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
24 days ago! Wow, time flies. Still cranking away every day…
Keep at it Tim!
I’m launching some practice schedules shortly and I will notify you when they land.
They should help to give new students more direction and structure in their development.
Hi my name is Ivan and i m an argentinian living in brazil.I have 23 years old and started playing piano since age 7 with a clássical background…With 19 years old i met a guy who now is my friend…he is a professional jazz pianist the same age as me who introduced me to jazz…só i switched to learning jazz and started to play at jam nights …but never fully grasped it…i m very happy to have found this website because i feel that now i can continue my journey to become a well rounded jazz pianist…My ultimate goal is to be able to arrange songs myself and be able to be a well rounded jazz pianist in general.Thanks
Thanks for the introduction and welcome to the community.
Many of our students come from a classical background which provides a nice foundation for learning jazz piano with the PianoGroove method.
My main recommendation here is to play as many of the jazz standards lessons as possible.
You will quickly discover many similarities, and lots of things that can be applied in many situations.
Simply put, the more jazz standards you can play, the better you will be at arranging jazz standards.
I think you will find this post very helpful:
I outline a 6 step process that for creating your own arrangements.
This is a not a quick process, follow it over many months, just for 1 song, and let me know how you get on with
ps. Thanks for all of your fantastic questions on various lesson pages. If you ever have a question of any kind, please do not hesitate to ask and I will always reply in detail.
My goal is to encourage conversation and discussion around the lessons and so your insightful questions are much appreciated.
Thks for the reply …i feel that my brain has been injected with jazz steroids for the past couple days lol .só much valuable info infront of my eyes and entering my ears lol…Tô Tell you a bit more about me i studied jazz with absolutly 0 knowledge about jazz with this friend of mine whoes name Góes by Axel introini, He is the same age as me but the difference is that He works for disney and travels de world lol… …his personal style is more about neo soul…think of DAngelo,Robert glasper,ericka badu,jill scott etc só He transmited that music to me só It hás become one of my strongest influences.it would be cool to see some neo soul progressions and voicings lessons in the future… so i studied with this Guy for 1 year(you can look axel introini on youtube)…He introduced me the basic foundations of jazz and helped me at jazz jam nights and funk Jam nights too…but at that time i was going with some personal problems and i was experimenting some type of minor depression só i didnt maximized his teachings at that time frame…thankfully i overcame my problems and turned my life around só i m a Lot more focused than before.And as a side note…If you are looking for a good tango pianist with jazz foundations you should reach Álvaro torres…i tooked some lessons from him but It was expensive só It didnt last long…He is a well known jazz pianist in buenos Aires…and He hás a story o lof playing tango at Big cruise ships. Here is a video of him. https://youtu.be/INOs0E_PBMk. And here is a. Video of my friend/ex teached playing 2 years ago https://youtu.be/dez1ZSQMmoY
Good morning Ivan
Yes you have asked a lot of questions which is s good thing. You will always get a full answer to your questions here at PianoGroove.
Yes I agree that NeoSoul a cool style.
I like how the jazz-influenced chords/harmonies blend into more modern styles such as hip-hop, rap, R&B etc.
Our core focus is on jazz standards/classic Broadway tunes, and so we must stay true to this. But sure we can expand into any genre of improvised music in the future.
Sounds like a good guy to know!
Great to hear that you recovered Ivan, and I’m happy that you have found PianoGroove. I have always found music, and more specifically, the piano, to be a good source of relief during hard times.
It’s almost like meditating because it frees my mind completely, and makes me completely present in the moment.
Awesome, thanks for the recommendation.
I will check out the video links now.