This JazzPianoSkills Podcast Episode explores a Key of Eb Major Harmonic Workout (Block Chords, Traditional and Contemporary Shells, Two-Handed Voicings) + Rhythmic Comping Patterns
Dr. Bob Lawrence
President, The Dallas School of Music
Dr. Bob Lawrence 0:33
Welcome to jazz piano skills. I'm Dr. Bob Lawrence, it's time to discover, learn and play jazz piano. Today you're going to discover a key of E flat major harmonic workout. And you're going to learn how to think within the key of E flat major harmonically. And you are going to play black chords traditional and contemporary shows two-handed voicings using common harmonic motion and various rhythmic comping patterns. So as I always like to say, regardless of where you are in your jazz journey, beginner an intermediate player, an advanced player, even if you are a seasoned and experienced professional, you will find this jazz panel skills podcast lesson, exploring a key of E flat major harmonic workout to be very beneficial. Before I get started, I want to thank everyone for the kind messages I received so many nice phone calls, voicemails, emails, text messages, and speak pipes, wishing me to get well soon. And I'm happy to report that I'm doing great. And I'm nearly back to 100%. And so if you hadn't heard last week, I was cranking along as normal. And all of a sudden, out of nowhere, literally out of nowhere, a rash appeared above my left eye. Now, I actually thought I was bitten by an insect of some type like a spider. And it wasn't, that was not to concern until the left side of my face swelled and the rash started to spread rapidly across my face. So I had immediately canceled, I had to immediately cancel all of my lessons and musical activities for the rest of the week, and sought professional medical help. And ironically, it was the diagnosis of one of my students Dee professional nurse, he said, Bob, you have shingles. I said D. That's impossible. I know nothing about shingles. But what I do know is that it's an old person virus.
Now, Dee Dee gently informed me that that's not necessarily true. And she also reminded me gently that I'm not a spring chicken anymore, either. But bottom line Dee was correct. And my doctor got me on some incredible meds right away. So I'm doing fantastic now, and looking forward to a full recovery. So thank you once again to everyone for all of the well wishes and thank you d for your professional expertise and for simply being awesome. If you are a new listener to the jazz panel skills podcast, I want to welcome you and I want to personally invite you to become a jazz piano skills member. All you have to do visit jazz piano skills.com Check it out. Learn more about the abundance of jazz educational resources, materials services that are available and waiting for you to help you along your journey to becoming an accomplished jazz pianist. For example, the educational podcast packets, the illustrations, the lead sheets in the play alongs that I develop and produce. For every weekly podcast episode. These are invaluable educational tools that you want to have in your hands as you listen to this podcast episode. And you certainly want to have sitting on your panel. As you practice as well. As a jazz panel skills member you also 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 to enjoy interactive media to test your conceptual understanding of the skills there are video demonstrations in all 1212 keys and also a play alongs for you to use and much more. As a jazz piano skills member, you also have a reserved seat in the online weekly masterclasses which are in essence a one-hour online lesson with me each and every week. You also as a member Jas panel skills member You have access to the new online interactive Fakebook, which gives you access to jazz standards from the Great American Songbook, you can enjoy the chord changes. There are lead sheets harmonic function lead sheets as well play along files, historical insight, insights, inspirational recordings, and much more. It's an ever-growing collection of tunes that you should absolutely study in, you should absolutely learn, and have under your fingers. You also as a jazz panel skills member have access to the private jazz piano skills community. This community hosts a variety of engaging forms, podcast-specific forms, course-specific forms, and of course, just general jazz piano forms as well. And last, but certainly not least, 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, and how to easily activate your membership. There are several membership plans to choose from, and I am quite certain there is one perfect for you. However, if you have any questions once you get there and check things out, please let me know I'm always happy to spend some time with you answer any questions that you may have and help in any way that I can. Okay, let's discover learn to play jazz piano, let's get after this key of E flat major harmonic workout, there is no better way to begin than me reminding you that the key of C major is over the key of F major over and now the key of B flat major over. So as I have stressed