This JazzPianoSkills Podcast Episode reviews our journey through 2022 Harmonically, Melodically, and Rhythmically. Discover, learn, and play essential jazz piano skills!
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Every JazzPianoSkills weekly podcast episode introduces aspiring jazz pianists to essential Jazz Piano Skills. Each Podcast episode explores a specific Jazz Piano Skill in depth. Today you will discover, learn, play the 2022 Year End Review. In this Jazz Piano Lesson, you will:
My Final Thought and Insights about our Harmonic, Melodic, and Rhythmic Workouts
Why it is essential to continue the workouts - FOREVER!
Conceptually through additional practice approaches to help you continue gaining command of these essential workouts
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Dr. Bob Lawrence 0:33
Welcome to jazz piano skills. I'm Dr. Bob Lawrence. It's time to discover, learn and play jazz piano. Well, I hope everyone is enjoying the holidays and hopefully some downtime to relax with family and friends. I had a fabulous Christmas with my family great food, way too many gifts, tons of love, and tons of laughter. I'm still on break from teaching at the Dallas School of Music but not taking a break from jazz piano skills simply impossible, because I'm addicted. So I thought today, I would just simply do a year end review and share with you some final thoughts about our 2022 harmonic melodic and rhythmic journey through all 12 major keys. So today you are going to discover my final thoughts and insights about our harmonic melodic and rhythmic workouts. You're going to learn why it is absolutely essential to continue the workouts forever. And you're going to play conceptually through additional practice approaches to help you continue gaining command of these essential workouts. So as I always like to say regardless of where you are in your jazz journey, a beginner an intermediate player and advanced player even if you consider yourself to be a seasoned, crusty, old experienced professional. You're gonna find this jazz panel skills podcast year end review of our harmonic melodic and rhythmic workouts to be very beneficial. But before we begin, I want to take a moment as I do at the beginning of every jazz panel skills podcast episode, I want to welcome all first-time listeners and if you are indeed new to jazz panel skills if you are indeed listening for the very first time, welcome, I want to invite you personally invite you to become a jazz piano skills member. All you have to do visit jazz piano skills.com Check it out learn more about all of the jazz educational resources, materials, and services that are available that are waiting for you to use. For example, as a jazz piano skills member, you have access to all of the educational podcast packets these are the illustrations, the lead sheets in the play alongs that I develop and I produce for every weekly podcast episode. Now these are invaluable educational tools that you are going to want in your hands as you listen to the podcast episode and you certainly want to have seen on your piano when practicing. You also as a jazz panel skills member have access to the online sequential jazz piano skills curriculum, which is loaded with comprehensive courses and all of them using a self-paced format. There are educational talks for you to listen to interactive media to test your conceptual understanding of the jazz panel skills, video demonstrations as jazz panel skills in all 12 keys, play alongs and much more. You also as a jazz panel skills member have as I like to say a reserved seat in the online weekly master classes which are in essence, a one-hour lesson with me each and every week. As a jazz panel skills member you also have access to the online interactive Fakebook which grants you access to jazz standards from the Great American Songbook you'll be able to enjoy the lead sheets that are that outline. Each tunes chord changes harmonic function, their chord scale relationships to study play along files, historical insights, inspirational recordings, and much much more. The interactive Fakebook is an ever-growing collection of tunes that you should absolutely discover, learn and play You also as a jazz panel skills member have access to the private online jazz piano skills community. Now, this community hosts a variety of engaging forums there are podcasts-specific forums, course-specific forums. And of course, there are just general jazz piano forms for you to enjoy as well. And last, but certainly not least, as a jazz piano skills member, you have unlimited, private, personal, and professional educational support whenever and as often as you need it. Again, visit jazz piano skills.com To learn more about the educational opportunities, and how to activate your membership. Now there are several membership plans to choose from. And I have no doubt there is one that is perfect for you. But nevertheless, if you get there if you have some questions, by all means, please let me know I'm always happy to spend some time with you. Answer any questions that you may have, and help you in any way that I can. Okay, let's discover, learn and play jazz piano. Let's dive into our year-end review of our amazing 2022 journey that took us through all 12 major keys harmonically, melodically, and rhythmically. For all of you regular listeners to jazz piano skills, you know that back in January of this year, we set sail on a journey that would take us through all 12 major keys, harmonically, melodically, and rhythmically. Our game plan was to tackle one key a month for, of course, 12 months. And I'm happy to report that we stayed the course and accomplished our goal, completing our journey this month with the key of G major, pretty darn cool. We explored each key harmonically, melodically, and