Jazz Piano for Beginners - Improvise Like a Pro | Ali Abdaal | Skillshare

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Jazz Piano for Beginners - Improvise Like a Pro

teacher avatar Ali Abdaal, Doctor + YouTuber

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.

      Welcome to the Class


    • 2.

      Class Project


    • 3.

      The Basics


    • 4.

      The Major Pentatonic Scale


    • 5.

      The First Chord Progression


    • 6.

      The 2-5-1 Chord Progression


    • 7.

      Exclusive Bonus Resources


    • 8.

      The Minor Pentatonic Scale


    • 9.

      The Pinky Drop


    • 10.

      Bringing It Together


    • 11.

      The Blues Scale


    • 12.

      The "Just the Two of Us" Progression


    • 13.

      Hands Together


    • 14.

      John's Demo


    • 15.

      The Principles of Improvisation


    • 16.

      Learning the Karate Chop


    • 17.

      Learning the Lamb Chop


    • 18.

      Finger Strengthening Exercises


    • 19.

      Thanks for watching


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About This Class

In this course we hack piano improvisation to get you up and running from 0 piano experience to making up melodies on the spot and impressing your friends!

My FREE Skillshare Bonus Resources
As I mentioned in the course, I’ve now made a bunch of free resources for all of my Skillshare classes, exclusively for my Skillshare students. They’re packed with additional course-related content for every class, and will help you refresh what you’ve learnt, as well as explore some of the other classes you haven’t taken yet. Check it out here.


Improvisation is seen as a freakish talent that requires years of experience, but Ali and I are going to take you from complete beginner to jazz pro in a series of bitesize lessons. What’s even better is that you guys can learn alongside Ali and watch as I give him tips and tricks and exercises along the way to make huge improvements in a super short time span! The course consists of 5 main sections

1. Notes of the piano    

The bare basics → Essential for everything else covered in the course

2. 3 scales

  • Major Pentatonic
  • Minor pentatonic
  • Blues Scale    

These are what your right hand will be playing

3. 3 chords progressions

  • 251(1)
  • The pinky drop
  • Just the two of us

These are what you left hand will be playing, it provides the foundation and substance to the right hand scales.

4. Examples of how to play hands together.

5. Finger strengthening exercises

Two finger strengthening exercises to build up muscle memory and allow you to play more fluidly.

“Free improvisation, in addition to being a highly skilled musical craft, is open to use by almost anyone – beginners, children, and non-musicians.” – Derek Bailey


Who am I?

My name is Ali - I'm a doctor working in the UK, and on the side I make YouTube videos about medicine, tech and productivity. Productivity is probably the issue I get asked most often about on my YouTube channel and across social media. Through reading books, blog posts, articles as well as experimenting with numerous techniques myself over the years, I feel that I've developed a bit of knowledge about productivity and that's why I've decided to put together this extensive series of Skillshare classes to share my own knowledge in the realm of productivity and hopefully help us all work towards living happier, healthier and more productive lives.


Other Useful Links:

John's YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/c/kamelmusic

John's Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/johnkamelmusic/

My website / blog - https://www.aliabdaal.com
My weekly podcast - https://www.notoverthinking.com
Weekly email newsletter - https://email.aliabdaal.com
Instagram - https://instagram.com/aliabdaal
Twitter - https://twitter.com/aliabdaal
Facebook - https://facebook.com/aliabdaal

Camera Gear - https://kit.co/AliAbdaal
Keyboard - Wireless Coral mechanical keyboard (Cherry Blue) - https://iqunix.store/ali
Favourite iPad Screen Protector - Paperlike - https://paperlike.com/ali


Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Ali Abdaal

Doctor + YouTuber

Top Teacher

Hi there,

I'm Ali, a YouTuber, podcaster, entrepreneur, and online teacher. I graduated from medical school at the University of Cambridge in 2018 and worked as a doctor for two years. Now, I live in London, spending my time making videos, doing podcasts and writing my first non-fiction book.