before, there is no going back to check on how well you remember your voicings in the key of C or in the key of F or in the key of B flat they're over. So why am I stressing this point, this approach of moving on and not looking back. Because if you are truly 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 cycle through essential jazz piano skills in all 12 keys. As I like to say you cannot allow grass to grow under your feet. Now don't get me wrong. It's great to spend blocks of time throughout an extended period of time devoted to a specific jazz panel skill, just like you're going to do this week when exploring essential voicings for the seventh chords of the key of E flat major using common harmonic motion and some rhythmic comping patterns. What you're not going to do, however, is spend weeks even months exploring essential voicings for the seven chords of the key of E flat major. If you were to utilize that approach, which I know you never would, you would actually be enabling the stagnation of your musical growth, which I know is exactly the opposite of what you are wanting to do. Now, I get it. Right the thought process behind this type of thinking, the intentions behind this kind of practice approach where you select a specific jazz piano skill and commit to mastering it before you move on to another skill or key is it's a profound proclamation of musical dedication to a to a valiant effort, requiring relentless perseverance needed to experience exceptional musical success. Man, that sounds so good, wow. As great as all that sounds, all I can say is wrong. And how is it that I can be so emphatic about the inefficiency and ineffectiveness of this approach to practicing simple. I have 30 plus years of empirical evidence obtained through personal and teaching experience.
And it is because of this empirical evidence that I continue to stress the importance of having at the core of your practice approach, musical movement movement that, as I just mentioned a few moments ago, does not allow grass to grow into your feet movement that allows me to say again, the key of C major, for now, is over, the key of F major, for now, is over, the key of B flat major, for now, is over. So it is irrelevant as to how well we believe we have retained the information from the key of C or from the key of F or from the key of B flat. Because today we tackle a new key musical movement, we move on to the key of E flat major. But as we did last month, with the key of B flat major, we will be changing our groove slightly, actually slower, right, and we're going to slow things down, while at the same time ratcheting up our rhythmic challenge to include single eighth notes, not just eighth note pairs, but single eighth notes. And once again, why are we adding a rhythmic dimension to our harmonic workouts because we want to continually improve our ability to successfully track time when playing harmonically and we want to improve our comping skills, right our ability to accompany others, as well as ourselves when playing music. So the educational agenda for today is as follows number one, we begin our key of E flat major harmonic workout for the month of April. Number two, we are going to play essential harmonic shapes that you need to discover learning play block shapes, traditional shells, contemporary shells, and two-handed voicings. Number three, we are going to utilize a standard swing groove. However, we're going to slow it down a little bit. Temple of 90. Number four, we are going to explore 12 When I say simple, but these rhythmic patterns are never simple. We're going to explore 12 comping rhythms using whole notes, half notes, quarter notes, eighth note pairs, and single eighth notes. In total, I'm going to introduce you to 12 new rhythmic comping patterns that you can and you absolutely should use to help you gain a harmonic mastery of the key of E flat major. And number five, we are going to apply our rhythmic comping patterns to the classic 251 progression. So if you are a jazz piano skills member, I want you to take a few minutes right now to hit the pause button. Access your podcast packets and download them the illustrations the lead sheets and the play logs. Again, you want these in your hands as you're listening to this podcast episode. Your membership grants you access to this, these materials. So utilize them. And as I mentioned every week, you should be using them not only for this podcast episode but for every one of my podcast episodes when listening to the episode. And of course, you should be using them when practicing as well. If you're listening to this podcast on any of the popular podcast directories such as Apple or Google, Amazon, Spotify, iHeartRadio, Pandora, on and on and on, then be sure to go directly to the jazz piano skills website jazz piano skills podcast.com To download your podcast packets, and you will find the act of download links within the show notes. And one final, but extremely important note that I include in every podcast episode, if you are for some reason, thinking that the key of E flat major harmonic workout and the various skills that we are about to discover, learn and play our over your head. Then I would say to you okay, relax, chill out, no big deal. Continue to listen, continue to grow your jazz piano skills intellectually by listening to this podcast episode. Every new skill, when first introduced, is over our heads. So do not panic. This is how we get better by actually placing ourselves in the middle of conversations where we may feel a little uncomfortable because we're forced to grow intellectually. We're hearing terminology and expressions that we're not used to. And I say it all the time that in fact, so much so that