rhythmically. Using the same approach with each key as we made our way around the circle of fifths. This, of course, is the very essence of what we would call a very good, efficient, and effective practice approach. In other words, having a clear and concise set of skills, organized logically, so that they can be methodically applied to all 12 keys using the same process. So I thought today, I would spend a little time talking about the harmonic approach, melodic approach, and rhythmic approach that we use for each key and share some additional insight about each. So the educational agenda for today is as follows number one, we will take one last look at our harmonic workout approach and 2022, the skills, the practice approaches, and additional exploration. Number two, we will take one last look at our 2022 melodic workout approach, the skills the practice approaches ditional exploration. And number three, we will take one last look at our 2022 rhythmic workout approach. The skills, practice approaches additional exploration. But before we dive in, if you are thinking that the various skills that we're about to discover, learn and play are over your head, then I would say to you sit back. Relax, breathe in, breathe out. Continue to listen. Continue to grow your jazz piano skills intellectually by listening to this year in review, by listening to this podcast episode, when first introduced to all skills, right, there are over our heads, which is precisely why our first step always to improve in our musicianship is to just simply listen. So do not shy away from conversation discussing foreign topics or using unfamiliar terms right, which we like to do. Stepping outside of our musical comfort zone is what spawns significant growth. As you've all heard me say a million times In 2022 alone, I've said it a million times, all musical growth begins upstairs, mentally conceptually, before it can come out downstairs physically in your hands. So sit back and listen. Just simply listen to this podcast for less than two this year in review, to discover and learn the play. No worries, it will come in time.
Dr. Bob Lawrence 10:30
Let's begin our year-end review with our harmonic workouts. Now, each of our harmonic workouts explored voicing the chords found at each major key. And if you didn't know at the beginning of the year, you certainly do now that each key each major scale produces seven chords, two major seventh chords, three minor seventh chords, one dominant chord, and one half diminished seventh chord. And not only does each key major scale produce seven chords, they produce them in the same order. The one chord is always Major, the two chord is minor, the three chord is minor, the four chord is major, the five chord dominant, the six chord is minor, and the seventh chord is half diminished. Now, I cannot stress enough, I just simply cannot stress enough the importance of knowing this musical fact and being able to recite it in relation to each key, you absolutely should practice reciting the chords of each key. For example, you should be able to rattle off the top of your head the seventh chords found in the key of A flat major the seventh chords found in the key of D major, the seventh chords found in the key of G major and so on. You should be able to do this quite honestly in your sleep. And not only should you be able to identify the seventh chords of all 12 major keys, you should be able to spell them with ease as well. C sharp minor seven, C sharp, E, G sharp, B, A dominant a C sharp, E, G, B half diminished, B, D, F A, and so on. I stressed this to students all the time, week after week after week. And everyone, every student, every single one of them shakes their head up and down in 100% total agreement. But when I asked them to tell me the seven chords of a specific key, they struggle when I asked them to spell chords quickly they look at me like a deer in headlights. Make sure this is not you. Practice, practice reciting the chords of a key and spelling them quickly. See, not all practicing needs to be done at the piano. And I've stated this many times as well. Conceptual understanding determines physical development. Do your conceptual work away from the instrument. And you will find that your time at the piano is much, much more productive. You can do this kind of practicing laying on your sofa. You can do this kind of practicing with taking shower. You can be doing this kind of practicing by sitting at a red light. Right there are all kinds of ways to practice music practice piano without actually sitting at the piano. Now, once you can think within a key, the ability to identify each of the seven chords and spell them right, you are ready to study voicings. I'm gonna I'm gonna say that again. Once you can think within a key right which means the ability to identify each of the seven chords and spell them then you are ready to study voicings. Not until then. This is the skill that are harmonic workouts focused on throughout the entire year of 2022. We looked at four very specific ways to voice the chords found within each key. We studied traditional block voicings, which include the route, the third, the fifth and the seventh, plus their inverted shapes and versions. We studied traditional three note left hand shell voicings, contemporary left hand shell voicings, and five note to hinge voicings. Now, I have stayed previously that of course, of course, there are other approaches to voicing chords. But these are the, the approaches that I use, and I of course, recommend. So let's take a closer look at each one. Blocks are four note shapes, block voicings, there are four note shapes that utilize the root, third, fifth, and seventh of each sound, that you can rearrange these four notes which we call inversions. To minimize motion when moving