This JazzPianoSkills Podcast Episode explores a Key of Bb Major Harmonic Workout (Block Chords, Traditional and Contemporary Shells, Two-Handed Voicings) + Rhythmic Comping Patterns
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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, playa Key of Bb Major Melodic Workout. In this Jazz Piano Lesson you will:
A Key of Bb Major Harmonic Workout
How to "think" within the Key of Bb Major, Harmonically
Block Chords, Traditional and Contemporary Shells, Two-Handed Voicings using common harmonic motion AND various Rhythmic Comping Patterns
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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. Today you're going to discover a key of B flat major harmonic workout. And you're going to learn how to think within the key of B flat major harmonically. And you are going to play black quartz, traditional shells, contemporary shells, two-handed voicings using common harmonic motion, plus various fundamental rhythmic comping patterns. So as I always like to say, regardless of where you are in your jazz journey, beginner and intermediate player, and advanced player even if you are a seasoned and experienced professional, you're gonna find this jazz panel skills podcast lesson exploring a key a B flat major harmonic workout to be very beneficial. If you are new to jazz piano skills if you are a new or first-time listener to the jazz piano skills podcast, I want to as I always do personally invite you to become a jazz piano skills member. Just visit jazz piano skills.com To learn more about the abundance of jazz educational resources, materials, and services that are available for you ready for you to use to help you become an accomplished jazz pianist. 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, and the play along that I develop my produce and develop for every podcast episode each and every week. These are invaluable educational tools that you want at your fingertips as you listen to this podcast episode. And of course, you want sitting on your piano as you practice. You also as a jazz piano skills member have access to the sequential jazz piano curriculum, which is loaded with comprehensive courses, all of them using a self-paced format. There are educational talks, there are interactive media for you to use video demonstrations, and all 12 keys the jazz piano skill that is being taught there are play along files for you to utilize when practicing and much more awesome. As a jazz piano skills member, you have a reserved seat each and every week to the online master class, which is in essence a one-hour lesson with me each and every week. You also have access to the online interactive fake book, right, which is all houses jazz standards from the Great American Songbook the chord changes lead sheets, harmonic function, play long files, historical insights, inspirational links, and there's also a download link for band and box users. There's Band in a Box file that you can download and use when practicing as well. And you also as a jazz panel skills member have access to the jazz piano the private jazz piano community which hosts a variety of engaging forums, podcasts, specific forums, course-specific forums, and of course, just general jazz piano forums as well. And last but certainly not least, as a jazz panel skills member you have unlimited private, personal and professional educational support whenever and as often as you need it. Again, just visit jazz panel skills.com. To learn more about all of the educational opportunities that await you and how to easily activate your membership. There are several membership plans to choose from. I have no doubt that there is one there that's going to be perfect for you. So welcome to jazz panel skills. If you have any other questions or need assistance in any way please let me know. I'm always happy to spend time with you and help in any way that I can. Alright, well let's discover learn and play jazz piano Let's get after this key of B flat major harmonic workout. Okay, The key of C major is over.
The key of F major is over. So no going back, no going back to check on how well you remember your voicings in the key of C major, or in the key of F major, they're over. And I'll let you in on a little secret. If you are serious about wanting to improve your jazz piano playing, then your goal should be to experience as much data as possible. In other words, you have to have a plan in place that allows you to, as I like to say, cycle through the jazz piano data. Another way of saying it is, you cannot allow grass to grow under your feet. I have a student who came into his lesson one day, and he announced that he had a plan and that he was going to implement this plan. Effective immediately. Now, needless to say, I was impressed. In fact, I'm always impressed when a student has given enough thought to their musical growth, to have developed a plan, even if the plan is a bad one. And in this case, it was a bad one. My student came in, and he announced that he was going to remain in the key of C major for as long as it takes to master the key of C major. And then and only then would he move on to the next key and begin the process of mastering that key. And again, doing it for as long as it takes before moving on to the next key. Now, I said to him, Bob, his name happened is Bob to right. So he said, Bob, I have some very, very bad news for you, my friend you are going to be in the key of C major for the rest of your