several of you know I've mentioned over and over again I need to get a t-shirt that says this on it. That all means growth begins upstairs mentally conceptually before it can come out downstairs physically in your hands. So sit back and listen to this podcast lesson now to discover and learn. The play will come in time, as it always does. Okay, the very first thing I want to address is the very last page of your lead sheets packet. It's labeled skill 17 Jazz panel skills 17 or exercise 17. The title of the page is copying rhythms. And you will notice there are 12. Once again, 12 rhythmic patterns labeled letter A through letter out and you will also notice that these 12 rhythmic patterns, use whole notes, half notes, quarter note, quarter notes, eighth note pairs, and single eighth notes. Okay, so it's important that we get comfortable with these rhythmic patterns because as you know that they're continually going to get more involved more complicated. So if you cannot play these rhythms, you will find the patterns that we tackle in future harmonic workouts to be very difficult. Okay, so be sure to devote legitimate legitimately devote, study and practice time to these rhythmic patterns. We're going to go through each of these today. Okay, you will notice that each of these rhythmic patterns is played with the 251 progression, which is exactly what we are going to do today. Now that does not mean that you should by prep bypass practicing each of the four voicing types as outlined in exercises one through 16 of your packet. Don't skip over these, because that's should that should actually be the very first thing that you do practice playing the voicings, your blocks your traditional shells, contemporary shells, two-handed shapes, practice playing them first without rhythms, right the shapes as I modeled for you, as I modeled for you back in January with our very first harmonic workout in the key of C major. Okay, be sure to use the play alongs that are included in your podcast packets. Obviously, I do not have time to play through all 16 exercises and the 12 rhythmic patterns. So I am going to trust as I always do that you are going to get after exercises one through 16 right that you're not going to get the card ahead of the horse and just jump right to the last sheet here the common rhythms that you will practice exercises one through 16 to make sure that you have a handle on each of the four voicings types, as applied to the chords found in the key of E flat major E flat major seven, F minor seven G minor seven, A flat major seven B flat dominant seven C minor seven and D half diminished. Once you have a handle on the shapes that are under your fingers in your hands, then turn your attention to developing your copying skills using the voicings as you play the 251 progression in the key of E flat major but F minor seven, B flat dominant seven E flat major seven. Okay, so let's play through each of these 12 rhythmic copying patterns. So letter A, the very first thing I want to do is I'm going to just play the rhythm using a click track and I'm going to use the note E flat so I'm just going to play the tonic of the key here. And I'm just going to play the rhythmic pattern through one time on one note using a trick using a click track so that you can hear the rhythm before we apply the voicings to the rhythms. So here we go rhythm letter A 90 beats per minute. Check it out
nice so now I want to bring the ensemble in and I want to play that that rhythm letter A I'm going to apply first time through first two times three I'm gonna play the blocks, right F minor seven a B flat dominant seven to E flat major using block shapes root position voicing, to second inversion back to root position. The third time through traditional shells, then contemporary shells and then the two handed voicing so you'll hear me cycle through the various voicing shapes. Okay, at utilizing rhythmic pattern exercise letter A. So here we go. Let's check it out with the ensemble
Nice now you get the idea how I'm going to move through the remaining 11 exercises. A play each exercise first using a click track the rhythmic pattern using a rip click track. Then I'll bring the ensemble in. And I'll play through each of our voicing types, our blocks, our traditional shell options, our contemporary shell options, and then are two-handed voicings. Alright, so now let's look at rhythmic pattern letter B. Let's listen to it first, with the click track, here we go.
