How to Create Flowing Jazz Improvisation Lines

6 techniques to improve your improvisational flow.

Hey guys, Willie Myette creator of jazz edge, I want to welcome you to episode number 13 of the confident improviser podcast. All right, so let’s get started here today what we’re gonna be talking about is how to create flowing jazz improvisation lines, I’m going to give you a six different techniques that you can use to improve the flow of your improvisation, right. And what that means is like, you know, when we’re playing

like, rather than a being like, like you feel how stiff that is, we want to make that nice, and

we want to start to get those lines more flowing more even. And just feeling more relaxed. These techniques are going to help you today. Alright, so first of all, who’s this podcast for this really goes in conjunction with the confident improviser program over at jazz edge. So if you’re a member of that program, these podcasts kind of follow along with the exercises. And if you’re looking for a video replay or you want some more information on the confident improviser, just go back to the confident Alright, so how to create flowing jazz improvisation lines, the first thing you need to know is that you have to know your chord tones in order for this to work. If you don’t know your chord tones, then you have to start there. And I would suggest checking out my piano essentials program for that. So now when I say chord tones, I say like, Okay, if I’m asking you, what’s an F major seventh chord, you should be saying F, A, C and E natural, okay? If I say E flat seventh chord, you should be saying E flat, G, B flat, D flat. All right? If that is confusing to you, or you do not know that, then you want to make sure you go through piano essentials and really focus on those chord tones. So you can learn those chord tones. Why is that important? It’s important because when we improvise, we can utilize chord tones in our improvisation and it’s always going to sound good. So Isn’t that awesome? To have a technique that we can use? It’s always going to sound good when we improvise, you know, and they’re always going to work. Alright, so maybe you don’t believe me? So let’s pull up I real pro here. Let me put on this is just the first two measures of days of wine and roses. Take a listen, just using chord tones.

Alright, so now sounds pretty good, right? I mean, again, you know, you’re probably not going to win any improvisational awards. But the point is, it sounds good. It works at it, you could always grow from them. Alright, so what’s the first step in making this happen? The first step is you have to pick your starting note and your target note. Now, one thing that I like to do when it when teaching improvisational lines and kind of thinking about improvisation is that there’s always a start, and there’s always an end. Okay, so you want to think of your improvisation lines, like a sentence. Like I just said that sentence. I’m going to go to the movies with my friend. Okay, well, there’s the my sentence, I had a starting part of it. I had an ending part of it. And then we also know that if we write do something like that I started sent it, and then I don’t finish it. Well, that feels kind of weird, doesn’t it? It’s like, what what, what are you going to say? So we need to hear the beginning part. And we need to hear the end part, we need to hear a full thought. And that’s what we’re trying to do with our improvisation if we don’t think about the starting note in the ending note that we might be starting or ending on a note that’s not going to sound all that great. Let me give you a quick example of that. So here’s Jason winder, Rosa again, listen this.

Right, so can you hear some of those starting notes and any notes in the line? They don’t sound really that great, do they? There’s an awful lot of tension there. So when we’re talking about starting notes, and target notes or ending notes, think about chord tones. So you see what we have going on here right now is we’re starting on the third of F, and then we’re going down to the seventh of of E flat. Now don’t worry if you can’t see the sheet music, all of the sheet music is going to be available for jazz edge members right in the confident improviser program. So you can just go ahead, login and download all of the sheet music right. So right now on the right hand side Starting on the third of F, which is an A, and then I go down to the flat seventh of E flat, which is D flat. So just start with that very, very simple. Okay, all I’m trying to do is just create a very simple line. So here we go. I could like kind of play around with the rhythm of that. So good. So now I know where I’m going to start my line, I know where I’m going to end my line. The next thing is to fill it in with quarter notes. So in the F major seventh measure, in the first measure, remember, we’ve got two measures going on here, one measure of F major, one measure of E flat seven. So in that F major measure, I’m going to fill it in with F major seventh chord tones. And what am I doing here? Starting on the A, which is my third, I go down to the root, the seventh, which is e, and the fifth, which is C, right? So A, F, E, C, all right, for my F major seventh, you know, a blackboard seventh chord, okay, so the third, the root, the seventh, fifth, and then it resolves nicely up to that flat seven of E flat. Now, still just quarter notes. But now we’re starting to get somewhere.

All right, so sounds pretty good, right? I mean, you know, again, you’re not gonna win any awards in improvisation. But now we’re starting to fill this out more starting to flesh this out more. Okay, that’s number two. Number three, now use eighth notes to fill in the back half, or the back end of the measure. So we’re in four, four times. So the last two beats beats three and four, we’re now going to use eighth notes there. So now we go. Whoops.

With the left hand. So now you can hear that we’re getting a little bit more motion going up. So what are the notes we’re choosing? Well, first of all, again, the third and the root, but then we go down to the seventh, sixth, seventh, and then we go to the seventh of E flat, so rain, and here, we have this D in here, which is the six, you might not think to naturally play that note, the reality is that we’re really not worried about what these notes are right now, the main thing that we want to worry about is we want to worry about getting from the starting note to the target note. And then if you hang with me for a couple more minutes, I’m going to give you a couple of examples that really kind of explain that a little bit more clearly that it really doesn’t matter what the notes are, that you’re playing, okay. Of course, you know, we take that with a grain of salt, of course, the notes that you play, have meaning to them, right. It’s not like you just simply play anything. But the idea is that so many times students worry so much about the notes, and they’re less worried about the flow, and I’m going to show you how even playing notes that we would think that would be wrong. If you play them with good flow. It still sounds good. All right, so this is the third exercise here, just try filling in the back half of the measure with some eighth notes, write the number four, fill in the front half of the measure. So the first two beats, this is where I’m going to do the, you know, eighth notes now. So

here, I’m playing the third, the ninth, the route down to the fifth, and then I go back to the seventh. And then I go to the seventh of E flat. So what you notice is that it’s pretty much all chord tones is a little passing tone in there of the night. But for the most part, it’s all chord tones, right now number five, do the whole line in eighth notes. So

okay, so here we have 39667 to the fifth and then to flat seven for E flat. Okay, so, A, G, F, D, C, D, E, C, D flat, all eighth notes, right, the last one number six is Try creating your own eighth note lines, but this time use rest and upbeats. So this time, what I did was I didn’t start right at the beginning of the measure, I did an eighth note or an eighth rest, right? And then came in on the, the the upbeat of the first beat, right? So the D bar by d by d by d, but do so.

Now, here, you’ll notice that I’m starting on this chord tone, right, the A, and then it kind of goes down to the ninth, then to the seventh, then to the root, okay, in here, I’m starting on a weak beat on a chord tone, right. But it still sounds nice, even though that the ninth is on a strong beat. I like the sound of that. And let’s also see how we have that kind of going from the ninth, the G down to the E, and then I come up to the app, so we kind of enclose that F, and the rest of this f EDC kind of walking right down that F major scale, and then moving right to the E flat seven, the seventh. Alright, so now you got these six, six different techniques, what is it that we’re really trying to do? Okay, I can sum it up for you right now, we’re trying to get from here to there, right, trying to go there to there, and we’re trying to fill in the space. Now the techniques that I’m giving you here is a way to like really kind of codify it and make it a little bit easier for you to be able to approach filling in that space, if you’ve never done it before. But if you have a little bit of scale, or you just want to try winging it, then what you could do is just simply put on the railroad track or put on a backing track, and then you just kind of play and see how many lines you can come up with going from there to there. Now, what you’re going to notice is that you will get kind of jammed up right with your rhythm, right? So let me give you let me play it and give you some examples as I play it. So here’s an example of getting jammed up. Well, I wasn’t able to, I wasn’t able to get it right on the beat, right? So I gotta make sure I get there on the beat. So I had to kind of jump down to where my thumb, right? So let me try it again. Better. Whoops, we ended up ending. See, I can create this, like literally dozens and dozens of lines. And all I’m trying to do is go from there to there. Why practice that? Right? The question might be like, well, Willie, why don’t I just practice improvising, going from F to E flat and just kind of do do whatever it is that I want to do? Those target notes, the starting notes, and especially the target notes help to define your improvisational line, right, when you have those target notes, you have kind of like a foundation in place that then now you can start to build on top of if you don’t have those target notes, then what’s very easy to have to happen is on those strong beats, when you have that new chord like the E flat seven coming up, you end up hitting a D natural or something, or an E natural. Well guess what, those are not going to sound very good, it’s gonna make your improvisation sound like garbage. And you’re not going to be defining the chord anymore, because this is not part of the E flat dominant seventh chord, right. And then the flat nine is not a very strong resolution either. So by having those notes in place, that you’re trying to get your improvisation to meet those, you know requirements, you’re trying to get that to that line to that target note. Now what you’re actually practicing is how to manage the space between the notes. Okay, so you already have a shell, you already know, like, if you go back to step one here, you already have a shell, okay, I know I’m going from A to D flat, but I want to keep going with the song, you know, a minor seven, I could go to C and then D seven, I could go to an F sharp, right? So I can like kind of shell out using my chord tones or my guide tones or whichever one I want to do. Okay, you use those chord tones to really shell out and create a foundation for my improvisation that then I fill in. But you have to practice that filling in if you don’t practice the filling in and you just think hey, I’m just going to put these foundational notes in here and I’m just going to go for it. Well, you’ll probably find that you’re going to miss That target notes, because you have to get used to feeling and hearing how many notes there are in that measure those eight eighth notes, right. And especially if you’re going to do eighth notes, you know, trying to get eight notes. Now, notice this, you can use chromaticism throughout. So like you could start here, going here, you’re going down there. So now let’s just count it out. 12345678. And we end there. Well, wait a second, can I really just use those eight chromatic notes? And then another D flat? Guess what? Let’s take a listen. You tell me.

