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Jan. 31, 2023

Hand Shifts, Pt. 1

This JazzPianoSkills Podcast Episode explores intentional Hand Shifts using Major, Augmented, Minor, and Diminished Triads in Root position plus 1st and 2nd Inversions..

Welcome to JazzPianoSkills; it's time to discover, learn, and play Jazz Piano!

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 intentional Hand Shifts using Major, Augmented, Minor, and Diminished Triads. In this Jazz Piano Lesson, you will:

Essential and Intentional Right Hand, Hand Shifts

Hand Shifts using Major, Augmented, Minor, and Diminished Triads

Hand Shifts for Major, Augmented, Minor, and Diminished Triads in Root Position plus 1st and 2nd Inversions

Use the Jazz Piano Podcast Packets for this Jazz Piano Lesson for maximum musical growth. All three Podcast Packets are designed to help you gain insight and command of a specific Jazz Piano Skill. The Podcast Packets are invaluable educational tools to have at your fingertips while doing the Hand Shifts for Major, Augmented, Minor, and Diminished Triads.

Open Podcast Packets
(detailed graphics of the jazz piano skill)
Lead Sheets
(beautifully notated music lead sheets)

Play Alongs
(ensemble assistance and practice tips)

Educational Support
Community Forum

Episode Outline
Discover, Learn, Play
Invite to Join JazzPianoSkills
Lesson Rationale
Exploration of Jazz Piano Skills
Closing Comments

Visit JazzPianoSkills for more educational resources that include a sequential curriculum with comprehensive Jazz Piano Courses, private and group online Jazz Piano Classes, a private jazz piano community hosting a variety of Jazz Piano Forums, an interactive Jazz Fake Book, plus unlimited professional educational jazz piano support.

If you wish to donate to JazzPianoSkills, you can do so easily through the JazzPianoSkills Paypal Account.

Thank you for being a JazzPianoSkills listener. It is my pleasure to help you discover, learn, and play jazz piano!

