This JazzPianoSkills Podcast Episode explores II-V-I Scale Practice to begin developing jazz improvisation 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 What, Why, and How of PRacticing Scales effectively and efficiently. In this Jazz Piano Lesson you will:
II-V-I Scale Practice
How to successfully practice major scales over the II-V-I Progression
Scales over the II-V-I Progression using various entry points, melodic, and rhythmic patterns
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Welcome to jazz piano skills. I'm Dr. Bob Lawrence. It's time to discover, learn and play jazz piano. Today you are going to discover 251 scale practice. And you're going to learn how to successfully practice major scales over the 251 progression. And you are going to play major scales over the 251 progression using various entry points, melodic and rhythmic patterns. So as I always like to say regardless of where you are in your jazz journey, beginner and intermediate player, an advanced player even if you consider yourself an experienced professional, you will find this jazz piano skills podcast lesson, exploring efficient and effective to five one scale practice to be very beneficial. As I always like to do I want to take a few minutes right here at the beginning of this podcast episode to welcome all new first-time listeners to jazz panel skills. And I want to personally invite you to become a jazz panel skills member. Simply visit jazz panel skills.com To learn more about all of the abundance of jazz educational resources, materials, and services that are available for you to use to help you become an accomplished jazz pianist. For example, as a jazz panel skills member, you have access to all of the educational podcast packets, the illustrations, the lead sheets, and the play alongs that I develop and I produce and publish every week for every single podcast episode. Also, as a jazz panel skills member you also you have access to the sequential jazz piano curriculum, which is loaded. This curriculum is loaded with comprehensive courses using a self-paced format, educational talks, interactive media, video demonstrations, and all 12 keys, play along, and much, much more. Awesome. The list just keeps going. Awesome. As a jazz piano skills member, you have a reserved seat in the weekly online masterclasses, which are in essence a one hour lesson with me each and every week. And finally, as a jazz piano skills member, you have access to the private jazz piano skills community, which hosts a variety of engaging forums, podcast-specific forums, and core-specific forums, and just general jazz piano forums as well. And this is really last but not least, you have access to unlimited private, personal and professional educational support whenever and as often as you need it again, take a few seconds all you new listeners and visit jazz panel skills.com. To learn more about all the educational opportunities, and how to easily activate your membership. If you have any questions, any questions at all? Please let me know I'm always happy to help spend some time with you and answer any questions that you may have. I also want to remind everyone to check out the jazz piano skills blog. Now whether you're a jazz piano skills member or not, you can enjoy reading the blog and taking advantage of some additional insights regarding the jazz piano skill of the week. And you will find the blog link in the menu bar running across the top of the page at jazz piano skills podcast.com. Or once you land on that page on that site, you can just simply scroll to the bottom of the page and you will see an entire blog section. Again, I take some time at the end of each week to just jot down my final thoughts about the jazz piano skill that we just explored throughout the week in the weekly podcast episode. And hopefully provide you with some words of encouragement and inspiration as well. So be sure to check out my blog and let me know what was let me know what you think. And I always welcome your feedback and input so it's always welcomed and always very much appreciated. Okay, let's discover learning play jazz piano let's discover learn and play to five one scale practice. Well, last week we tackled the what? Why and How of scale practice? The takeaway, at least I hope it was the takeaway was that you always need to have a clear what, why, and how, before practicing scales, before practicing any jazz piano skill for that matter.
