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Every new jazz lesson builds from the knowledge you have gained from previous videos.

Learn Jazz Piano checklist for soloing

Learn Jazz Piano checklist for soloing

Learn Jazz Piano checklist for soloing

Here are 12 essential tips to learn jazz piano soloing.

(This is an extract from my forthcoming book: Learn jazz Piano, book 4: How To Solo.)

1)   Chords belong to families.

A chord rarely exists in it’s own right and is far more likely to have a relationship within a family. It has usually come into being as a result of the chord that precedes it and then exerts a powerful influence over the chord that follows it. This is cause and effect.

So, rather than treating each chord individually, try to see the whole picture.

  • Chords form into sequences that often belong to one key centre.
  • If you can identify a group of chords you can then play a line through that sequence.

Once you begin to recognize these sequences and start stringing them together you will grasp the map of a tune.

2)    Threes and sevens

Your lines should be largely defined by the 3’s and 7’s within each chord. This is particularly relevant for dominant 7 chords but also applicable when a minor chord functions as II or VI. By identifying these notes ‘on the fly’ your solos will make far more sense harmonically.

3)    Barlines don’t exist

Barlines are not signposts ordering you to stop and start. If you have a secure inner pulse and can feel where beat 1 is, you can then drive through barlines rather letting them dictate.

4)   Your left hand isn’t a marker

If your chords are still mainly coming down on beat 1, then it’s likely that your left hand is serving little musical purpose. Both hands should be contributing creatively.

5)    Know your ‘ands’.

Where do your phrases begin and end? Rather than always starting on beats 1, 2, 3 and 4, launch your phrase from the ands of these beats

6)    Swing 8s.

There needs to be a constant feel of swing 8s, whether ore not you are actually playing them. They are always there ‘in the ether.’

7)    Play from tension into release.

A dominant 7 chord contains tension, which is released on arrival at the tonic. Therefore your phrase peaks and then falls. Once you’ve plateaued at the tonic you could take a breath, as there may be less or nothing to say.

8)    Invention, not regurgitation

Improvisation is about creation and exploration, not the reuse of ready-made phrases and licks. Play with a fresh and open mind as though you are discovering and exploring the piece for the first time. The more your mind is racing with scales, modes and altered chords the less room there will be for spontaneous creativity.

There should be some feeling of risk, as though walking a tightrope. Your safety net is the work that you’ve already put it. Now it’s time to let go. When you are in the zone, you are doing something very special: you are composing in the moment and this should be exciting and exhilarating. Your solo should feel like newly discovered terrain rather than a well-trodden path.

9)    Develop your ideas

Study the structure of a good song. It will begin with a strong idea and then repeat and develop this idea melodically and rhythmically. The same applies to soloing. Sometimes simplicity can be more effective than a flurry of ideas. Avoid the temptation to start your solo with all guns blazing.

10)     Employ dynamics

As in any composition, there are many types of musical expression that can be applied to your solo.

  • Employ a variety of accents on both notes and chords.
  • Vary your volume.
  • Move between legato and staccato.

11)     No sheet music

Sheet music is just information and the sooner you discard it, the better. Looking at a sheet of paper is yet another distraction from the job in hand. Music is an aural, not visual activity.

And finally…

12    )Play with others

Yes, I’ve said it before, but books, videos and backing tracks will only get you so far. The majority of improvised music is played with other musicians. Do whatever it takes to meet like-minded players, whatever their experience or instrument. It is by listening and interacting with others that moves your playing forward.

If you don’t have books 1 – 3 of Learn Jazz Piano you can buy them by following
this link

learn jazz piano
jazz piano eBook 2

Lesson 21: study jazz piano with Paul Abrahams

Lesson 21: study jazz piano with Paul Abrahams

Study jazz piano with Paul Abrahams

Click here for lesson 21

‘CONNECTING HANDS.’

I have now produced 20 videos in the series ‘Study jazz piano with Paul Abrahams.’

This is the first video lesson package in the series ‘How to solo.’

When soloing, most of us get busy with our right hands at the expense of our left. The left hand usually takes a back seat and is left with the supporting role of marking out chords, usually on beat 1 of every bar.

In this lesson we’ll get your left hand into the action, using the following techniques:

  • Walking bass lines
  • Stride
  • Shearing block chords
  • Drop 2
  • Left hand chord placement

I’ll be providing plenty of soloing ideas that work with these strategies, but the main focus is to integrate your right and left hand.

learn jazz piano with Paul Abrahams
Block chords (Someone To Watch Over Me.)

