The Blues Piano Crash Course Premium class

Kent Smith, My friends call me "Kent on Keys"

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11 Videos (1h 9m)
    • One: Learn the Famous Blues Scale

      3:10
    • Two: Get Your Left Hand Going

      4:19
    • Three: Five Riffing Tips

      6:53
    • Four: Learn the Twelve-bar Blues Pattern

      2:43
    • Five: Practice Coordination

      5:12
    • Six: More Practice Tips

      4:30
    • Seven: Coordination with Walking Bass

      8:04
    • Eight: Blues Notes and Pitch-bending

      6:31
    • Nine: The Melody Machine

      8:59
    • Ten: "Turn-arounds" and Endings

      6:28
    • Eleven: Playing Blues in Other Keys

      12:14

About This Class

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This is a step-by-step course on playing Blues piano, in the key of C (including information on how to play Blues in any other key). It is NOT necessary to read music to understand this course or to learn Blues piano period. The Blues genre is a child of African-American slaves on Southern plantations in the 19th century, who had no formal training in music  -- European-style training, I should say. That is, reading standard notation, playing Bach, etc. And, you may know that the Blues is at the very heart of Jazz, another art form that was originally created by people with no such "formal" training. This was their genius, and you can be a part of it.

My intended audience for this course is anyone who has "a little bit of experience" playing piano, or some another instrument. In theory, though, you could start from scratch, if you are willing to learn the note names of the piano keyboard, and to put in some diligent practice. I can make that last statement with confidence, because I myself learned Blues piano as the very first thing I ever did on piano (before that, I was a drummer). I became hooked on piano as a result of being taught the basics of the Blues, and as a result, I ended up going on to take traditional piano lessons, and to major in piano in college. This course starts with the raw material that I was shown by a friend, back in that fateful time, and moves on to share with you the things I picked up as I went along -- stuff that I would have been really happy to know from the beginning. In other words, I will save you a lot of trial and error here. With the raw material in this course, you can end up being a very impressive Blues player!  

By the way, I mentioned above that I was an experienced drummer when I was turned on to blues piano. Because of that, I have included several two-handed coordination exercises in this course. My reasoning is that I had an advantage there from the start, as a drummer, so I want to help you get your hands working together.

Here is a summary of the ELEVEN CORE LECTURES (not including the EIGHT SUPPLEMENTAL LECTURES):

1. In this first of eleven Blues Piano lessons, discover how a simple six-note scale -- the famous "Blues Scale" -- is a musician's gold mine for creating original blues sounds. Immediately after this lecture, you can sit down at your piano and start creating bluesy licks and melodies that are all your own. Even more exciting, a player who knows only the Blues Scale can start sitting in on blues and rock jam sessions!

2. If you're going to play solo piano Blues, or you want to add a strong supporting groove to a band, then this lecture is for you. Learn to use your left hand to play a dance-able, foot-tapping chord rhythm, while freeing up your right hand to fire off licks and lay down supporting chords. (Later in this course, you'll master the art of putting both hands together as a dynamic duo.)

3. The Blues Piano tradition is full of tried-and-true "stock" licks, as well as many devices for creating endless original solos. In this lecture, you will learn to use five such "must-know" riffing devices.

4. By far the most common framework for a Blues song (and countless other songs) is the "12-bar Blues," a repeating chord progression which is known and loved throughout the musical universe. In "pure" Blues, the 12-bar progression contains just THREE CHORDS! This lecture gives you a thorough grounding in these chords, and illustrates their fixed place within the 12-bar Blues progression.

5. It's time to overcome any fears and frustrations you may have about getting those blasted hands to work together! This is the first of a pair of lectures, in which you will run through a series of progressive drills to gain confidence and skill at two-handed synergy.

6. More drills to get your fiercely independent hands playing together as a dynamic duo.

7. Learn a new way to groove using a "walking bass line" for Blues piano. This lecture includes several more coordination drills, each one coupled with a toe-tapping walking bass line.

8. Learn how to approximate the sounds of Blues singers and other instruments who can "bend" their notes (slide between pitches). You'll learn all about "blue notes," and also the "slide off," a very popular device associated with blues, rock, and jazz piano.

9. Here you will learn a powerful technique for inventing licks and melodies on the fly, by using only the notes of the chord being played at any given moment. With this technique, your available notes will change with each new chord, which lends an "automatic" sense of order to the resulting solo. Of course, this device can and should be mixed with other sources of melody, like the Blues Scale.

10. You will learn how to maintain a level of excitement in a Blues jam, with a staple of songwriting called the "turn-around." In addition, you'll learn how to use any turn-around pattern as a powerful ending.

11. So you've finished the Blues Piano Crash Course! Congratulations! You're all set to become a Master of Blues Piano. In this bonus lesson, you will learn how to transfer everything you've learned in the key of "C Blues" to any other key. For example, Blues in "E" is popular with guitarists. All the concepts are exactly the same, but you will need to move that C Blues Scale to another starting note, and move those blues chords to a new place as well. Here's how to do it!

There are also eight supplemental lessons, on various topics related to blues piano, chords, scales, and general improvisation. These include a three-lesson case study of piano improvisation, using Van Morrison's "Moondance" as a vehicle.

WHAT'S IN THE COURSE?

  1. 19 lectures and 2 hours of content.
  2. By the end of this course, you will be able to improvise basic blues and rock piano solos. There is enough raw material here for you to take your blues piano playing to a professional level.
  3. Master the famous "Blues Scale"
  4. Learn the 12-bar Blues Pattern
  5. Develop rhythmic skills and develop hand coordination
  6. Learn some hot blues licks
  7. Learn some music theory
  8. Extensive training on how to create your own blues licks and solos
  9. Learn how to take what you learned here and transfer to any other key
  10. Practice improv and learn new stuff, via "Moondance" case study
  11. Go "Beyond the Blues Scale" (in Supplemental Lessons section)

COURSE REQUIREMENTS:

A regular piano, digital piano, or an electronic keyboard is required. A decent electronic keyboard can be purchased at most music stores, or online instrument stores, for as little as around $200. A keyboard in that price range can sound pretty darn good. I usually recommend Yamaha electronic keyboards, although I have no affiliation with Yamaha. I highly recommend that your keyboard have "touch response" keys, which means you can play loud or soft, depending on how hard you hit the keys. 

WHO SHOULD ATTEND? 

Basically, anyone who wants to learn blues piano (whether solo or in a band) will enjoy this course. It is not necessary to read music, or to have prior experience with improvisation. A basic level of experience with traditional piano playing is very helpful, but with diligent study, you could technically start from scratch. (Many years ago, Blues was the very first thing I learned to play on the piano.) I do throw in some pretty advanced things along the way, so players at all levels can pick up some valuable stuff.

Please note, I frequently refer to the names of the piano keys, such as C, A, E-flat, etc. However, you can easily see the keys that are being played, so you don't HAVE to know the note-names of your keys.

3 of 3 students recommendSee All

Nice class. Great material that easy to consume....
This class is truly excellent as an introduction to blues piano playing. It is refreshing and makes you want for more lessons. Congratulations Kent and many thanks.

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Kent Smith

My friends call me "Kent on Keys"

I have been playing piano and drums professionally since 1971. Yes, I am getting old. Bummer! I have a degree in music, and I love to teach. I am still actively playing on the professional level, mostly in rock, blues, funk, and jazz groups in Southern California.