This JazzPianoSkills Podcast Episode explores how to successfully practice playing Locked Hands over the standard II-V-I Progression
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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 traditional Locked Hands Technique over the standard II-V-I Progression. In this Jazz Piano Lesson you will:
How to apply the Locked Hands technique to common harmonic motion (II-V-I Progression)
How to strategically use intervallic scale and arpeggio motion when practicing Locked Hands over II-V-I movement
Traditional Locked Hands from the Root through the 7th of the minor, dominant, and major sounds used in the standard II-V-I Progression using ascending motion
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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 we take a huge step, as we discover how to apply the locked hand's technique to common harmonic motion, the 251 progression, we are going to learn how to strategically use intervallic scale and arpeggio motion when practicing lock hands over the 251 progression. And we are going to play lock hands from the root through the seventh of the minor dominant and major sounds found within the 251 progression using ascending motion. So as I always like to say, regardless of where you are in your jazz journey, a beginner and intermediate player, advanced player, or even if you consider yourself a seasoned and experienced professional, you will find this jazz panel skills podcast lesson exploring traditional lock hands applied to the standard 251 progression to be very beneficial. If you are a new jazz panel skills listener if you are new to jazz piano skills, I want to personally as I always do each and every week I want to personally invite you to become a jazz piano skills member. Visit jazz piano skills.com to learn more about the abundance of jazz educational resources, materials, and services that are available for you to use, services, and resources materials that grow each and every week. For example, the educational podcast packets, the illustrations the lead sheets to play alongs that I produce I develop for each podcast episode every week. These podcast packets are available for you to access to download and to use when studying and practicing jazz piano. As a jazz panel skills member you also have access to the sequential jazz piano curriculum which is loaded with comprehensive courses using a self-paced format, educational talks interactive media video demonstrations of the skills in all 12 keys, play along, and much more. You also as a jazz panel skills member have a reserved seat each and every week in the online jazz piano skills masterclass which, which in essence is an online lesson with me each and every week, so be sure to check it out if you are a jazz piano skills member and you also as a member have access to the private jazz panel skills community, which hosts a variety of engaging forums, podcast specific forums and core-specific forums for you to enjoy. 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, visit jazz panel skills comm to learn more about all of the educational opportunities that await you, and how you can easily activate your membership. If you have any questions. Any questions at all, please reach out, let me know I'm always happy to spend time with you. And I'm always happy to help you in any way that I can. I also want to remind everyone to check out the jazz panel skills blog. And you can enjoy the blog whether you are a jazz panel skills member or not. And catch up on some additional insight regarding the jazz piano Skill of the Week, you will find the blog link in the menu bar running across the top of the page at jazz piano skills podcast.com. Or you can just simply once you land on that page, you can just simply scroll to the bottom of the page and you will see an entire blog section. Check it out. I take some time each and every week to jot down my final thoughts about the jazz panel skill explored in the weekly podcast and hopefully provide you with some additional words of encouragement And inspiration as well. So again, check it out, check out the blog, and let me know what you think your feedback, as always, is very much welcomed and very much appreciated. Okay, and let's dig in, let's discover, learn and play jazz piano, let's discover, learn and play traditional lock hands applied to the standard 251 progression. Okay, we spent five weeks,
five weeks, exploring the locked hand's technique applied to the major sound, the dominant sound, the minor sound, the half diminished sound, and the diminished sound. Five weeks, that alone should tell you that locked hands, the lock hands technique is a big-time skill. And with that being said, I think it's important. I've received a lot of questions over the last five weeks about locked hands. And one of the common questions that seem to surface over and over and over again is, wow, do I really need to be able to have a command of lock hands the lock hands technique in order to play jazz piano? And the answer is no, you do not. Right, you can actually play a very nice jazz piano and not use the lock hand technique at all right? So breathe a huge sigh of relief. Now, do you need to be aware of them? Yes. Should you dabble with them? In the beginning, yes. And who knows. dabbling can lead to, eventually a command of the skill of the locked hand's technique, which will then begin to slowly surface into your plane naturally. So keep that in mind. It's important to know about jazz piano skills to be aware of them. But it's not like you have to incorporate every jazz piano skill that you come across into your practice practicing immediately. In fact, I think that's where most students, especially today become overwhelmed because it's information overload. They go out on the internet, YouTube, Google, they search all kinds of concepts and skills, and they get introduced to all kinds of various concepts and skills. And they easily become overwhelmed because they quite honestly have this overwhelming feeling of where do I begin. So the challenge is not the challenge is not finding good information as it was when when I was learning when I was a kid growing up, man trying to find good information to get your hands on was difficult. That's not the challenge today. In fact, the challenge today is trying to