You bet works quite nicely, in fact, right. So now you have all these other notes in here. And you might say, Well, wait a second,

I’m playing in G flat, I’m

playing in a flat, right? All on an F major seventh chord, how can that possibly work? It works. Because those are heard as passing tones, you’re just kind of passing through them. The main tones, again, are that a down to D flat, A to D flat, what you fill in in the middle, really kind of matters less, as long as you do it with good rhythm. So let me give you some other examples here, some kind of outlandish examples as well.

All right, so you can hear that I’m doing all I’m practicing all these different variations. And some of them are just crazy, right? Right, like notes that you just wouldn’t normally play over an F major seventh chord. But as long as you do it strong. And you start with your strong starting note, and you have a strong target note, guess what? It all works out in the wash. It all works out in the end, as long as you play it strong. Now, let’s talk about what I am not saying. I’m not saying that you could just play a bunch of garbage, and just be like, oh, wow, there you go. That’s what I want to do right now. No, I mean, like, there always has to be a good musical sensibility. But the challenge when when it comes to improvisation is that a lot of times, we think it’s really so much about the notes. Oh, it’s all the notes that we’re playing? What are the notes? What are the right scale? You know, we don’t think enough about the rhythm. We also do not think enough about the flow. Because remember, I’ve played several exams, I’m not gonna bother to bore you with it now. But if I play with bad flow, play all the right notes, it still sounds bad. But if I played the quote, unquote, wrong notes, but I play it with good rhythm and good flow, it sounds okay. You know, it doesn’t sound you know, it doesn’t sound great. But it doesn’t sound terrible, either. Right? Now, if we have some organization here in which we have some target notes, right, starting notes, target notes, and then we start to fill in between there. Now that organization as you just heard it, right, it sounds good, right? You might not love every single line. But at least you’re going to be able to get through the song. And you’re going to be able to put together a solo, because you have these main kind of like, like buoys that you’re getting to these waypoints as I like to call them, right. Like, these are points in the map that Okay, we’re gonna go there, then we’re going to go here, then we’re gonna go here, then we’re gonna go here. Now what happens in between those points? Yeah, you know, it might be a great adventure, it might not be a great adventure adventure. But the point is, as long as you get to those points, you’re going to reach your destination. I also want to remind you that I have my new standards by the dozen course, which is going to be starting this week, right? So if you’re a member of jazz edge, you’ll be able to take advantage of that course. And if you have questions on the confident improviser, be sure to join me on Thursdays at 1pm. And you can The link is right in the members area. And then you can ask me any questions and get feedback on your upline? Alright, so anyway, that’s it for me guys. Thanks a lot and I will see you soon.

Piano Mindset

Three ways to improve both your practice and performance.

Hey guys, Willie Myette, creator of jazz edge, and I want to welcome you to episode number 12 of the confident improviser podcast. Today, we are going to be talking about piano mindset. And I’m going to share with you three ways that you can improve both your performance, and also your practice at the piano. Now, I just want to remind you that this podcast goes along with the competent improviser program, which you could find a jazz edge. If you want more information, and also replays, you can go back to the confident Alright, so let’s get into this piano mindset. And first of all, let’s let’s just figure out like, what is the definition of mindset? Well, if you go to Google the definition, it says, the established set of attitudes held by somebody, so whatever it is that you decide to believe in, that’s your mindset. Now, when I’m talking about mindset at the piano, how I like to describe it is what you decide to focus on. Alright, so where is your focus? And let me give you a couple of just fun, silly examples. All right. So if you get into a fight with a friend, right, just before you sit down to practice, well, where is your mindset going to be right, you’re going to be thinking about that conversation that you had. Or let’s say that you just scratched off a lottery ticket, and you just want a million dollars. And now you’re going to sit down and practice the piano, right? Where’s your mindset going to be, it’s probably going to be on that brand new Steinway grand piano that you’re going to buy, right. So wherever your mind is at, and whatever it is that you’re focusing on, that is going to be what is going to either help you or hinder you when it comes to practicing. And also performance. Right, so let’s dive in into three different examples.

First of all,

let’s talk about performance mindset. Now, one thing that I suggest that students do is before they actually sit and play a song, that they actually take a moment and just breathe, kind of hear the song a little bit in their head, maybe hum a few bars of it. And this is good for several different reasons. Number one, the the most practical reason is it helps you to establish the tempo, it’s so easy to start a song either too fast, or too slow. So by you sitting there for a second and just kind of, you know, humming the song, it just makes sure that you kind of have it, you know, at the right tempo. And a good suggestion is make sure that you know what the bridge is, as well, right. So if you’re if you’re doing like, eight misbehaving, boo, boo, boo, boo, boo, boo, boom, right, so is the beginning of a misbehaving the bridges, dadda, dadda, dadda, dadda, dadda dadda, right. So if you start to sound off on badoo, badoo, badoo, badoo, did it really fast, and you get to the rich data, that might be too fast for you. So make sure that you go through the main sections of the song and just you know, what the tempo should be, so that you don’t get yourself into a trouble spot. The last thing you want to do is start a song at one tempo, and then have to change to a different tempo in the middle of the song, the audience will hear that every single time, right. And it’s very, very difficult to cover that up. So you really want to keep a nice steady tempo throughout the entire song. Of course, I’m generalizing as you get better, yes, you can change tempo, and all of that, but I’m talking about changing tempo, when you weren’t, you know, really thinking about changing tempo, right? The other thing that that little bit of pause before you start to play, what it does, it helps to set up the audience as well, when you have pause. Right? Do you see that pause that like kind of, like you start to fill in with your own mind, hey, what’s what’s going on? Why is there silence? You know, like, what’s he going to do? What’s he going to say? what’s he going to play? Right? So it kind of helps to build up a little bit of that drama, before you start to play. You also allow the audience time to kind of kind of chill a little bit before the next song, right? So if you just ended one song, and you’re going to play another song, kind of gives the audience a moment like to kind of rest their ears a little bit, right? So for instance, if I’m going to sit down like the song that I like to use in the site is my romance. It’s a great standard part of our step by step standards course. Right? So if I’m going to sit down, I’m gonna play the song. I’m just gonna jump right in.

Right, see, I just jumped right into it’s kind of sloppy and whatnot. Now imagine I do this. If you’re listening in the car, you’re going to hear some silence, right? But that silence will help to build a little bit of drama. So here I go.