You have to have a clear what, why and how, if you hope to prevent scale practice from becoming a mundane mind-numbing exercise that you repeat daily in hopes that by some miracle, some miracle, the scales magically transform into meaningful artistic expression. Bottom line, if you have no if there's no definitive what, why, and how you have no progress. So for example, before sitting down on the bench, you ask yourself, What am I going to practice? Then you ask yourself, Why am I going to practice this what? And then finally, how am I going to practice the what? So that they become a reality? I have said this before, many times, if you do not determine the what, why, and how of your practice session, before you sit down on the bench, then it's too late. You are off to the world of aimless wandering, in hopes of stumbling upon something that will make you a better jazz musician. And as you know, time is precious. And that approach is risky. To put it mildly. In fact, there are other adjectives that I could use to describe this approach. But I do not want to be insensitive. So today, I thought I would expand our scale practice from last week. And illustrate just how important knowing the major scales. How important knowing the major scales are to your development, developing jazz improvisation skills. To begin, I want to explore the Dorian mode Mixolydian mode, and the Ionian mode briefly before I start playing the exercises. Now, the first thing to know is that all major dominant minor and half the mini scales are major scales. Let me let me say that again. All major, dominant minor, and half diminished scales are major scales. Let's think this through, it makes perfect sense that a major scale would be matched matched up with a major chord, right major scale major chord. I think everyone would agree. Heck, I I think that's so obvious that even a non-musician would agree with that statement. Now, who, though would agree that a major scale would be matched with a dominant chord, or a major scale would be matched with a minor chord or major scale would be matched with a half diminished chord? Now, I think most folks have difficulty with these statements back i It's not that I think I know most folks have difficulty with these statements when beginning to study jazz improvisation. But it's true 100% True. Major chord equals major scale. Dominant chord equals major scale. Minor chord equals major scale, half diminished chord equals major scale. So if you know your major scales, you're in great shape. Now, you may be asking, What about the diminished chord? Well, a major scale does not produce a diminished sound. So that is a topic for another day. For now, just know that four of the five primary sounds of music, major dominant minor and half diminished, are all produced by a major scale and it is the major scale that is used when improvising over these sounds. Now before some of you more advanced listeners, begin shaking your heads. It's important to say that norms must always be taught first before exceptions can be introduced and reasonably explained and justified. So we're dealing with norms here today.
Now, back to our Dorian Mixolydian mixolydian, Ionian modes, fancy labels, right. Fancy academic labels that explain where sounds come from, which is important to know indeed, Dorian mode is the major scale starting on the second note of the scale. And Mixolydian mode is the major scale starting on the fifth note of the scale. And the Ionian mode is the major scale. Starting on the first note of the scale. Again, the bottom line is that the scale for the two-chord the minor chord is played. With a major scale. The five chord the dominant chord, is played with a major scale. And the one chord, the major chord is played with a major scale. What do the chords in our 251 progression have in common? They're all played melodically using major scales. And not only that, the same major scale all this to say, I'm going to play the 251 progression today using one major scale. We're not going to get bogged down with modes, mode names, we're not going to get bogged down with thinking three different scales to go along with three different courts. In fact, the goal today is to go the opposite direction. Let's keep this simple. So back to our what why now? What are we going to practice? We're going to practice the 251 progression. Why are we going to practice the 251 progression? Because we want to explore thinking about one major scale played over the entire progression. We want to simplify our chord scale relationship understanding and thus simplify our jazz improvisational approach. How are we going to achieve this goal we're going to take the major scale of the key four to five one progression and practice playing the scale from different entry points, ascending and descending through the progression. So the educational agenda for today is as follows. Number one, I am going to present 12 efficient and effective to five one scale exercises to help you develop jazz improvisation skills. Number two, each exercise will focus on developing minor chord entry points, ascending and descending motion. eighth note articulation, melodic and rhythmic motifs. Number three, all exercises today focus on the 251 progression in the key of B flat, C minor, C minor seven to F dominant seven to B flat major seven. And number four I will be playing all demonstrations today all exercises