streamline and to manage the information that you're receiving, and learn how to prioritize what it is that you study and what it is that you practice. And speaking of practice, that's the next huge problem. Students typically get overwhelmed with all the information and quite honestly don't know how to even begin practicing it. In fact, you, you kind of notice that theme quite a bit and the information that you come across, we're really good at giving out information. Teachers are great at giving out information. But not so great at explaining to you how to begin practicing that information. How do you actually study it? And how do you actually apply it. And if you've been listening to jazz piano skills, my listener, to this podcast for some time, you know, I have some pretty strong convictions about how to begin studying and practicing any jazz piano skill. And for me, jazz. And the study of jazz comes down to the study of shapes, and the study of sounds. And the study of shapes and sounds should always begin with isolation, isolating the shapes and the sounds. That's why we spent five weeks on locked hands right? We isolated the major sound we isolated the dominant sound, the minor sound, the half the many sound the diminished sound. So with any jazz piano skill, I immediately plugged that jazz piano skill into a sound, and then I'm asking myself the question on hallways, what shapes are surfacing with this jazz piano skill within this sound, what shapes what are the shapes, and then I practice those shapes in relationship to that sound. And I isolate each sound major dominant minor, half diminished and diminished. I do this for every jazz piano skill, just like we did with the locked hands over the last five weeks.
After isolation, becomes the applying the shapes and sounds, to harmonic motion to a standard progression, like we're going to do today, the 251 progression. So every jazz piano skills begin begins the study and practicing begins by isolating sound, then it moves to application within harmonic motion, like a 251.
After applying a jazz panel skill, to harmonic motion, like 251, then we can begin to apply it within a context of a tune of a song. So I kind of have a three-step process, right with every jazz piano skill. Number one, you isolate its relationship to shapes and sounds. Number two, you apply it to harmonic movement, like a 251. And number three, you then begin to drop it into a song into a context of a piece of literature. And if you're not approaching the the study and practicing of any jazz piano skill in this process, then I think you're kind of scattered shooting, I think you're kind of throwing darts at the dartboard hoping to hit the target once in a while, and hoping something good comes from it. The fact is, the mastery and command of any jazz piano skill is a slow process. It's a slow process that takes time and develops over time. And when you take us, you know, a random approach to the study and application of a jazz piano skill where again, we're just kind of throwing darts at the dartboard hoping has a target hit the target once in a while. That even slows the process down even further. So practicing has to be as I have said many times within this in the jazz piano skills podcast, the various episodes, I've said many times that practicing that's why it has to be very methodical, and very strategic. And that's, that ultimately is my goal with every podcast episode is to provide you with a very methodical and systematic way to approach practicing and studying any jazz piano skill. So today, we are basically taking step two, we're stepping into step two, right, where we've looked at these lock hands, isolated by sound major dominant minor, half diminished, and diminished. And now we're going to begin applying them, practicing them creating little Etudes little exercises to apply them to a very common and standard progression found throughout all jazz literature. And that's the 251 progression. So the agenda for today, the educational agenda for today is as follows number one, I am going to present eight locked hands exercises for practicing the locked hand's technique over the standard 251 progression. Number two, each exercise will focus on using ascending scale and or arpeggio motion through the 251 progression. And number three, for exercises, will use to note melodic groupings. We're already familiar with that from the other podcast episodes. And for exercises, we'll use three-note melodic exercises three-note groupings, and again, very familiar with that approach. Number four, I will be playing all demonstrations today all exercises using a very relaxed Temple of 85. Number five, at the end, I will improvise over the 251 progression using lock hands and the various shapes and sounds presented in each of the exercises. So if you are a jazz piano skills member which should take a few minutes right now take some time right now to dance Download and print, the podcast packets, the illustrations and the lead sheets. You have access to all the podcast packets and you should I remind you of this every week you should be using them when listening to this podcast and of course you should be using them when practicing. If you are 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 comm to download the podcast packets, you will find the download links the active links within the show notes. And one final but very important note that I include every week that I mentioned take time to mention it's that important. If you are thinking that this jazz panel skill today, the traditional lock hands played or the standard 251 progression if you are thinking that what we are about discover, learn and play is in some way or even if you think it is all the way over your head and I would say to you, okay, relax. So what continue to listen, continue to grow your jazz piano skills intellectually by listening by listening to this podcast episode. The fact is, all jazz piano skills are over our heads when first introduced. And that is precisely why the first step to mastering or gain in command of any jazz piano skill. The first step is listening. This is the way we improve our musicianship through our ears. Our musical growth, as I have mentioned many, many times, our musical growth begins upstairs conceptually, 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.
