This JazzPianoSkills Podcast Episode explores how to efficiently and effectively establish a Harmonic and Melodic Practice approach. Voice, Scales, Modes, and more!
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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 an effective approach to Harmonic and Melodic Practice. In this Jazz Piano Lesson you will:
The correct conceptual approach to Harmonic and Melodic Practice
Various ways to construct effective exercises for successful Harmonic and Melodic Practice
Various Harmonic and Melodic Exercises in the Key of Db Major to develop voicings and linear playing
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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, I hope everyone enjoyed the holiday yesterday enjoyed family and some good barbecue Of course. I'm not sure how it is in other parts of the country or around the world, but I do know this July 4 in Texas. Very hot. And it's going to remain very hot from now until I don't know October. And let me tell you it's hot. It's been unusually hot for the past month, so I can only imagine what may be lying ahead. But fortunately for me, I'm inside most of the day playing and teaching the piano so I can't complain that least not too much. Okay, as all of you faithful jazz piano skills listeners know that we started this year with a hefty, and I mean a hefty goal. The goal is to play through all 12 keys harmonically and melodically by the end of the year, one key per month. harmonically we are playing the chords of each key using four different approaches to voicing sound, block chords, traditional three-note shells, contemporary three-note shells, and five-note two-handed shapes. And melodically we are playing each sound of the key using ascending and descending scale and arpeggio motion, launching from various entry points, the root, the third, the fifth, and the seventh. And on top of all that, applying various rhythmic patterns commonly found in jazz literature, to our harmonic structures and melodic lines. And in addition to that, applying our new jazz piano skills to a tune each month with a solo included. Again, right, pretty hefty goal, coupled with a pretty intense pace, I might add.
But that's what we do, right? We have to continually push ourselves beyond our comfort zones, we have to continually create forward motion with our practicing otherwise, we end up running in place indefinitely. And I'm not kidding. We're busy going nowhere. I am always amazed when students tell me they're frustrated because they're not getting any better. They claim to practice and practice and practice yet they never improve. How frustrating, right? Heck, this might even sound familiar to some of you. Well, after, after about a minute of interrogating them, it becomes apparently obvious that they are practicing the same things over and over and over again. Now, who was it? I believe it was Einstein who said that the definition of insanity is repeating the same behavior over and over and over again, expecting different results. This is precisely why it is so important to continually create forward motion when practicing and that is why our game plan this year of aggressively moving through all 12 Keys is going to have a very profound impact on the development of your jazz piano skills and ultimately, your jazz performance skills. Now, with all that being said, I thought that after completing our key of D flat major exploration last week, which is halfway through our journey, I would devote an entire episode to providing some additional insight with regards to how to how I like to approach practicing the various harmonic and melodic skills. We tackle each and every week, each and every month, I should say. So today you're going to discover the correct conceptual approach to harmonic and melodic practice. And you're going to learn various ways to construct effective exercises for successful harmonic and melodic practice. And you're going to play various hormones Making melodic exercises in the key of D flat major. We could have picked any key but I picked the flat major because that's the freshest we just put just completed that. So you're going to play various harmonic and melodic exercises in the key of D flat major to develop voicings and linear plane. So as I always like to say regardless of where you are in your jazz journey, a beginner, intermediate player advanced player even if you consider yourself a seasoned and experienced professional, you're going to find this jazz panel skills podcast lesson exploring harmonic and melodic practice to be very beneficial. But before we dig in, I want to take just a moment as I do at the beginning of every jazz panel skills podcast episode, to welcome all first-time listeners. And if you are indeed new to jazz panel skills a first-time listener to the jazz panel skills podcast, I want to personally invite you to become a jazz piano skills member. Simply visit jazz panel skills.com To learn more about all of the jazz educational resources, materials, and services that are available and waiting for you to use. For example, as a jazz panel skills member you have access to all of the educational podcast packets. These are the illustrations in the lead sheets in