This JazzPianoSkills Podcast Episode explores the primary contemporary two-handed jazz piano voicings for the major chord using five effective and efficient exercises. A jazz piano lesson taught by professional jazz pianist and educator Dr. Bob Lawrence.
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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 Primary Two-Handed Major Voicings. In this Jazz Piano Lesson you will:
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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 is technique Tuesday. As all my regular listeners know every jazz panel skills podcast episode every week, every Tuesday, is dedicated to a specific jazz study studies that include theory, tunes, study transcriptions, and of course technique. The objective of each study each week is to help you to help all of us become better jazz pianist. I mentioned a few podcast episodes ago that in music when we speak of technique, we tend to think of it melodically. In other words, we tend to think of it as our ability to easily move up and down the piano in a linear fashion, typically involving scales and arpeggios. And not only that, we tend to think that we tend to think that the faster we play, the better our technique. This understanding of technique is not only skewed, it barely at best, As the old saying goes scrapes the tip of the iceberg as pianist technique, in addition to having a linear, a melodic dimension scales arpeggios, it also has a harmonic dimension, chords, voicings progressions, and it also has a rhythmic dimension time groups patterns. So if you are already committed to practicing and improving your melodic technique, and you've been doing so by practicing scales and arpeggios, congrats, you've tackled 1/3 of the technique equation. Today, we are going to continue the process of incorporating an additional third of the technique equation, harmony, and we will in the near future, as I've mentioned before, we will begin addressing the final third of the technique, equation rhythm. But today, today it's all about harmony. So all about voicings today. But before we get down to business, as always, I want to take a second and personally invite all new first time listeners and old frequent listeners to join jazz panel skills to become active members. Simply go to jazz piano skills comm select a membership plan, you can click on the join link and join our jazz family. It's that easy. Once you are an official member, you will have full access to all of the educational content and resources at jazz piano skills. You will have access to the educational podcast guides the illustrations, the lead sheets, the play alongs, you will have access to the interactive courses, which is a sequential jazz piano curriculum. You will have access to the weekly master classes, and then live one hour online class with me every week, every Thursday, an entire hour, you will have access to our private community the skills specific forums. And plus it's a big plus, you'll have access to the personal and professional support 24 seven, literally around the clock. I'm here all the time. And I'm happy to help with any aspect of playing jazz piano any questions that you may have not only about this podcast episode, this specific episode, but any previous podcast episodes or anything about jazz piano in general. I say this every week because it's so very important and I simply cannot stress it enough. If you are serious about developing the jazz piano skills needed for you to become an accomplished jazz pianist, then you should absolutely without a doubt become a jazz piano skills member. To begin taking advantage of all of the educational content and materials, the resources and the professional support available to you, there are several membership plans to choose from. So when you get the jazz piano skills, you will be able to choose from one of three, you can do a monthly membership, which just, you know, if you want to try it out for a short period of time and see how you like it, that's a great plan to get your feet wet. You can also do a quarterly membership plan. And of course, there is an annual membership plan as well. All three plans, regardless of which one you choose, will grant you full access to all of the educational content and materials resources and the professional support. check everything out at jazz piano skills calm and if you have any questions, please let me know. I'm serious. Let me know I'm happy to help help you decipher which plan is best for you. And you can reach me by phone 972-380-8050 my extension is 211 you can actually reach me through speakpipe which is a communication widget that is on the website. It's also available through the podcast guides and the courses as well. You can reach me through email Dr. Lawrence at DSM I'm sorry Dr. Lawrence at jazz piano skills.com. Either way, regardless of how you reach out, let me know and I'm happy to help you determine which jazz panel skills membership plan is best for you. Alright, let's improve our technique. Let's discover learn and play the primary major two handed voicings. Today you are going to discover primary two handed major voicings, you are going to learn how to construct two, two primary, two handed major voicings and you are going to play the primary two handed voicings using five harmonic technique approaches. So regardless of where you are in your jazz journey, whether you're a beginner, an intermediate player, an advanced player, or even if you are an experienced professional, you are going to find this jazz piano skills podcast episode, this lesson exploring