)
The main point is to practice the area for 10-15 minutes without distraction and then move on. Most importantly, you must revisit what you have practiced.
Just like going to the gym, you won’t see the improvements straight away, it takes times, and the improvement - or muscle growth to continue with the analogy - will happen whilst you are sleeping. When you come back to the piano, you will be a bit sharper on those subjects.
In the same way, that when you turn up at the gym, you know what you are going to do, you should have the same mindset with the piano. So that you know exactly how you are going to spend that 30 mins - 1 hour before you even sit down at the piano.
Follow a focused practice schedule for 6 months and you will see huge improvements. What I have just outlined is a brilliant way to structure your practice sessions.
2) Next we have practice time whilst away from the piano
You can be working on your knowledge of jazz theory whilst away from the piano. For example, perhaps you commute in the morning and evening. Perhaps you wait for the kids to finish school or activities, or any time of the day when you have a spare few moments.
You should spend this time wisely. Here’s how:
Listening To Jazz
Make sure you are listening to jazz regularly… you need to completely immerse yourself in the idiom. If you commute to work, listen to jazz all the way there and back, any time in the day that you have the opportunity to listen to jazz, do it.
You can’t play this music with conviction unless you have spent the time to listen! One of the main reasons I set up the forum, to allow students to discover and share music.
Scroll through this thread and take a listen to some of the jazz recordings shared by our community.
Or check out these recommended jazz piano albums for longer playlists for a drive or commute.
You will discover some musicians that you like, some that you don’t like. Make note of this and listen more to the sounds you like.
Most importantly with improvisation, when you improvise, you are calling upon a ‘library’ of ideas/lines/rhythms/patterns in your brain from the records you have listened to. True improvisation is almost subconscious, you don’t have time to think because you are composing music in real time.
The more you listen, the richer your brain’s ‘library’ will become. I cannot stress the importance of this enough!
Testing yourself away from the Piano
There are many things you can ‘quiz’ yourself on whilst away from the piano.
Much of jazz is based on numbers, I outline this in the first lesson of the course on “Major Scales”.
In jazz, instead of thinking of note names C-D-E-F-G-A-B-C we think of scales numerically 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-1
This then makes all keys equal. When you learn voicngs by the numeric construction, you can easiliy transpose them and find them in other keys.
The same applies to licks, lines, progressions, even entire tunes.
Here’s a few exercises to get you started:
One of our students - @bkzl - created this fantastic Major Scales Quiz Tool: https://major-scales.bkzl.co/ - you can quizz yourself at this away from the piano and ask yourself “what is the 5th of Bb Major” or “what is the 6th of D Major” etc…
You should be able to get these in a flash, and by practicing this, you soon will do.
Next you could say, what are the 2-5-1 chords in Ab Major, … if it takes you longer than a split second to say “Bb-7 / Eb7 / Abmaj7” then you need to quiz yourself on the major 251 progression.
Then you could say what is the 1-6-2-5 Progression in C Major
What are the diatonic 7th chords of C Major
Make use of your idle time in the day. That’s how we all have done it, I used to do this all the time, and I still do it to get my head around more advanced harmonic concepts. It will work wonders.
Finally, jazz theory is very challenging to begin Tim, with but i can guarantee that with time and focused daily practice you will see improvements with my teaching method.
If you’d like me to elaborate on anything above just let me know
Thanks for the thoughtful and detailed response. What am I doing here replying!? I should be practicing!
My pleasure Tim… and yep… practicing or listening
Both are essential for your development!
Hello everyone, just joined this group, so hope to benefit from your experience, and be able to contribute something of value. Have been a guitarist for over 40 years, had to give that up (health and joint problems), moved top piano 8 months ago. Love jazz piano, but still unsure about how best to spend my practice time (about 2 hours a day). At present I am learning 2 5 1s, shell voicings, and learning to improvise around these. Also looking at some jazz standards, eg Autumn Leaves (can just about play that).