the play logs that I develop for every weekly podcast episode. And you should absolutely have these podcast packets in your hands as you listen to the episode. And of course, you should have these podcast packets sitting on your piano while you're practicing. You also as a jazz piano skills member have access to the sequential online jazz piano curriculum which is loaded with comprehensive courses, all of them using a self-paced format. There are educational talks, interactive media, video demonstrations and all 12 keys of the skill that is being taught, play alongs, and much more. You also as a jazz panel skills member have a reserved seat as I like to say to the online weekly master classes which are in essence a one-hour online lesson with me each and every week. You also as a jazz panel skills member have access to the online interactive Fakebook. This is access to jazz standards from the Great American Songbook. Enjoy the lead sheets outlining the chord changes there are lead sheets that outline the harmonic function of each tune, chord scale relationships, play along files, historical insights, inspirational recordings, and 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, which hosts a variety of engaging forums, podcast-specific forums, core-specific forms, and of course there are general jazz piano forms for you to enjoy as well. And last but certainly not least, as a jazz panel skills member you have unlimited, I'm gonna say that again, unlimited, private, personal, and professional educational support whenever and as often as you need it. So once again, visit jazz panel skills.com To learn more about all of the educational opportunities, and how to easily activate your membership. Now there are several membership plans to choose from. I'm quite confident there is one that is perfect for you. But nevertheless, if you get there and you have some questions, you need some help. Please do not hesitate to 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.
All right. Let's discover learn to play jazz piano let's discover learn and play some effective harmonic and melodic practice as you know, and as I mentioned earlier, each month we attack a new key harmonically. And melodically I also introduce a new rhythmic pattern that becomes the focal point of our harmonic and melodic exploration. Well, needless to say, it is simply impossible for me to discuss and demonstrate in each podcast episode how to approach practicing the data, the voicings, the scales, the modes, the arpeggios. Now granted found with in the podcast packets are illustrations and lead sheets presenting are for various voicing approaches, as well as the various modes, scales, and arpeggios launching from various end Three points and ascending or descending to specific destination points. But as I just mentioned, I simply do not have the time each and every week to drill down to discuss some very specific ways in which to isolate and practice the featured rhythmic patterns. So, that is what I am going to do today. So, the educational agenda for today is as follows number one, we are going to explore a harmonic and melodic practice approach. Number two, we are going to discover learn and play various harmonic and melodic exercises for them to be exact. And number three, we are going to use each and harmonic exercise to focus on a specific rhythmic pattern. And there are for those as well. Number four, each harmonic melodic exercise will be demonstrated using the key of D flat major. And again, that's just simply because it's the freshest it's the key that we just finished. Number five with harmonic exercises, I will be using two-handed voicings with all the harmonic exercises. Now you can play any voicing type that you prefer, but I will be using the two-handed shapes today. And number six, I am going to be using a relaxed jazz ballad Temple of 85 today for all demonstrations. Now if you are a jazz piano skills member, I want you to take a few minutes right now hit that pause button, I want you to take a few minutes to download and print your podcast packets, the illustrations, and the lead sheets. Again, you have access to all the podcast packets, and you should absolutely be using them when listening to this podcast episode if you want to get the most from it. And of course, you should be using them when practicing. And if you are listening to this podcast on any of the popular podcast directories such as Apple or Google, Spotify, Amazon, Pandora, iHeartRadio, etc. On and on. Then be sure to go to jazz panel skills podcast.com Go directly to jazz piano skills podcast.com. To download your podcast packets, you will find the download links within the show notes. And one final but one extremely important note that I mentioned each and every week, if you are listening, and if you are thinking that the harmonic and practice approach that we are about to discover and learn and play is over your head, then I would just want to say to you sit back relax, and continue to listen continue to grow your jazz piano skills intellectually by listening to this podcast episode. Keep in mind all skills or skills or overheads when first introduced and that is precisely why the first step that we always need to take in order to improve our musicianship is to just simply listen. Do not shy away from conversations discussing foreign topics or using unfamiliar terms. Right stepping outside of our music, comfort zone always spawns significant growth. And you've heard me say this a million times if you're a frequent listener that all musical growth begins upstairs mentally, conceptually, before it can come out downstairs physically in your hands. So listen to this podcast. Listen now to discover and learn. The play will come in time, it always does. Okay, I