Okay, let's let's go through these exercises. I didn't mention it earlier, but I want to mention it now I am playing today in the key of B flat. So we're going to be dealing with C minor seven, the two-chord, f dominant seven the five chord and B flat major seven, the one chord 251 in the key of B flat. And the very first exercise that we're going to do, we're going to move through that 251. And we're going to be focusing on the root and the second of each sound. So the C minor, we're going to be using the C and the D as the melody. When we get the F dominant seven, we're going to be using the F and G as the melody. And then when we get to the B flat major seven, we're going to use the B flat and the C as the melody right there. So it has we have this ascending line using the root and the second of each sound. C minor f7 B flat major. So we want to bring the ensemble and I want to drop this into the context of the 251 progression in time in time. We're gonna I'm just gonna play those shapes for the for the minor for the dominant in the major to start. Then I will again explore with those shapes using some rhythmic variation right going to keep this very simple though for right now. We're going to be moving one direction ascending, and we're going to be using the root and the second of each sound as our melody note and voicing them using our traditional locked hands. So let's bring the ensemble in. Let's check it out and see what we think. Here we go.
Very nice, right? Very nice fact, it's kind of funny, right? Just two notes using two notes on each sound. And voicing them with our locked hand sounds pretty darn good, pretty darn good. So now we're going to expand it. Exercise number two, we're going to go from a two note group into a three-note grouping. So on our C minor, we're going to use the notes C, D and E flat as our melody, we get the F seven, we're going to use the notes F, G, and A as our melody, and then B flat major, we're going to use the notes B flat, C and D. And when we play those notes, using lock hands, it sounds like this. My C minor, I have seven, B flat major. Wow, nice again,
before major Okay, so let's do the same thing, bring the ensemble back in place these voicings within our locked hand's technique within the context of 251 progression played in time, going to play the shapes first pretty straight, and then I'm going to add some rhythmic variation to have a little fun. So here we go. Let's check it out and see what we think.
Nice. So this is going to be this is going to be the approach that we take for the remaining exercises, we're going to start with a to note grouping, followed by a three-note grouping, we just did that launching from the root of each chord of the two-chord, the five chord of the one chord, our entry point was the root. We're going to utilize the same approach now but now our entry point is going to be the third of each sound. So for C minor, our two note grouping is going to be E flat and F for F dominant seven a, the node A and B flat. And then for the B flat major seven, the D, the note D, and E flat. So there's our melody. So lock hands again. There's my C minor sound go into my f nice and now go into my B flat, a D and my E flat. Nice. So now let's bring the ensemble and let's drop those locked hands. Those two-note groupings into the context of a 251 progression placed in time. See, see how they sound. Again, our entry point is the third of each sound the third, once I'm comfortable with the shapes want to add a little rhythmic variation and have a little fun. So here we go. Let's check it out. See what we think.