Now that we're adding those single eighth notes, right, you really have to pay attention, you really have to count because these notes now are not always falling on the downbeat. Right, that like measure three there, we have our single eighth notes being applied to the upbeat or the end of one and the end of two or the upbeat of two. So it gets tricky. So if you need to re listen to the click track several times clap along with it, internalize it before you actually start to apply a voicings to them. So now let's bring the ensemble in and let's listen to our four voicing types utilizing letter B, the rhythmic pattern in letter B so here we go let's check it out.
Now I think it's important to mention here, I'm actually playing the various voicing types, our blocks, traditional shells, contemporary shells, two-handed voicings. But when you're practicing these rhythmic patterns, if it's easier for you to use just one type, use one type. In fact, you should repeat these exercises multiple times focusing on a single voicing approach. Right? For the sake of time I'm kind of done We're going through each one of these side by side, just so that you can hear them. But you do not need to practice exactly how I'm modeling it here. In fact, I would encourage you to do the opposite where you actually focus on playing just the blocks or just the traditional shells or contemporary shells or two-handed voicings. Okay, so let's move on to letter C. Let's listen to letter C with our click track here we go
again, a lot of single eighth notes falling on the off beats, so count very carefully. So let's bring the ensemble back in let's apply some voicings to this rhythmic pattern and see what we think here we go.
All right on to letter D. We have some tied notes in there right measure to checkout measure to some tied notes and measure for let's listen to it with our click track. Here we go
love it. All right. You know the routine. Let's check it out with the ensemble using our voicings our blocks, traditional shells, contemporary shells and two-handed voicings here we go.
Love it all right on to letter E. Right again, some tied notes in there count carefully. All right, so let's listen to it with our click track first before bringing in the ensemble. Here we go check this out.
I told you these are not easy rhythms. Do not write these off as being way too simple and we're don't listen, we're playing him at 90 right now. If this tempo is too slow, you have a command of these rhythms, then I would encourage you to beef up the tempo. Take it up to 110 131 60 Right, have some fun with a change some grooves and styles a little bit. So okay, let's bring the ensemble in, and let's listen to letter E with our voicings here we go.
Okay, on to letter F. And again I'm going to play the rhythm with a click track, I would encourage you to tap along right clap these rhythms before even playing them with a single note or with a single chord. Always a great idea to utilize a click track and clap use your hands so here we go. Let's listen to it first
Wow, certainly have to count right? No guessing. In fact, the odds are if you guess I promise you you're gonna guess wrong. So take time to map this out mathematically right in the counting underneath each of these rhythmic patterns if need be right, approach it very methodically, mathematically, if needed to get the counting under control first. Okay, so let's bring the ensemble endless listen to our voicings using rhythmic pattern F here we go.
All right on to G. Let's bring the click track right in right away and see what we think. Here we go.
Let's jump right in and listen to letter G with the ensemble using blocks traditional contemporary shells and two-handed voicings check this out.
Love it one thing I do want to mention as, as you listen to me play through these voicings using these rhythms. Some of the voicings, especially those quarter voicings may sound a little odd to you may sound even harsh to the years but keep in mind, we're playing these voicings without any melodic context applied over them, right, so don't lose sight of the fact that we're actually just using these rhythmic exercises to practice our voicings and we're using our voicings to practice rhythmic exercises. Okay, let's listen to letter H with our click track here we go
very nice. Let's bring our ensemble and let's apply our voicings to the rhythms of letter H, and see what we think here we go.
All right onto letter I. Another note I want to make real quick tried to really pay attention to the length of the note values right make sure half note is held for two full counts, quarter note for full count any tied notes like a half note to a quarter note for three four counts. So really be meticulous about the duration of the notes. All right let's listen to letter I with our click track.
And this is exactly a great example of what I was just talking about with paying attention to the duration of the notes. Especially when they're tied. If you do not the rhythm will not come off sounding Correct. Something will be out of sync right. So let's bring the ensemble and let's check out letter I and our voicings here we go.