want you to grab your lead sheets packet. And within the lead sheets packet, you're going to find nine lead sheets, nine lead sheets for them are dealing with harmonic work exercises. Five of them are dealing with melodic work or exercises. All right. So let's look at skill one. It's titled isolated harmonic practice and as you can see there, just take a glance at the lead sheet you'll see that it's just D flat major all the way through. Okay, there are four sections on this lead sheet, section A section B, Section C, and Section D. I also want to draw your attention to each of the rhythmic patterns that we are going to focus on. These are rhythmic patterns that have been introduced throughout the last month in dealing with the key of D flat major, our first rhythmic patterns the dotted quarter eighth note pattern. In section A and Section B we have the eighth dotted quarter rhythmic pattern In Section C, we have the eighth quarter, eighth combination rhythmic pattern. And then in section D, we have the eighth note triplet, rhythmic idea. So what I'm going to do is I'm going to take my two-hand voicings, and you're going to hear me use these two-hand shapes to play through these rhythmic ideas. So I'm gonna have like, four bars up front. Before I start Section A, you're gonna hear me use two voicing options, the primary option one and primary option voicing option two that I have taught in previous podcast episodes. So I will play four bars up front, and then I'll play each line letter a letter B, letter C, and letter D, using the shapes and you will hear me alternating between my two primary voicing options. Okay, so let's bring the ensemble in let's take a lesson and you'll get an idea of how this is going to go for the remainder of the day. So here we go, let's check it out.
Nice right, very nice. Now once again, skill one is titled isolated harmonic practice. And I focused on D flat major, but we could we could do this very same exercise on any of the chords found within the key of D flat major. We could have done E flat minor, F minor, G flat major, a flat dominant B flat minor, C half diminished, right. In fact, I would encourage you to do just that. isolate each chord and focus on these rhythmic patterns using each of the seven chords found within the key of D flat major. Now, look at skill number two lead sheet two. This is called ascending harmonic pairs. And you'll see there that the entire exercise the entire lead sheet uses E flat minor seven and F minor seven. Going back and forth between these two sounds, the two-chord within the key of D flat major and the three-chord which within the key of D flat major. The rhythmic ideas are exactly the same, the dotted quarter eighth, the eighth dotted quarter, the eighth, quarter eighth, and the eighth note triplets. Alright, four sections. So once again, I'm going to bring the ensemble in. I'm going to use my two primary voicing options for the E flat minor seven and two primary voicing options for the F minor seven as I play through this exercise and these four rhythmic ideas, okay, these four rhythmic patterns. So here we go. Let's check it out and see what we think. Here we go.
I love it. Very nice, right. And once again, guess what you can pair up any of the chords in the key of D flat major, I just I just to coordinate three-chord, right, you can, you can take the sixth chord and the seventh chord, you can take the two-chord and the five chord, you can take three-chord and the sixth chord, you can mix and match it however you'd like. The idea is that I'm taking two chords from within the key of D flat major, and having them ascending, right, so E flat minor to F minor, or if you did a flat dominant to B flat minor, or B flat minor to see half the minute you can mix and match it, again, however you wish. All right, so now let's move on to skill three. So take a look at lead sheet number three. Same idea, but notice what this is this is called the title of this lead sheet descending harmonic pairs. So look at the lead sheet, I have C half diminished, descending down to my B flat minor seven, throughout the entire page. So I'm going to deal with the same rhythmic patterns again, that dotted quarter eighth, the eighth dotted quarter, eighth, quarter, eighth, and eighth note triplets. And once again, these are all rhythmic patterns that we really focused on this last month as we explored the key of D flat major. So I'm going to use my two primary option voicings for C half diminished my two primary option voicings for B flat minor seven, I'm going to bring my ensemble in again nice comfy tempo of 85. And let's focus on these rhythmic ideas why we focus on our voicings at the same time. So here we go, let's check it out.