Very nice love it. So now that we've done our to note grouping, launching from third, we're going to now add a three to a three-note grouping launching from our third. So the melody on on the on the C minor chord on our two chord is going to be E flat, F, and G, the melody on our F dominant chord is going to be A, B flat, and C and then the melody on our B flat major chord is going to be flat to voice those using lock hands we get this there's my C minor now my f dominant seven. And now my B flat major melody. Beautiful. So once again, let's bring the ensemble back in. Let's play these traditional locked hand voicings over our 251 progression in time, our entry point is going to be the third of each sound. And we're going to use a three note grouping. After we're comfortable with the shapes, we're going to apply some rhythmic variation to have a little fun. So here we go. Let's check it out. Then we'll talk about it.
Love it, absolutely love it. So now I think you see where we're heading. Right, we started with the entry point being the root of each chord within the 251 progression, then we move to the entry point being the third of the two of each court found within the 251 progression. And we use two and three-note groupings. From each entry point. We're going to do the exact same thing now. But our entry points going to shift to the fifth of each sound of the two-chord, the five chord and the one chord. So for the two-chord or C minor, our melody is going to be G and A to note rubine. Then for the F dominant seven, it's going to be the melody No, it's going to be the note C, D. And then for B flat major seven. The melody note is going to be the notes f and g again the entry point is the fifth and we're using two-note groupings. So for C minor using lock hands, our two notes are gonna sound like this. Love that sound for F dominant seven and then for our B flat major, the fifth and the six of each sound within the two, the 251 progression. So once again, ensemble is invited to come back in. We're gonna play our 251 progression in the key of B flat C minor seven f dominant seven to B flat major seven. Our entry point is going to be the fifth of each Sound and we're going to use a to note grouping voice using traditional lot hands. So here we go. Let's check it out, see what we think.
Very, very cool. Very nice. So we've done our to note grouping, now it's time to utilize the exact same approach once again, again, being very methodical here, very systematic in our approach to applying this jazz piano skill to harmonic movement, harmonic motion. So now we're going to use a three-note grouping entry point is going to be the fifth of each sound. So our melody on our C minor is going to be the notes G, B flat. And then on our F dominant seven, the five chord, our melody is going to be C, E flat. And then on our B flat major seven or one chord, the melody will consist of the notes F, G, and a. So when I play those melody notes of the 251, using our traditional lock hands, I get this for my C minor. My f dominant seven, my B flat major seven. Beautiful, again, ascending motion all the way through our 251 progression. Our entry point is the fifth of each sound, and we're using a three note groping. So once again, let's invite our ensemble back in let's play our traditional locked hands through our 251 progression and see what we think let's have some fun. Here we go.
Have it absolutely, absolutely love it. So let's just review what we've done so far. Okay, we've utilized the route as our entry point through our 251 on each sound of our 251. The two-chord the five chord, the one chord we've utilized the third is our entry point. And we've also utilized the fifth as our entry point. With each entry point we've, we've used two note and three-note groupings to create our melodic line or melodic idea. And we've used us sending motion only through through the entire progression, the 251 progression, but we have my five And we systematically have worked our way through the 251 progression, and utilizing the root to the seventh of each sound of the two-chord of the five chord and the one chord. Right. So now what I want to do is play through each 251 progression now playing straight arpeggio movement from the root to the seventh of each sound. So for my C minor, I'm going to get, I'm going to fly up on top straight arpeggio, right, f dominant seven, flat, and B flat major seven. Some literally just using us ending arpeggio motion, with the entry point being the root for each chord of the 251 progression of the C minor seven, f dominant seven, B flat major seven, and now in a place that in the context of time, applied to the 251 progression, harmonic motion movement. So let's bring the ensemble back in. And let's see what this sounds like. It's a little more challenging right? arpeggio motion from one chord to the next quarter, the next chord. So here we go. Let's check it out and see what we think.
What do you think? Pretty cool, right? Such a methodical approach to actually putting these traditional lock hands to use to getting comfortable with this technique. With harmonic motion movement right now worried about trying to plan an entire song at this point. Using this technique. I'm just worried about trying to employ this technique, utilizing common standard harmonic movement found within jazz literature. And you can't get any more fundamental, any more common any more standard than the classic 251 progression. So now that now that we've utilized straight arpeggio motion through the 251, I want to raise the stakes a little bit, make it a little more challenging, I want to see how well I have a command of the shapes and sounds. So I'm going to play through my 251 progression, utilizing scale motion on each, each, each chord, each sound of the 251. So I'm going to go straight up my C minor scale using locked hands. For the rates of the seven, shift right into my f dominant route to the seventh, then then my B flat major, same thing right from the root to the seventh. So let's bring our ensemble back in. Let's play these traditional locked hands using ascending scale motion through the two. The five and the one chords in the key of B flat are 251 progression. Let's see what we think. Here we go.