My music goal is to be able to open a Jazz Fake Book at any page, and play the song confidently, without mistakes, even if I have never seen or heard it before. I have given myself 12 months to achieve this.
I am a retired businessman, live in Aberdeen, Scotland, and looking forward to this journey with you all. Any and all help or suggestions for my practice would be most welcome.
Hello one and all!
A newbie to to the world of music, I’ve been lucky enough to inherit an electrical piano so thought I best learn how to play. Alas, the only sound I’ve gotten from it so far was when I stubbed my toe on it this morning. Couldn’t tell you what notes they were, but they were loud and varied.
Looking forward to learning a lot more and tapping into any nuggets of information people have. Who knows, I might be eventually have my own to share. The overall aim is to bash out a tune or two and (in case my better half reads this) become good enough to accompany her as she plays the cello. I must admit though (and this is the analytical side of me) I would much prefer to know how music works (if that’s a thing), rather than simply copying from a sheet of music.
Life, as I’m sure many of you can contest, is manic. With a couple hours commute each day and having to travel to meetings, time can be rather tricky. But I remain optimistic, so shall begin delving into lesson one right away!
Thanks for sharing this information.
Firstly, have a read though this response a few posts above us - much of this will be relevant to you and that will help you maximise your 2 hour slot to cover lots of different topics.
The 40 years of guitar playing will certainly help you… was any of that jazz guitar?
Many guitarists use PianoGroove for the theoretical aspects and I’ve been told that much of the concepts are transferable between guitar and piano. I’d love to hear more about your experiences transitioning to the piano, I’ve always found it interesting that playing different instruments can complement each other
That’s a great place to start.
Here is a lesson on the 1625 progression: 1625 & 436251 Progression for Jazz Piano Introductions - I’d imagine you are already familiar with this from your guitar studies, the nice thing about the 1625 progression is that it is a cycle, and you can keep cycling around trying different voicings, playing in different registers of the piano, or applying different scales and colours on top of the voicings.
I was fascinated with this style of voicing as soon as I learnt it. It gives you such a big sound - one that I presume would be hard to replicate on the guitar.
The basic concept is that we can quickly access the colours of altered dominant voicings by remembering a few simple formulas.
Play a C7 in your left hand C-E-Bb and then add a Dmaj triad in your right hand. This gives you C13#11. Next try a C7 in your left hand with an Abmaj triad in your right hand. This gives you C7#5#9.
You can use any inversion (2nd inversion often sounds best) and you can double notes at the top of at the bottom to get huge 7 note voicings - very fun to play around with.
Here’s a forum post for additional information on these voicings: How To Learn Upper Structure Triads
Check out the course on “Arranging For Solo Jazz Piano” - in particular, the first 4 lessons which systematically work through each chord type and explore voicing options. This will help you find suitable voicings when playing from a fake books. The key is to analyse the scale degree of the melody note, and you will quickly learn the voicings that work underneath.
The more tunes you learn, you will quickly realise that they are, in fact, very similar to one another in their harmony, where the harmony moves, the voicings that you can use, the intros/outros that you can use. Anything you learn in 1 jazz standard, you can usually apply to all others.
I’d recommend that you try to listen to a tune (particularly vocal versions) before trying to play it. This will give you a lot of information on the melody, the phrasing, and other tune-specific nuances. I have been taught this by all of the musicians I have studied with, and I’ve always followed this guidance myself.
Brilliant… we’re glad that you’re taking this musical journey with us Ken.
A final note would be to listen to lots of jazz piano. For improving your improvising and general musicianship, regular listening is essential.
Work out slots in the day when you can just be listening to jazz, make this into a daily routine and in a year’s time you will not be dissapointed!
Hi Jonathan… thanks for the introduction.
I’m confident we can at least get some more pleasing sounds out of your piano
If you are new to jazz piano, then I would recommend using the transcriptions as an aid to begin with.