I started my YouTube journey in 2017, making videos about study techniques and my medical school experience. The channel grew dramatically over the next few years, and I started making videos about broader topics like productivity, wealth, and how to lead a happier, more fulfilled life. This journey on YouTube, along with my love of teaching, led me to where I am now with a wide range of courses on Skillshare.

If you'd like to find out more, please do follow my Skillshare profi... See full profile

Level: Beginner

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1. Welcome to the Class: Hi, my name is Ali. I'm a doctrine Youtuber and I've wanted to learn jazz piano for a while, and so today I'm joined by my new piano teacher, John. Hi everyone, my name is John. I'm a medical student and I've been playing piano for 13 years. It's been quite a journey, but along the way, I've learned a lot of bits and pieces about jazz that I think we're going to try and communicate to you guys in a super exciting way. In this class, we're going to teach you the basics of jazz piano, we're going to teach you the bare essentials of what you need to know to sound pretty competent when improvising jazz. Importantly, we're trying to hack jazz piano, we're trying to teach you the minimum requirement for you guys to be up in a way and improvising your own melodies. We're going to teach you three different chord progressions and three different scales, which let you do cool jazzy sounding stuff, so that if you just take the principles from this class, the three chord progressions and the three scales and do a bit of practice, you could sound like this. Nice, or if you're a beginner like me and you're just using the stuff that we're going to teach in this course. Whether you're a complete beginner or you're an intermediate in the piano, hopefully, you'll learn the basics of jazz piano improvisation. If that sounds good and you want to learn how to be an absolute legend and impress your friends at parties by doing jazz piano improvisation, then this is the class for you and we'll see you on the other side. 2. Class Project: Al ready. Welcome to this class. In this quick video, we're going to tell you about the class project. Now, in this class we're going to teach you three-chord progressions and three scales. But for the class project, we just want you to pick one-chord progression and one scale, and then try your own improvisation on jazz piano to go on top of it. This stuff is actually super fun to play, but remember it takes a lot of practice just like all things. Take your time, take as much time as you need, slow it all the way down and make sure you're comfortable with the practice so that you can smash some stuff out at parties and impress your friends. Absolutely. I've been vaguely practicing some of his jazz stuff, and so the idea behind the class project is that you pick a chord progression, maybe the 2, 5,1 or something, and then a scale, maybe the minor pentatonic scale or the blues scale or something like that, and just post a video of yourself in the project and resources section and we can all give each other feedback and learn together. That is the class project. Thanks for watching, and we'll see you in the next video where we're diving into the major pentatonic scale. 3. The Basics: Welcome to the first lesson, where we're going to go over the very basics, i.e the notes of the piano. If you know the notes of the piano, please skip this lesson, but this is the foundational thing that you have to know. John, what are the notes of the piano? Well, as you can see, we have a range of different notes that we are allowed to press. We have all the white notes, which we tend to start from C, D, E, F, G, A, B, and C. C is a repeat. You can make some mental landmarks in your head. You see the two black notes, then on the outside we've got C and we've got E. We've got the three black notes on the outside, we have F and B, and then it's just up to you to remember whatever is in the middle, so we have D, G, and A. Yes. This class is going to be really hard if you don't know what the notes of the piano are. Please try and memorize it. Try to have a piano in front of you if you can because this, just knowing what each note is being able to instantly identify a note is ridiculously valuable and we all take it for granted, but if you're a complete beginner, that should be step number one. We've covered the white notes. We have C, D, E, F, G, A, B, and C. But as you can see, we also have these black notes. How do we determine what these are called? Well, they're relative to the white notes they're next to. For example, if we take this note here, this is called C-sharp because it shoots upwards from