the major primary two handed major voicings to be very beneficial. Back on October 13, just a few weeks back, I did a podcast episode exploring the primary two handed minor voicings. And in that podcast episode, I spent a little bit of time discussing, practicing and why most people have an approach to practicing that is wrong. In other words, they do it incorrectly. And here's here's how they have confused the objectives. They use random deficient materials, right like tons of bad books and websites videos, right the classic saying garbage in garbage out. And also poor time management, either too little practice time, or too much practice time. So I just want to take a moment today. And I want to just touch upon these points again, briefly before we get into the demonstration of the primary two handed major voicings. So let's start with confused objectives. Okay. You know, I think most people will tell you well, my objective is pretty simple. I want to get better, which is That's fantastic, right? We all want to get better. But you cannot have a vague that's pretty vague and pretty abstract objective. And if you approach it from practicing from with a vague or abstract of objective, you're going to get vague and abstract results. So some questions that are so very important for you to answer in order to avoid vagueness with your objectives. Number one, what are your musical objectives? What are they for the next year? What are they for the next month? specifically? What are your objectives? What are you wanting to accomplish this week when practicing this week, right now? What are you wanting to accomplish today? when practicing and what and how are you going to practice to accomplish these objectives and when I speak about objectives or we're speaking about Specific jazz piano skills. Right. This is why this podcast is called jazz piano skills you have to be aware of, you have to have a conceptual understanding of what jazz piano skills exist. And what jazz piano skills, I must gain a command of that I must master in order to become an accomplished jazz pianist. Right. So maybe there's vagueness in your objectives, because you're really not quite sure of the jazz piano skills, which is why you're listening to this podcast, and should be on a week to week basis to discover, learn and play the correct and appropriate jazz panel skills. One final note, if you are indeed unaware of the jazz panel skills, that you must gain command of and Master, I can guarantee it that you are practicing incorrectly. And if you are practicing incorrectly, I can also guarantee it that you are not, you are not going to have the results that you're hoping to. Now what about materials? What method books are you using? Are you banking on YouTube videos to successfully guide you? Right either way, you're basically searching for a needle in the haystack. And I have to be honest with you, I would have to think long and hard about what jazz books I would recommend for you to purchase and use. I've mentioned this before, I would have to think very long and hard about that. In fact, I know it would be less than five, probably less than five. And it's funny. I never teach from a book I just don't. In fact, I told the story in the primary in the podcast episode on October 13, about a gentleman that I recently started. And he arrived for his lesson, he started lessons with me. And he arrived for his lesson literally, like with his entire library of jazz books, a library that quite honestly, I'm pretty envious of I mean, he's he's probably got like every conceivable book ever published on the topic of jazz. And basically, he was he's just purchasing book after book looking for like that, you know, that magical paragraph or that magical sentence that's going to illuminate everything for him and, and solve every every hurdle help him jump over every hurdle in becoming an accomplished jazz pianist. Again, searching for the needle in the haystack. Most of these materials, so many of them are packed with a lot of fluff and very little substance. So if if that if his story kind of mirrors your story, I would encourage you to put the books down, right, stop the search. Because there's not a magical book out there, there's not a magical paragraphs that's going to that's going to, like I said, help you jump over every hurdle and become the jazz pianist that you're hoping to become. So what I am saying to you is that you need good information, not a ton of books, not a ton of videos, which by the way are even worse, right? I go out to YouTube, and I check things out. And there's some good information out there, right, but you're gonna have to kind of hodgepodge it together. But there's also a ton a lot more awful information that's going to cause you to run down some seriously blind alleys. So you need good information. So hopefully, that's why you are listening to the jazz piano skills podcast I am giving you on a week to week basis, some very good information that you can take to the piano and begin having success. Now let's talk about time management. If you have good information, then you can invest a little bit of time enjoy huge, enjoy huge gains. But unfortunately, the opposite is also true. If you have poor information, bad book, bad video, you can invest a ton of time and experience very little return very little growth. So the idea is to have clearly defined Long term and short term objectives, bundled with very good information that helps you gain a conceptual command of essential jazz piano skills so that you can maximize your physical musical growth. All of my students here at the