Do you hear that

little bit, that little bit of a pause before I start to play just helps to set the mood. And I’m so happy to see so many students have been doing this and joining in on coaching and showing this and what a difference in their play, it sounds so much more relaxed, it sounds so much more controlled. So record yourself on video playing and try both ways, try just jumping right into a song, then take a minute, just kind of put your hands in your lap, look at the keys, or close your eyes. Use this as a time to just kind of relax the body, you know, kind of get prepared, like hum a few bars to the song, and then put your hands on the keys and then start to play. This isn’t like 60 seconds of pause. I’m really talking like maybe 10 to 15 seconds of pause. Alright, so that’s the first thing that your performance mindset. Now there are many other things in performance mindset as well. Like thinking about getting rid of all the mental garbage Oh, I can’t do it, you know, all of that negativity. That’s where you take a minute to breathe, and hey, look, it’s just it is what it is. Just play. We’re all human beings. We all make mistakes, it’s absolutely fine. Nobody’s going to get arrested or die, you know, for making a mistake at the piano. So just let it be right? just just just let it flow. Alright, Second thing, practice mindset. Okay, so like the example I was saying, you know, if you just want a million dollars in the lottery, and now you’re gonna, Okay, I’m gonna go sit and practice piano, you’re likely not going to be really focused on what you’re practicing, right? You’re going to be thinking about all the things that you want to, you’re going to want to buy with that million dollars. So when you’re getting ready to practice, it is helpful before you sit down to practice to have an idea of, Okay, this is what I’m going to do. This is what I want to try and achieve. This is my goal, okay, for this practice session. Remember, I don’t really like to use the word goal for long term stuff. I like the idea of focus instead. But goals are good for more short term, you know, things like a practice session, what is my goal here for today? What do I want to get down? You know, I want to go through and I want to do my rootless chord voicings, you know, my dominant seventh rootless chord voicings and all 12 keys, Okay, great, or I want to be able to practice, you know, four major scales, nice and smooth and slowly hands together, Okay, great, you know, or I want to be able to learn the first part of this song, whatever it is, coming into your practice session, with a clear idea of what it is that you want to get out of that practice session is going to dramatically change. You know, what you get out of that practice session, remember, garbage in, garbage out. So if you just kind of sit down, like, Okay, I’m just gonna sit down and practice. And then you know, a lot of times students will sit down, and what are they doing, you know, you sit down, and they start to play, you know, stuff that they already know, right? And then they, they get up from the practice session. And it’s like, they didn’t learn anything new, they just basically practice all the stuff that they already knew. That’s not a really good practice session isn’t that’s more of a repertoire, practice. So there are many different ways in which you can approach this. And it really depends on you, I’m not going to tell you, oh, write down notes beforehand, have a document on your computer, you don’t have a notebook, you do whatever works for you, right, if you want to write down some goals, you know, or an idea of what you want to get out of your practice session.


go ahead and do that sticky notes, that’s fine. Putting it you know, if you have an iPhone using Apple notes, putting it in there, using some other third party program that, you know, you could take notes in, you know,

Google Docs, whatever

it is that you want to do, or you can even just wing it, you know, but at least you take a minute, maybe 60 seconds, two minutes, and think about what do I want to get out of this practice session. Okay, it’s also a good time, while you’re doing that, to do a little bit of stretching and breathing, right, just kind of warming up the body, you know, like, you know, doing some nice, easy stretching, if you need some ideas for that. Take a look at my pain, tension and technique lesson, you know, but there are many different stretches that you can do, you know, stretching your neck as well back and forth, nice and easy. You know, like doing that kind of stuff, rolling the shoulders. You know, all of that stuff is just good to kind of warm up and loosen up the body. Before you sit in practice. Again, we’re not talking, you know, like, oh, you’re going to do a 20 minute yoga session nama stay. You know, yoga is great. I love all of that stuff. I’m not saying you have to do that. In order to sit down and have a good practice session, I’m saying take 60 seconds, maybe two minutes, do a little bit of light stretching. And while you’re doing that, just think about what you want to achieve at the piano. And remember, this is mindset, right? And if we go back to what mindset is, it’s like an establishment of attitudes that a person holds, right? So you can listen to all this and be like, that’s a bunch of hooey. Okay, well, now you have the mindset of like, you know, you disagree with with me, and absolutely fine. You know, it’s not going to be for everybody. But it’s what you decide to kind of have in your brain. If you think I’m full of it, then go ahead and do your own thing. And best of luck to you. If you agree with this, then try incorporating this into your practice. All right, the last one is theory mindset. There’s no question that there’s a lot of theory involved with playing the piano right now, if all you want to do is just sit down and play songs, and hey, just show me songs. I don’t care about the theory or anything like that. Okay, well, then fine, then what will happen is like, you’ll learn songs, but you’ll never truly understand what it is that you’re playing, right. And there’s nothing wrong with that. Okay, there really is nothing wrong with that. Me personally, I am the type of player where I want to know what’s going on, right? I don’t want to be beholden to somebody else to have to tell me what’s going on here. I want to know for myself, so theory, as I’ve said many times before, is really a great thing to practice away from the piano. So theory mindset means that when I am away from the piano, I’m still going to be thinking about piano theory, right. And when I think about that piano theory, and I start to visualize, you know, chords, scales, maybe even improvisation, melody, you know, progressions, that visualization process helps me get better at the piano. There was a study that was done, and I shared a TED talk on the jazz edge Facebook group, so you can take a look at that Ted Talk. But basically, there’s a study on basketball, basketball, free throw mindset. And if you do a Google search for that, I think the doctor was Dr. Babbitt, or something, Babcock, something like that. But you can find that study and read up on that. And basically, here’s the gist of the study. So there were basically two different groups or three groups, one group of basketball players just did nothing. Okay. So obviously, you kind of know what’s going to happen with them, right, they’re not going to improve, they did nothing, they just sat around and did nothing. That was the control group. The other group practice free throws for X amount of time, I don’t know how long it was, I think it was a few sessions of like, 20 minutes each or something. The other group practice free throws just in their mind, right. So they imagine themselves, they visualize themselves, practicing free throws, and then all three groups got together at the end. And they, you know, found out like, who improved and who didn’t? Well, obviously, the ones who did nothing sat around while they didn’t improve at all right, you kind of know, that’s gonna happen, the groups that actually practice the free throws, physically, you know, they

actually threw the ball, they improved. Sure. Okay, that makes sense. But what was most surprising is that the group that practice the free throws, just mentally, right, so they just visualize it in their head, then practicing that free throw, they also improved, right? So now, there’s so much that we don’t know about the brain. And nobody really has a complete, you know, handle on it and understanding on it. But we do kind of know, and, and science is telling us that that visualization process really does help. So if you’re away from the piano, this is the point of Guinea and if you’re away from the piano, and you’re thinking about chords, scales, progressions, melodies, whatever it is, whatever you’re practicing, away from the piano, believe it or not, it will help your performance. I have even seen classical musicians have their music, and they’re practicing it on like a desk. So there’s no piano there, they’re just tapping it, you know, on on a table, and then that helps as well. Moving your fingers like that. That’s another way you know, if you’re, you know, driving in the car, of course, all of this and do it safely. But you know, you could visually practice you know, chords, you know, with your hand just trying to get the position of those chords and starting to feel that position of those chords, practicing scales fingering of scale, so you could kind of do air piano, famous jazz pianist, bud Paul. The as I know the story, you can look it up for, you know, to see if it’s factual or not, but I think A story goes from what I heard, he was admitted to a hospital. And he was there for a while. And he practiced piano by visualizing a piano on the ceiling, and playing the piano on a ceiling. There was another saxophonist art pepper who actually was in jail. And he practiced saxophone, by using a tin can believe that, you know, like, isn’t that crazy, and I was actually writing his book, straight life, which that’s a crazy book and a crazy ride. It’s a very interesting book to read. But this is an idea that, that that visualization in that, you know, air, guitar, air piano, air saxophone really does help and really does work, right. So again, think about these three different ways of mindset, performance mindset, taking a little bit of a pause, kind of thinking about the performance before you actually start to perform. Practice mindset. Think about what you want to gain at that practice session. What’s

your goal? What do you want to get out of this practice session? And finally, theory, mindset. Think about theory, scales, chords progressions, think about that stuff away from the piano, right?

