• Goldsmiths logo

Learn Jazz Piano: Begin with the Blues

Discover jazz improvisation on the piano, and learn to play and improvise on the blues and a jazz standard.

16,174 enrolled on this course

A pair of hands on a keyboard, playing jazz piano
  • Duration

    6 weeks
  • Weekly study

    2 hours

Learn to play jazz piano, from the blues to a jazz standard.

On this course, you’ll get started with jazz piano by learning the basic concepts and prepare to play modern jazz piano in a group.

You’ll delve into the four routes to improvisation and deepen your understanding of the nature of jazz and blues to build the knowledge, skills, and confidence to improvise on piano.

Explore the blues on jazz piano

Improvisation may look off the cuff, but it requires a lot of foundational knowledge. To learn jazz improvisation, you’ll need to understand its influences and different styles first.

This course will get you well acquainted with blues, and you’ll learn why it’s so integral to jazz piano.

You’ll learn and compare the three principal chords and scales of jazz and classical music, and play open sevenths in root position. You’ll get acquainted with the F blues and voiced sevenths, and play along using the F American blues scale, seventh scales, and full blues scale.

Grow your knowledge of jazz improvisation theory, including the four ways to improvise

Using the diminished chord and scale will take your improvisation to the next level. You’ll learn about motivic, scalic chordal and special improvisation, along with some more fundamentals: the major seventh, the lonian scale and basic voicings, before playing and improvising.

Further exercises will include playing along with jazz standards like the Blue Room and working to improvise on the themes using your new knowledge and skill set.

By the end of this course, you’ll have a foundational understanding of the blues, and how it relates to jazz improvisation – which is crucial to properly learn jazz piano.

Download video: standard or HD

Skip to 0 minutes and 5 seconds Hi, my name is Ray d’Inverno and I’d like to welcome you to the first of four courses on learning jazz piano. This one is entitled “Begin with the Blues”. The aim is to learn how to play modern jazz piano in a group context - playing with other musicians. I use two distinctive approaches. First of all I have a camera above the piano which shows which shows you exactly what I am playing so that you can copy it.

Skip to 0 minutes and 27 seconds So in that sense it’s a “How To” course: “Watch what I do - now you do it”. Secondly I make extensive use of playalong tracks - that’s prerecorded tracks of bass and drums, typically, which you play along with it. In week three I show you in some detail how to do that - how to set up your computer, or whatever you use, next to your piano or keyboard in order to facilitate this approach. What about me? Well I have been involved in performance, promotion, administration, and education for over 50 years. In particular, I ran a jazz workshop for over 15 years at the University of Southampton.

Skip to 1 minute and 1 second I also introduced jazz studies into the undergraduate music degree and I have had a large number of jazz piano students over the years where I have developed my own approach. What about you? Well you require some facility in already being able to play the piano, especially your scales and arpeggios, have some basic ability to read music and, above all, the motivation to see the course through, possibly sharing your experiences with others. So in the rest of this trailer there are a couple of short excerpts from the course to give you an idea of what it is like. My final aspiration is that you too will experience the joy of being involved in this wonderful world of playing modern jazz piano.

Skip to 1 minute and 40 seconds Good luck. One , two, three, four, …

What topics will you cover?

  • The three principal chords of Jazz and Blues
  • Practicing with playalongs
  • The 4 routes to improvisation: scalic, chordal, motivic and special devices
  • The major seventh, the Ionian scale and basic voicings
  • Improvising on a Jazz standard: The Blue Room

Learning on this course

On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Demonstrate your ability to play and improvise on three blues in C, F and B flat using a playalong
  • Demonstrate your ability to play and improvise on a jazz standard using a playalong
  • Explore the art of improvisation using the four routes: scalic, chordal, motivic, special devices

Who is the course for?

This course is for any keen pianist, but will be particularly useful for university or college piano students who want to improve their improvisational skills. The course requires a basic ability to read music and play the piano, and expects a familiarity with scales.

What software or tools do you need?

You’ll need to have access to a piano or keyboard and a computer, tablet or smart phone set up next to it.

Who will you learn with?

I have been a jazz pianist and educator for over fifty years and have developed this online course on learning jazz piano.

Who developed the course?

Goldsmiths, University of London

Part of the University of London, Goldsmiths has a world-class reputation. Study creative and inspiring courses and learn from leading minds in the arts, humanities, social sciences and computing.

Learning on FutureLearn

Your learning, your rules

  • Courses are split into weeks, activities, and steps to help you keep track of your learning
  • Learn through a mix of bite-sized videos, long- and short-form articles, audio, and practical activities
  • Stay motivated by using the Progress page to keep track of your step completion and assessment scores

Join a global classroom

  • Experience the power of social learning, and get inspired by an international network of learners
  • Share ideas with your peers and course educators on every step of the course
  • Join the conversation by reading, @ing, liking, bookmarking, and replying to comments from others

Map your progress

  • As you work through the course, use notifications and the Progress page to guide your learning
  • Whenever you’re ready, mark each step as complete, you’re in control
  • Complete 90% of course steps and all of the assessments to earn your certificate

Want to know more about learning on FutureLearn? Using FutureLearn

Learner reviews

Learner reviews cannot be loaded due to your cookie settings. Please and refresh the page to view this content.

Join the conversation on social media

You can use the hashtag #FLjazzpiano to talk about this course on social media.