life. Now, of course, his jaw dropped, and the look of despair rushed over his face. He looked at me, sadly, he looked at me with a sad look and said, really? Why? I thought this was a good and diligent plan. And I told him I said, Bob look, I love that you have a plan. But by electing to stay in one key until you believe that you have mastered it is actually going to stifle your musical growth. Instead of fueling progress, it's going to cause some serious musical stagnation. Bob said, why is that? I said well, because the skills of music, the skills of jazz, do not enjoy musical autonomy. They do not exist in a vacuum, proclaiming independence and in fact, it's just the opposite. All of the jazz skills need each other. Let me say that again. All of the jazz skills need each other. For example, to get better. Playing major scales you need to practice all 12 major scales. To get better at playing minor arpeggios you need to practice all 12 minor arpeggios. And if you want to get better at voicings, voicing chords within the context of a major key then you need to what you need to practice voicing chords in all 12 major keys. So you see this is precisely why I mentioned just moments ago. The key of C major is over the key of F major is over today. We do not let grass grow under our feet. We move on
to the key of B flat major, we move on to our key of B flat major harmonic workout. Regardless of how well you think you have these harmonic skills under your fingers in the key of C, and the key of F, regardless of how well you think you have mastered the key of C, or the key of F, right, it's just totally irrelevant. Because we're moving on. So today, we tackle a new key, the key of B flat major, but as we did last month with the key of F major, we will be changing our groove our tempo, plus ratcheting up our rhythmic challenge to include eighth notes. Now once again, why are we adding a rhythmic dimension to our harmonic workouts? Well, because we want to continually improve our ability to successfully track time when playing and we want to improve our comping skills, our ability to accompany others and ourselves when playing and doing so. And in focusing on the key of B flat major, harmonically guess what our key of C is going to get better, and our key of F is going to get better. It's like magic, they're going to get better, even though we're focusing now on the key of B flat major. So the educational agenda for today is as follows. Number one, we begin our key of B flat major harmonic workout for the month of March. Number two, we are going to play essential harmonic shapes that you need to discover learn and play role play block shapes, traditional shells, contemporary shells, and two-handed voicings. Number three, we are going to utilize a standard swing groove with a tempo of 100. Number four, we are going to explore 12 Simple copying rhythms using whole notes, half notes, quarter notes, and eighth notes. Only
whole notes, half notes, quarter notes, and eighth notes only. In total, I'm going to introduce to you 12 New rhythmic comping patterns that you can and should use to help you gain a harmonic mastery of the key of B flat major. And number five, we are going to apply our rhythmic comping patterns to the classic 251 progression. Now if you are a jazz piano skills member, I want you to take a few minutes right now hit the pause button. Take a few minutes right now to download and print. The podcast packets, the illustrations, the lead sheets, the play alongs you have access to these podcast packets through your membership that allows you to print the download and print these packets to have at your fingertips as I mentioned earlier, and as I mentioned every week you should absolutely be using these podcast packets when listening to this episode and of course when practicing. So if you're listening to this podcast episode on any of the popular podcast directories such as Apple or Google, Amazon, Spotify, I Heart Radio Pandora on and on and on and on. Then be sure to go directly to the jazz piano skills podcast, website jazz piano skills podcast.com. To download your podcast packets, you will find the download links the active download links within the show notes. Okay, one final but extremely important note that I mentioned every single week. If you are thinking that the key of B flat harmonic workout and the various skills that we are about to discover, learn and play. If you are thinking that these skills are in some way or if you're thinking that they are all the way over your head, I would say to you okay, breathe in, breathe out. Relax, no big deal. Continue to listen, continue to grow your jazz piano skills intellectually by listening to this podcast episode. Every new skill is technically over are heads when first introduced, but this is how we get better by placing ourselves in the middle of conversations where we are forced to grow intellectually. In fact, I say it all the time that your conceptual understanding is what drives your physical development. All musical growth begins upstairs mentally before it can come out downstairs physically in your hands. So listen to this podcast lesson now to discover and to learn, the play will come in time, it always does. Okay, the first thing I want to address is the very last page of your lead sheets packet. It's labeled exercise 17. So grab that page. The title of the page is copying rhythms, you will notice there are 12 rhythmic patterns labeled letter A through letter L. You will also notice