You could be going for a walk and be doing theory in your head, those three different types of mindset will really start to change your playing, you know, pretty dramatically. Right? And, of course, this you know, I’m talking about piano, but it’s really for any instrument, right. And if you have any questions, be sure to join me on Thursdays 1pm. Eastern, that’s when I do the confident improviser live training. All of those links are found right inside the members area, jazz edge calm. Thanks for joining me guys. And I’ll see you in the next podcast.

Switching Styles in Music

Learn how to switch your improvisation between jazz, rock, blues and other styles.

Hey guys, Willie Myette, creator of jazz edge. Welcome to episode number 11 of the confident improviser podcast. Today, we’re going to be talking about how to switch styles in music. And you’ll learn how to switch out your improvisational lines that you’ve been learning in the confident improviser. Now, just remember, if you want more information on the confident improviser just go back to the confident And this podcast is really designed to go along with the confident improviser. Alright, so switching styles in music. So if we have I have exercise 11 here in front of me, and I’m just going to put on the medium swing tempo at 100 beats per minute, this is what we’re typically doing. This is what you’re typically hearing in the competent improviser so far, here we go.

I’d say you’re learning these licks you learn in these short phrases, short progressions, and you know, it’s building up your improvisation. Well, now, many students would be, you know, thinking themselves, you know, I know I would Well, how do I apply these licks and improvisation ideas to other styles of music. Because even though I love jazz doesn’t mean that I’m always going to play jazz. Sometimes I might play blues or rock or Latin or whatever. So how do I apply these licks to other styles? Alright, so the first thing you have to understand is, the main difference in styles is the rhythm. Okay, now, of course we can get into and we could start to split hairs, obviously, of like, Oh, well, you know, jazz has more complicated progressions, and the chords are more complicated. Yes, of course, right. The chords are different. In jazz, you’ll find more seventh chords in tensions, rootless chord voicings all of that, whereas rock pop might be more triadic bass, you know, three note chords, more, you know, I want to say simpler chords, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re, they’re always going to be simple. The point is that the chords are going to usually be played a little bit different. But the real crux of it, if we really boil it down to its most basic difference between, say rock, and blues, and jazz and Latin is really, that drum style, it’s really that beat. It’s really the underlying swing versus straight. Okay, so if I were to change this to say, a rock pattern, it’s gonna sound something like this, right?

Now, these chords that I’m playing in the left hand, yeah, you could still use them might not fit so well. In a rock pattern, you might want to move to more just octaves, or maybe some simple triads. But the one thing you’ll hear that I changed in the right hand, was the way that I interpreted and played the rhythm of the lick. Okay, so when I played it swung, it was more.

And when I played it more in a rock field, I played it more straight, it was more like this. Mm


So, that’s the main difference in your styles. Like I said, of course, the chords are going to be different, the progressions will be different. But if you’re playing and moving from rock to jazz, you probably already know that those chords and progressions are going to be different anyway. So, when it comes to moving your licks from one style to the other, you have to know well, should I be playing it straight or should I be playing it swung? Right? And then straight is d by d by d by d bar, right? And swung is d by d by d by d by right, you could kind of feel that, that swing pattern and the real difference in terms of the rhythm and the difference between straight and swung is in straight eighth notes, okay, or a straight rhythm. You’ll notice that the eighth notes are very straight, they’re very uniform, right? So, if we’re thinking about, you know, the eighth note equaling 100%, the first eighth note is 50%. The second eighth note is 50%, as well, there’s your 100%. But now when we swing it, it’s usually more like 70% on the first eighth note 30% on the second eighth note, right, so that’s where we get the d by d by d by

debugging. And the more that you give to the first one, the more it’s really starting to do, buddy, you know, you can really swing this thing out. So

when we’re playing straight, it sounds like that day by day by day by day. That’s that’s my a thought. That’s what I’m thinking.

I sound like you can hear that debt debt debt debt debt, debt, debt debt, right, my eighth notes, I’m playing them straight. When I swing, it’s more

I’d say you can hear that the eighth notes there are swung, right. So that’s the difference between straight and swung eighth notes. If you need more in depth on that, take a look at my rhythm essentials course, at jazz edge, and you’ll get a whole deep dive on rhythm and vocalizing the rhythms. So now it comes back to well, should I play the rhythm straight? Or should I play it swung for the style, then applying? Well, the first thing you could do is just use your ears. So let me change this to a Latin field. Right I’m going to do a do like a Bossa Nova field, and then bring this down, we’ll bring this down to 120 beats per minute, okay.

All right, so let’s take a look at what I’m going to do is I’m going to play this swung, right in fact, I’m going to do is going to bring it down to 100 beats a minute, just so you can really hear this swing pattern.

And of course, remember, if you’re just kind of jumping in and kind of hearing my stuff for the first time, remember, these exercises are designed to be simple. We’re not blowing off the doors here with our, you know, most creative improvisation ever, you know, it’s a step by step approach here. So sometimes some of these licks are gonna sound, you know, a little hokey, maybe, you know, they might sound a little bit, you know, not not as sophisticated as we might want them to sound. But that’s okay. We will get there. So anyway, when you listen to that, when I was playing the swing eighth notes over the Latin feel, how did it How did it feel to you that it feel like it was it was right that it feel like in the pocket in in the groove, listen to it this time and see if you could figure out what the difference is that I’m doing?

Do you hear the difference? You know, if you didn’t pick it out, and you want to go back and rewind a little bit and see if you could figure it out? So the answer is that when I played it in a Latin feel, right, or in a Bossa Nova feel, I’m playing the eighth notes straight. So I am playing the rhythm straight versus swung. So now the question is, what is a player to do? How do I know if I should play it swung or straight? Well, the first thing you could do is use your ears and just kind of listen to it and see if it sounds right and it feels right. But then there’s also some guidelines. Typically when playing jazz, blues, those are definitely swung styles, like a blues shuffle, it’s a triplet bass, it’s a swung. It’s a swing style, when you’re playing classical music that’s straight, Latin music, funk, rock, those are all straight, eighth kind of fields, and you would want to play straight rhythms. Let’s put out a funk beat here, just a little bit fast. Let’s see how this goes. And then you know, while we’re at it when I was when we put a nice electric piano sound here to

let me do this. I want to bring this up just a little bit so you can hear this.

Alright, so now let me slow this down here, it automatically goes to 140. So let me bring it down to 100 again, so you can kind of really dig in and hear it.

Now listen to this one.

right you can. It feels so weird to play it swung over the funk rhythm. But you could kind of hear and feel that Oh, wait, it just doesn’t feel right. Right. So when we switch styles, the main thing to consider is, what am I doing with my rhythm? Right? So am I playing it straight? Or am I playing it swung? And is the straight or swung? Is that the best choice for this style? Then again, use your ears and listen to the groove. Let’s try another one here. How about blues? In fact, this is a gospel feel, according to

I real pro here. So let’s see what this sounds like. I put out 125 beats per minute.

Okay, this is kind of like a shout, feel. So let’s put it on 200, like I said,

was really, really building me moving fast.

Whoa, boy that’s moving along there. Right. So let’s bring this down a little bit, because I want to really show you something and bring it down to tempo 175

started again.

Now you’ll hear that? Okay, that was 175. And do you hear how it still had some swing to it? Let me bring this down to now let’s go down to 140. Okay, I’ll bring it down to 140 for a tempo. And now listen to it.

All right, so you can you can hear that. All right, that’s more swung up. Devin.

Right, you can hear that swing field. Now let me bring it back up to 200. Again, right? Take a listen to 200. And listen to what happens.

I only put the piano sound on so you can hear it just a little bit better.

little mistake in there. But anyway, you get the point. The point is that when we move faster, we swing less. So as the rhythm moves faster, the swing starts to straighten out. Right? So when you’re playing like a, you know, a blues field and put on a different blues field. Here’s a Chicago shuffle, right?

All right, so you can hear it, it’s swung. Listen, what happens if I play it straight.

Now that one is not so bad, when you play it straight like that it doesn’t sound so so off, right? But you should swing it instead. Right? So the best thing to do is record yourself while doing this, you know, either audio or video so that you could listen back and kind of feel like how does it feel because sometimes when you’re playing it in the moment, you might not really kind of get the field down. Let’s go back to the medium swing again at 100 beats per minute, this time now if it’s a medium swing, so obviously I should be doing what I should be swinging the eighth notes. I’m going to play them straight just so you can hear what that sounds like.

