My way of sorting things out

Hi Guys,

I would like to share what I have been doing this evening which seems to help a lot in sorting out the tunes, first, I print out the lead sheet and then play the lesson of the relative tune I want to learn.
Now comes the important part; I listen to which voicings are used, which I write above each chord. So for example on the top I wrote the LH voicing that could be R, 3,7 and then underneath I could write something like 9,13, R.

Then I play the whole tune through until I have it all nailed, it helps much more than just passively listening or even actively listening without note-taking. I hold an internal monologue with myself about what I am playing, this reinforces my memory for future material.

One more point; Just about 6 weeks ago I was totally overwhelmed by the amount of stuff that was coming at me, but suddenly after learning the Upper structures and inversions by heart, it suddenly is starting to all fall into place. I have to credit Hayden though for his fine teaching and well-structured lessons, I find them didactically extremely well organised.
That’s it guys, I hope it helps, and I wish you all lots of pleasure and enjoy the ride.


Bill K


Great to hear of your progress Bill.

I recommend all students print out a copy of the Upper Structure Cheat Sheet:

Upper Structure Cheat Sheet.pdf (1015.7 KB)

Keep a copy of this close to the piano and refer to it every time you come across a dominant chord. Before long you will have the formulas memorised which will give you lots of beautiful options for voicing dominant chords.

I find upper structure harmony a fascinating area of jazz to study. Enjoy the lessons and keep us posted on your progress :sunglasses:

I have now broken the huge amount of new chords that I have to learn into three parts. This makes it much clearer if you don’t know what to learn next.

  1. these are the 7th chords
  2. These are the extended chords 9ths, 11ths and 13ths.
  3. These are then the alternative chords such as the 9b or sharpened 11th

I notice just by practicing these daily they come to you and you start playing them almost without thinking.

Hope it helps


Bill K

Hi Bill :wave:t2:

Yes that’s a nice way to view our voicings.

  • The essential chord tones (3rd and 7th) define the quality of the chord (major/minor/dominant).

  • The extensions (9ths, 11ths, and 13ths ) add colour and depth.

  • The alterations (b9s, #9s, #11s, & #5s/b13s) add tension and dissonance.

After time you will find your hands gravitating to certain voicings as your ‘muscle memory’ improves.

Great to hear on your progress!


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