that these rhythmic patterns as I mentioned a little while ago, use only whole notes, half notes, quarter notes, and now eighth notes, and again, the rhythmic patterns will become even much more involved as the year progresses, I promise you. However, with that being said, if you cannot play these rhythms, you will find the patterns we tackle in future harmonic workouts to be very difficult so be sure to legitimately devote, study and practice time to these rhythmic patterns. You will also notice that each of these rhythmic patterns is to be played with the 251 progression, which is exactly what we are going to do today. Now, that does not mean that you should bypass practicing each of the four voicing types, right our blocks traditional shells, contemporary shells, two-handed voicings, you should not avoid practicing these voicing types as outlined in exercises one through 16 Because that should be where you begin that actually should be the very first thing that you do. Practice playing them without rhythms, as I modeled for you in January with our ignored row key of C major harmonic workout if you need to go back and listen to that for a little refresher. Now, you will also notice that at the bottom of that page of exercise or skill 17 I have a voicing order for each exercise as I'm going to play it today. Okay, so I'm going to play through each of these rhythmic patterns that you see laid out here, using block voicings first, starting with my C minor in first inversion, go into my f7 and third inversion, my B flat major in first inversion, I'm going to play through that twice. Then I'll play the traditional shells label there is number two and three you'll see the order of the traditional shells one time through for each one then the contemporary shells and then the two-handed voicings. So I will be following that outline that you see notated there. For each and every rhythmic Exercise A through L be sure to use the play alongs that are included in your podcast packets when practicing right. Obviously, I do not have enough time to play through all 16 exercises today. So I'm going to focus on skill 17 The 12 rhythmic patterns so I'm going to trust that you do not get the cart ahead of the horse. As I mentioned earlier, practice exercises one through 16 to make sure you have a handle on each of the four voicing types is applied to the chords found in the key of B flat major right, B flat major seven C minor seven D minor seven E flat major seven, F dominant seven G minor seven and a half diminished. Then turn your attention to developing your comping skills using the voicings as you play the 251 progression in the key of B flat major C minor seven to F seven to B flat major seven.
So let's take a look at rhythm A, letter A. We have some eighth notes right away you see eighth notes measured to you we have some pair of eighth notes and measure four. So I want to play it first without any ensemble backing. So you can hear So, check this out we're gonna have a little metronome a little click track here for one measure and then I'm going to play the rhythm as written two times through Alright, so here we go check it out
okay, so now let's bring the ensemble in Let's place this rhythmic copying pattern in into a musical context musical setting and see what we think all right here we go.
So again, right first time through, or the first two times through, I play these, I'm going to be playing these rhythmic patterns using my block shapes. Then I play the traditional shells, followed by the contemporary shells, followed by the two-handed voicings, and that's going to be the format for the remainder of the day for the remainder of all the exercises. So let's take a look at rhythm B, Exercise B, you'll see we have eighth notes, measure one pair of eighth notes, pair of eighth notes, and measure two pairs of eighth notes in measure three. So again, let me play it with my click track. Let's listen to it first before we bring in the ensemble.
Nice now, this is a great way to practice right I would encourage you to use your metronome or if you have some kind of way to create a click track. I would encourage you to do so before you use play along tracks to attempt these rhythms. So now that we've done that, let's bring the ensemble and let's listen to let her be placed into a musical context into a musical setting. Here we go. Let's check it out.
Nice. All right, let's move on to letter C. Again, pair of eighth notes in, measure one pair of eighth notes, and measure two pairs of eighth notes in measure three. But check out where these eighth notes fall, they're not always going to be falling in the same place, right different counts in the measure. So read it carefully. So again, let's use our click track. Let's listen to it first. Here we go.
Gotta count right no guessing, no guessing at all. So alright, let's bring the ensemble and let's drop letter C into musical context, and see what we think here we go.
Pretty nice now letter D. Take a look at letter D, we have our pair of eighth notes and measure 1/8 notes and measure to measure three and now measure four. And again pay attention to where those eighth notes those groupings are falling right. So again, let's play this pattern first with the click track and see what we think get acclimated to it. Then we'll bring the ensemble in but first, to click track here we go
not bad right? Not bad. It's a great pattern. So now let's drop it into a musical context letter D and see what we think here we go check it out.