Click here for new lesson

Here’s an extract from my forthcoming book:

We should all strive to become two-handed pianists. Unfortunately, most solos consist of a line of single notes in the right hand, supported by chords in the left. This is just one approach and should not be the default sound of ‘jazz piano.’ If the right hand is taking most of the load, then the left at least needs to be integrated, serving a musical function. However, there is no reason why the left and right hand shouldn’t take equal roles. Listen to Brad Mehldau and Stan Tracy for inspiration.

Because, for the most part, the right hand takes on the primary role, I’ll spend the first section of this chapter looking at how the left hand can make a meaningful contribution, rather than just marking out the time. I’ll then suggest strategies where the left hand can become more of an equal partner.

 

New 20-pack bundle for playing Jazz piano online

New 20-pack bundle for playing Jazz piano online

I’ve been asked to bundle all 20 playing jazz piano online video lessons into a discounted 20-pack.

So here it is!
http://www.learnjazzpianoonline.com/lessons-1-20.html
So that’s 10 hours of video and 80 backing tracks. That should keep you busy! The more playing jazz piano online, the better.

Here’s a summary of the lesson content:

Lesson 1 – From scales to chords

  • Soloing over the Pentatonic scale
  • Mastering intervals
  • The V – I concept
  • One formula to construct all major scales
  • 7 chords, one family
learning jazz piano online
7 chords, 1 scale

Lesson 2 – Building a chord sequence

  • Chord sequences
  • The relative minor and its scales
  • The family row of minor triads
  • Soloing in a minor key

Lesson 3 –  Mastering every key

  • The circle of 5ths
  • How to play in any key
  • Preview of the II-V-I sequence
  • Introduction to the turnaround

Lesson 4 – Swing time

  • Learning to swing
  • The construction of 7th chords
  • How to interpret chord symbols
  • Shells – how not to upset the bass player

Lesson 5 – Walking 3s

  • Turnarounds part 2: I – VI – II -V
  • Walking 3s and 7s: the seeds of vertical improvisation.
  • How to use passing notes.
  • Voice leading

Lesson 6 – Extensions

  • Extensions: how to use 9ths, 11ths and 13th.
  • Know which extensions work with which chord.
  • Voicing a chord using extensions.
  • Introduction to Modes.

Lesson 7 – The II-V-I sequence

  • Master the II – V – I sequence in all keys
  • Seven soloing techniques over II – V – I
  • Alterations: know your sharp 11 from your flat 13
  •  Flat 9s and the diminished chord

Lesson 8 – How to comp

  • Comp like a pro
  • Find the best chord voicings
  • Use the right extensions
  • Build up to a five-note comp
  • Explore rhythmic variations

Lesson 9 – Modes

  • Know your Mixodydian from your Dorian
  • Grasp the connection between modes and chords
  • The art of modal soloing and comping
  • How to play ‘So What’

Lesson 10 – Autumn Leaves part 1

  • Playing your first standard
  • Learning the melody
  • The comp
  • The shells
  • The solo

Lesson 11 – Autumn Leaves part 2

  • Taking Autumn Leaves to the next level
  • How to fill out the melody
  • Comping with alterations
  • Soloing with vertical improvisation

Lesson 12 – The Blues part 1

Play with confidence over the blues.

  • How to solo creatively
  • The minor blues
  • Blues in 12/8
    Plus lots of tips, tricks and licks!

Lesson 13 – The Blues part 2

  • Taking the blues beyond the basics.
  • Chord changes that turn blues into jazz.
  • Lydian dominant & diminished scales.
  • Rootess left-hand voicings.

Lesson 14 – Bebop blues

  • Left hand 4-note rootless voicings
  • Constructing the Bebop sequence.
  • How to solo over a Bebop blues
  • Comping over a Bebop blues

Lesson 15 – Rootless voicing

  • Constructing left hand rootless voicings.
  • Applying  rootless voicings to II-V-I and turnarounds.
  • Adding the alterations: b9, b13 etc.