C. This note is known as A-flat because it falls from A. You might be thinking, well, there are some notes which can be shot upwards and falling downwards to. Think of it in that way. We have A-flat, for example, is A-flat, but it's also G-sharp. G can shoot upwards. Do you know what these are called Ali? It's called something harmonics. Alternative harmonics? Close. Enharmonic equivalents. Enharmonic equivalents. If a guy comes up to you on the street and he's like, "What's the enharmonic equivalent of E flat?" And you don't know. D-sharp. It is D-sharp. Because this is an E-flat. This is an E. You flatten it when it goes over there. This is a D, and you can also sharpen it to go to the same one. Spot on. Is that all we need to know for notes of the piano? That's pretty much all you need to know. It should be a mental thing, you see the note and know straight away, this is G, this is D, this is F-sharp, or it can be G-flat. You need to have these in your head. It'll make learning the rest of the course and absolute brief. Absolutely. That was our total beginners introduction to the notes of the piano. Let's now step things up a notch and talk about the major pentatonic scale, which we'll talk about in the next lesson. 4. The Major Pentatonic Scale: Welcome back everyone. It is now time for the major pentatonic scale. I don't know what this means, John what is the major pentatonic scale? A scale is just a set of notes played in a particular order, major, meaning happy, and pentatonic, pent, what do you think of when you hear pent? Five. Pentecostal, pentacle, pentagram, pentagon. Pentagon, that's the one I was looking for. It has pent, pentatonic, five times, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and then it repeats. Okay. The notes we have are, C, D, E, G, and A. That just repeats. Basically, any white notes except B and F, is fair game. As long as you're not playing B and you're not playing F, you're absolutely fine. This sounds almost like a sort of the Rings. Yeah, so the pentatonic scale is used in like, so much music, is ridiculous. That's quite folksy as well like,. Yeah, it can be used fit a lot of folk songs, in country, it's used a lot, it's just a very very safe scale because pretty much whatever you play is going to sound good over any chord, like is a great place to start improvising, I think that's why we'll open up the class with this. You're saying that, if I just play the notes of the pentatonic scale, so C, D, E, G, and A, it'll just by default sound good. It's basically a glitch. When they made the piano, there were some bugs and glitches that just never got patched, and the pentatonic scale is one of them. It's just broken, and it will always some good. Exactly, you're already improvising. Even if you do something as simple as just running up the pentatonic scale really quickly, you just sound like a pro, and that would take you well, maybe 10 minutes of practice to get used to like, how to play it, there you go, you're up and away. Let's play all the white notes except an F, and a B, so C, D, E, G, A. Perfect. Cool. There you go. What also makes it fan is that you can do it with just the pentatonic scale. Listen to this. Nice. That's pretty cool. That's the major pentatonic scale. Towards the end of this class, we're going to have some practice routines, so if you want to drill this, I'm going to be following these practice routines myself because I'm not very good at this stuff right now, and the whole point of practicing these scales is like, you want to be able to play them without your brain having to use any brainpower in playing the scale, because the idea is that, once you just know that those are the notes you are allowed to play, then you'll be able to spend your brain thinking about more important things like, where your chord progression is going, or what you want the music to sound like, not worrying about, I'm I allowed to play this note? Exactly. Yeah, you're basically freeing up your brain cells to do other things, so you basically want to play the scale almost without engaging your brain at all. Great. That was the major pentatonic scale. In the next video, we're going to put it on top of a chord progression, and then we'll get started with playing improvisational jazz. 5. The First Chord Progression: All right. Welcome back. We now know how to play our major pentatonic scale. Let's now talk about our very first chord progression. So John, what is a chord, and what is a chord progression? A chord is just a set of notes played at the same time. This is a chord, it's a nice-sounding chord. What about this chord? It's still a chord. It's just tension. It's so bad. A chord is essentially just several notes played together. These