All right. So this is just dipping a toe into the idea of switching styles. And I just wanted to get you guys really thinking about those eighth notes in the straight versus swung rhythm. If you have questions on this, you can join me every Thursday, with the confident improviser live q&a sessions that I do just log into the site and you’ll see it there. If you want help with rhythm, take a look at the rhythm essentials course, that’s a real great course to understand the difference between straight and swung to get down your vocalization. And there are also a bunch of rhythms in there to help get you started. Also, in level, one of the confident improviser, there’s a rhythm practice guide, I would suggest taking a look at that as well. Now what I was using from the drum beats in case you didn’t see it, and you’re just listening in the car or wherever. I’m using ireo Pro. And what we’ve done is we have the competent improviser

backing tracks that can be imported right into AI real pro, right? So you can download them right on the website, and then bring them right into AI real pro. And the beauty is once they’re in AI real pro, you can switch between a number of different styles. So you heard all the styles about switching to today. Well, those are all available in ireal Pro. Alright, so anyway, that’s it for me. Thanks, guys. I will see you in the next episode.

“Big Three” Seventh Chords

These exercises will help you master your 7th chords for faster recall.

Hey guys, Willie Myette

creator of jazz edge, I want to welcome you to episode number 10 of the confident improviser podcast. So today we are going to be talking about the big three seventh chords. And I’m going to show you some cool exercises that they’re going to help you be able to master the seventh chords so that you can recall them faster at the piano, I want to remind you that this podcast is designed to be used along with my confidence in improviser program found at jazz edge, there will be a video replay of this as well, which you could find at the confident you could find more information about it there. Okay, so just go back to the confident improviser calm. Alright, so the big three seventh chords. So when I’m talking about the big three seventh chords, I’m talking about major seventh minor, seventh dominant seventh chords, right, you really want to make sure that you know those chord tones. Now we’re using all three of those types of chords, those three quality of chords in exercise number 10, exercise number 10 starts with a C major seventh chord, right, and it goes to an a seven chord, then a D minor, seven chord, and then a g7 chord. So we’re getting the major, the minor and the dominant. Alright, so I got five exercises here that I want to show you that are going to help you be able to master these chords faster. The each of these exercises involves you spelling out the name of the notes in the chord, right. So what that basically means is like if we were to play a C major triad, that would be the notes, C, E, and G, right? So C is the root is the third, g is the fifth. Now I realized that, you know, I have students around the world, and some students, especially in France, and Europe, learn using a solfege method, and they are not actually spelling out the actual note names. So I will tell you that you can do this via soul fish, but it’s going to be a lot more difficult for you. So I suggest and encourage you to learn the note names of the chords, trust me, you won’t regret it down the road, that theory is really going to help you be able to master these chords a lot faster. Okay. All right. So with our C major seventh chord, the notes are C, E, G, and B. So C, E, G, and D, let’s just get down the four chords. First of all, a seven chord is a C sharp, D, and G, D minor seven is D, F, A and C. And finally, g seven is G, B, D, and F. So first of all have to know those chords. If you don’t know those chords, then I wouldn’t bother doing these exercises, because quite frankly, you’re just not ready yet. But if you kind of know the chords, you could, you know, you know the notes of those, you could spell those, these next five exercises are going to help you be able to really lock in those chords. Much better at the instrument. Now you can spell these away from the piano. And that’s what we’re going to be doing here in this podcast episode. But remember, you can also play them as well, right? So these exercises are good to play at the piano. And I will be doing some of that as well. Right. So if you happen to be looking at the podcast, video replay, there is sheet music that you can download for this will make the exercises a little bit easier. Alright, so the first exercise is just going up from the roots, right, so all you’re doing is you’re spelling the chord from the roots of each of the chords. So for C major seventh, spelling it up from the root, it would be C, E, G, E natural, right? So this is what we just did a second ago, right? A seven would be A, C sharp, and G, D minor seven would be D, F, A and C. And finally g seven would be G, B, D, and F. So first of all, you just want to make sure you could spell all those chords going up from the root. The next exercise exercise number two is simply going down. So you start on the seventh, and you go down each of the chord tones. So C major seven, I’ll give you a second. Think about what it is. All right, so it’s B, G, A seven, what is it? It’s G,

C sharp,

D minor seven, start spelling out the notes. It’s C, A, D, and finally g7. What are the notes? It’s f, d, b, and then finally G. Now that little bit of pause that I gave, you should give you enough time to be able to submit those notes before I start to play them. If not, it just means that you have to work on spelling these chords a little bit faster. Okay? All right, exercise number three, this is where it gets a little bit interesting and a little bit more tricky. So let’s take some time on this. So again, the notes of the C major seventh chord, our C, D, G, B, right, and we have this as the root, the third,


fifth and the seventh of the chord. Okay, so that’s all fine. So this exercise is called from the third. So that means you start on the third, which is e, and then you spell the rest of the notes. So that would be B, and then C, G. So again, we have root 357. I already said the three I said the third. So now I’m going to say the root, I’m not going to say the third again, because I already said it. So I’m going to skip over, I’m going to say the fifth. And then I’m going to say the seventh. So it goes third, root, fifth, seventh, third, root seven, and the notes for that for C major r, e, c, G, speller for a seven,

C sharp

speller for D minor, F, A, C, speller for G, seven,

B, G.

All right, great job. Now if you didn’t get that, just rewind that, try doing that again. But I’m spelling the third than the root than the fifth than the seventh. Okay, so exercise number four, this is from the fifth. Well, what do you think we’re going to do now, back to our C major seventh chord, now we’re going to say the fifth, which is G, then we’re going to say the rest of the notes, which is then the route, see, the third is D, and the seventh is B. So we go fifth, root, third, seventh, obviously, we skip over the fifth, because we said at the beginning, so five, root three, seven, so that would be for C major, G, C, D, be for a seven, day, C sharp, for D minor,


C, and for G, seven, D, G. All right, great job. And then finally, exercise number five, you guessed it from the seventh. So then we say, the seventh of the chord first, then we go down and say the root, the third and the fifth. So for C major seventh, that would be

B, C, G,

C, G, A, seven, G, C sharp, D, minor, seven, C, D, F. And finally, g seven, F, G, B, D. So you should realize as well on that, from the third from the fifth from the seventh, we did the third than the root, then the fifth and the seventh, we did the fifth than the root, then the third and the seventh, we did the seventh than the root, the third and the fifth, right? So we are always going down, while of course, we could go the opposite direction as well. So when we’re starting on the third, I could go the third E, and then come down from the top, B, G, C, A, B, C sharp, G, D minor, it would be F, C, A, B, and then g seven, it would be b, f, d, g, so just know that you can change around that direction, as well. All right, so let’s talk about practicing these at the piano. Well, when we sit at the piano, we could simply just do these as eighth notes. Okay, so that’s literally just going right, up and down. going right, on up. And if you want you can go down as well. And actually, a real nice exercise is go down one hand and go up the other hand, if you don’t like that interval there, it’s a little too close for you. Don’t worry, I get it. In that case, play the hands an octave apart.

Again, if you don’t like that sounds too much tension then just go into fight. So what you can also do is you could start To mix these together, so we have three root five, seven. Okay, well, let’s do the three root five, seven over here in the right hand, but remember how I said that you could also come down so you could go three, seven, fifth root

that’s separated by an octave. So in the left hand, I’m playing E, C, G. And the right here, I’m going A, B, G, C, right? So you can, there’s all different patterns that you can come up with here of these, but you could find it really quite interesting. What about if you did something like this, rather than going 357? In both hands, do that in the left hand, but in the right hand, let’s keep it simple. Let’s just go root 357.

All right, what if we did five root three, seven in the left hand, and still just do root 357? in the right hand? Right.

So what if you did something to like, go down in the left hand, let’s do this on a seven. So I’m going to do the seventh, the fifth, third and the roots in a seven. So that’s G, C sharp and a in the left hand, and then just to start, I’ll go up in the right hand. That’s pretty simple. So now what if I do the seven root three, five in the right hand.

