Skip main navigation

New offer! Get 30% off one whole year of Unlimited learning. Subscribe for just £249.99 £174.99. New subscribers only T&Cs apply

Find out more


We’ve been looking at an introduction to playing in root position. The challenge is to play the roots in the left hand, the tune in the right hand and, generally speaking, sharing the chords between the two hands - chords that we know, but mainly to be shared. We started off by talking about the historic form of solo piano - stride piano - and we looked at “You Took Advantage Of Me”, and we looked at how to play the tune and how to improvise on it. So clearly your first exercise is to do the same. Then we had a look at “Satin Doll”.
We saw how to play it with first of all with 2 note voicings - just playing sevenths in the left hand. The reason for doing that is because, very often, that’s a way in which you can start some improvising - if you just want to play the basic chords in the left hand and run the improvisation in the right hand. Then we looked at 3 note voicing, which is basically seventh tenths but shared between the 2 hands. We looked at the idea of extending that to having more notes. We looked at various devices that you could use in playing “Satin Doll”. Then we played “Satin Doll” in root position, improvised and finally we played “Satin Doll” with a playalong.
Clearly, your exercise is to do the same, that is to be able to play “Satin Doll” in root position and improvise on it on your own and then, from a point of view of preparing for a jam session, play “Satin Doll” with a playalong and improvise on it using the devices that we’ve discussed up to now - in particular, using locked hands to play part of the tune, the A section of the tune.
This article is from the free online

Learn Jazz Piano: Advanced and Solo Playing

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Reach your personal and professional goals

Unlock access to hundreds of expert online courses and degrees from top universities and educators to gain accredited qualifications and professional CV-building certificates.

Join over 18 million learners to launch, switch or build upon your career, all at your own pace, across a wide range of topic areas.

Start Learning now