I agree this is not the ‘authentic approach’ as traditionally, jazz music was not written down in this way. However, this will help you to quickly play some jazzy sounding tunes and material.
Now here’s an important point Jonathan:
Always analyse the chords you are playing in terms of scale degrees. To do this, you must know your major scales, so if that’s not the case, then start there.
When playing from the transcriptions, make sure you are looking at each chord you play, and look at the individual notes and say ’that’s the root, that’s the major 3rd, that’s the 9th etc…’ this is important.
With the transcriptions, I am very descriptive in the chord symbols, and so look at the symbols and try to identify those tones in the voicing. This will be hard if you have never done it before, so don’t be disheartened by slow and challenging progress.
Also check out these posts on voicings:
Naming Jazz Chord Extensions: Naming Jazz Chord Extensions (this is confusing at first, but it will make sense with time)
Understanding Rootless Voicings: Understanding Rootless Voicings (this will be important to play with your better half)
At this point, I think it would be beneficial for you to simply copy the arrangements, note-for-note, even if you don’t understand what you are playing. The full understanding will come with time.
Yes you will be glad to hear that this is certainly a thing
The 251 progression is the most important progression to learn in jazz. It takes time to learn this in all 12 keys, and all the different variations, such as rootless 251s, minor 251s, etc…
But right now start with the major 251, and pay particular attention to this first lesson on “Tune Up”
https://www.pianogroove.com/jazz-piano-lessons/how-to-read-lead-sheets/ - this is in the “Jazz Piano Foundations” course.
This lesson will also help you to read and interpret lead sheets.
Next, I’d recommend the course on “Extended Chords & Voicings”
https://www.pianogroove.com/jazz-piano-lessons/extended-chords-voicings/ - you will find the jazz standards here more challenging, and also more rewarding.
The theory lessons also introduce ‘jazzier’ sounding chords and voicings which are fun to play around with.
Yep I feel you Jonathon.
As a student when I had a lot of other commitments, I found it effective to stick to the same amount of practice time, at roughly the same time(s) in the day.
In particular I found that first thing in the morning was a nice time to practice, when my brain was sharp and attentive, I would drill the theory, scales, 251s, etc…
I would also practice as soon as I got home. I found that combination of morning/evening to be effective.
Check out the recommendations here on splitting up your practice time.
And finally, utilise that commuting time by listening to jazz. You can’t play this music with conviction unless you fully immerse yourself in the music.
I hope this helps to give you some direction, always happy to help if you are unsure how to proceed!
My name is Michael Holmes from Cincinnati, OH. I am excited to be here. I am 67 years young and have been dabbling with jazz piano since my 40s. I do mean dabbling. I have learned mostly through reading jazz books and watching YouTube. That has worked pretty well as I can play a number of standards and gospel songs which seem to please anyone who is in my living room. Now that I have officially retired from work, I thought I would give serious attention to something that I love to do. So, here I am hopefully to clean up some holes in my foundation and to take my playing to a higher level.
Glad to meet you.
Welcome to PianoGroove!
It’s great to hear that you have previous jazz experience… you will be able to dive into any of the material on in the PianoGroove syllabus.
Here’s a few courses that I think you will enjoy:
We look in detail at the 1625 progressions and it’s variations and then use this progression to create improvised introductions and endings.
When playing solo piano, setting the mood of the performance with a 1625 is a useful tool. This progression can also be used to transition from one tune to the next and keep up a continuous stream of music when playing solo piano.
The jazz standards tutorials in this course are all intermediate/advanced level and so I think they will be the perfect level for you.
Also, check out Tuomo’s recent “5 Minute Masterclass” which has some fantastic intro ideas: Solo Piano Introductions - Creating Intros For Jazz Standards
This is a nice intermediate/advanced course on chord substitutions, I think this would be a good level for you. We start with a simple recap of Tritone Subs and then more advanced substitutional theory. We then look at some advanced jazz standard applications towards the end of the course.