Dallas School of Music or through jazz piano skills, have heard me say this over and over and over again, it is your conceptual understanding of music of jazz, that's going to drive your physical development. So if you have a skewed conceptual understanding, and understanding that is foggy, confused, disoriented, which, by the way, is always visually apparent by the number of books that you have, then your physical growth is going to be stunted. That's the truth. That's the bottom line. And that's why you want to make sure that you are not suffering from jazz garbage in to jazz garbage out. That so many, so many aspiring jazz pianist, wrestle with day in and day out. so confused objectives, deficient materials, poor time management, not a good formula for success. Right. Now, we are going to avoid each of these stumbling blocks, not only today, but in every podcast episode, as we discover, learn and play jazz piano. And today, we're going to discover learn and play primary, two handed voicings very specific objective, right, laser specific. So without question, you will more than likely have many questions as we unfold each of the five harmonic technique approaches I use when practicing the primary major two handed voicings. And that is precisely why I am committed to providing all jazz piano skills members immediate, personal and professional support. If you are listening to this podcast through the jazz piano skills website, you can use the extremely convenient speakpipe widget communication widget that is nestled directly beneath the podcast player to send me a voicemail message with any questions that you have. It really it's that easy. It's that simple. One click one speak pipe click and the two of us are interacting with one another. Pretty cool. So send me a voice message with your questions. I will send you a voice message back with answers. Right? Awesome technology. And if you're listening on iheart radio or Spotify, apple, Pandora, amazon music or any number of the popular podcast directories that are out there, you can just simply use speakpipe.com forward slash jazz piano skills to send me a quick message. If you are a scaredy cat and are afraid to send me a voice message, then you can post your question in the private jazz piano skills forum that you have access to as a jazz piano skills member. Right? Use that community to help you in your journey. As you as you develop as a jazz pianist not only again, not only questions regarding this podcast episode, but any questions that you have regarding jazz piano in general. Or if you are a jazz piano skills member you can attend every Thursday, every Thursday evening, you can attend a one hour masterclass that I host 8pm Central time. And you can access this class using the zoom link that is posted on the jazz panel skills website and join the class and engage in the conversation. It is a one hour lesson. Basically it's a one hour jazz piano lesson that you have access to every single week. So I provide all jazz piano skills members with so many ways to get help. So please definitely take advantage of the opportunities. As you know my entire goal is to provide all of you with the very best jazz piano lessons. The very best jazz piano educational materials and the very best jazz piano support that's available anywhere today. Okay, with every single practice session, it is important to establish a single practice objective. Our single practice practice objective for today is to gain a physical command of the primary, two handed major voicings. I'm going to say that again, our objective for today is to gain a physical command of the primary two handed major voicings. Do you notice how incredibly specific this objective is? Number one, primary voicings two of them. Number two, major voicings not minor not dominant, not half diminished, not diminished. Major and major only. Number three, two handed, not left hand shells not block right not walk hands, two handed approach a two handed voicings. So right away, we established practice criteria that prevents us from wandering off into jazz never Neverland. This is so important. Your single Practice, practice objective should be established and set before you even sit down on the bench. If not, I guarantee it. You will be off to never never land in a matter of seconds. Okay, so let's begin, let's construct the two primary, two handed major voicings right. Now before we do this, all of you jazz piano skills members hit the pause button right now. And that go and download and print, the podcast illustration guide, and the podcast lead sheet guide for this episode. You're going to want each of these guides in front of you as we go through this lesson as we go through these voicings, the illustration guide, beautifully diagrams, each of the primary two handed major voicings in all 12 keys. So you're going to have that in front of you. And as the old saying goes, a picture is worth 1000 words, these diagrams, these illustrations are going to be invaluable for you. And that lead sheet guide that you can download, and that you download and print out will contain all of the exercises all of the approaches that I am going to be walking us through today. Right? All of these approaches laid out using traditional musical music notation. Right. So I want you to have both of these guides in front of you as we go through this podcast lesson today on the primary two handed major voicings this podcast lesson, along with the podcast educational guides are going to maximize your musical growth conceptually, orally and physically. Okay, here we go. Primary two handed major