Lesson 16 – Tritone substitution

  • Diminished theory
  • Soloing over diminshed chords
  • Using diminished scales over dominant 7ths
  • Mastering tritone substitution

Lesson 17 – Putting it together

  • Now put your knowledge to work!
  • Combine learned techniques to play a jazz standard.
  • Rootless voicings + tritone substitution
  • Altered and diminished scales

Lesson 18 – Decoding a standard

  • Analysis of ‘All The Things You Are.’
  • How tunes are structured.
  • Identifying key centres
  • Connecting melody and chords
  • How to learn tunes

Lesson 19 – Reharmonising a standard

  • Chord substitution
  • How to reharmonise a tune
  • All The Thing You Are: advanced
  • Take The A Train reharmonised

Lesson 20 – Rhythm Changes

  • Next to a 12-bar blues, Rhythm Changes
    is the most important chord sequence in jazz.
    Master all its forms in this vital video lesson.

 

For my Learn Jazz Piano eBooks click here.

 

I recommend that you work through my’ playing jazz piano online’ lessons in conjunction with the 3 Learn Jazz Piano eBooks.

playing jazz piano online
My eBooks

So What’s Next for Jazz Piano tuition online?

So What's Next for Jazz Piano tuition online?

Jazz piano tuition online would not be complete without Rhythm Changes

Well, I’m about to start work on lesson 20 and it will be called Rhythm Changes. This is based on the tune ‘I Got Rhythm’ by George Gershwin.

 Jazz Piano tuition online
George Gershwin

Next to a 12-bar blues, Rhythm Changes is the most important chord sequence in jazz, but I’ll tell you more about this nearer the time. But I will say that this is an essential part of  Jazz Piano tuition online.

Lessons 18 and 19 were all about mapping a sequence and then substituting the chords. I used All The Things You Are and Take The A Train to demonstrate how to interpret a song structure and then reharmonise it.

Get lessons 18 & 19 here!

(Remember to scroll down when you arrive on the page.)

Lesson 19 – jazz improvisation: reharmonising a jazz standard

Lesson 19 - jazz improvisation: reharmonising a jazz standard

Jazz improvisation

Click here for lesson 19

I’ve finally completed lesson 19  of jazz improvisation, so you can now download it.
This new 30 minute video shows you how to reharmonise a lead sheet and employ substitute chords to make for a more creative solo. This will take your jazz improvisation to the next level.

Following on from lesson 18, I’ve taken All The Things You Are and substituted many of the chords. I also show you how to do the same with Take The A Train.

jazz improvisation
All The Things You Are

Once you see how it’s done, you can do this for yourself with any jazz standard. The most common way to reharmonise a chord is by substituting a dominant 7 with its tritone. This works well when the dominant 7 is about to resolve to its tonic.  For example, instead of G7 resolving to Cmaj7 we substitute a Db7, which is three whole steps (or tones) from the original chord.

Get lesson 19  here

Reharmonising a jazz standard

Reharmonising a jazz standard

Lesson 19 of Learn Jazz Piano online is called ‘Reharmonising a jazz standard’ and will be ready in a week or so.

In lesson 18, I dissected Jerome Kern’s All The Things You Are, analysing its structure and breaking it down into key centres. I also stuck to Kern’s original harmony. But in this upcoming lesson we’ll be taking things further by replacing the simple chords with a sequence more appropriate to jazz.
I’ll show you some simple techniques that you can apply to any jazz standard. In fact, in lesson 19 I’ll be giving the same treatment to Billy Strayhorn’s Take The A Train.

The creation of a new, sophisticated chord structure will allow your solos to take on a far more creative journey.

Here are some reharmonisations in the A section of Take The A Train

rehamonising a standard
Take The A Train with substitute chords

As always, the 30-minute video will come with 4 downloadable backing tracks, sheet music and a quiz. ‘Reharmonising a  jazz standard’ should be ready in a couple of weeks, but in the meantime, I suggest you catch up by purchasing lesson 18.

Get lesson 18 here!

Jazz piano lesson 16: Tritone Substitution

Jazz piano lesson 16: Tritone Substitution

Jazz piano lesson 16 now available: tritone substitution

Jazz piano lesson 16 of my online video course, Learn Jazz Piano, is all about tritone substitution.
I start by showing you how diminished scales weave through dominant 7th chords and how you can solo over 8 chords using just 1 diminished scale.This leads us to tritone substitution: replacing one 7th chord with another.
The tritone, also known as the devil’s interval, is the key to unlocking a new and more advanced way of soloing.
tritone substitution
Original chord & tritone

Lesson 15: how to voice rootless chords

Lesson 15: how to voice rootless chords

Learn how to voice rootless chords in your left hand

Lesson 15 of my online video course ‘Learn Jazz Piano Online’ is now available. The lesson teaches you how to voice rootless chords in your left hand. This is a more modern approach that Bill Evans used when playing in his trio. It not only leaves more room for the bass player; these voicings will also inspire your right hand to play far more interesting solos.