using a comfy tempo of 120 I would encourage starting slower, much slower. Like at like 60 like 70. Right slower tempos are always encouraged and recommended whenever you begin exploring any new jazz piano skill. Now if you are a jazz piano skills member, I want you to take a few minutes right now to download and print the illustrations in the lead sheets, the podcast packets and have access to all of the podcast packets and you should as I remind you every week, you should be using them when listening to this podcast and of course when practicing. And if you're listening to this podcast on any of the popular podcast directories such as Apple or Google, Amazon, Spotify, iHeartRadio, Pandora, and so on, then be sure to go to jazz piano skills podcast.com To download your podcast packets, and you'll find the active download links in the show notes. Awesome. One final but extremely important note that I mentioned each and every week that if you're thinking that the 251 scale practice that we are about to discover, learn and play, is in some ways, or even if you feel that it is all the way over your head, then I would say to you, relax, chill out. It's okay. Continue to listen, continue to grow your jazz piano skills intellectually. By listening to this podcast episode, I remind you every week, all skills are over our heads when first introduced, and that is precisely why the first step that we always need to take is to step of listening. Such an important step listening to improve our musicianship. All musical growth begins upstairs mentally, conceptually, before it can come out downstairs physically in our hands. So listen to this podcast lesson now to discover learning to discover and learn. Listen, now to discover and learn, and the play will soon follow, I guarantee it. Okay, so let's dig in exercise number one. Again, we're playing to five ones today in the key of B flats, we have our C minor seven, going to our F dominant seven, going to our B flat major seven, we're going to place the B flat major scale over this entire progression. But we're going to start our major scale on this exercise on the root of the C minor. So what we're going to do is play this basically is the C minor Dorian mode, but it's the major scale right? starting on C, C, D, E flat, F, G, A, B flat. So let me put my C minor underneath that. Beautiful. A, we're going to do more than just put C minor underneath that we're going to put the entire 251 progression underneath it. So we get this again, to have more time
to so what you're going to hear me do, I'm going to practice that motion, that ascending scale motion starting from the root of our minor chord, playing the B flat major scale. I'm going to practice it ascending. And then a few times just to get all my ducks in a row at play with a good feel a good time a good articulation. Once I'm comfortable with the scale moving through my 251 progression, I am going to change it rhythmically. I will change the scale rhythmically. Now, you don't have to do anything fancy. I'm not going to try to do anything fancy today. With that I'm going to try to actually keep it pretty simple. We're going to be only using the notes in the scale and trying to focus primarily on Eighth quarter note an eighth note patterns. Now to illustrate this. I was taught this a long time ago. And it made perfect sense. When one of my teachers was describing the insights to improvisation. He played the C major scale backwards. So he started on the note C and he played scale backwards. Okay, and then he changed it rhythmically.
Yeah, see, get it. Pretty amazing, right? simply changing the scale rhythmically creates melody. So that's what I'm going to do today throughout the entire podcast. Taking that B flat major scale. We're gonna change the entry points, change our motion ascending or direction ascending or descending. And then I'm going to change it rhythmically to begin developing some improvisational ideas. So let's bring the ensemble in. Let's listen are 251 ascending from the root of our minor chord. You're gonna hear me play at scale straight through a few times. Then you'll hear me start to change it. Modify it rhythmically. So here we go. Let's check it out. See what we think. Then we can talk about it. Here we go.
Nice right? Again, we're not trying to get fancy today. Trying to keep things simple, we're playing the major scale, ascending from the two chord, right, gonna change our entry points, ascending and descending, gonna get used to playing the scale over the entire 251 progression and then changing the scale rhythmically to begin developing some improvisational skills. So as the old saying goes, what goes up must come down. So now we're going to descend from the root of our C minor, we're going to descend through our 251. Again you're gonna hear me play this several times. Then I'm going to begin to slightly modify the scale rhythmically. Okay, keeping it simple. So let's bring the ensemble in. Let's see what this sounds like using descending motion. Here we go. Let's check it out.