As a solo jazz pianist, you have much more freedom to substitute (or completely reharmonise!) the chord changes and so the techniques covered in this course will all be very valuable to you.
Our New Initiative “5 Minute Masterclass” is updated each week. In these lessons, PianoGroove teachers attempt to de-mystify the secrets of jazz in just 5 minutes. We try our best to reveal tips and tricks that took us years to learn… and explain them to you in just 5 minutes
My latest tutorial on “Orchestral Solo Piano” will be published there today so check this course page regularly for updates:
Enjoy the lessons Michael. Should you need any further assistance you can always catch me in the forum, or via email.
Thanks much. I have already jumped in. Today I an learning so what voicing in all 12 keys and applying to a few songs. Day 1 - not bad!
Brilliant, glad your finding your way around Michael!
Thank you Hayden,
I’ve tinkered with piano since I first listened to Keith Jarrett’s live solo albums in the mid 70’s and was hooked. I took maybe 1-2 years of piano was I was nine and played trumpet in the high school band. I’m a 66 yo retired physician who started studying jazz for the first time at the age of 62. I’ve worked with 2 teachers. AS you suggested, each entirely different from each other . I found your free lessons to be reassuring that i’ve learned a lot more than I thought, but humbling in that i’ve so much more to learn.
I too would like to find like minded , intermediate(+) players to collaborate with.
My favorite pianists include keith, kenny barron,
I also listen to a lot to
chet baker and miles. Of course the sax giants as well.
I love the stangetz kenny barron quartet.
biggest challnge for me is comping and that part of your course really appealed to me. I’m anxious to see what it contains.
I also play guitar, played in college bands and am transitioning from acoustic to electric primarily to play Blues, funk,
Is this the type of info your interested in?
Hello, my name is Terry,
I am very much a beginner aged 51 and only really started learning piano about 4 months ago, I have a background in network security and decided that I needed something to help me relax and switch off when I got home. I was in the local music shop and without thinking purchased a piano, not sure what the wife would say but she was surprised as well as glad. I was watching some tv show and heard some music being played and was instantly drawn to the smoothness and relaxing nature of this jazz music. I then decided that I wanted to learn this style, I had one lesson and it really didn’t work for me, so I decided that I was determined to learn and came across this site, and the rest is history… had a chat with Hayden and found out we worked at the same place, how cool is that. Looking forward to a structured way that I can develop and learn how to play jazz to a good standard.
Welcome aboard Philip!
That’s great, from the sounds of it you have a good amount of jazz piano under your belt - 4 years is a good amount of time to understand all of the basics, feel confident all the common chords, common progressions, and I’d imagine you can play a good number of tunes.
Studying jazz is truly a lifelong pursuit as there is always more to learn which is what I find fascinating about the subject.
It’s also great that you have studied with multiple teachers. It’s always good to get multiple perspectives and approaches.
That’s great. You might have seen that this year the focus has been on our people… in particular our teachers to complement the existing materials and lesson offerings.
Some recent news is Jovino our new Latin teacher: Check Out Our New Brazilian Music Teacher
and also Steve our new boogie woogie teacher: Boogie Woogie Lessons Have Arrived 🕺
I have a lot of community-based initiative coming soon, so there will be lots of opportunity to collaborate. I’m very excited about this.
Brilliant… one very important thing Philip, especially to help you with improvisation and comping, is regular listening and transcribing.
Effectively, comping is just improvising but with chords.
The rhythmic element is paramount.
Whilst it’s effective to teach theory via lessons. To truly feel your improvisations and comping, you must listen and emulate the masters.
Check out this course on playing in a jazz band: https://www.pianogroove.com/jazz-piano-lessons/how-to-play-jazz-band-jam-musicians/
In particular, lessons 3 & 4 should give you some additional insight.
Above anything else, you must listen to the masters of comping… Wynton Kelly, Sonny Clark, Mulgrew Miller … they are all giants at comping and simply from listening to their albums you will gain a tonne of insights.