voicings, we have two options, option number one. And by the way, we're going to do this for I'm going to demonstrate this right here with C major. So we want in your left hand, I want you to play the E below middle C and the A below middle C. So the third and the sixth. In your right hand, I want you to play with your thumb, the D above middle C The fifth, which is the G and I want you to play the root, which is C listen this. Pretty right? It's all fourth. Basically perfect force going out right E to a in the left hand than A to D, D to G, G to C. Now if you want more of a major seventh sound, drop that little finger from the top from C down to the note B or to the seventh. That gives us a very strong major seventh sound. Listen again. So you have perfect fourths where you can drop the seventh down Have the C down to the seventh to the B give you a strong major seven sound. And when doing so now you have a third up on top. Okay, so that's option one, three and six in our left hand, two, five, and route or seventh in our right hand. Option two, we're going to play B directly below middle C, this is lefthand, B directly below middle C, and then our third E, directly above middle C, we have a perfect fourth and the right hand, we're going to play a six, run play D, the second or the ninth. And we're going to play G, the fifth, put c down here in the bass, that gives us some bottom. So we can hear this voice in in more of a musical context. Nice. So option one, option two. Again, option one. Option two. These are our two primary major, two handed voicings, these are going to serve you well. I promise, these are great voicings, and we have two of them. One starting off the third of the sound, the other one starting off the seventh of the sound. So a couple of things I want to draw your attention to each voicing consists of, if you notice the five notes, two notes in the left hand, three notes in the right hand. This is how I voice chords when using two hands, two notes in the left, three in the right. And these are what we call quarter voicings or fourth the voicings right, because the primary interval use is the interval of a fourth, with the exception that one exception where I told you to drop that root down to the seventh to give you a stronger major seventh sound. Right? So we can build two primary two handed major voicings for each of the 12 notes of music. So that means we have 24 shapes, right? So we can do this for here's our C, option one, option two, we can do it for F, option one, option two, for B flat, option one, option two, and so on. Right? What we can do this same process use this same formula to produce both of these options for all 12 notes, which gives us a total of 24 shapes. And we need to get comfy, we need to get comfortable with the shapes conceptually and physically and of course, orally. And this is where most people, right, this is where most people experienced difficulty. It's interesting the thought of getting 24 harmonic shapes under our fingers, right? Two major shapes, one for each of the 12 notes of music, and initially sounds very doable, however, trying to figure out a way to actually practice them, so that they actually stick is somehow much more challenging, not as doable. And I think it's because there's some abstractness with these voicings because there's no there's no root present, right. Plus, they're built on intervals of a fourth which we're typically used to building our chords using thirds. So today, I'm going to walk you through five harmonic technique approaches that I use when practicing these voicings to get the upper hand on them to get a command of the shapes and these sounds. Approach number one, I just simply isolate each chord by itself, and I practice moving from option one to option two, back to option one back to option two. And how I do this. I'll, I'm going to bring in the ensemble here in a second demonstrate this but I'll sit on option one, maybe for about four measures, eight measures, and then I'll shift to option two for four measures eight measures you can do this however you want. The point is an extended period of time for each court that I sit on that option. What I'm doing is I'm digesting that physically and orally. And conceptually, right, I'm getting used to this shape and this sound, so I'm just digesting it, then I'll move to the other option. I'll sit on it for an extended period of time as well. And then as the exercise goes on, what I do is I shorten the period of time that I sit on each court, right? So it might go from eight measures, down to four measures, down to two measures down to one measure, right? So I'm literally shortening the gap. In other words, I'm forcing myself to move from option one, to option two, in a shorter period of time. Now, I'm going to be playing this exercise at a tempo of 140. Right and all exercises today I'm going to be playing at 140. And of course, you can and I highly recommend that you do begin with slower tempos. When you start tackling any new jazz piano skill or technique approach. Always start with slow tempos. Alright, so I'm going to be thinking and playing C major during this demonstration C major, and I'm going to be going from option one, option two, I'm going to be shortening the gap between each of those chords as the exercise goes along. So listen, and you'll hear that All right, so let's bring the ensemble in. Let's listen to us. Let's check it out, then we'll talk about it. Okay, here we go. Nice. Did you hear that? Did you hear how I sat on each option for a while in the beginning, and then I just continued to shorten the gap between