Two hand chord technique and Dexterity

Hello all and @Hayden!

Thank you for all the wonderful advice! My question/ problem: Is there A) a set of exercises that can speed up my two hand voicings of chords or B) will they just develop as time goes on? On the “B” side, of course I use a metronome when when working with songs to increase the speed, but I am learning “I’ll be Home for Christmas” (BTW Hayden… Gorgeous), but I can’t move fast enough to make it smooth, which is true of the harder songs I play. I can do the Major 2-5-1s in all keys, using LH root and LH shells, but that doesn’t really count because I use small finger movements to get to the next chord. I’m talking about jumping, e.g., from a D13sus4 to a G13b9. On the “A” side, is there a “Hanon” type exercises that make one’s ability to change chords faster? Any thoughts or help is appreciated. If I just have to wait and keep practicing, fine. But I’m also looking for a Pareto Principle solution (i.e., 80-20 rule) when it’s available.

Hey @armando - interesting questions here!

Yes as you work through the theory lessons and standard lessons on the website you will become more comfortable with 2 handed voicings. My main recommendation would be to play lots of the jazz standard arrangements.

When playing solo jazz piano we are always using both hands to create ‘spread voicings’ containing the root, chord tones, extensions/alterations, and the melody.

Every tune that we learn exposes us to new ways to voice chords and common progressions, and so for me that has always been the most effective way to develop my knowledge of chords and voicings in a practical context.

Thanks! I’m glad you like the arrangement :grinning:

My recommendation here would be to practice with the metronome but also understand that when playing jazz ballads we can interpret them more freely by pulling and pushing on the timing.

Sometimes playing ballads with a metronome can sound a little ‘stiff’ and ‘rigid’. We can always add more dynamics into the performance by speeding up and slowing down certain sections to add more emotion to the song. Listening to vocal versions of the tune is good for inspiration here.

So that’s an important point; understanding that we do have the creative license to play these songs freely and interpret them how we like.

Regarding the D13sus4 --> D13#11 --> G9sus4 --> G13b9 … I would just practice this section very slowly. Find the speed where you can play it comfortably without mistakes (even if this is a snail’s pace) and complete the line 4 times without mistakes. Do that everyday and slowly increase the tempo until it is up-to-speed.

The 13sus voicing is also useful to take around all 12 keys just to get used to the shape, the left hand plays R-4-b7 and the right hand plays a minor 7th chord off the 9th. You could also practice taking that voicings around all 12 keys to improve your ability to visualise the voicing shape on the piano.

Regarding metronome practice, @Tuomo hosted a brilliant live seminar on the different ways to practice with a metronome, check that out here:

Tuomo covers a Hanon exercise with the metronome that is useful for developing a stronger sense of time.

Tuomo also created a 5 minute masterclass on metronome work, check that out here:

In particular check out chapter 4 called “chord drills” and you can apply this exercise to the 13sus4 passage in “I’ll Be Home For Christmas”.

I hope that helps Armando and any further questions just let me know.


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Thank you SO much for your precision and insight, as well as the practical suggestions. I will do what you suggest and am grateful for the time you give for answers and thoughts.

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