Now I want to say before moving on to letter E. I'm playing all of these today at a temple of 100 With when I bring the ensemble in, but, and I'm playing at 100 with the click track, right. But as I have stressed before time and time again, start at slower tempos, right, especially if you're new to doing this kind of rhythmic these kinds of copying patterns, if you're new to this, I would start at much slower tempo 60 7080, right? Plant a temple that allows you to be accurate with your rhythms counting and tracking time. So again, this is not a speed contest, this is something that you do not want to rush through. You want to get it right is the priority. Okay? All right. So with that being said, let's look at letter E. Right away, you can just look visually that the rhythms now or good getting a little bit more involved a little more complicated, right, we have, we have a couple pair of eighth notes in measure one, we have a pair of eighth notes, and measure two, we have a couple pair of eighth notes and measure three, and we have eighth notes again and measure four. So quite a bit of much more movement happening in letter E. So let's listen to this first with the click track here we go.
Right, much more involved. So now let's bring our ensemble in again. And let's listen to all our voicings our blocks our traditional and contemporary shells and our two-handed voicings, let's listen to the letter E in a musical context and see what we think here we go check it out.
So as you can see it's not going to get much easier right as we move on to F, G and H, and so forth. In f we have eighth notes again pair of eighth notes and a couple of pair of eighth notes in and measure one I have a little bit of a break in measure two. Then measure three we have a pair of eighth notes and again measure four pairs of eighth notes. So as we've been doing let's listen to this rhythmic copying pattern with our click track first here we go.
And by the way, I would again practice with a click track or metronome several times to make sure that I am accurate with my rhythmic plane before dropping it into a musical context with some backing track or with one of the play alongs that are included in your podcast packets. So now let's bring the ensemble back in let's place letter F into musical context and have a little fun here we go
Well, we're halfway through, right? It's quite a little workout, right? I told you. So now, letter G and just again, just visually look at this right we got, we have a lot going on we have, we have a couple pair of eighth notes and measure one we have pair of eighth notes and measure two couple pair of eighth notes and measure three and a couple more pair of eighth, eighth notes and measure fours. So it's relentless, so you have to count carefully. So again, let's put this these rhythm ideas underneath the microscope sort of speak with our click track before we before we drop it into a musical context. So here we go. Check this out
I love it. Nice, nice copying patterns. So now let's bring the ensemble in and see what we think. Check it out.
I told you a lot going on right. Have to count carefully, no guessing count carefully. So now let's go on to letter H. We have as you can see, measure one dotted half note followed by a quarter note of a couple pair of eighth notes and measure two with our five chord and then our one chord, a couple of pair of eighth notes and measure three. And again, I'm sorry, a pair of eighth note and measure three in a pair of eighth notes in measure four. So let's listen to it first with the click track here we go.
I love it. Let's bring the ensemble in and listen to letter H placed into a musical setting. Here we go check it out.
On to letter I more and more eighth notes, a couple pair of eighth notes in measure one on R two CT, followed by a pair of eighth notes and measure five. Another pair of eighth notes you can see there in measure three, wrapping it up in measure four with a couple pair of eighth notes. Again, right? Not hard if you're counting very difficult if you're guessing. So listen to this rhythmic copying pattern first again with our click track here we go.
Nice, you know you're gonna find out too as you practice these and begin exploring each of these rhythmic ideas that some of the rhythmic patterns will be easier to play with different voicings right, not all the voicings are equal when it comes to plain rhythmic patterns. Some shapes underneath the hands underneath the fingers are easier to play when applied to different rhythmic ideas and patterns than other voicings. So you'll experience that and when you're practicing these and that's okay. Right You have to learn what types of voicings work for you that are comfortable for you. With these various rhythmic ideas, again, not all voicings are going to be equal when it comes to playing these rhythmic patterns, these rhythmic ideas musically they are right, they produce the minor to the dominant to the major sound. But you'll find that some of these rhythmic ideas are much easier to play with say like the two-handed shapes versus the traditional shells or the block shapes. So just keep that in mind. So okay, let's drop letter A into musical context. Let's bring our ensemble and check it out here we go.
On to letter J. Pair of eighth notes and measure one on our two chord, another pair of eighth notes on measured in measure two with our five chord and then just check out measure three nice dotted half Half Note followed by a quarter note couple quarter notes and measure for wrapping it up with a pair of eighth notes so not too bad right little J not too bad so let's listen to it first with our click track
yeah not bad at all right so now let's bring her ensemble Lin drop letter J into a musical setting musical context and let's see what we think here we go check it out.