are all chords. Perfect, works fine. A chord progression is these chords played one after another. Have you come across any chord progressions before? Yes. I'm quite familiar with the four chords, chord progression, which is something like, which loads of pop songs are based around. Those are the four chords that I play usually when I'm singing along to Ed Sheeran or Taylor Swift or One Direction or Shawn Mendes. Zillions of pop songs use, I think it's 1, 5, 6, 4 for chord progression, which basically just means you're playing the C chord, the G chord, the A chord, and the F chord if you're in the key of C major but we don't need to talk about keys right now. We're just going to assume everything in this class is played in the key of C major so don't worry about that if you don't know what that means. Essentially just playing all the white keys. That is the 1, 5, 6, 4 chord progression which is a staple of pop music. We've got a simpler one which is a staple of jazz. Yeah. This is the 2, 5, 1. This is an old school jazz chord progression that sounds so good and it's probably one of my favorite chord progressions of all time. I guess we'll try and break down the 2, 5, 1 and how to play it. Absolutely. To start with, it's two, followed by five, followed by one. You might be a bit confused as to what those numbers mean, but basically, if we're playing in C major, i.e, do re mi fa so la ti do. Those are the seven notes, and then back to the first. Those are the only notes we're allowed to play. The C is like the home note. The root. The root. Everything wants to go back at home. Yeah, that feels good. That feels a lot good. This is home. This feels home. This is like our home base, and so that is the one chord. C is one, D is two, E is three, F is four, G is five, A is six, B is seven, and then back to one, the C. So 1-7. When we say 2, 5, 1 we mean, the second note, the fifth note, and the first note of the scale. Yeah. Cool. Let's go on. But these aren't just single notes, these are chords. So John, how does this work? We're going to be basically forming 7th chords out of these which are very tasty, spicy jazz chords that sound very good. It sounds something like this. I guess we'll try and break it down. Okay. See what your left hand can do. Left hand? Left-hand, yeah. Okay. I'll go to my left hand. Chords are going to be played with our left hand because our right hand wants to be free to do melodies and other showy offy stuff. The left hand is like that diligent worker everyone knows that works hard and just does its job. Pinky on the D, yeah. Middle finger on F, ring on middle, it's up to you, whatever is more comfortable. Index on A and then thumb on C. This is our first chord, it's called D minor seven. If we take a step back, normally when we create a chord, we've only got three notes in the chord and they're just called a triad. For example, the D minor triad will be D, F, and A. Perfect. That will be the two-chord, which is always minor, just a music theory thing. Then we have the five chord, which is G major, which is G, B, and D. I knew you hopefully recognize that vibe, that's a G major triad, and then we go down to the one which is a C major triad. The more notes we add to a chord, the more fancy and colorful that chord sounds and that's where 7th chords come in. Yeah. The 7th is just adding an extra note on top to give the chord a slightly nicer vibe and a more jazzy vibe. This is just a normal triad. This is a much more jazzy version of that same chord. You can see it has a little bit more color a little bit more about it. We're adding in the C? That C on top. So we've got D, F, A, C. Yeah, and that's with our left hand. Sorry. This is a D minor seven. Yeah. This is our starting chord. The next thing we want to do, we basically want to drop our index and thumb down to the next white notes. Everything else can stay the same. Perfect. It goes from index finger on A and thumb on C to just shifting them down to the next two white notes. That's our second chord. This is called G seven. We have D, F, G, and B. Yes. Then what we have to do is shift our pinky and our middle fingers down to the next white note. Perfect. Then you have C major seven. Okay. Which is the last chord. There's actually quite a lot of musical theory stuff going on here. We talked about how this is a D minor triad and we're adding in the 7th note of the scale to get a D minor seven there. That's the two chord. Then we're moving on to the five chord and it's actually like this. If we wanted to put a seven, we would add that F. But having to move our hands all the way from here to here, it's a bit of a ball leg really, we don't like this. In piano, just generally, stuff sounds better if you've got