Warm Regards,
Dr. Bob Lawrence
President, The Dallas School of Music



Dr. Bob Lawrence  0:32  
Welcome to jazz piano skills. I'm Dr. Bob Lawrence. It's time to discover, learn and play jazz piano. Well, let me tell you, I must really, really love y'all because Dallas was hit with a major ice storm last night, basically paralyzing the entire city. We're paralyzed because we just simply do not know how to handle winter weather. We're horrible at it. So the streets are covered with ice, the entire city is shut down. Schools and businesses are closed. And everyone is bunkered down at home except for one dude. That dude, me. Yep. I got up this morning. I said to my wife, as I was looking out the window at our frozen neighborhood. I said, I got a little problem on my hands. She said, What's that? I said, I need to get to the office to get my office at the Dallas school of music so I can record today's podcast. And my loving and supportive wife responded. Are you crazy? You're nuts. If you get out in this weather, I said, Well, you know, I guess I'm nuts. Because I'm gonna find a way to get to the school, even if I have to walk, which I actually considered doing. But after giving it some thought, I decided to drive because you know what, heck, I grew up in Illinois up around Chicago, I know how to drive on ice. And besides, so be absolutely no cars on the road. Well, needless to say, I made it here safely. Otherwise, I would not be speaking to you right now. So all of that to say, I love you. And it's gonna take a lot more than an ice storm to prevent me from producing my weekly jazz piano skills podcast for you. So here I am. So, all right enough with the drama, it's time to get down to business, right, have some fun with jazz piano. So, listen, we kicked off this new year with a journey, a new journey, and a very lofty goal. And this year, we're going to explore jazz improvisation patterns for all of the primary sounds of music major dominant minor, half diminished, and diminished. Plus, the altered dominant sounds produced by the harmonic and melodic minor scales, the sharp 11, flat 13, flat nine, flat 13. And the fully altered sound, the flat nine, sharp nine, flat five sharp five. And if that were not enough, we're going to place an emphasis on fingerings so that we can develop an authentic jazz articulation and feel when playing. Now, this past month, we attacked all of the C sounds and will move around the circle of fifths as we move from month to month. Okay. So February we will be devoted to the F sounds. But today, today, the last day of January, I thought we would spend some time focusing on what I like to call hand shifting or hand shifts, right. So I know you're thinking, What the heck is hand shifts? What are handshakes? What is hand shifting? And why are we going to spend an entire podcast episode discussing it? Well, here's why. It is absolutely essential that you learn how to move your hands, shift your hands across the keys when playing the piano. Now I'm quite certain that you that all of you have heard the expression thumb under when learning and studying how to play scales and arpeggios. Alright, teachers say it all the time thumb under which is quite frankly from a piano playing perspective, a terrible expression and I careless teaching. From now on, I want you to think about shifting your hand across the keys when playing. Right no longer no longer are you to be thinking thumb under. We're going to spend time exploring this concept today so that you gain a greater understanding and appreciation of the fingerings. We are going to utilize today when playing triads, and fingerings that we're going to utilize throughout the entire year. As we explore the primary and altered sounds of music. Today's lesson gets at the very core of why jazz pianist finger melodic lines like they do in order to produce the desired jazz, sound and articulation. Today's lesson will help you begin developing a hand shifting approach to playing the piano and help you move away from the from under fiasco that is taught in piano studios throughout the world. So today, you're going to discover essential right hand hand shifts, you're going to learn hand shifts using major augmented, minor and diminished triads. And you're going to play hand shifts for major augmented minor and diminished triads in root position, plus first and second inversions. So as I always like to say, regardless of where you are in your jazz journey, a beginner and the intermediate player, an advanced player, or even if you consider yourself a seasoned and experienced professional, you're gonna find this jazz panel skills podcast lesson, exploring hand shifts, to be very beneficial. But before we dig in, I want to as I always do at the beginning of every jazz panel skills podcast episode, I want to welcome all new listeners to the jazz panel skills podcast. And if you are indeed new to jazz piano skills, I want to invite you to become a jazz panel skills member. All you have to do visit jazz piano And once you arrive at the homepage, you can begin to explore the abundance of jazz educational resources, materials and services that are available for you waiting for you. To help you significantly improve your jazz piano skills. For example, as a jazz piano skills a member, you'll have access to all of the educational podcast packets, the illustrations, the lead sheets, and the play alongs. These are invaluable educational tools that I develop and I produce and publish for every weekly podcast episode. You want to have this material in your hands as you listen to the podcast episode to get the most from it. And you certainly want to have this educational content material sitting on your piano when practicing as well. As a jazz panel skills member, you'll also have access to the online sequential jazz piano curriculum, which is loaded with comprehensive courses all of them using a self-paced format. There are educational talks to listen to and enjoy interactive media. To help you accurately assess your conceptual understanding of the jazz piano skills being taught. There are video demonstrations and all 12 keys of each Piano Jazz. The Jazz panel skill being taught or play alongs plus much much more. You also as a jazz panel skills member have a reserved seat as I like to say to the weekly online master classes which are in essence, a one hour lesson with me each and every week. You also as a jazz panel skills member 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 chord changes lead sheets there are harmonic function, lead sheets, play long files, historical insights, inspirational recordings, and much more. It's an ever-growing collection of tunes that you should absolutely discover, learn and play. And you also as a jazz panel skills member have access to the private online jazz piano skills community,

Dr. Bob Lawrence  9:39  
which 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 tap into. Of course, you'll have access to all of them, and you'll be able to contribute to them as well which I encourage you to do. I want everyone out there to share, to engage, and of course, grow. And last but certainly not least, as a jazz panel skills member, you have access to unlimited, private, personal, and professional educational support provided by me, whenever and as often as you need it. So I encourage you become a member, check out jazz panel, to learn more about all the excellent educational opportunities that await you, and how to easily activate your membership. Now, there are several membership plans to choose from. And I am certain there is one that is perfect for you. But But nevertheless, if you're get if you get there and you're looking at the membership plans, and you have some questions, by all means, please let me know reach out to me, 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 find out what this all this business about hand shifts is all about. Okay. fingerings fingering they're a big deal, right? Poor fingerings make playing the piano difficult. So we need to spend time studying them. If we want to make playing the piano easier. The drag, the drag is that fingerings are often thought of as fine details. The fine details of playing the piano and fine details are often misinterpreted as being nitpicky. Right? After all, anyone concerned about fingerings in this day and age is simply OCD, because there are multiple ways to finger passages. And of course, our hands are all different sizes as well. And because of this fact, there is no one universal way to approach fingerings. I've heard it a million times. I've literally heard that logic a million times. And my response as it always is not so fast. So before adopting that argument as yours, which basically is just another way of saying who's to say your fingering is better than mine. Just let me finger the way I want to finger. Okay, I want you to consider the following thoughts. Okay. Number one, maybe there is indeed some latitude for fingering adjustments due to different hand sizes. But proper hand movement, regardless of hand size, is non-negotiable. That is indeed universal for all pianists. Number two, maybe some old rules of thumb when it comes to fingerings, such as avoiding starting a musical phrase or line with your thumb, when that line begins with a black note, are taught to make it easier for your hand to shift across the keys. And number three,