Alright enough of this easy stuff with letter J. Let's get let's let's ratchet it back up a little bit right take a look at letter K. A couple pair of eighth notes on counts two and four and measure one right measure two with the five chord a little bit of a break right dotted half note quarter note look at what happens and measure three couple pair of eighth notes followed by a couple more pair a couple more eighth note pairs in measure four right so yeah, this is more like it this is a little bit more involved so let's listen to it with the click track
Yeah, that's what I'm talking about. Nice. So now let's drop letter k into a musical context musical setting and see what we think here we go.
Have you had enough rhythm yet? Never have enough rhythm. Never ever. But this is our last rhythmic pattern for today. Right? So letter L and it's a good one. We have three pair of eighth notes and measure one on our two chord to deal with. But that's followed up by nice whole note with measure two on our five chord couple pair of eighth notes and measure three on the one chord and then a pair of eighth notes and measure four so let's listen to this first with click track here we go
love it great way to wrap up day so let's bring the ensemble in let's drop literal into our musical context our musical setting and let's enjoy this let's have a little fun here we go.
Well, we've done it again. As always, we have unpacked an amazing amount of information in one very short and very fast hour. Do not. And I want to stress this again, do not underestimate the importance of being able to play rhythmic copying patterns in time using correct jazz voicings. Right. Be honest with yourself if you are unable to play fundamental comping patterns using whole notes, half notes, quarter notes, and now eighth notes. Then you have no business trying to tackle more challenging rhythms that include dotted eighth notes, dotted quarter notes, 16th notes, various syncopated patterns. In fact, the rhythmic patterns we use today, while playing our four voicing types allow you to develop your ability to track and feel time. And so often when students struggle with playing jazz it is because of their inability to successfully track time. In other words, being able to always know where count one is to know where count two is count three, count four, and not guess, right? The reality is you have a greater chance I mentioned this last month with the key of F major harmonic workout you have a greater chance of winning the lottery being struck by lightning, or leaping tall buildings in a single bound than you do at correctly guessing time. When trying to play jazz. That is the simple truth. Let that sink in and embrace the importance of simple even though they're not that simple, simple, rhythmic patterns, right using whole notes, half notes, quarter notes, and eighth notes, right that we did today with our key of B flat major harmonic workout. So you know what's coming next week we jump into the key of B flat major melodic workout. And of course, I'm I will be introducing some new rhythmic twist for that workout as well. So as I'm stressing every month within these harmonic and melodic workouts hang in there with me this year and you're going to experience a ton of jazz piano growth. You will love where you are musically a year from now. You will feel the difference and most importantly you will hear the difference in your playing. Once again I encourage all jazz panel skills members to use the podcast packets, the illustrations, the lead sheets, and the play alongs to guide you as you study and practice, your rhythmic at your harmonic B flat major harmonic workout. These are educational tools that will help you gain a mastery of the jazz piano skill conceptually, physically, and musically. Most importantly, and again, I stress this every week as well be patient. Developing mature professional jazz piano skills takes time, begin structuring your practicing using the demonstrations how I modeled today. These exercises how I modeled them for you in this podcast episode, begin structuring your practicing accordingly and you will begin to see you'll begin to feel and hear your progress. I guarantee it. Well, I hope you found this jazz panel skills podcast lesson exploring the key of B flat major harmonic workout to be insightful and of course beneficial. Don't forget if you are a jazz panel skills member I will see you online Thursday evening at the jazz panel skills masterclass. That is 8 pm Central time to discuss this podcast episode lesson, exploring a key of B flat major harmonic workout in greater detail. And of course, to answer any questions that you may have about the study of jazz in general, be sure to use the educational podcast packets, the illustrations lead sheets to play alongs not only for this podcast lesson, but for all of the podcast lessons that are available at jazz panel skills. Also, make sure you tap into the jazz panel skills courses to maximize your musical growth. Make sure you are an active participant in the jazz piano skills community.
The forum's got a whole new makeover this last week. Check them out. They're awesome. Get involved, contribute to the various forums and make some new jazz piano friends. Always a fantastic thing to do. You can reach me by phone 972-380-8050 My extension here at the Dallas school music 211 by email Dr. Lawrence Dr. Lawrence at jazz piano skills.com or by SpeakPipe handy nifty little widget found throughout the jazz piano skills website. Well, there is my cue. That's it for now. And until next week, enjoy the key of B flat major harmonic work, and most of all, have fun as you discover, learn, and play jazz Piano
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