Very, very nice. So now you're now you've got the idea of what we're going to be doing here today. Right, we're going to follow this same format the same structure, or keep all these variables the same, the only thing we're going to change is the entry point. So with that being said, the very next exercise we're going to do, we're going to shift our entry point to the third of our minor sound or minor chord. And we're going to play through our 251. We're going to go from the third up to the ninth of the sound. Mount nice, right? So
that simple, right? Want to get used to playing it from the third to the ninth. Let that sound sink into my ears. Let the scales sink into my hands, the finger my fingerings then I begin to change it rhythmically. Right just like Joy to the world. I'm going to change it rhythmically. But I'm going to try to keep it simple because I still have to play in time. I still have to play with a good feel I still have to play with proper articulation. Right. So here we go. Let's bring the ensemble back in, ascending to five one scale motion. Check it out. Here we go.
Not too shabby, right? Pretty straightforward. So again, what goes up must come down. So now we're going to play our scale using descending, descending them motion and place our 251 underneath it, so it's going to sound like this. Love it again
and once again, after I play it few times are going to now focus on changing it rhythmically. And I do not want to try to get too fancy. Keep it simple. So let's bring the ensemble back in, let's listen to descending scale motion over our 251 with our entry point being the third of our minor chord, our two chord. So here we go. Let's check it out.
So we're going to work through the entire sound today. With various entry points from the root from the third, we're going to hear now start with our entry point being the fifth. And then we're going to do the seventh. And by doing so what we do is what really explore the entire sound from the root through the ninth through the 13th of the sounds of the minor and the dominance in the majors. Right using one scale, the major scale over the entire progression. So now we have the entry point being shifted to the fifth of our minor chord. So our two five ones going to sound like this. Again, to just like that. And once again, we're going to keep our process our practice approach the same. The only variable we're changing here throughout the entire day today is our entry point. Everything else remains constant, everything else remains the same. So important for our development so important for the learning process. So here we go. Let's bring the ensemble back in 251 with our entry point being the fifth of the minor chord, ascending motion. Here we go. Let's check it out.
I absolutely love this kind of practicing because we develop our creativity by limiting our possibilities. Does that make sense? Creativity is born out of limitation. So for restricting ourselves to using only the notes of the scale and only moving one direction with a very specific entry point and destination point, then we've set some boundaries we've established some parameters in which we have to function within that we have to develop within we have to be creative within. So I love this kind of practice, the benefits are enormous. So now we have ascended through ascending motion with our entry point being the fifth now descending motion with our entry point being the fifth. So now it's gonna sound like this again, to
fantastic. And once again, we're going to bring the ensemble back in and again I'm going to play through that motion that scale that sound several times straight. And then I will begin to modify it rhythmically Okay, so here we go. Let's check it out see what we think.
Okay, so, up to now we have explored our 251 progression using our major scale, launching from the root, the third, and the fifth of the minor sound of our minor chord C minor seven. So now we're going to shift our entry point to the seventh of the sound, right of the C minor sound. The seventh which would be B flats or 251. Again, to ascending motion. Fantastic. Again, keep it very simple. Playing through the scale a few times, then begin to modify, modify it rhythmically. So here we go. Let's check it out. Have a little fun. See what we think. Here we go.
And once again, right, what goes up must come down. So now our entry points is going to remain the seventh of our minor sound, the B flat, but we're going to descend through our 251, it's going to sound like this too. Just that simple. And once again, the ensemble will join me. I'll play that scale a few times descending. And then as I have done with all the previous entry points, ascending and descending, begin to change it rhythmically to see what kind of melodic motifs I can discover in the process of developing my improvisational skills. So here we go, let's check it out, see what we think.
All these exercises today all of these exercises are the very same exercises that I used last week in last week's episode, practicing scales the what, why, and how. And in that episode, there were a few additional exercises that I use, I want to utilize a couple right now today, one was moving the scale in thirds, if you remember we move through the minor sound in alternate alternating thirds from the root to the seventh of our C minor, so we had our C minor chord underneath it. Right, we're going to take that very same exercise and we are going to plier to five one, put our 251 underneath it so we get this nice right again to one more time
very nice. So I'm going to do the exact same approach. I'm going to play that pattern ascending a few times get used to it. Then I'm going to try to change it up a little bit rhythmically to see what I can discover. Okay, so let's bring the ensemble, and let's check it out see what we think here we go.