from one chord to the next. Now, I recommend learning these shapes first, before tackling other voicing approaches. And there are a couple reasons for doing so. First, being able to see, hear and feel these traditional voicings will only make it easier when tackling other voicing types, such as the traditional and contemporary three note shells. But even more importantly, these voicings these shapes are used for developing improvisational skills for developing jazz melodic language. So in essence, these fundamental four note block voicings are a twofer. They're perfectly fine to use as harmonic shapes, voicings, and they're also essential melodic shapes, improvisation. I mentioned this multiple times throughout the year that if you can play these 60 voicings, 12 Major 12, dominant 12, minor 12, half diminished and 12 diminished and their inversions you are capable of playing 1000s And I mean 1000s of tunes. In fact, you'll be ready to play gigs, if you so wish to do so. When I was a young boy, learning to play jabs, I played many gigs using only these voicings. So, if this is where you are harmonically, you are in a very, very good place. Bottom line, do not underestimate the importance of knowing how to play chords using fundamental block voicings, the root, the third, the fifth, and the seventh, and their inversions. Traditional shells become a little more challenging for a couple of reasons. First, traditional shells omit the root of the core. Now this can be quite an adjustment. When you begin looking at voicings that do not include the the very note which is used in its name. In other words, a C major voicing using traditional three note shape, shell voicings doesn't contain the Notes See, just seems odd right. Second, traditional shell voicings always include the third and the seventh of the sound, along with one additional ornamental note such as the ninth. So suppose you are not familiar with or comfortable with easily and quickly identifying the third and seventh of each sound. In that case, you'll find adding three note traditional shell voicings shapes to your arsenal voicing arsenal to be very challenging indeed. And Another reason validating the importance of spending time spelling the chords right? Know your chords, root, third, fifth, seventh. Now contemporary shells like traditional shells consists of three notes. However, unlike the traditional shells that always include the third and seventh of the sound. Contemporary shells may or may not contain the third,
Dr. Bob Lawrence 20:31
or the seventh at all, and certainly not grouped together. In fact, the primary interval used when constructing contemporary shells is the interval of a fourth of his skin also present a challenge when learning these shapes because we are initially taught to construct sound using the third as the primary interval, the two handed voicings become even more challenging because we are now spreading the notes of the sound across two hands. As I mentioned earlier, I personally use five note two handed voicing, I always play two notes in my left hand, and three notes in my right hand. I also mentioned there are other ways to play two handed voicings, but I prefer using five notes. This is because I want to keep things as streamlined as possible when formulating my approach to voicing. To give you an example, when originally learning how to play altered dominant courts, I was taught a poly chord approach. Now a poly chord approach places one chord on top of another to create the desired sound. For example, when playing placing a D major triad on top of a C seven, you get a sharp 11 sound. Now I was taught to play the third and the seventh of the dominant chord in my left hand and the triad in my right hand. Alright, two plus three five notes. So because I was already comfortable with playing two handed five note voicings, to play altered dominant chords, I just extended that format to all of my two handed shapes, regardless of the sound, major, minor half diminished, so just simply made sense. Now, we studied all four of these voicing types blocks, traditional shells, contemporary shells, and two-handed shapes for the seven chords of all 12 major keys. So now you can begin adding new ways to explore practicing these voicings be on their relationship to a specific key. And I would like to suggest to now begin grouping your voicings by type, all of your major voicings, all of your dominant voicings minors have diminished, and using various patterns to move from one voicing to the next. Practice moving your chords in minor thirds, for example, C major to E flat major to G flat major to a major or how about using whole tones, C minor to D minor to E minor to F sharp minor to A flat minor to B flat minor. And, of course, how about practice moving around the circle of fifths, C half diminished to F half diminished and so on. Another way I I used to practice my voicings was to take any fake book, any book that contained chord changes. And I would go to any tune in that book in simply pretend that every chord was a major chord. And then every chord was a dominant chord, and then a minor chord and so on the bottom line, there are several ways to attack practicing voicings to help you thoroughly digest the shapes and the sounds. And as always, practice these exercises consent Surely first, before heading to your piano, practice moving a voicing type around the circle of fifths in your mind. Can you see the shapes? Can you see the shapes in your mind? Can you see them on the piano? Can you visualize them on the piano? If so, you are in the perfect position to move to the piano and begin physically playing them. Again, right, there are many ways to voice chords. Now my recommendation to you is to keep it simple. Find an approach that works for you conceptually and