minimal finger movement. Yeah, the key to life is efficiency. Efficiency, exactly. Efficiency, productivity and so it's a more productive way to play the piano. Exactly. When your fingers don't have to move very much. If we're starting with this as our D minor seven chord, we can play an inversion of the five chords. We can play an inversion of G. The notes we want to play are G, B, D, and F to play the G major seven but, we can actually play that F and that D. Just shift everything. Yeah. Instead of moving our hand all the way up, we're just moving a few fingers, and now this is exactly the same chord, it's just that we've replaced the high D and the high F with the low D and the low F. In reality, we've got our D minor seven chord and then we just move two fingers, and that takes us down to the G. Then C, we're just playing a standard C major triad with a seven on it, which conveniently only requires us, again, just to move two fingers to get to that point. We start off with the D minor seven, go down, move two fingers, and now move two fingers again. Perfect. It can seem like a lot of different notes to try and remember but I think the best way to look at chords is see them as shapes and patterns. All you have to do is remember your starting point D, F, A, and C and then you can just try and think, okay, so I want to move my index finger and my thumb each down. Perfect. Now I just want to move my pinky and my middle finger each down. There you go. That way you only really have to remember the starting point and then everything else from that is just a flowchart basically. Absolutely. That was the 251 chord progression. In the next video, we're going to combine it with the major pentatonic scale and show you how just based on these two fundamental principles, you can get started with improvising jazz piano. 6. The 2-5-1 Chord Progression: Let's now talk about the 2-5-1 chord progression. The cool thing about this is, this is just a series of chords which if you play underneath the major pentatonic scale which we've already talked about, you can get some pretty cool sounding stuff. Me as a beginner, I might be able to improvise something like this. As a pro, John, this is what you might do with a 2-5-1 in the major pentatonic scale. Very nice. That is what we're going to be teaching you. This is the video about the 2-5-1 chord progression. Welcome back. In this video we're going to be combining the 2-5-1 chord progression with the major pentatonic scale. I'm going to show how I would play this as a total beginner and then John is going to give me some tips on how to make the sound more pro. Sounds good. We're starting with our 2-5-1. That's our two and then five and then one. You play the one again. Perfect. Each code you want to hold down for four beats. One, 2, 3, 4, 1, 2, 3, 4, 1, 2, 3, 4. Then we do the one again, 1, 2, 3, 4, 1, 2, 3, 4, 1, 2, 3, 4, 1, 2, 3, 4. Again, 1, 2, 3, 4. Perfect. We want to have that sense of rhythm because that's what holds everything together. Perfect. Nice. Okay. Your left hand is preoccupied with that. Your right hand is free to do anything. Any white note other than b and f. The other f is in no go. It's very hard to put the hands together. It is, yeah. Sounding good. That sounds good, but what if someone set a much lower level and they struggle to put these two things together? That was me. I've been practicing these chords for a couple of weeks now. It probably sound a lot faster than what you'll be able to do if you're a complete beginner. How would a complete beginner approach this simple thing? The best way to deal with this is to allocate a lot of time practicing the chords in your left hand so that your left hand is basically completely independent of your brain. Your left hand can just do these chords on the ground. I could be having a conversation with you. Nothing is the problem. I'm just playing these chords. I'm just having a good time. I can scratch the back of my head. I can check the time. I don't have a watch, but if I did, I would be checking the time right now. That's the whole idea of developing a second brain essentially. You want a brain in your left hand to do its own thing, and that way you don't have to allocate any brainpower to this. You don't have to think about this. It's working on its own and your right hand is then free to concentrate on the scales. That still might be a little bit hard at first, but the whole aim is to take this extremely slow. Every classical musician I've ever spoken to has always said the key to purposeful practice and the key to practice is just working extremely slow and building up. Even if you're playing the chords at a speed of 1, 2, 3, 4 and then you change, that's completely fine. But