And once again, what goes up must come down. So let's reverse those thirds. We'll start with have our entry point remained remain the route, we're gonna come down in thirds, cascading thirds, and we're gonna put our 251 underneath that right. Let me do that again to one just like that. And once again, we're going to play through that I'm going to play through that pattern several times get used to it, get it in in my years and under my fingers, then begin to explore rhythmic variation using that pattern. So once again, the ensembles going to join me, let's check it out and see what we think here we go.
Very nice now for the sake of time, I'm not going to utilize different entry points, the third and the fifth and the seventh as we just did earlier, but you need to do that you definitely need to move thirds, ascending and descending from different entry points within the sound within the minor sound and apply the 251 drop the 251 underneath it. Okay, one more exercise that I want to do along the same lines that I introduced last week in last week's podcast episode, same thing but instead of thirds moving up in force. So now our pattern sounds like this. Just like that. Now drop our to five underneath it to one more time
beautiful. Let's bring the ensemble lend. Let's see what we can do with this ascending pattern in force with our entry point being the root of the minor sound. So let's check it out and see what we think here we go.
Very very cool, I love it. So once again, what goes up must come down. We're gonna keep our entry point B in the root of our minor chord but we're going to move in force descending force. Love it, wrap our 251 underneath it. Again, to keep it very simple, very straight at first play the pattern descending several times, then begin to manipulate it change it rhythmically to see what we can come up with. Right. So here we go. Let's check it out.
Nice. Now once again, I want to remind you with both the third and the fourth force, I only demonstrated today with the entry point being the root. But as I did with the previous exercises, I want you to do with the thirds and fourths as well change the entry point to the third, change to the fifth, change it to the seventh of the minor sound, and place your 251 pattern underneath it. Wow. And never failed, right? We always cram so much into a one-hour podcast episode, a ton of information, each and every podcast episode each and every week, and today was certainly no exception. As we explored the 251 scale practice, I want to encourage everyone to map out the 251 scale exercises that I presented today, I want you to take the time to map them out on paper, use the podcast packets, the illustrations in the lead sheets to guide you. In fact, the illustrations include a paper practice template for all 12 keys that you can use for mapping out these 251 scale patterns. And as you've heard me say over and over and over and over again, your conceptual understanding determines your physical development. So the time you invest and study and the time you invest in mapping out the scales, for these 251 patterns, is time very well spent. I say it all the time, right. If you do that kind of practicing the return on your investment cannot be adequately expressed no way. And as always, I want you to be patient, gaining a conceptual and physical command of any jazz piano skill, especially these 251 scale patterns and 251 scale practice. It's gonna take time, begin structuring your scale practice after the plane demonstrations that I modeled for you today in this podcast episode, and you will begin to see and feel and hear your progress. I guarantee it. Well, I hope that you have found this jazz panel skills podcast lesson exploring 251 scale practice. I hope you found it to be insightful and of course, I hope you hope you found it to be beneficial. Don't forget if you're a jazz piano skills member I will see you online Thursday evening at the jazz panel skills Master Class A pm central time to discuss this podcast episode lesson. Exploring 251 scale practice in greater detail in and to answer any questions that you may have about the study of jazz in general. And again as a jazz panel skills Remember, be sure to use the educational podcast packets, the illustrations, the lead sheets, and the play locks for this podcast lesson and also be sure to use the jazz panel skills courses to maximize your musical growth. Likewise, make sure you are an active participant in the jazz panel skills community get involved, contribute to the various forums and most importantly, make some new jazz piano friends. As always, you can reach me by phone 972-380-8050 extension 211 by email Dr. Lawrence, Dr. Lawrence at jazz piano skills.com or by SpeakPipe found throughout the jazz piano skills website. Well, there is my cue. That's it for now. And until next week, enjoy plane to five one scale practice. Enjoy the journey. And most of all, have fun as you discover, learn and play jazz Spin