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Skip to 0 minutes and 10 secondsIn terms of your exercises for this session, I would like you to finish off what you started in the previous session and learn the chords in the left hand for the turnarounds for the other 6 keys, namely the flat keys of A flat and D flat and the sharp keys of A, E, B and F sharp. So, for example, if we are looking at F sharp major - a key which is probably least frequently used - but we still need to know it.

Skip to 0 minutes and 43 secondsThen our lower voicings are … and the upper voicings are … What I’d like you to be able to do is to get to them very quickly, so you have to work out a mechanism which works for you for finding, particularly, the starting position. For example, if you are doing the lower of those 2 positions, Fsharp major7, then you stick the 4 in the left hand on the F sharp, you play F sharp triad with fingers 2 and 1 and then you put in the major seventh with the fifth finger. Once you get there, I want you to be able to feel how the other chords in the turnaround go.

Skip to 1 minute and 38 secondsThey’re kind of physically learnt - learnt within the muscles of the hand. Similarly, if you are going for the upper voicings then you aim your little finger, the fifth finger of the left hand, for the major third of the major seventh you are looking at. In the case of F sharp, you aim it for A sharp and then the other notes are perfect fourths away. What I want you to do is have a feeling for what perfect fourths is like, be able to play that and then use that as the starting point for the rest of the turnaround.

Skip to 2 minutes and 12 secondsReally what I want you to get to - and I know it will take time, but if you keep working at it - get to the point where the chords of the turnaround - which are so important - you can play them almost automatically. So you know if a turnaround is coming up and you are at one of the 2 positions on the piano then the left hand knows where it’s got to go, so you can concentrate most of your thoughts on what the right hand is doing.

Skip to 2 minutes and 42 secondsI’ve written out these chords for you, if you are having difficulty in working them out yourself. I’ve tried to do it so that they are all, more or less, in the middle of the piano, because we don’t want our chords to go too low - otherwise they sound muddy and they get in the way of the bass player - and we don’t want the chords to go too high - otherwise they sound thin and they get in the way of your right hand.

Skip to 3 minutes and 8 secondsWhat I would like you to do then is to be able to play “Blue Room” with a playalong, first of all where you play the tune an octave away from the middle of the piano so that there is no clashing of the two hands. I’d like you also to have a go at playing the tune in the middle of the piano where I think it sounds better and then working out which notes have to be sacrificed in the left hand in order to get the tune out fully in the right hand.

Skip to 3 minutes and 43 secondsThen when you play it and improvise on it, let’s have our standard two methods for the left hand, namely playing the chords legato, say, on beats 1 and 3 and then stabbed on beats 1 and 3.

Skip to 4 minutes and 4 secondsIf you’re making progress with the scalic improvisation then have a go, by all means, at chordal improvisation - bouncing up and down the chords. If you find the chords are coming too fast for you to keep up, then simplify it by going for the notes of the chords that belong to the major scale that’s associated with the chord sequence at that point. Similarly, if you are making progress there, then have a go at some motivic improvisation, where you use elements of the tune as your source for motives, for phrases.

Skip to 4 minutes and 42 secondsFinally, when you get to scalic improvisation - and that’s the thing I am mostly interested in at this point - because what I want you to know is what notes are available to you, and the scalic improvisation, in some sense, does that for you. So start off by improvising using 1 scale, then try using 2 scales, then 3, then 4 and then 5. Good luck.

Week 6 Exercises

Week 6 Exercises are discussed.

You can download the turnarounds in all keys (both flat and sharp) in PDF format at the bottom of this page.

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This video is from the free online course:

Learn Jazz Piano: I. Begin with the Blues

Goldsmiths, University of London