maybe just maybe,

Dr. Bob Lawrence  14:06  
if I begin practicing intentional hand shifts, my fingerings will begin to properly fall into place so that I begin to truly articulate like a jazz pianist like a professional jazz pianist articulates. Well, as you think about these points, I'm going to spend our time together today, presenting you with and modeling for you some hands shift exercises to begin practicing. I will be using major, augmented minor, and diminished triads today to work on my hand shifting. I love using triads because we typically play a simple triad arpeggio using our first third, and fifth fingers. For example, C major triad C, E, G, would be played straight up and down using our thumb, middle finger and little finger. Right? But not today. All triads are played with an intentional hand shift. So, our C major triad C, E, and G, will be played using our thumb, middle finger and thumb. Yes, you heard me correctly thumb, middle finger, and thumb. The goal is to be able to play the triad with our intentional hand shift articulated in such a way that you would never ever know a hand shift took place. In fact, we want it to sound smoother, more relaxed, and jazzier than if we played it with our thumb, middle finger and little finger. I think what you will discover today is that by using intentional hand shifts, your jazz articulation and phrasing is going to improve immensely. And you'll be developing hand movement muscle memory, that will make it much much easier to improvise. So the educational agenda for today is as follows number one, we will explore intentional hand shifts in order to begin developing good fingerings. Number two, we insert intentional hand shifts when playing major augmented minor and diminished triads. Right we will insert intentional hand shifts when playing major augmented minor and diminished triads number three, we will play all major augmented minor and diminished triads using root position plus first and second inversions. Number four, we're going to focus on ascending motion only for today. And number five, we will be playing all patterns today using a tempo of 110. So if you are a jazz panel skills member, I want you to hit the pause button right now take a few minutes to access download and print. Your Podcast packets, the illustrations the lead sheets the play alongs. Again, your membership grants you access to all educational podcasts for every weekly podcast episode. As I mentioned, you should be using these podcast packets when listening to this episode. And of course, you should be using them when practicing. Now if you are listening to this podcast on any of the popular podcast directories such as Apple, Google, Amazon, Spotify, iHeartRadio, Pandora, the list goes on and on then be sure to go directly to jazz piano skills To access and download your podcast package, you will find the active links download links in the show notes. One final but very significant message that I take the time to mention and stress every week. If you are listening, and you are thinking that the various scales that we are about to discover and learn and play, as we explore intentional hand shifts, using major augmented minor, minor and diminished triads if you are thinking that these scales are going to be over your head that I would say to you, relax. No worries. Continue to listen, continue to grow your jazz piano skills intellectually by listening to this podcast episode. Every new scale, every new skill is technically over our heads when first introduced. But this is how we get better. Right? We place ourselves smack dab in the middle of conversations where we're hearing things that we've never heard before. And we are forced to grow intellectually. I say it all the time. All musical growth begins upstairs mentally conceptually, before it can come out downstairs physically in your hands. So sit back, relax, and listen to this podcast. Listen now to discover and learn. The play as it always does, will come in time. I guarantee it. Okay, now that you have Have your lead sheets in your hands I want to talk you through them quickly. You have 12 lead sheets, one for each note, moving around the circle of fifths counterclockwise. Each lead sheet has the major augmented minor and diminished triads written out in root position first and second inversions. With intentional hand shift fingerings notated write this for all triads for every note, all 12 notes. Okay, today I'm going to model the hand shifts. For C major, C augmented, C minor and C diminished you, you are going to then use the remaining 11 lead sheets to replicate what I'm about to demonstrate. Makes sense. So we have a lot to get through today. So let's get busy. Okay, you have lead sheet one skill one in front of you. This lead sheet contains ascending see triads major, augmented minor and diminished the rehearsal letters, their letter A deals with the major triad, root position, first and second inversion, letter B, augmented triad, root position first and second inversion letter C, minor triad, root position first and second inversion and then letter D, diminished triad root position, first and second inversion. You see I have the fingerings notated so let's take a look at measure one, the major triad, right, and you'll see that I have the fingering with intentional hand shift 131. Just like that. Now, here's an interesting, right, here's how typically I mentioned earlier, everyone would play it 135. And I'm suggesting 131. Now if I play these back, I'm just going to play random, I'm going to play alternate between these two fingerings. And see if you can tell the difference.