Here are some rootless voicings in a II-V-I sequence in Bb.

how to voice rootless chords
Rootless voicings

Besides the 30 minute video, I provide you with 4 downloadable backing tracks, sheet music and a quiz. Here’s the link.

http://www.learnjazzpianoonline.com/buy-lesson-15.html

Lesson 15: chord voicing

Lesson 15: chord voicing

For a jazz pianist, chord voicing is an essential skill.

I’m now in the process of preparing lesson 15 of my video course Learn Jazz Piano Online. This 15th lesson of Learn Jazz Piano Online will be all about chord voicing, particularly how to voice left hand rootless chords. Playing these chords will achieve two things: the bass player will have more space and your own solos will sounds so much better.

Lesson 15

Here is a summary of all 14 learn jazz piano lessons online video lessons so far:

Lesson 1 – From scales to chords

  • Soloing over the Pentatonic scale
  • Mastering intervals
  • The V – I concept
  • One formula to construct all major scales
  • 7 chords, one family
learn jazz piano online
7 chords, 1 scale

Lesson 2 – Building a chord sequence

  • Chord sequences
  • The relative minor and its scales
  • The family row of minor triads
  • Soloing in a minor key

Lesson 3 –  Mastering every key

  • The circle of 5ths
  • How to play in any key
  • Preview of the II-V-I sequence
  • Introduction to the turnaround

Lesson 4 – Swing time

  • Learning to swing
  • The construction of 7th chords
  • How to interpret chord symbols
  • Shells – how not to upset the bass player

Lesson 5 – Walking 3s

  • Turnarounds part 2: I – VI – II -V
  • Walking 3s and 7s: the seeds of vertical improvisation.
  • How to use passing notes.
  • Voice leading

Lesson 6 – Extensions

  • Extensions: how to use 9ths, 11ths and 13th.
  • Know which extensions work with which chord.
  • Voicing a chord using extensions.
  • Introduction to Modes.

Lesson 7 – The II-V-I sequence

  • Master the II – V – I sequence in all keys
  • Seven soloing techniques over II – V – I
  • Alterations: know your sharp 11 from your flat 13
  •  Flat 9s and the diminished chord

Lesson 8 – How to comp

  • Comp like a pro
  • Find the best chord voicings
  • Use the right extensions
  • Build up to a five-note comp
  • Explore rhythmic variations

Lesson 9 – Modes

  • Know your Mixodydian from your Dorian
  • Grasp the connection between modes and chords
  • The art of modal soloing and comping
  • How to play ‘So What’

Lesson 10 – Autumn Leaves part 1

  • Playing your first standard
  • Learning the melody
  • The comp
  • The shells
  • The solo

Lesson 11 – Autumn Leaves part 2

  • Taking Autumn Leaves to the next level
  • How to fill out the melody
  • Comping with alterations
  • Soloing with vertical improvisation

Lesson 12 – The Blues part 1

Play with confidence over the blues.

  • How to solo creatively
  • The minor blues
  • Blues in 12/8
    Plus lots of tips, tricks and licks!

Lesson 13 – The Blues part 2

  • Taking the blues beyond the basics.
  • Chord changes that turn blues into jazz.
  • Lydian dominant & diminished scales.
  • Rootess left-hand voicings.

Lesson 14 – Bebop blues

  • Left hand 4-note rootless voicings
  • Constructing the Bebop sequence.
  • How to solo over a Bebop blues
  • Comping over a Bebop blues

Lesson 14: Learn Bebop blues

Lesson 14: Learn Bebop blues

I’ve now begun work on lesson 14:  learn bebop blues.

This chord sequence is a long way from the basic three chords that are commonly used. Bebop blues still contains 12 bars and hits the IV chord at bar 5. But there are big differences. For a start, chord 1 is now a major 7th rather than a dominant 7th. This means that you can no longer rely on the blues scale. We then encounter a series of descending II-V patterns.

learn bebop blues
bebop blues sequence
A good place to start acclimatising yourself to the sound of bebop blues is Charlie Parker’s Blues For Alice. Learn bebop blues to sound like a real jazz musician.
Learn bebop blues
Charlie Parker
I realise that it takes me quite a while to produce each lesson but it’s the only way I can ensure a high quality.
Best wishes to you all
Paul
www.learnjazzpianoonline.com