physically. And then commit to it. voicings can get out of control quickly and become like tangled fishing line. So the faster you can streamline your thinking and approach to voicing, the better. This is why I teach for not six, not eight, not 10 for very specific ways to approach playing chords, so that you sound like an authentic jazz pianist. My best advice keep it simple. Okay, our melodic workouts explored the modes of each key. So yes, we did in D, get a little academic and use terms like Ionian Dorian Phrygian Lydian mixolydian Aeolian locrian However, I must say, and I must stress the ultimate goal is to play and not think academically. In other words, when you play the C dominant scale, you should not be thinking Mixolydian. And when you play the F after mini scale, you're not thinking locrian The goal is to play C dominant C dominant scale C, D, E F G A B flat and not think of it as the F major scale. Starting on the notes C or the mix of Lydian mode, the modes and the terms are used as a way to simply communicate the origin of the scale or sound on say that, again, the modes and the terms are used as ways to just a way to simply communicate the origin of the scale or sound. It authenticates and validates its use. Again, I tell students all of the time, every chord comes from somewhere. No chord exist on its own and enjoys autonomy. So, we, as jazz musicians need to be aware of a chord origin. So we can determine the proper scale to use when developing or playing jazz language over that chord. So if you do not hear anything else in this entire podcast episode, I want you to be sure to hear this. Knowing chord scale relationships is important. I know it's popular today to knock the study of chord scale relationships as an approach to jazz improvisation but honestly, that's like knocking the importance of understanding basic arithmetic, addition, and subtraction. Just as we have to have a command of basic math skills to survive daily, we need to have a command of CT scan relationships if we hope to develop fundamental and advanced jazz language for improvisation. Yes, of course, there is a lot more to improvising than just simply going straight up and down a scale but but you have to know the scale before you can begin developing patterns based on the scale So do not let anyone tell you that the study of CT scan relationships is somehow outdated, old school, or simply incorrect because it is not incorrect. It's actually the opposite. It's an essential jazz skill. Our melodic workouts, studied the chord scale relationships of each key.
Dr. Bob Lawrence 30:27
And who knows, we may be studying in the near future, how to begin applying our chord scale relationships to patterns for developing essential jazz improvisation language, who knows and knows maybe in the near future. For now, I would highly recommend continuing to practice chord scale relationships by playing the chord in your left hand and the appropriate scale and your right hand going straight up and coming straight down from the root to the seventh, from the third to the ninth, from the fifth to the 11 and from the seventh to the 13th. Right, always varying our entry and destination points. Be sure to explored various grooves and various temples. Always play in time. Play each scale, like an improvisational line. If you play a scale and it sounds like a scale, you are playing it wrong. Everything you do needs to sound like music, not an exercise. So take your CT scan relationship practicing seriously very seriously, because it will pay off big time. Now the opposite is also true. If you do not take your practicing of CT scan relationship seriously. You always wonder why you never developed into an accomplished jazz pianist. Okay, our rhythmic workouts were applied to both our harmonic and melodic workouts. In other words, whatever rhythmic motif we were studying, we played harmonically using our voicings and melodically using our chord scale relationship understanding. We started the year using basic note values, quarter notes, half notes, whole notes, and each month introduced more complicated rhythms, eighth note triplets, quarter note triplets, dotted quarter eighth patterns, dotted eighth 16th patterns, 16th notes and so on. Why? Because harmony and melody without rhythm is simply sound without rhythm, harmony and melody or dare I say? Boring? I did. I said boring. So how do you get good at rhythm? Simple. To get good at rhythm you have to practice rhythm. And that is exactly what we did every month with a harmonic and melodic workouts. Believe it or not. It is rhythm, which requires time that holds people back from experiencing a tipping point in their plane. It is Rhythm Time. That is the stumbling block that most people struggle with. Because rhythm is rarely talked about. And therefore, rhythm is rarely practiced. But not us. Not us jazz piano skills members. Nope. We take rhythms seriously. So seriously that we devoted an entire year to its exploration. So the biggest tip I can give you moving forward is to continue practicing rhythm away from your instrument clapping, tapping, and of course, at your instrument using harmonic and melodic shapes as we did throughout the entire year. And if you really want to develop an authentic jazz sound and feel it then I would recommend zeroing in on your plane of quarter notes and eighth notes. An exercise I give to every student, every student. Now some do it, some do not. And the ones that do do it develop. And the ones who do not, don't hear it is practice playing a pair of eighth notes on each beat of the measure what I mean by this, practice three quarter notes, followed by a pair of eighth notes on count four, then just simply move the eighth notes to count three, then count two, then count one. In other words, the eighth notes are