Dr. Bob Lawrence  22:31  
Right, I mentioned earlier as well, that the point is, I want to be able to play a hand shift without you about without anyone being able to tell that a hand shift was inserted. Right, so I'm playing that triad using 131. And I want it to sound as if there's no hand shift, that smooth that connected. If you look at the C triad in first inversion, I'm using 131 again. And if you look at the C triad and second inversion, changing it up, I'm using 213. So each triad each root position first and second version has an intentional hand shift. So what I want to do is bring the ensemble in. I'm going to play this exercise, I'm going to play each one, four times and start off just get a feel for the C major sound. Then I'm going to play root position triad with the intentional hand shift four times. First position major triad, a first inversion major triad four times and then second inversion major triad four times, okay. I'm going to try to articulate this in such a way that you would never know there's a hand shift taking place. All right, so let's bring the ensemble one. Let's check it out and see what we think. Here we go.

Dr. Bob Lawrence  25:00  
are very nice, right? So why is the hand shift so important? We're creating more hand when we do that, more fingers are not going to run out of fingers, when improvising. So we're, we're prepping ourselves, preparing ourselves developing muscle memory for our hands to constantly be moving. So we're never running out constantly shifting, so we're never running out of fingers. Okay. Now, why triads, I love practicing triads because when inverted, the interval changes, right we in root position, we have stacked thirds. But as soon as we go to second inversion, and first inversion, second inversion, we now have a third followed by a fourth, right, or we have a fourth followed by a third. So we have two intervals side by side that are not the same, not symmetrical. And this is wonderful for developing hand shifting. Wonderful. So now I want to take a look at letter B, and the augmented triad. Now we have a sharp five to deal with. So we have, we have two major thirds back the back here and in essence, right. So if you look at the fingerings for C augmented triad in first in root position, I'm using a 213 fingering in first inversion 131 Again, and in second inversion 213. That G sharp, I want to start with my index finger, not with my thumb. All right. So once again, I'm going to bring the ensemble, and I want a very smooth legato, articulation, jazz articulation on each one of these shapes, root position, first and second inversion of the C augmented triad. So let's bring the ensemble back in. Let's check it out and see what we think I'm going to play each one again, four times here we go.

Dr. Bob Lawrence  28:34  
If you're not used to the augmented sound right, your ears are like whoa. Creates a little tension. But I love it. It's a great sounds a great pattern to practice. Okay, now letter C. We're going to be dealing with the C minor triad again root position first and second inversion. root position I finger it 131 First Inversion 214 Or I have notated there an alternate fingering if you want to one three, or start in that E flat with the index finger again, right, not a thumb. So I get to one four. Or if you prefer to one, three, and then C minor and second inversion. I'm playing to one three again. All right. So we're gonna bring the ensemble back in. We're going to listen to our minor triads C minor triad and root position first and second inversion. Each shape have an intentional hand shift, intentional hand shift. I want a nice legato jazz articulation. So here we got let's bring the ensemble back in. Let's check it out and see what we think.

Dr. Bob Lawrence  31:05  
All right, so we're on to our final triad of the day that the diminished triad C diminished. And again, we're going to do root position, first and second inversion. And I'm going to play root position as notated in your lead sheet, I'm going to play the root position 131. Now, notice my thumb is up on that G flat. It's not that we can't use our thumb to play a black key, sometimes folks misinterpret what is often said, we do not want to start, we typically do not want to start a musical line with our thumb on a black key. So if if the musical line was starting on an E flat, we would start with our index finger instead of our thumb, just like we did when we play that C minor, triad in first inversion. So here, though, I'm using my thumb to reach up there and play that G flat. Okay, now, first inversion, I'm going to use to Ah, see black, black key E flat, I'm going to use to instead of thumb I'm going to play my thumb on that G flat, I'm going to go to one, four. Right, so let's get this and then C diminished in second inversion, I'm going to use my index finger again on that G flat and I'm going to use my one on C and my third finger on E flat so all three

Dr. Bob Lawrence  32:52  
wonderful, this intentional hand shift will take some getting used to, but the payoff will be huge, I promise. So let's bring the ensemble back in let's listen to our C diminished triad and root first and second inversion utilizing intentional hand shifts to play them all right, here we go let's check it out.