Wow, what a process right? very systematic, very methodical, very logical way to begin the next step to begin applying our traditional locked hands to harmonic movement harmonic motion. So now I want to after all this hard work, I want to have a little fun and do a little improvisation, using these shapes and sounds that I've just worked hard on, worked hard on getting under my hands right under my fingers. So let's bring the ensemble back in. Now I'm gonna just move the shapes and sounds around from the thread the through the two chord, the five chord and the one chord, I can try to do anything really fancy, not playing any notes other than the scale tones, but everything is voiced using traditional lock hands. So let's bring the ensemble back in. And let's have just a little bit of fun moving around within the sounds this 251 progression using our traditional locked hands. So here we go. Let's check it out.
Wow, what a great sound, what a great sound. And I want to just want to stress once again, you do not have to have a command of lock hands this technique to play Greek jazz piano, you simply do not. It is a technique that I strongly urge you to study. And to begin dabbling with, as I mentioned earlier, it's a technique used by practically every jazz pianist on planet Earth. So you need to be aware of it. And you should start exploring with it a little bit and having a little bit of fun. But keep in mind that this is a big-time skill that will take time that will take time to incorporate into your planning. So look, it never fails, right we have unpacked a ton of information and each, we do it and each and every podcast each and every week. A ton of information today was certainly no exception. As we explored the traditional lock hands technique played over the standard 251 progression and again, without doubt, this is an essential jazz piano skill, not a required jazz piano skill. And when you do tackle this when the time is right for you to begin studying this technique, and practicing it, just keep in mind that it will require some intense study, relentless practice. And of course a lot of patience. I want to encourage you as I always do to map out these voicings on paper, paper practice, as I call it, use the podcast packets, the illustrations, and the lead sheets to guide you use the play alongs that are provided for you to drop all of these skills into a musical context. The illustrations include paper practice template that you can use for mapping out the harmonization of the various scale tones within the 251 program. And as you as you've heard me say this over and over and over again, and I mentioned it earlier even that conceptual understanding determines your physical development. So the time that you invest in study and mapping out the traditional locked hands, the voicings is time very well spent, that the return on your investment cannot be adequately expressed. It will be huge I promise. Most of all I mentioned this just briefly earlier, be patient This is a big-time jazz panel skill that will take time to digest both mentally and physically. We've covered a lot of ground, the five weeks that we spent isolating each sound and then the work that we've put in today we have covered a lot of ground and a lot of material. So be patient structure, your physical practice and your study after the plane demonstrations that are modeled for you today in this podcast episode. And if you do you will begin to see you will begin to feel and hear your progress. I guarantee it well as always, I hope you have found this jazz panel skills podcast lesson exploring the traditional lock hands played over the standard 251 progression to be insightful and of course, to be very beneficial. Don't forget if you are a jazz panel skills member I will see you online Thursday evening at the jazz piano skills masterclass. 8 pm Central time to discuss this podcast episode lesson exploring the traditional locked hand's technique played over the 251 progression in greater detail, and to answer any question that you may have about the study of jazz in general. Again, as a jazz panel skills member Be sure to use the educational podcast packets, the illustrations the lead sheets to play alongs for this podcast lesson, and also be sure to use the jazz piano skills courses to maximize your musical growth. Likewise, make sure you are an active participant in the jazz piano skills community get involved, and contribute to the various forums make some new jazz piano friends reach out it's always a great thing to do. As always, you can reach me by phone 972-380-8050 my extension is 211 by email Dr. Lawrence Dr. Lawrence at jazz piano skills.com or by speakpipe found throughout the jazz piano skills website. While there is my cue, that's it for now, and until next week, enjoy playing the traditional locked hands or the standard 251 progression. Enjoy the journey. And most of all, have fun as you discover, learn and play jazz piano