Singing Pianist - Practice Shortcuts 1625

Singing Pianist – Combined practice of I.VI.II.V progression

Not long ago, Hayden released my 5 minute master class on 1625 turn arounds (link also below) It’s a video that runs through all 12 keys with the common chord progression that is not only found in Jazz, but is often the entire harmonic structure of many pop, rock, folk and country tunes.

By familiarizing yourself with these chord changes in every key, you can pick up news songs effortlessly. Even sight reading and transcribing chord charts on the spot becomes your norm.

Add in the Voice on Top

For singing pianist out there, you can add your voice in on top for the type of combined practice discussed in my last post – Singing Pianist – Practice Short Cuts (link below)

Here’s how to use this 5 minute master class for combined practice…

  • Using a syllable, or note name, you can sing thru the scale at the start of each new key.

  • Then you can arpeggiate the chords out to their pillars (1.3.5 for triads, for 7th chords) and sing the tones over those as well.

  • This is common practice for jazz vocalist wanting to improvise (scat) – to run scales and apreggios. So it’s a great first step for improvisation, or it can just be used as a vocal warm up.

  • Take out the metronome and do it rubato until it’s a bit easier. Then bring back in a steady tempo when you are ready, slow then upbeat.

Flipping Octaves

Let you voice flip octaves when need be. Going thru all 12 keys, you’ll typically find places where your voice just can’t go. So let it flip down or up at that point. Matching pitch is the most important point at first. You’ll also get more information about the landscape of your voice; where and what keys are difficult, ect.

If you practice this a lot and/or just find it easy, then you can bring in more difficult parameters… such as matching your voice to the exact octave you are playing by working on control of head/chest voice as well as adjusting the tessiture of your hands to your voice.

Also, if triads are easier for you, you can start and stay there til you are ready for more of a challenge. Then move onto 7th chords.

Vocal Improvisation Exercise

A more advanced step is to improvise over the blocked chord changes with your voice:

  • As you play each progression, you can hmmmm a little melody, or hold long notes over the changes (use syllables here). A great first note to hold would be the root of each new key or chord.

  • When you run the scale first, it will easier to flip to the new key each time.

  • Next step is to take out the scale and jump straight into each new key.

  • You can stay in each key longer than the lesson, going thru the progression 4-8 times in the beginning, then cut it down to 2 as you start to get very comfortable with the exercise. You’ll be surprised how quickly you’ll memorize the key changes, so it will probably only be challenging for a time.

Circle of 5th, 1/2 and Whole Steps

My Master Class Exercise (link below) has you jumping in the order of the circle of 5ths, which is a common association found in many tunes; hence great to know like the back of your hand.

  • But you can also modify the exercise and move in ½ steps and/or whole steps – common key modulations!

  • Next step is to try to sing the exact same little ditty in all 12 keys. Before you start, you can figure something out with your voice, then on the piano (or vice versa).

  • Keep it simple to start, and make sure it’s very clear what you are singing before you launch the exercise. Then take it for a spin through all 12.
    If you get lost in any key, you can stop the exercise and just play thru it in that key on the piano.

Using Tuomo’s Weekly Transcriptions

For those pianist who are already very familiar with the 1625 turn around in both triads and 7ths, you can use one of Tuomo’s weekly transcriptions. When you transpose either his melody or harmony, you can sing on top whilst you take it for a spin.
Honestly, I utilize my voice often when trying to discipher melody/harmony on piano including Tuomo’s Exercises but more on this to come soon!

Syllables - La and Oh to start

Now, If you are not sure about what syllables to use, start with La, or Oh.
I’ll have a post coming soon to address syllables and mouth shape in more detail.

Time Well Spent

Remember - You are working on your skill of transposition in both your singing and playing, so even if very slow at first, it’s practice time well spent.
You are also laying a foundation for vocal improvisation; something that Homer proved is not as easy as it might seem:)
Any questions? Need clarification? That’s what I’m here for:) I’d also just love to hear about experiences with these exercises.

Happy Practicing!

5 Minute Master Class - 1625 Turn Around Drill

Singing Pianist - Practice Short Cuts


Some wonderful tips here @Lyndol, thanks for compiling all of this.

To our vocal enthusiasts…

@natasha0412 @anon84688975 @scott32627 @michael48889 @neil333855 @joel1058713 @LoriNelson

Check out the insights from this post, and Lyndol’s New Vocal Accompaniment Section

If anyone has any ideas for topics in this new section, be sure to let Lyndol or myself know. We have some cool stuff in the pipeline and we also welcome any suggestions from the community.


Thanks Hayden. And yes! Would love to hear from you guys.