Fun, right, just fun. This is very effective in a very efficient way to practice right to just zero in on harmonic pairs. Another way to to be effective with your voicing and rhythmic practicing in the key of D flat or any key for that matter is to use harmonic circle motion, our classic 251 progression and if you look at lead sheet, number four skill four, that's exactly what I'm doing. So now we have our 251 our E flat minor seven to our A flat dominant seven to our D flat major seven, and Section A, B, C and D. The rhythmic ideas once again remain exactly the same the dotted quarter eighth, eighth dotted quarter, eighth, quarter eighth and the eighth note triplets. I'm going to use my two primary voicing options for my E flat minor my two primary voicing options for a flat seven and of course my two primary voicing options for D flat major seven as well. So let's bring the ensemble and we know how this works. So let's check it out and see what we think. Here we go.
Hi. Very nice for very specific, effective, and simple exercises, to practice your voicings and to zero in on the rhythmic ideas that we've been exploring. And again, we could substitute any rhythmic patterns that we've explored throughout the year. And the key is in the key of F or B flat, E flat, A flat, right, same kind of concept. So now that we've looked at these four rhythmic concepts harmonically now let's turn our attention to our melodic practice, and we're going to use the same format. So look at lead sheet number five, skill five, you will see that like skill number one, it's titled isolated melodic practice, skill. One was isolated harmonic practice skill five isolated melodic practice. So you see on the entire lead sheet, I'm just focusing on D flat major. Once again, you could pick any sound, E flat minor, F minor, and in fact, I encourage you to do this for every sound within the key of D flat major. But today, I'm modeling D flat major, the one chord, and Section Eight deals with our dotted quarter eighth, section B, eighth dotted quarter eighth, Section C, eighth, quarter, eighth, and Section D are eighth note triplets. I'm using ascending and descending scale motion for each section. And I want to point out one thing that you'll notice there is I'm ascending from the root, and I'm descending from the root with my scale motion, I would also encourage you to move it around us and from your third descent from your third ascent from the fifth descent from the fifth ascent from your seventh descent from your seventh. I'm modeling it right now, from the root only. So let's bring the ensemble in. Let's listen to this isolated melodic practice using ascending and descending scale motion and our four rhythmic patterns and our primary voicings, here we go, let's check it out.
Pretty cool, right? Pretty cool. It might sound easy on the surface until, of course until you go to do it. And I would encourage you as well if 85 is way too easy of a tempo for you. Fine, kick it up. Right ratchet it up 90 520 140 Have fun with it. Okay, so now let's move on. Let's take a look at a lead sheet number six skill six ascending melodic pairs. And once again, I'm grabbing my E flat minor seven, my F minor seven the two-chord in the three-chord from the key of D flat major. And I'm going to practice my ascending and descending scale motion launching from the root of my two-chord the E flat minor seven and make that chord change right and measure to there to that F minor seven as I continue to play through the mode or through the scale. Okay? Same for rhythmic patterns and Section A, B, C and D that we've been exploring all day. So let's bring the ensemble in let's have a little fun and see how these ascending melodic pairs sound here we go check it out.
Wow, very cool, really nice exercise, right. So now you know what's coming right lead sheet seven, skill seven, we had our ascending melodic Paris. So now let's do our descending melodic pairs. And once again, I'm going to use the C half diminished the seventh chord descending to the B flat minor seven, the sixth chord in the key of D flat. Again, you can pick any descending pair that you'd like to apply this exact same idea concept. So we're using scale ascending and descending scale motion launching from the root of our C half diminished and making that change halfway through the scale to our B flat minor seven. We're using our same for rhythmic patterns that we've been focusing on throughout the last month as we play through this descending melodic pairs exercise. So once again, let's bring the ensemble, and let's have a little bit of fun with this and see what we think of these descending melodic pairs here we go check it out.
Love it absolutely love it. All right, so now skill eight lead sheet eight. Now melodic circle motion. So we're back to our 251 progression. So we have our E flat minor seven, a flat dominant seven, D flat major seven. And once again, ascending descending scale motion starting from the root of the to court. All right, and moving all the way through our 251. Again, using the same for rhythmic ideas section a Section B, Section C, and Section D. And same tempo right at five. So let's bring the ensemble endless. Check out our melodic circle motion to five one as we play our ascending and descending scales using our four rhythmic patterns. Here we go. Let's have some fun. Check it out.