So I was just going down in the left hand, seven, root three, five in the right hand. So you can practice these, you know, in some more advanced ways like that, but really, the best way to practice them at the piano to just get started. It’s just

just simply go up and down, up and down. And just try and play them nice and steady. You don’t have to go as fast as I just went. That’s good. Not too fast, right? Just nice and steady. That’s the name of the game. Okay. Now, to finish up here, you know, you might have the question. Okay. So why do I really need to know these chord tones? What remember when improvising, if you know your chord tones, you can always use your chord tones for improvisation, and it’s always going to sound great. So listen to what happens if I put on the I real pro track for exercise number 10. Right. And then I’m going to play my just my root three root seven chord shows in the left hand. But now listen to what happens when I am just improvising using chord tones in my right hand. Right? Listen to how good this sounds. There we go. Whoops. Got to put the bass on. Sorry about that. Let’s put that bass sound on right now. Here we go. Excellent.

It’s all cortos. Now again, it’s not blowing the doors off of anyone’s house for improvisation, right? I mean, it’s not the most interesting improvisation that has ever been played. But it sounds good, right? And that’s what we’re looking for. At this stage of the game, just something that we can play, we can hold on to it’s going to sound halfway decent. It’s going to get us an improvisational sound, and then we can always add on to that later. But in order to make this happen, you have to know your chord tones, and you have to know them quick, quick, quick, quick. So if I say a seven, bam AC Sharpie, g you’ve just said it already. If I say D minor seven, you will immediately see it as d f, AC, g seven g b, d, f, h Then you start moving into other keys, E flat seven, E flat, G, B flat, D flat, B flat major seven, B flat, D, F, A, right G major seven, G, B, D, F sharp, right, you should be able to see those chords and be able to spell them very, very, very quickly, faster, the better, right? There’s really, you can’t spell them too fast. So if you can get it down, see EG p, AC sharp, Eg you know, like, if you can get it that fast. Great. If you can spell it that fast. Don’t fret, right? If as long as you could be like, Alright, D minor, seven, D, F, AC, Okay, that’s good. It’s not super fast, but it’s not too slow. The exercises I laid out in today’s podcast will help you get there. It does take work. So be patient with yourself, do the work, right and I’ll see you guys in the next exercise.

Three Easy Jazz Endings

Learn some classic song endings to add to your arrangements!

Hey everybody, Willie Myette, creator of jazz edge. Welcome to episode number nine of the confident improviser podcast. So today we’re going to be talking about three easy song endings, and you’re going to learn some classic endings that you can add to your arrangements. As usual, this podcast is really best designed to be in conjunction use in conjunction with the confident improviser program found a jazz edge. If you want more information, just go back to the confident And you can get more information there and also catch replays of the podcast episodes as well. So today, we’re going to be going through three easy song Enix. Now of course, remember the term easy is relative, what’s easy to some will not be easy to others. So remember, take a take your time, you can listen to this over and over again, if you check it out the podcast and if you happen to be a member of jazz edge, be sure to take a look at the video of this because it will be extremely helpful for you to be able to see exactly what it is that I’m doing. Alright, so the first ending is this. Oh, and by the way, all of these endings are designed to go at the end of the exercises. At the end of the lesson, I’m going to give you some other resources of some other lessons that are on the jazz edge site for endings. But these endings, I kind of built them and design them to, you know, work with the exercises that you already have been learning. That’s not to say that you can’t use these exercises at the end of songs you most certainly can. And I actually I use some of these endings as well at the end of songs, I’m sorry, I think I said you can’t use these exercises at the end of songs, I meant to say you can you can use these endings at the end of songs. Most definitely. Alright, so first of all, ending number one, it goes from the four chord right to the one chord. So for in the key of C, we’re going to go from an F chord, which in this case, I’m going to play it as an F dominant seventh chord, and I’m going to resolve to my C. Now that’s c by the way that resolution chord could be a C major, it could be a C dominant, it could be a C minor, it really doesn’t matter. The f7 to C works whether going to f7 to C major, or, or to C minor. Okay, so, in the right hand, I’m going to just come right on down the blue scale 321432121. That’s my fingering, right, and the note notes are C, D flat, G, G flat, F, E flat, C, B flat C, we get this.

It’s usually best when playing this ending to retard the tempo as you go. Okay, so to retard means to go slower, right, so we instead of going

kind of like slow it down as we go.

Hold that out. Now I’m going to show you examples of each of these three endings. So let’s just move on for right now. That’s the first ending. Ending number two is the Duke ending. And this is the Duke Ellington ending, you’ve probably heard it before.

Right or

so it’s a very, very common jazz, and then definitely something to put into your practice routine. Now, you could start up here and see. So right now I’m just playing lefthand, it’s see that it drops down into E,

F sharp, and then thumb on G, G, A, B, C, C, E, F, F sharp, G, A, B, C, you could also start with the see down here, that would still be C, E,

F sharp, G, A, B, C.

And the way that I have it written here is like this.

Go right into that C, but the reality is, you could do this.

See, I took a little bit more space in there a little bit more time before I came down to this note. Now once I hit this note down here, it’s usually best to hit some kind of chord up here, maybe a C seven chord, maybe even a C major, major seventh, okay? C minor, whatever chord you want to end on, that’s absolutely fine.

You could also play it hands together. Now the only thing with this ending is it doesn’t really work well for minor. Okay, so if you’re gonna play the minor, you’re not gonna want to come down to a natural, you could come down to an E flat

and then hit a B

Flat up here or a B natural, either one would actually work.

You could do that, although that’s not your typical Duke ending, ending. So. So you know, Duke Ellington ending is

usually not played a minor, but you could tweak it to play it in minor, you’ll make a little bit more central, we get to the examples. And then the last ending ending number three, here, we end on our, whatever the first note is of the exercise. So I’m playing a C here, and then I’m playing

isn’t nice voice and right here, we break down this voice and explain what I’m doing. First of all, left hand, just root five. So we’re going up a half step, we’re playing D flat major seven. Okay, so I’m playing a root five and the left hand, which is D flat, and a flat, and then I’m coming down to a root five, for C major seven. Route five, again, is C and G. So D flat and a flat, down to C, and G, D flat, and a flat down to C and G. In the right hand, I am playing the third of D flat, the seventh. And the ninth, those notes are F, C, and E flat. And this see right here is middle seat, so you kind of know where it is on the piano. This is F below middle C, middle C, and an E flat.

And then the right hand notes just come down to how stuff as well. So I’m playing at the end D in the right hand. So F C, D flat, then coming down to E, and D, that’s all right.

And you can play around with this rhythm as well, it doesn’t have to be two quarter notes. So the way I have it right now is 12341234. All right, it doesn’t have to be that it could be to

do that as well, a quarter note, eighth note. So you see how I can anticipate that C major. So that’s a cool sound. Now there is an alternate ending to this. And rather than playing D flat major with the C natural change that seemed natural, to a C flat,

and then change this B natural to a B flat for a C seven, this is a D flat seven chord going down to a C seven chord.

And this C seven chord could also be minor as well. So I could change that thumb down here, you know, is playing an E, I could play an E flat. So again, notes in the left hand exactly the same D flat, a flat, C and G notes in the right hand,

B natural or C flat, and E flat.

And then resolving down to E, B flat, and D four c seven.

Or if I want to play C minor, it would be B flat, B flat D.

So this ending obviously works well for our minor progressions. Okay, so here’s an example, for ending number one. So here I have the exercise number eight. Okay.

So I have the I’m sorry, exercise number nine, it is.

Literally, I could play the exercise, but

go through it again. This time, I’m going to end I’m going to go to the f7.

And then I end on the C right. So I literally, just, as soon as I’m done with the exercise rather than coming back and playing c again. I just go right into ending number one. So again, that would be

f seven.

And then going to see right on I gotta send a shout out to my student Joe, she had the idea of doing this ending podcast. So thank you, Joe for that. Alright, so here is ending number two. Here. I think I’m doing I forget exactly which exercise it was, I believe it was number four in the left hand here. So

right so is one of these exercises that has that baseline, right. So it might have been four or it could have been number six as well. You know what I’m going to do I am going to find out for you right now.