you just want to be able to build up to a speed that you're comfortable with. One, 2, 3, 4, 1, 2. While you're on the chord, you want to be thinking about the next chord. Don't just sit idly looking at the chord. Envision in your head, where do you want your fingers to go and what you want them to do? The key to playing piano. The whole key to playing piano is just being able to link whatever you're thinking about to what your hands are doing. You want a really strong link between what you're thinking and what your fingers are doing. That's a massive learning curve at first, but once you get used to it, you realize that learning is very quick thing because whatever you think in your head, you'll then able to do in your fingers. Cool. Remember how these only playing the major pentatonic scale. Note b and note f. Any other white note is fair game. You saved it. What was that? Those, cool. These are some little chord. I like to do it with my index and my pinky. D energy, then you flick onto any. There you go. You're free to go up the scale, go down the scale. That's all with just using major pentatonic scale of these type stuff. Yeah. What is the main cool that you can do with 2-5-1 plus major pentatonic? I do a lot of cool things. Take it away. That was just 2-5-1 chord progression plus major pentatonic scale. There's only those five notes. Super simple. I need to practice more. That was how we put together the 2-5-1, the major pentatonic scale. That might've been intimidating, even my beginner's version of might've bit intimidating. But as John said, the key is really to take this really very slow, and in the class project down below, we'd love to hear a recording or a video of you improvising whatever you want on top of the 2-5-1 chord progression with the major pentatonic scale. I feel like there are some songs that also just use the scale. That's seven years. Yeah, a lot of pop songs use the pentatonic scale. If you've ever heard a guitar or so in your life, it's using some form of pentatonic scale. It's just such a perfect safe bet and a really good way to create melodies. Yeah, it's just those five notes. I'm not playing anything else other than made it. Could you do that on top of the 2-5-1? You could do. Use the [inaudible] on the left. There we go. These are just the principles from two videos. When you put them together with some practice, you can yield like surprisingly good results. Very close. Maybe you want to drop the index and the thumb. There we go and the pinky in the middle. Nice. One, 2, 3, 4, 1, 2, 3, 4, 1, 2, 3, 4, 1, 2, 3, 4, 1, 2, 3, 4. There you go. That was so fast. Easy. I really want to practice more. Anyway, that was 2-5-1 plus major pentatonic scale. Thanks for watching. In the next video, we're going to introduce you to the minor pentatonic scale and get even more fancy. Thanks for watching and we'll see you in the next one. 7. Exclusive Bonus Resources: Hello again, how's it going? I probably look a little bit older than when you're watching this class because I'm filming this after the fact. Because just to let you know, we have just added an enormous amount of totally free bonus material over to my website, which facilitates all of the different skill share classes that we have here on the platform. So if you head over to Ali Abdel.com, forward slash Skillshare, resources that lingual appear here and also down in the projects and resources section or wherever you happen to be seeing this Skillshare often changes the structure of the website, so it'll be linked somewhere on this page and also right here, so you can go to that URL and that will give you access to a bunch more bonus information relating to all of the different Skillshare classes. For some of those that might be Notion templates for some of them might be PDFs and worksheets and bonus material. It's all on the website, it's all completely free and you can check it out with that link. Anyway. I hope you enjoyed the class. I'd love it if you can leave a review if you haven't already and hopefully see you in the next one. Bye bye. 8. The Minor Pentatonic Scale: All right. Welcome back. We've talked about the 2-5-1 chord progression and the major pentatonic scale. We're now going to talk about the minor pentatonic scale. Now, this is what that sounds like when you're a pro. Nice. I feel like I could've done that. [inaudible] played in F. No [inaudible]. No. John, what is the minor pentatonic scale? The minor pentatonic scale actually uses the same notes as the major pentatonic scale but we just have a different starting point. A little bit of theory here, every major scale has an evil cousin called its relative minor. For C major, which we're playing in, its relative minor is A