Jazz piano improvisation exercise in E flat

by Bill on January 17, 2011

This is a fairly basic, but pretty enjoyable, jazz piano improvisation exercise in the key of E flat. You should find it useful if you’re just getting into jazz piano and/or improvisation in general, because it uses a very simple chord progression and limits the number of notes you have to play in the right hand. In other words, it’s kind of difficult to get lost!

As with all my improvisation exercises – whether for jazz, blues, or pop styles – the secret of success here is to practise it repeatedly. Good improvisation starts to happen when your fingers “think” for themselves. In other words, the basic skills need to become so rooted in your brain that everything starts to happen unconsciously once you sit down at the piano.

If you find this difficult at first, do what your piano teacher always taught you to do and try it with your two hands separately. First of all, master the chord progression in the left hand. When you can play it without thinking about it too much, move on to the right hand pattern and get yourself really comfortable playing notes you’re “allowed” to improvise on. When things are flowing – and that might take quite a few repetitions – try putting the two together. As usual, it’s worth stressing that if you’re completely new to improvising on the piano keyboard it’s a good idea to play exercises like this dozens or hundreds of times. If you annoy the neighbours, you’re doing it right.

As usual, if you have any questions just post them below or (alternatively) in the comment thread on the YouTube video page.

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