It was not number believe it was number four. Let’s just double check here. Yep, number four. Okay, so this is exercise number four that I’m playing

Now, for those of you who are listening to the podcast and can’t see the music in front of me, I have a C minor chord for one measure. And then in the second measure is an F minor chord for two beats and a g7 chord for two beats. Okay? So it’s C minor,

F minor g7.

c, see my, Alright, so what I’m going to do is I’m going to play the exercise, right.

And it would normally go back and play the exercise again, and just keep looping it. Okay, so what I’m going to do this time, is I’m going to add on that Duke ending. Now, even though I said, hey, look, it doesn’t really quite work all that well and minor. The point is, try it right, you never know what’s going to work until you actually try it. And then once you try it, if you find out that a second, I really like the sound of it, then you can tweak it a little bit. So let’s take a look. Take a listen to what that sounds like.

So say, she doesn’t sound all that bad. Let’s try it again.

Do it one more time.

And now the ending.

This time I ended on a C minor chord. So I kind of kind of mix these together and play around with it. then figure out from my ears, what I like the sound of remember endings and intros which you can also use these as intros as well. But we won’t get into that today. But endings are, you know, it’s almost like copying and pasting, right where you could like, kind of copy the ending or like I let me paste it here, let me paste it here, let me paste it here, you could try putting it at the end of many different songs or exercises, it’s not always guaranteed to work. But the only way that you’re really going to learn what works and what doesn’t work is to try different things out and kind of make some judgments for yourself based upon what it is you hear. Alright, so one thing that I circled in the music is this last note in the baseline. So the baseline for exercise number four here is C, G, C, I’m an octave, then G flat, F, F, G, and then going down to D. And then we’re going to resolve down to this C down here. So we have the D right here. But the way that the ending is written, we’re going to come up to our two up to the C up here. And it’s going to sound a little bit weird to do that. So

sounds like an awfully big jump. So in that case, as I said, in that Duke ending, we can either play this note here, or down here.

So you want to pay attention to where you’re leaving off in the baseline and make sure that the ending that you’re going to choose is not some dramatic jump, right? So if I go from D, to C there, that’s gonna sound like a big jump versus if I go D to C right there.

So just remember to pay attention to pay attention to where you’re ending and making sure that you’re not doing these large skips or jumps in your baseline. The end is, what if we tried this exercise along with ending number one, right?

But then ended on minor versus major? Well, let’s try it

one more time.

Sure, you can do that there’s nothing wrong with that, that would work out fine. What you might want to do in that case is writing going G and then down to D like that, just play the G twice, and then go to the F so that sounds like this.

F, F, G f7.

And then play C minor. You can play a full C minor chord, it would probably sound better than just doing the root three shell. Okay. All right. So, point is you can mix and mingle these endings and try out different stuff. All right, let’s take a look at the last one, which is ending number three. So this is using exercise number. Exercise two, right, so


So we have our simple bass line down here to the left hand, just C, E flat, F, G. So take a listen to this. I’m going to play the action

sighs and then go into the ending, listen to how cool it sounds.

It’s pretty sweet, huh? It’s a nice sound right there. Alright, so what’s going on? Well, I’m literally just playing the exercise. And as soon as I’m done with the exercise, I go right into ending number three. But remember, I’m going to play that first note of the exercise. Now, in ending number three, I wrote the first note, as a see up here, obviously, if you’re playing the baseline, and starting down there, that’s the C that you play, you play the lower one, you play this one down here, so you’re not gonna do this.

And then come up to this scene of here, and then play.

That’s not gonna make sense. So instead, you do,

go to the lower seat, pull that out to bees.

There’s the anticipation.

You could also play that two or three times like that. So it sounds like this.

In the right hand, I just went up an octave, went up an octave went up an octave, and I kept the left hand where it was, I could have gone up an octave with the left hand as well.

Right. So hopefully, what you’re hearing and understanding is, it’s absolutely okay to play around with these endings. And to try and figure out new ways of utilizing them, right. So you don’t want to just have the ending just be one ending that you use one way, play around with it. So the best way of doing that is take these three endings, and try adding them to the end of any of your exercises. Now I have set it inside of the lessons, but in case you’ve missed it, you could always just end your exercise by going right back to the very first note that you played in the accompaniment, and just hold it out. So in this case,

go back to see and hold it out for like I don’t know, 234 beats, and then, you know, take your hand off, right. So that’s the easiest ending that you could do is just play that first note, hold it out. But if you want to try adding on some of these other endings, I think you’re going to find that it really elevates your

you know, it elevates your, you know, the sound of the exercise, it makes it also a little bit more fun starts to sound like okay, there’s a nice closing out of the exercise.

There is one other thing I want to say on ending number three, because remember, we also had that we also had that major one as well. So where would that one work? Well, if you have any major progression, like you know, in exercise number eight or number nine, okay?

Number nine.

And then what remember, what you want to do is, you don’t want to go down to a baseline like that, right, hit the seat down here, if that’s not part of the exercise, you want to play the first note of the accompaniment in the exercise. All right, so the accompaniment in exercise number nine, again, is the root three and C seven on a three and D seven on G. So when I’m going to play that first note of the exercise, right that it says in this half step resolution, and then that means I’m going to go to C and E, I’m going to play that chord show, I’m not gonna come down here and play a similar note baseline, because this exercise is like using the baseline. So again, it would sound like this.

Play the first few notes.

And then now I come down to my D flat major seven, down to C major seventh, okay.

So it’s


And the beauty of this ending and all of these things is that it should not matter if you have a large hand or a small hand reach, okay, whatever your reaches, you should be able to hit all of these relatively easily.

The largest stretches this in the right hand, F C and E flat, but honestly, that should be fine for most people’s hand size. So they’re very versatile endings for all types of players. Alright, so some other endings

lessons, take a look at the jazz and blues Made Easy course. Take a look at lesson number 25, three easy blues and things out of my noble guide to jazz piano. And I also have an intros and endings course as well. So there are many, many different options for you to be able to learn a whole bunch of different endings and introductions at the jazz head site. Alright, so that’s it for our podcast. If you have any questions as a member of the confident improviser Remember, you could always join in on Thursdays and ask me questions live right so that’s it. Have a good one guys. I’ll see you in the next episode.

Comping Chords

Learn how to comp your chords to fill out your improvisation.

Hey guys,

Willie Myette, creator of jazz edge and I want to welcome you to episode number eight of the confident improviser podcast. Alright, so today’s topic we’re going to be talking about comping chords. And you’re going to learn how to comp your chords to fill out your improvisation right. comping chords, super important skill to learn about and a lot of students always have questions about comping chords. So we’re going to cover all of that today. As a reminder, this podcast is a great companion to my confident improviser program found the jazz edge, and you can go back to the confident for more information and also to be able to get replays of this podcast. Alright, so comping chords. The first thing to understand about comping chords, is what is comping chords, basically, you’re adding rhythm To the chords, right? That’s, that’s really, if we were to boil it down, that’s basically what’s going on. So rather than just playing, you know, if I take my exercise number eight, have my 1625, C, to a minor to D minor, to g7. And remember, here, I’m just playing by root three, root seven on a three on D, seven on G. So simple chords. For right now, we’re just going to use these simple chords today, we don’t have to do anything more fancy chord wise than this. So I could put on let me go ahead and put on my whoops, let me go ahead and put on my I real pro track here. And you’re going to hear, so I could simply just do this.

Right, so there’s nothing

wrong with that, right? Just playing, you know, those chords is half notes. But the problem is, it’s gonna get boring after a while, right? So when we comp our chords, all we’re doing is we’re adding some rhythm To the chord. So it sounds more like something like this.

