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Learn Jazz Piano: I. Begin with the Blues

Get an introduction to the wonderful world of playing jazz piano and learn to play and improvise on the blues and a jazz standard.

Learn Jazz Piano: I. Begin with the Blues
  • Duration6 weeks
  • Weekly study2 hours
  • LearnFree
  • Extra BenefitsFrom $69Find out more

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

This online course is the first of four on playing jazz piano. It is aimed at playing modern jazz piano in a group context. It’s ideal if you can already play the piano, play your scales and have a basic ability to read music. The course utilises an overhead camera to show you exactly what is being played. So firstly it is a “How To” course: “Watch what is being played - now try it yourself”. In addition it relies on using “playalongs”, that is pre-recorded bass and drum tracks which you can play along with. The course concentrates on the blues first and then looks at playing a jazz standard.

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Skip to 0 minutes and 5 secondsHi, 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 secondsSo 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 secondI 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 secondsGood luck. One , two, three, four, …

Syllabus

  • Week 1

    From 11 May 2020

    Getting Started

    • Introduction and Background Information

      The Introduction is important and you should read it before starting on the course proper in step 1.5. The Introduction is followed by three optional videos.

    • The course proper starts with Ray playing "Things Ain't What They Used To Be"

      Ray d'Inverno plays the blues "Things Ain't What They Used To Be" as a solo to provide motivation for where we shall be heading.

    • The nature of jazz and the blues

      We outline the three key characteristics of jazz : improvisation, the blues and swing. We then introduce the skeletal blues sequence in C and look at improvising using the American blues scale and jazz quavers.

    • Playing and improvising on "Things Ain't What They Used To Be"

      We illustrate the first Exercise by playing "Things Ain't What They Used To Be" (playing sevenths in the left hand four to the bar) and improvising on it using the American blues scale and predominantly jazz quavers.

    • Exercise, Learning Outcomes, Viewing and Listening

      All weeks end with the Exercises, the Leaning Outcomes and the Viewing and Listening for the week.

  • Week 2

    From 18 May 2020

    Introducing The Blues

    • The 3 principal chords and scales of classical music and jazz

      We review the three principal chords and scales of classical music and compare and contrast it with the 3 principal chords and scales of jazz.

    • Playing the left hand in root position: open sevenths

      We introduce the idea of playing open sevenths in root position in the left hand and using the thumb to indicate the pulse and playing our blues "Things Ain't What They Used To Be" over the top.

    • Improvising using sevenths, fifth-tenths and seventh-tenths

      We discuss improvising over the left hand in root position, first playing open sevenths, then using fifth-tenths and finally using seventh-tenths and sometimes using some of the left hand fingers to indicate the pulse.

    • Exercises, Learning Outcomes, Viewing and Listening, Quiz

      Exercises, Learning Outcomes, Viewing and Listening, Quiz for Week 2

  • Week 3

    From 25 May 2020

    More On The Blues

    • The blues "Now's The Time", jazz lead sheets and voiced sevenths

      We introduce the F blues "Now's The Time", discuss the use and limitations of jazz lead sheets and introduce voiced sevenths in preparation for playing with playalongs.

    • Interlude : Downloading Aebersold playalong tracks from iTunes and using Audacity

      We include an interlude for those who need it on downloading Aebersold playalong tracks from iTunes. We then download and use the system Audacity to play and manipulate tracks and consider how you can upload your own recordings.

    • Playing "Now's The Time" using an F blues playalong track

      We now illustrate how to play the tune of "Now's The Time" in voiced position using an F blues playalong track.

    • Improvising using the F American blues scale, seventh scales and full blues scales

      We consider how to improvise on "Now's The Time" with a playalong using the F American blues scale, seventh scales and full blues scales.

    • Exercises, Learning Outcomes, Viewing and Listening

      Exercises, Learning Outcomes, Viewing and Listening for Week 3

  • Week 4

    From 1 Jun 2020

    The Four Routes To Improvising

    • Chordal improvisation and introduction to the diminished chord and scale

      We look at chordal improvisation and introduce the diminished chord and scale in preparation for the B flat blues "Blue Monk".

    • The blues "Blue Monk" and motivic improvisation

      We look at the structure of the blues "Blue Monk" and consider the role of motivic improvisation.

    • The 4 routes to improvisation: scalic, chordal, motivic and special devices

      We start our understanding of the key topic of improvisation by outlining my 4 routes to improvisation: scalic, chordal, motivic and special devices.

    • Exercises, Learning Outcomes, Viewing and Listening, Quiz

      Exercises, Learning Outcomes, Viewing and Listening, Quiz for Week 4

  • Week 5

    From 8 Jun 2020

    Major and Minor Chords

    • The major seventh, the Ionian scale and basic voicings

      We consider the major seventh, the Ionian scale and basic voicings as a prelude to using it on a simple tune.

    • The tune "Inch Worm"

      Playing and improvising on the simple tune "Inch Worm".

    • The minor seventh and its role in a turnaround

      We look at the minor seventh and discuss it related Dorian scale and basic third-based voicings before applying it to the important turnaround.

    • Week 5 Exercises

      We look at the Week 5 exercises. Playalongs are available at the bottom of the next step.

    • Exercises, Learning Outcomes, Viewing and Listening

      Exercises, Learning Outcomes, Viewing and Listening for Week 5.

  • Week 6

    From 15 Jun 2020

    The jazz standard "Blue Room"

    • The Jazz Standard "Blue Room"

      We introduce the tune of the jazz standard "Blue Room" and show how to play it with a playalong using lower and upper voicings.

    • Improvising on "Blue Room"

      We illustrate how to improvise on "Blue Room" using first just the one scale F major and after analysing the chords using 5 major scales.

    • Week 6 Exercises

      We look at Week 6 Exercises.

    • Exercises, Learning Outcomes, Viewing and Listening, Quiz, Video and Recordings List

      Exercises, Learning Outcomes, Viewing and Listening, Quiz in Week 6, list of videos in the course and list of my recordings relating to the whole course

When would you like to start?

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  • Available now

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 interested pianist, but may be of particular interest to university or college piano students studying music.

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.

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