Dr. Bob Lawrence  34:29  
Okay, so I just modeled for you C Major Triads C, augmented triad, C minor, triad, C, diminished triad, and root first and second versions, using intentional hand shifts to play each ascending triad arpeggio. Your job is to do the same thing for the remaining 11 lead sheets, right for each note moving around the circle of fifths. Now what's you You play through all of them. And you start thinking, wow, I think I'm really getting this hang for this. I, you know handle on this hand-shift idea using these triads. Good little test, I like to do is to play a chromatic exercise where I take all the major triads and I'll play them one measure each, and I play each each shape, root position, first inversion, second inversion. What I'm going to do right now is I'm going to model for you, I'm just going to bring the ensemble then I'm going to play the major triads moving one measure each ascending, and I'm going to play my root position, arpeggio with my intentional hand shift, I'm going to play it three times and there's a reason I like to do repetitions of three, right, it's a good way for me to measure consistency. You know how, if I really have have it down, I should be pretty consistent three times through, right. So the idea here is by putting these major triads all 12 together in one exercise, I have to be able to mentally shift through the different fingerings that I need, in order to play each triad with an intentional hand shift. There's a lot going on here, right? But this will be an indicator to you how well this is starting to become muscle memory for you. Okay, so I'm gonna bring the ensemble, and I'm going to model it Major Triads root position, ascending chromatically, and I'm going to play through it three times to measure my consistency Okay, so here we go, let's check it out.

Dr. Bob Lawrence  38:10  
Wow, it's a challenge to play through that exercise three times back to back to back and be able to navigate through those hand shifts for each try it is a big-time skill. Now I want to do the same thing, I'm going to grab the minor triads, I'm going to do the exact same thing. Again, I'm measuring my consistency, and I'm also getting an assessment of how well the hand shifts for each of these triads are starting to become muscle memory. In other words, they're starting to become my go to fingering, which is going to make a profound difference in my approach to improvising and creating improvised jazz lines, okay, so let's bring the mind let's bring the ensemble back in, and let's, let's let me take a stab at the minor triads again, root position, three times through the exercise, intentional hands shift on every ascending major, A minor triad. Alright, here we go. Let's check it out.

Dr. Bob Lawrence  40:37  
Nice, not not easy, but the payoff, as always is huge. You know, I can't believe that we got through it again, right as we do every week, ton of information and one very short, very fast, very fast hour. And I know a lot to take in today, a lot to process but honestly, intentional hand shifts are a deal breaker when it comes to learning how to play jazz piano when it comes to learning how to improvise. In other words, if you do not discover, learn and play intentional hand shifts, you will never develop a jazz articulation. And of course, you will never sound like a jazz pianist. Just the truth. Now, getting comfortable with shifting your hands across the keys in order to retain proper posture and handshape while playing. Wow, that's a must. I want to say that again, getting comfortable shifting your hand across the keys in order to retain proper posture and handshape. When playing, it's a must. You must also avoid the thumb under trap that I mentioned at the beginning of this episode. The thumb under trap leads to flaring out elbows and shrug shoulders, right. In other words, bad posture. Simply not good. thumb under simply not good. And I wish I wish teachers would stop using that expression. But I'm afraid it's here to stay. Right. And when using that expression, it actually ends up opening a whole can of worms technically. So I want you to begin shifting and moving toward hand shifting. Okay, shift toward hand shifting. I played everything today at 110. But if you are new to the concept of shifting your hand, then I would strongly encourage you to begin at a much, much slower tempo so that you can focus on your hand shifting. Right, it never leaves its natural shape, its natural position. I mentioned earlier that a heavy focus on fingerings may be interpreted as simply being nitpicky. So instead, I like to choose to focus on intentional hand shifts. Right. I like to be OCD about the intentional hand shifts. I love being OCD when it comes to playing the piano correctly, right physically. Finally, and as always, I want you to be patient. Developing mature professional jazz piano skills, like hand shifts, takes time. So begin structuring your study you're practicing after the plane demonstrations I modeled for you in this podcast episode and I guarantee it that you will begin to see feel and hear your progress. I hope you have found this jazz panel skills podcast lesson exploring intentional hand shifts to be insightful and of course to be beneficial. Don't forget if you are a jazz panel skills ensemble member I'll see you online Thursday evening at the jazz panel skills masterclass at 8pm Central time to discuss this podcast episode lesson exploring intentional hands shifts in greater detail. And of course they answer any questions that you may have about the study of jazz in general. Again, be sure to use your educational podcast packets, the illustrations, lead sheets, the play alongs not only for this podcast episode, but for all of my podcast episodes. Also tap into the jazz piano skills courses to maximize your musical growth. And make sure that you are an active participant in the jazz piano skills online community get out there, get involved contribute to the various forums, introduce yourself and make some new jazz piano friends always, always a great thing to do. Now you can reach me by phone 972-380-8050 My extension here at the Dow School of Music is 211 You can also reach me by email Dr. Lawrence. That is Or you can use the nifty little SpeakPipe widget that is found throughout the jazz piano skills website. Well, there is my cue. That's it for now, until next week, enjoy exploring the intentional hand shifts, and most of all, have fun as you discover, learn, and play jazz piano