Practicing Minor Scales

Hi Hayden, the very first practice schedule to use for the ‘Jazz piano foundations’ lesson does not have the Harmonic minor scale included for revision anywhere on it, is that a mistake or is there a reason?



PS. Also, can you(or anyone on this thread:)) give an example of an appropriate chord progression to use ,in the left hand, under the Natural minor & the Melodic Minor ?

I’ve been using minor II V I’s under the Harmonic minor so far…(maybe you would recommend same under Natural/Melodic also?)… what could we use under all 3 minor scales to make utilize the practice time most efficiently?

Hi Niall :wave:

Yes this was intentional.

I encourage students to learn the Dorian Mode and the Melodic Minor Mode as a priority, and then by all means, move onto the harmonic minor modes if one desires to access more ‘colours’ in minor tonalities.

I think that focusing on those 2 scales is adequate for the beginner plan but do not let that hold you back if you want to explore the Harmonic Minor Mode. It’s beautiful and exotic sounding!

How about the A Sections of “In A Sentimental Mood” …

Also “What Are You Doing The Rest Of Your Life” contains a lot of minor harmony:

Perhaps play through the head, and then play through again and experiment with the three minor scales over the bars of multiple minor chords.

Play along with iRealPro - I find this lot of fun.

Listen to lots of different versions of these songs, and see if you can hear the different scales being used. They all have a unique flavour and it’s great to be able to pick up on these flavours when listening.

I find it to be the ultimate source of inspiration.

Let me know how you get on with that.

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I will try those suggestions Hayden ,thanks very much!

Yes particularly “In A Sentimental Mood” - because you have those back-to-back ‘minor line cliches’ in the A Sections:

It’s an AABA form too so those 4 bars appear 3 times giving you lots of opportunity to experiment with minor colours.

For the first 4 bars experiment with D Dorian, D Melodic Minor, and D Harmonic Minor.

For the second 4 bars experiment with G Dorian, G Melodic Minor, and G Harmonic Minor.

I think it’s always good to practice in context of an actual tune.

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@niall Here’s some info I sent to a student with a similar question on minor scales:

The Melodic Minor Mode (also known as Jazz Minor Scale) and the Dorian Mode are more free-flowing in the sense they 'fit under the fingers’ much better which makes them well-suited to creating melodies.

An ‘Available Pool Of Notes’

I like to look at all 3 minor scales together as an ‘available pool of notes’ which I can access over in any minor situation.

I try not to always think “I’m going to use this scale” - which I find can be quite a constricting approach.

For example, I like to play patterns and arpeggios from the Dorian Mode, and then throw in the major 7th to add some extra colour and the ‘Melodic Minor flavour’

I try not to always think ‘one or the other’ they are simply different ‘colours’ or different ’shades’ which can be accessed within any minor key.

That being said, playing he harmonic minor of the 1 chord over a minor 251 is a sound I like.

For example, play G Harmonic Minor over A-7b5 / D7b9 / G- (you can play the scale ascending, descending, broken intervals, other patterns etc… )

Lots to experiment with there!

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