Nice. And of course, I wanted to add a bonus in here, right? This is lead sheet nine, right? So, you know the eighth note triplet, the eighth note triplet is so very important to jazz. And so I thought I'd have a little fun do this circle melodic circle motion. Again, there's 251 progression, but use all triplets, eighth note triplets, ascending, descending, ascending through the 251 progression. So what we have here is we have ascending motion on our two-chord descending motion on the five chord, ascending motion on the one chord. And you can just look at it and see all eighth note triplets on counts 123 and four of each measure, okay of the progression. Now Section A, the entry point is the root of the two-chord of the E flat minor seven, section B is the entry point is the third of E flat minor seven sections see the entry point is the fifth of E flat minor seven, and Section D, the entry point is the seventh of E flat minor seven. So our entry points change and of course, our destination points will change as well. So focus on playing these eighth note triplets with a nice balanced sound from the beginning from the bottom of the scale to the top and back down to the bottom. Okay, so let's bring the ensemble, and let's see how this goes here we go check it out.
Wow, it never fails, right, we always unpack a ton of information in each and every podcast episode in within an hour. And today was certainly no exception as we set out to discover, learn and play effective harmonic and melodic practice. Before we go, I want to encourage you to really dive into the illustration pack. And I'm always spending time going through the lead sheets but the illustration packet. You know, this week, especially I have put together several invaluable exercises worksheets for you to use to help you conceptually digest each of the 12 keys of music. And what is it that I always say? Your conceptual understanding is what ultimately determines your physical success. In other words, if music is complicated, confusing, fragmented, and difficult, upstairs in your mind, then it's going to be complicated, confusing, fragmented, and difficult in your hands. So, my job my goal is to help you get to the point where music is actually easy and Your Mind easy that you truly understand how music is constructed. How harmony and melody are one in the same how melodies can only travel in one of two directions at any given time up or down. How melodies composed or improvised are using scale, an arpeggio motion, and how rhythm as we heard today camouflages his scale and arpeggio motion to make them interesting, and how there were only a few ways to approach voicing chords. So, if music if music can become this definitive and organized in your mind, then you have a shot at being successful with music in your hands. So be sure to use your illustrations packet to help you gain a conceptual mastery of the essential jazz piano skills not only for this podcast episode, but for all the podcast episodes, and of course, use the lead sheets packets in the play alongs packet as well. I've said this in previous podcast episodes since the start of the new year and I want to stress it again here today. But if you hang in there with me this year if you hang with me all 12 months right all 12 keys if you hang in there with me you are going to experience a ton of jazz panel growth and you will love where you are musically a year from now. I'll guarantee it. And as always, always be patient right developing mature professional jazz piano skills takes time. Begin structuring your practicing after the plain demonstrations that I modeled for you in this podcast episode and I promise you you will begin to see you'll begin to feel you will begin to hear your progress. Well, I hope you found this jazz piano skills podcast lesson exploring harmonic and melodic practice to be insightful and of course beneficial. Don't forget if you are a jazz piano skills member I will see you online Thursday evening at the jazz piano skills masterclass. It's 8 pm Central time to discuss this podcast episode lesson exploring harmonic and melodic practice in greater detail, and to answer any questions that you may have about the study of jazz in general. Once again, be sure to use your educational podcast packets, the illustrations, the lead sheets, and the play alongs for this podcast lesson, and also check out the jazz panel skills courses to maximize your musical growth. Also, make sure you are an active participant in the jazz panel skills community. Get out there, get involved, introduce yourself, contribute to the various forums make some new jazz piano friends, always a great thing to do. You can reach me always by phone 972-380-8050 That's my office number here at the Dallas school of music or by email Dr. Lawrence, email@example.com. Or you can use that nifty little widget that's laced throughout the jazz panel skills websites called SpeakPipe. You can send me a message that way as well. Well, there is my cue. That's it for now. Until next week. Enjoy your harmonic melodic practice. And most of all, have fun as you discover, learn and play jazz Piano
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