Very nice All right on the letter J. Let's check it out click track here we go
and now with our ensemble using our blocks, traditional shells, contemporary shells and two-handed voicings here we go.
All right onto letter K. Let's check it out first with our click track
love it let's bring in the ensemble. utilize our voices to play the rhythms of letter K and see what we think here we go.
All right, we're down to our last rhythm rhythm number 12 or letter L. And check it out. It's a doozy right? A lot of single eighth notes happening on the upbeat or the offbeat of counts two three and four check out measure one check out measure two All right, so count carefully. Let's listen to it with our click track first
Wow, love it. So let's bring on sound Lynn listen to our voices one last time as we use the rhythms of letter L to apply our voicing so here we go check it out.
Well, we've done it. We've gotten through all 12 rhythmic patterns. And as always, we have unpacked an amazing amount of information in one very short and very fast hour. Do not again, do not underestimate the importance of being able to play rhythmic copying patterns in time. Using correct jazz voicings. Right always be honest with yourself if you are unable to play fundamental comping patterns, using whole notes, half notes, quarter notes, eighth note pairs and single eighth notes, then you are going to have a difficult time with as we tackle more challenging rhythms that included that eighth notes, 16th notes and advanced syncopation, right. So now's the time to get after these fundamental rhythmic patterns. In fact, the rhythmic patterns we use today, why playing are four voicing types, right, that allow you to develop your ability to track and feel time, right? These are rhythms that are laced throughout jazz literature. And so often when students struggle with playing jazz, I've mentioned this before, so often, the struggle is because of their inability to successfully track time. In other words, being able to always know where count one is count to count three, count four, and do so without guessing. Right? You have a greater chance, if you guess, right at rhythms. And if you guess at time, I've said this before, do you have a greater chance of winning the lottery or being struck by lightning, or leaping tall buildings in a single bound right than you do at guessing time and rhythms correctly. So let that sink in and embrace the importance of simple All. Again, I'm using the word simple air quotes here because they're not, they're really not simple. Embrace the importance of these rhythmic copying patterns that we use today when doing our key of E flat major harmonic workout. Next week, we jump into the key of E flat major melodic workout. And of course, I will introduce some new rhythmic twist for that workout as well. So, hang in there with me, this is going to be a great year, as we experienced a ton of jazz piano growth, working through our harmonic and melodic workouts and all 12 keys. You will love where you are musically a year from now I guarantee it you'll feel the difference and most importantly, you'll hear the difference. Once again, I want to encourage all jazz piano skills members to use the podcast packets, the illustrations, the lead sheets, and the play alongs to guide you as you study and practice these rhythmic patterns. These are educational tools that will help you gain a mastery of the jazz piano skills conceptually physically and of course musically. And as always, I want you to be patient. Developing mature professional jazz piano skills takes time began structuring your practicing after the plane demonstrations that I modeled for you in this podcast episode and you will begin to feel and see and hear your progress I guarantee it well I hope you have found this jazz panel skills podcast lesson exploring the key of E flat major harmonic workout to be insightful and of course to be very beneficial as well don't forget if you are a jazz panel skills member I will see you online Thursday evening at the jazz panel skills masterclass 8 pm Central time to discuss this podcast episode lesson exploring the key of E flat major harmonic workout 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 the educational podcast packets, check out the jazz piano skills, curriculum and courses to maximize your musical growth. And also, make sure you're an active participant in the jazz piano skills community. It's got an entirely new makeover, which I'm thrilled about. Get involved get out there, introduce yourself make some new jazz piano friends, it's always a great thing to do. As always, you can reach me by phone 972-380-8050 by email, Dr. Lawrence email@example.com or by SpeakPipe found throughout the jazz piano skills website. Help there is my cue. That's it for now. And until next week, enjoy the key of E flat major harmonic workout, and most of all, have fun as you discover, learn, and play jazz Piano
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