The next step is to play along and transcribe. The top note of their comping voicing is the most important for you to hear… this is also known as the “chord melody” which is subtle but effective.
I am currently working on a selection of downloadable PDF practice schedules and one of which is focused on comping and will give you direction.
I will post an update here for you shortly.
Yes, it’s perfect Philip, it allows me to gauge where you’re at so I can give you direction on which material will be most beneficial to you and your objectives.
Hopefully, other students can benefit from the insights too!
If you have any further questions just let me know and I’m happy to assist.
Welcome to the PianoGroove community.
Yes, what a coincidence we used to work at the same place. A great company and lots of fantastic people there from whom I learnt many skills which helped me launch and manage the PianoGroove platform.
Anyhow, let’s get onto some guidance for you…
You may have already seen the Beginner Syllabus… here is a link in case you missed it:
My comments to Tim further up in this thread will all be relevant to you: Introduce Yourself To The PianoGroove Community! 🌎
Also the comments to Jonathan here: Introduce Yourself To The PianoGroove Community! 🌎
I’m happy you have found PianoGroove.
To give you a bit of background on the early part of my journey learning jazz…
I had played classical piano for many years, but jazz was new to me.
Whilst I could read music at a high level, and play some fairly advanced classical repertoire, my understanding of chord progressions, and ‘how music works’, was still pretty poor.
Before I even took an in-person jazz lesson, I had already learnt scales and most major and minor 251 progressions, just from sources on the internet.
Progress is slow to begin with, and so the cost of in-person lessons can quickly mount up.
In my opinion, utilizing an online resource like PianoGroove is a much more time and cost effective way to learn the basics, then you can always take in person lessons once you understand more about the music.
Here’s what I’d recommend to you Terry:
First the major scales are essential. Learn these numerically, so instead of thining of the note names, you see each scale as 1-2-3-4-5-6-7.
This makes all keys equal. For example, if you like the sound of a particular chord, you must memorise it in terms of scale degrees, using the So What Chord as an example, it’s built using the following scale degrees of any major scale… Root(1) and the 4 in the left hand, and then the b7, b3 and 5 in the right hand. Once you have that memorised, take it around all 12 keys.
A ‘key’ is effectively a ‘scale’ - for example, if a song is written in the key of C Major, it means that most of the notes and chords in the song will be from the C Major scale.
Now jazz music is a little different because the ‘key’ changes often within a single song. You can move between the keys to access different chords. This is also known as ‘modulating’ and it’s one of the things that makes jazz music sound so interesting and dynamic.
Then the first steps with learning jazz chords and voicings is the following topics that are all within the “Foundation Course”: https://www.pianogroove.com/jazz-piano-lessons/jazz-piano-foundations/
Triads - these are the most basic ‘building blocks’ for chords and contain 1-3-5 of the scale.
7th chords - these are triads with an additional note… the 7th note, so now you have 1-3-5-7
Then you should learn the Major 251 Progression which is the most common progression in jazz music… virtually every jazz tune will contain a 251 in some form, and so this is a very important step to understanding jazz harmony.
At this point, you will be ready to learn your first jazz standard. Start with “Tune Up” where we also examine the format of the lead sheet, and how to read and interpret this information.
Consult the Beginner Syllabus/Roadmap for more information here:
At this point Terry, it wouldn’t harm to ‘get your toes wet’ in some of the more advanced beginner lessons - the chord extensions course will introduce some ‘jazzier’ sounding material - even if you don’t understand the theory, just copy the notes that I’m playing and keep looking at them and analysing them. It will certainly make sense with time.
When I first started with Jazz, I was playing a lot of things that I didn’t understand fully, I just liked the sound of it. This is a good way to progress, it keeps it interesting and also rewarding, and with time and focused practice, it will all come together.
I hope this helps to give you some direction Terry, and any further questions just let me know