And you’ll see and hear that I’ll play some of the chords on the beat, I might do some off the beat. I’m going to mix my down beats and up beats to create more of a syncopated rhythm, right? We’ll talk about that as we go. I The other thing is, comping chords is a great way to fill space. So when you’re improvising, you don’t like a lot of times, we think all we can just gonna keep playing the right hand, right, we’re just gonna keep playing making up stuff in the right hand. But the reality is that a lot of times students don’t use comping enough to fill in that space, and they end up playing way more than the right hand and they need to, they could really just fill some of that space by comping in the left hand. Third thing is it is a super important accompaniment skill, tool and skill to master. So when you listen to great pianist comp behind other instrumentalists, or vocalist, you’ll hear that they are really listening and actively engaged, and listening to what the vocalist or the other instrumentalist is doing, and then responding back to that. So it’s very much a dynamic, almost call and response in a way sometimes, but it’s a very dynamic relationship between you and the soloist. Now, as a pianist, we might be both accompanist and soloist, all at the same time. So like, I’m playing my chords in the left hand here, right? Well, I’m accompany myself, why

solo it

while I solo in the right hand, so I am accompanying my right hand, so I need to be a good my left hand needs to be a good accompanist to my right hand, who is improvising, it’s kind of weird to think of your left hand and right hand as two separate people. But in a way, it’s kind of helpful to think of it that way. So the left hand is accompanying the right hand, which means that that left hand has to support that right hand, if the left hand is doing too much or too little, it’s not going to be supportive. And then finally, you want to remember, keep the rhythms simple when you comp, the number one, you know, problem that students have, and the number one mistake they make, is that they try playing too complicated of rhythms when they start to cop. Alright, so now let’s talk about how to practice comping number one, pick your progression in your chord voicings, so we’re going to do the C major seven to a minor seven to D minor, seven to G seven. If you are not at the piano, you can’t see what I’m playing here. This is C and E in the left hand that’s the root and three, I’m playing the root seven for a which is A and G, root and three for D which is D and F, and root and seven for G which is G and F. Okay? Number two, start with a simple rhythm, right? This could be quarter notes, it could be even half notes, right? It could be a dotted quarter, eighth note, it could be two eighth notes. But the point is, keep the rhythm simple. And number three, leave space, you want to make sure that you do not overplay. So you don’t want to let me give me an example here of what it’s like. Sounds like to overplay.

Me mean, do you hear how it just sounds like like madness here, right, the left hand is playing too much, the right hand isn’t in sync with the left hand. That’s an example of bad accompaniment against that improvisation, right. So you want to make sure that the left hand is really paying attention and listening to the right hand, I’ll give you some more examples. And then finally, you want to look for holes to fill with comping. So when the right hand is really active, when the left hand doesn’t have to do that much, but when the right hand kind of has a little bit more rest, than the left hand comes in with comping. Now, let’s pause there for a second. And remember, we’ve talked about playing and resting, right, so we’ve talked about, you know, coming up with a

line that might sound like something like this. Right, so you hear on the right hand, I’m resting yet. And I hold that that note see out for, for a few beats,

well, while I’m holding out that note, see, that’s a perfect time to cut my cords. So an example of not very good copying would be something like this. Whoops.

I see how just like playing those chords just on beat one and beat three, it’s not very exciting or interesting is it? Now listen to this. know, when you listen to that, you can kind of hear how, okay, the right hand shines a little bit and then the left hand kind of takes over, the right hand takes over, then the left hand takes over. So how do we practice this? Well, first of all, I’m going to pull up my example here. So this is the exercise from, you know, exercise number eight, right? So we have this. And now the one thing that you’ll notice, if you take a look at this, or even if you’re just listening to this, right, I mean, take a listen to it, I’ll play it a couple

of times, so you can hear it. Right, there’s not a lot of space going on in the right hand, right? Like these two measures that are happening here. In this exercise,

the right hand is filling up a lot of that space. So there’s not much space for the left hand to fill. But now let’s say that I change this around. And what I’m going to do is I’m going to basically x out this box, this second measure, okay, so I’m not going to play anything in the second measure. And I’m just going to leave my chords for the second measure. So the second measure, the D minor into the G is just going to be chords. So basically, it’s going to sound like this. And then D minor, G, D minor. So I suggest that you do the same thing. So just simply take out one measure in the right hand, it could be the first measure, so rather than going to do chord and then do the lick in the measure number two, right, so we have C major seven, a minor seven in first measure, then D minor seven g7. In the second measure, is a to measure exercise, what I’m saying is take off either the first measure in the right hand or the second measure the right hand. For this example, I’m going to take off the second measure in the right hand. Alright, so I’m going to have and then now it’s D minor, G. So now what do I do over that D minor, g This is where I’m going to count my chords. Now what’s written is just playing a half notes. So start by doing something simple like changing that g7 rather than it being a half note changing into two quarter notes.

Two quarter notes.

That adds a

little bit of motion there. But still, since it’s quarter note, it’s on the beat. It doesn’t sound very jazzy. Right. So what we need to do instead is we need to bring in some of those syncopated rhythms. What is a syncopated rhythm, a syncopated rhythm or the definition of syncopation? The most basic definition I’ve heard of syncopation, that I really love is the alternation between on the beat and off the beat, okay? So if we have some rhythms that are on the beat, and some rhythms that are off the beat, which basically means the ends or the upbeats. Okay, when we have that alternation, then we greet, we create syncopation. Now, it kind of falls into line with the a great definition, I heard of rhythm. And the definition of rhythm is the alternation between sound and silence. So rhythm is the alternation between their sound and then their silence. So if we have sat, down, down, down downtown town, town town, right, you can hear that creates a rhythm, what the rhythm is, it doesn’t matter. But the point is, we’re going from sound, we’re making sound and then we have silence. That’s rhythm. Well, syncopation is altering that sound so that the sound is not always coming in on the downbeats. Not always 123412341234123. Right. So it’s like, that seems very predictable. Right? So now we’re going to create some syncopation. And how we do that is how some upbeats, right, so like, if I just play on a note, see here, just a rhythm, to the board.

Bada, Bada here,

those are my upbeats right there. So I’m playing some on the upbeat and I’m playing some of the downbeat. Now, if I play everything on the upbeat, that’s not syncopation. If I play everything on the downbeat, that’s not syncopation, I need to have the combination of the two. So what I would suggest you try doing to start with your syncopation at first is just tried doing it over this D minor seven g7 measure, right, so I’ll put my real pro track back on here.

One, and two, and three, and four. So you hear how I’m like Hindi I every time I’m saying that, those are my up beats there. I can even come in with that C chord a little bit before the beginning of the measure. So listen to as I do that,

there we go. So listen for that. See. See, right here how I came in just before the resolution of the big

1234 and 1234123. And one, two, so I can play that C chord before the measure starts. Now typically, when I’m starting the exercise, I’m going to start on the downbeat. But every repeat after that is where I can come in and do some of those anticipations. Right. So how you get started with this is just have some fun, you don’t have to have anything specific written out. Okay, just play around and see what kind of rhythms you come up with then that D minor, and then g seven. So again, take a listen. Play the lick. Now I can come All right. So the best way of approaching comping at the beginning phase is to understand some of those rules that we talked about. Right. So the first thing is, remember, you’re just adding rhythm To the chords. It could be whatever rhythm you want. It’s a great way to fill space. It’s an important and complement tool. And you want to make sure that you keep your rhythms simple, the practicing, pick your progression and your chord voicings, that way, you’re not hunting around and trying to figure out what what progression Am I doing, what chord voicings Nana have it already set, because then you could really focus on the rhythm. And we want to start with a simple rhythm. Hey, I know I was doing some syncopation. If that’s too difficult for you, then start with some even more simple rhythms, like I said, just to beat three and four, you know, try doing all quarter notes. Can you do that? Just playing the left hand and quarter notes rather than half notes. Start there, you know, I try playing on beats two and four.

See, I did 12341234, right. But I’m the very first on the See I did one, two, I played on beats One, two, so I can create a very interesting pattern there. Remember, leave space, do not overplay and look for holes to fill with comping. So that means that you’re going to play in the right hand, you’re going to do your improv, but then add some space in the right hand. And while you add that space in the right hand, that’s where you fill in with the left hand. And again, that sounds like this.

space in the right hand, fill what a copy. Okay, and of course, the last thing is, have fun when you’re copying your chords, right? If it’s stiff, and it’s very, like rigid, it’s not gonna sound good, right? So for comping to sound good, you need it to be relaxed. So you need to make sure that you’re having fun right. Now, if you have any questions, feel free to join me on Thursdays for my q&a session that’s at 1pm Eastern, go back to the competent If you’re not a member of jazz edge, you can learn more back at that site or a jazz hedge calm. Thanks for joining me guys. I’ll see in the next podcast episode.