always surrounded by quarter notes. Practice ascending and descending from the root of the sound than the third than the fifth, and then the seventh. Can you make those lines sound like Charlie Parker playing them on his alto saxophone? No need to worry about moving on to more involved rhythms, if you can't, in fact, your ability to play more complicated rhythms depends 100% 100% on your ability to correctly interpretate and interpretate to correctly interpret the quarter eighth note relationship in jazz. So a rhythmic line that looks so very simple on paper, three quarter notes, followed by a pair of eighth notes looks so simple on paper, but it's actually the gateway to developing into an authentic jazz musician. Now imagine that it is through simplicity, that the goal you are dreaming of accomplishing is achieved. So with that being said, I want to encourage you to practice rhythm daily. Practice simple rhythms daily. Practice rhythms using various grooves and tempos daily. Record yourself using your phone and listen to yourself play. are you rushing your quarter eighth note rhythms? Odds are you are. Do you sound like a professional jazz pianist playing these one measure quarter eighth note patterns. What does your voicing sound like in your left hand when you play these ascending and descending rhythmic lines using block chord shapes? Your voicing voicings complement what you're playing? Or do they sound overbearing and annoying? Be critical of your playing and your sound record. And listen, if you only listen while you are playing, I promise you, your ears are playing tricks on you. That is why you need to use the technology that you carry around every day in your pocket to record yourself and listen. You hear very, very differently when you are not playing. Wow. It's funny, I wanted to do a year end review and keep it nice and short. But once I get talking about these essential jazz piano skills, I cannot I cannot zip it. I guess because they are so important to you achieving your goals of becoming an accomplished jazz pianist. I want to help you in every way I can. So I can't stop talking about these essential jazz piano skills. So listen, and be vigilant about practicing voicings chord scale relationships, and rhythms. They make up the very core of all things jazz piano. Without a command of these jazz piano skills. There is no moving forward. I wish I could give you a way to scoot around these skills and move on to whatever it is that you have in your mind as being the good stuff that you need to be practicing. But the reality is the reality is this voicings chords go relationship, and rhythms are the good stuff. And listen, I say this, I think every week is well, you have to be patient. Developing mature, professional jazz piano skills takes time, quite often a lifetime.
Dr. Bob Lawrence 40:24
It does not happen overnight. And it certainly does not happen without a plan. As the old saying goes, people don't plan to fail, they just simply fail to plan. And this is the whole point of jazz piano skills to provide you with a solid plan to help you along your journey to prevent you from running down blind alleys that take you nowhere, and I promise you that is so easy to do. This last year has been Oh, wow, it has been an amazing journey that has covered an enormous amount of information in one year. And I'm completely stoked about 2023 because it is going to build off of all of our hard work in 2022. So buckle up, we begin our new journey. I can't even believe this. We begin our new journey next Tuesday. January 3, get this January 3 2023. Wow. I can't believe it. Wow. Well, listen, I hope, I hope that you have found this jazz panel skills podcast lesson, exploring our year-end review of 2022 to be insightful, and of course to be very beneficial. I just want to remind everyone, no master class this Thursday, right due to our Christmas break where you're still on break here at the Dallas School of Music. If you are a jazz piano skills member, I want to as always encourage you to utilize those educational podcast packets, the illustrations, the lead sheets, the play alongs for every weekly podcast episode, and be sure to use the jazz piano skills courses to maximize your musical growth. And always, always, I want to encourage you to become if you're not already an active participant in the jazz piano skills community. Get out there, get involved, contribute to the various forums and make some new jazz piano friends always a great thing to do. As one of my old teachers always used to say the greatest thing about music is the people that you meet through it. And you will meet some fabulous folks in the jazz panel skills online community. As always, you can reach me by phone, my number here at the Dallas School of Music 972-380-8050 my extension here, my office is 211 You can reach me by email. That's Dr. Lawrence at jazz piano scales.com Dr. Lawrence at jazz piano skills.com. Or you can use the nifty little SpeakPipe widget that is nestled on every page throughout the jazz piano skills website to reach out to me. And I want to before signing off today I want to wish you and your family many many blessings for the upcoming New Year 2023. I mentioned this last week and I want to express my gratitude again today. It has been my pleasure and joy to provide this weekly jazz piano skills podcast for you. I hope it has been as fun and as beneficial for you. As it has been for me I am so looking forward to the new year it is going to be exciting 2023 Well, there is my cue. It's time to sign off for the last time in 2022. That's it for now. Until next week. Enjoy this year in review of 2022 and our journey through all 12 keys harmonically melodically and rhythmically enjoy the holidays, and most of all, have fun as you discover Learn and play jazz piano