each of those options between option one and option two, forcing myself to move from each option in a shorter period of time. The other thing I also want to mention, you know, when you work on playing these voicings, right, we want to pay attention to more than just the notes. In other words, am I playing with a jazz feel? I playing with a nice jazz articulation, right? This applies to your harmonic approach as much as it does your melodic approach, right. It applies to playing your chords and your voicings, not just scales and arpeggios. So keep that in mind as we go through these demonstrations today. And while you're practicing at home, you adopt the same mindset, right? You got to be asking yourself, do I sound like a jazz pianist? Okay, so the second approach is I use major pairs, right. So now I'm going to, I'm going to pair up my chords. So I'm going to take a C major. And that's option one. And then I'm going to go to a D flat major. So I'm going to think of how step up back to my C major. Then my D flat major. And then I'm going to do the same thing for option two, C major option to D flat major, C major up to D flat major. Right. So now I'm just working with two different two different chords, both major voicings right option one and option two for C major, option one and option two for D flat major. And I'm going to do I'm going to utilize the same approach right I'm going to sit on these for a while and then I'm going to shorten the gap between them. Changing from C major to D flat major. And if the gap is just gonna get shorter and shorter, and then by the end, I'm trying to prove myself, I can move around with ease from C major to D flat major. So let's bring the ensemble in, you'll hear what I'm talking about. Let's check it out. And then we'll go from there. Here we go. Very nice. Wow. If you are looking at those lead sheets, you will see that I have those major pairs mapped out for you not only in the lead sheets, but also in the illustrations. You'll see those voicings as well. But the lead sheets, I have those pairs mapped out for you, you can mix those pairs around as well, right. So I have like C to D flat, I have like D going to E flat, you can do D flat to D, you can be creative in your practicing and move these pairs and pair these chords up, however, however you'd like. But the lead sheet that I provide you is a great way indeed to get started. Also, don't forget, I know you have the lead sheets in front of you, you also have the illustrations in front of you. But don't forget, utilize the play along tracks that are provided for this podcast episode as well. And I have all five approaches that I'm demonstrating today. I play along tracks for all five approaches for all 12 keys are for all 12 major chords. So there's 60 play along tracks at your fingertips to be utilizing and incorporating these approaches into your practicing to help you get these primary, two handed major voicings under your fingers. Right. So take advantage of the play along tracks as well. Okay, approach number three. All right, I now use basically, the diminished chord as my, my exercise. In other words, I'm going to be moving in minor thirds. So I'm going to go C major. Then I'm going to go to E flat major. Then I'm going to go to G flat major. Then I'm going to go to a major. Right, so now I've grouped the four chords together not to we've gone now from an isolated chord to major pairs. And now we're going to group four major chords together. So I'm going to group my C major E flat major, G flat major and a major together, right. So a diminished chord. But I use that format as an exercise, right and now I'm just going to move through that. So that means I have basically three exercises. I have C, E flat, G flat a as an exercise, I have D flat, E, G, and B flat as an exercise. And then I have D, F, A flat and B as an exercise. Just a great way to test your understanding and familiarity with these voicings and moving from one chord to the next quarter the next chord. So again, we've gone from now an isolated major voicings to a major pairs. And now we have groupings of four major chords together. All right, so I'm going to do the same approach. I'm going to play my mate option one voicings I'm going to play my option two voicings and as the exercise goes along, we're going to shorten again Between those voicings move from one to the other to the other, as quickly as possible. Okay, so let's bring the ensemble and let's check this out and see what we think. And then we'll talk about it. So here we go. Pretty cool. Let's create exercise, right using minor thirds. Use those diminished chords as a blueprint to create a nice exercise of moving from chord, to chord to chord, to chord, four. So we've gone from an isolated major chord to major pairs to two, for a grouping of four, now we're going to go to a whole tone rotation, right. So a whole tone rotation means I'm going to move my major chords and whole steps. So we're going to start with C major. And D major, E major, G flat major, A flat major, and B flat major. Nice. So I'm moving in whole steps, I'm using the whole tone scale, C, D, E, and G flat, a flat, B flat. So six, now we have six major chords, we're dealing with two whole tone scales, right, so there's two exercises. So the one I'm going to demonstrate today, C, D, E, G flat, D flat, B flat, but there's also D flat, E flat, F, G, A and B. Right. So now we're up to four approaches, we isolated major chords, we went to major pairs, then we went to a minor third rotation, which gave us a grouping of four major chords. And now we go to a whole tone rotation, which