Why I set up Learn Jazz Piano Online with Paul Abrahams.

Why I set up Learn Jazz Piano Online with Paul Abrahams.

The birth of learn jazz piano with Paul Abrahams

Some of you have followed my old learn jazz piano iTunes audio only podcasts over the last few years. A natural progression would be to use video and offer backing tracks. Although this is what I’m now doing, it’s not the reason why I dreamed up ‘Learn Jazz piano online with Paul Abrahams.’ The truth has nothing to do with music!

A while back, I went on jury service. The average time a trial usually lasts is two weeks, In fact, a juror can get through a few cases in this time, or sit around in the waiting room and not be called at all. The trial that I was allocated to lasted nine… months! And if that wasn’t bad enough, this case was about investment fraud. I can’t even add up, yet was forced to stare at balance sheets and listen to the evidence of accountants for weeks on end. After a couple of months I was at the point of insanity. Now I’ll not admit that what I then did to save myself from going crazy took place in the actual court room under the table, because I want you to know that I was paying attention for every single minute of those mind-numbing nine months. So, instead, I’ll tell you that in the lunch and tea breaks I  got this bright idea to write a book on learning jazz piano. This book would be based around a web site where you could watch videos, download backing tracks and even do a quiz.

Time suddenly flew by! Working it all out was the easy bit, great fun actually. But I didn’t take into account that I would eventually have to learn to make and edit videos and then find someone that would put my dream together. To be continued…

To date I’ve produced 22 video lessons and three learn jazz piano eBooks.

jazz piano tuition online – 5-lesson package deal

jazz piano tuition online - 5-lesson package deal

As I’ve now produced 10 lessons of Jazz Piano tuition online, it feels a good time to package them into two blocks of 5 and offer each 5-lesson package at a discount. You can find this deal if you click here.

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

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

jazz piano eBook 2

jazz piano eBook 2

I’m working my way through jazz piano eBook 2 and should have it ready by the Summer. It will include rootless voicings, diminished theory, tritone substitution, block chords, rhythm changes and advanced blues structures

Introduction to jazz piano eBook 2

An imagined Q&A

Q        Surely, playing jazz piano is all about instinct and invention. How can I freely express myself with a head full of theory?

A         Errol Garner is just one instance of a jazz master who, apparently, couldn’t read music. However, unless you are a genius, you need more than just good instinct when learning jazz. As for a clear head, the way forward is to put in the work until the theory becomes second nature. Then stop thinking.

Q        Can I get by with just a sound knowledge of each chord and its extensions?

A         Yes, to a certain extent; a good deal of the excitement of jazz comes from the concept of moving from tension to release. This is created by the dominant 7 chord moving to its tonic: V – I: the perfect cadence. All the tension is contained in this V7 chord and we create this tension with notes known as extensions and alterations. These are notes not within the chord.

There are three extensions: 9, 11 and 13. When we flatten or sharpen these extensions, they become alterations. The four alterations are b9, #9, #11 and b13. By combining these extensions and alterations with the basic notes of a dominant 7 chord, we create the tension that will release into the tonic chord.

Q        Is it helpful to recognise the scale and mode that relates to each chord? For example, if I play G Mixolydian over G7, it will include 9 and 11. Is this useful?

A         Yes, very useful, and to create more tension you could try other scales such as the diminished, whole tone or Lydian Dominant. But always keep in mind that the sole use of this approach results in the unmusical sound of running up and down scales rather than playing anything creative.

The reality is that you need to combine knowledge of the chord’s extensions and alterations, together with the scales and modes that fit the chord. Yes, this involves a lot of work that needs to become second nature before ‘instinct’ kicks in.

Believe me, I’m not belittling instinct. Indeed, the only time I feel I’m playing a decent solo is when I’m not thinking. The last thing I want to be doing is consciously going for a diminished scale or #9. In the same way, when speaking, I’m not thinking about letters of the alphabet; I’ve done that work.

For people that say jazz is self-indulgent, they ought to know how much work and preparation masters like Coltrane, Bill Evans and Sonny Rollins put in before they used instinct.

The best way to use this book is in conjunction with my learn jazz piano video course.
http://www.learnjazzpianoonline.com

jazz piano eBook 2
jazz piano eBook 2

 

 

My article on WikiHow: ways to study jazz piano

My article on WikiHow: ways to study jazz piano

The way to study jazz piano: theory or instinct?

The following article was first published on WikiHow. 

Study jazz piano: How to Play a jazz piano solo

Is there just too much theory when you study jazz piano? Can you play a great jazz piano solo just by instinct? The story goes that Errol Garner   couldn’t read music, but unless you’re  a genius, you need more than just good instinct when learning jazz piano.

study jazz piano
Erroll Garner

Steps

  1. Gain a sound knowledge of each chord and its extensions. A good deal of the excitement of jazz comes from the concept of tension to release. This is created by the dominant seventh chord moving to its tonic: V – I: known as ‘The Perfect Cadence.’ Let’s take G7 moving to Cmaj7. All the tension is contained within the G7, and we first create this tension with notes known as extensions. These are notes not within the chord but within the scale. So we have 9, 11 and 13. The remaining notes: b9, #9, #11 and b13 are known as alterations. In the case of G7, the three  extensions are A, C and E. The four alterations for G7 are Ab, A#, C# and Eb. By combining these extensions and alterations with the basic notes of G7 (G, B, D and F) you create the tension that will release into the tonic chord of Cmaj7.
  2. Get to know your way round the scale or mode of each chord. Again, taking G7, the basic mode that fits any dominant seventh chord is the the Mixolydian mode – just play the major scale but flatten the seventh note. So the Mixolydian mode of G7 is G, A, B, C, D, E, F, G – all the white notes. But to create more tension, and bring in some extensions you could try some other scales. The diminished scale ( just play alternative half step/whole step from the root of any dominant seventh) works really well, as it creates a b9, #9 and #11. The notes for G7 would be G, Ab, A#, B, C#, D, E, F, G. Other possibilities are the whole tone scale (whole steps) which gives you the #11 and b13 and the Lydian Dominant (same as Mixolydian but with a raised 4th) which gives you just the #11.
  3. Combine a knowledge of the chord’s 3 extensions and 4 alterations with scales and modes that fit the chord. Yes, this involves a lot of work that needs to become second nature before ‘instinct’ kicks in.

___________________________________

Well, that’s what I wrote. When I posted my article on the Linkedin forum ‘Jazz Piano’ it created quite a fuss., with the usual extremes from “let’s have more theory” to “who needs theory?” I feel pretty much the same as I did when I wrote it. For most of us, the work and preparation has to be put in before we can push it back into our subconscious for a performance. When you study jazz piano there has to be a balance between theory and using your creativity and instinct.

Next lesson for Jazz Piano Online

Next lesson for Jazz Piano Online

I’m now working on lesson 11 of Jazz Piano Online.

You can already buy lessons 1-10 in a discounted pack.

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
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

This new lesson of Learn Jazz Piano Online is called Autumn Leaves part 2. It should be ready by late-February.

Learn Jazz Piano Online blog with Paul Abrahams | jazz piano video lessons online