is going to give us a grouping of six major chords. So let's bring the ensemble and let's listen to this exercise. Again. I'm going to pay attention to my, my feel my articulation. I'm going to shorten the gap between these voicings as the exercise goes on. So a lot to think about a lot to digest. So let's bring the ensemble and let's take a listen and see what we think. Here we go. Wow, now we're starting to get now we're starting to get somewhere we're starting to get a command of these major chords. And we're doing, we're doing so these major voicings and we're doing so very methodically, right. isolating our major sounds our major voicings than doing pairs than a minor third rotation, which includes four chords, and then a whole whole whole tone rotation, which now includes exercises of six major chords, right. So, wow, it's very methodical, very strategic. So hey, one more thing I want to mention. Before we do move on to the final demonstration today, if you are a jazz piano skills member, I know you have access to the educational podcast guys. But I also want to encourage you to tap into you also have access to all of the jazz panel skills, interactive courses. And the course is make up a sequential curriculum that uses a self paced format to help you thoroughly study the essential jazz piano skills that you need in order to become an accomplished jazz pianist. And each course just so you know, if you haven't checked them out yet, each course is packed with detailed instruction and illustrations, in depth educational talks, interactive learning media, there are traditional guides and worksheets that you can download and utilize as well. high definition video demonstrations of the jazz panel skills in all 12 keys, of course, play along tracks and lead sheets to utilize as well, and professional and personal educational support provided by me as well. So and in addition to that easy and mobile access to all of the content on any of your smart devices. So if you are jazz piano skills member, be sure to take some time if you haven't done so already, to utilize to check out and to utilize and begin using these courses as a practice tool. Right? Very invaluable, you'll find great benefit from them. Okay, so now let's go to our final demonstration. Our final approach today, you knew it was common circle of fifths. So now we're going to move around the circle, which is now going to include all 12. Right, so you're going to hear me do option one first going around the circle, option two. After that, going around the circle, and then bringing these voicings together. You'll hear you'll hear it in the demonstration as I do this. So now we have all 12 and we're playing all 12 not in a chromatic fashion we're doing all 12 and not in a whole tone fashion right or a minor third. We're doing all 12 using the classic circle of fifths motion, circle of fifths, counter clockwise, C going to F go into B flat go into E flat and so on right. So now we get all 12 major voicings involved in the exercise. So let's bring the ensemble and let's check it out and see what we think. Here we go. Wow, tremendous right. So let's think about this for a second let's let's tie this all up in a nice package for us. Today's lesson we were focusing on two handed the primary two handed major voicings, we have an option one, we have an option two, these are five note voicings to the left, three in the right, the voicing, option one starts your voicing with the third in the left hand, option two, the voicing begins with the seventh in the left hand. So we have two options two primary, two handed major voicings, we used five approaches to help us digest these shapes and sounds. We started by simply isolating the chords, each chord then we paired them up, use the major pairs we then incorporated a minor third rotation, which now required us to deal with four of the major chords. Then we went to a whole tone rotation, which increased from four major chords to six major chords to deal with. And then finally, we went to a circle of fifths approach which brought in all 12 major chords, right so definitely a building block approach to getting these primary, two handed major voicings under our hands in our ears, and sorted out in our minds. So I hope you have found this jazz piano skills podcast lesson, exploring the primary two handed major voicings to be insightful. And of course, I hope it is very beneficial for you. Don't forget if you are a jazz piano skills member, I will see you online I will literally see you online Thursday evening at the jazz piano skills masterclass 8pm Central time to discuss this podcast episode lesson, exploring the primary two handed major voicings in greater detail and to answer any questions that you may have about the study of jazz in general. Also, as a jazz piano skills member, be sure to utilize those educational podcast guides for this podcast lesson and and for all the podcast lessons. Also, be sure to utilize the jazz panel skills courses to help you maximize your musical growth. And likewise, make sure you are an active participant in the jazz piano skills, forums, skills, specific forums, get involved and make some new jazz piano friends. As always, you can reach me by phone 972-380-8050 extension 211 by email Dr. Lawrence at jazz piano skills.com or by speakpipe found on the jazz piano skills website and through all of the jazz piano skills, educational resources and materials. So that's it for now. And until next week, enjoy the primary, two handed major voicings, enjoy the journey, and most of all, have fun as you discover, learn and play jazz piano