minor, its evil cousin is A. So we're going to be starting this scale on A, but we're using exactly the same notes. Once again, no B, no F, all the white notes are fair game, but we start from A. So A, C, D, E, G, A, C, D, E, G, A, C, D, E, G, A. What difference does it make starting on an A? Why does the starting not that matter? Well, let me play it for you and you can have a listen yourself. This is the major pentatonic scale. Cool? Yeah. This is the minor pentatonic scale. It has just a slightly darker feeling. Yeah. It's a bit more sad. A little bit more sad, yeah. It's subtle but it's its evil cousin. Okay, so how do we practice the minor pentatonic scale? The minor pentatonic scale, we can use the similar fingering as the major pentatonic scale. The major one went 1-2-3 and then turn. You want to tuck your thumb under, 1-2 and then 1-2-3-1-2-1-2-3-1-2. Minor, we can do the same, 1-2-3-1-2. 1-2-3 tuck 1-2-1-2-3-1-2-1-2-3-1-2-1-2-3-1-2. I feel like I'm playing these wrong because I'm just randomly picking random fingers to hit the notes with. That doesn't actually matter too much. It's whatever is most comfortable for you, but it depends on what you want to do. Say, I want to practice to a level where I can run them, the minor pentatonic scale all the way up the piano. Okay. I'm going to want to practice a particular fingering that will be efficient and work well for that type of thing. I'm going to think about the most efficient way to play this. If I'm want to do a really quick run up the piano, I'm not going to want to go like this. Yeah. Because I can only do that so fast. I'm going to want to go. It's a bad example, but you get the message. Okay, so I should go 1-2-3-1-2-1. So like 1-2-3 thumb goes under and then thumb goes under again. Perfect. Okay. Okay. Right. The minor pentatonic scale is, again, like a very safe scale that goes with a lot of chords so it's a great way to get you up and running with improv. Amazing. Thanks for watching. This has been the video on the minor pentatonic scale. Let's now add another chord progression which we'll play the minor pentatonic scale on top of in the next video. Thanks for watching and we'll see you in the next one. 9. The Pinky Drop: All right, welcome back. We're now going to go over a second chord progression, which you've never taught me so, I'm going to be completely new to this. If full disclosure. I did have a bit of practice with the two, five, one. This is totally new to me. What is this chord progression? Actually, I wonder if we can just have an example of chord progression plus minor pentatonic scale initially. Sounds good. That sounds nice. Okay. It's pretty nice. Cool. What's the deal with this one? This chord progression I call it the pinky drop. Obviously, that's not an official name. It's not really a tech, actually, we'll say it's a technical term, pinky drop. We have a starting position. We just want to think of it as we're dropping our pinky, we're dropping, we're dropping our pinky. Okay. This is our starting position. We have our pinky on G, ring on A. There they go. Index finger on C. There you go. Perfect, and then thumb on E. Awesome. This is our starting position, you just need to remember the fingers on what notes they're on. This is how it looks. G, A, C, E. Perfect. And then the name pinky drops. What are you thinking when we think of pinky drop? I want to drop my pinky down. Perfect. The first time we're going to drop it down to the nearest black note, and everything else is going to stay the same. Pinky is going to drop down to the nearest black note. And then we're going to do that again. Pinky is going to drop to the nearest white note this time, and there we go. That's three of our four chords straight away just by dropping our pinky twice. We have a starting position, drop the pinky, drop the pinky, and then all we're doing is we're shifting this whole shape down to the nearest white note. Everything is going to shift down. You can literally just keep your hand exactly the same and shift it. Down. Okay. That's interesting. This is our starting position. Drop the pinky, drop the pinky, shift. All right, let's give it a go. Sounds good. Starting position. Nice. We have a starting position, and we want to drop the pinky. This is a nice center chord. This is an A minus seven. Usually, you'd play the seven on top. With that G. But we're actually taking that G, and putting it at the bottom of the chord. Okay. Then we want to drop the pinky. So I have to be the whole hand up to make this make sense. It makes it a little bit easier, especially when you're on black notes, you don't really want [inaudible]. I don't want to like. You can just slide your hand upwards. I mean, you've got all these ranges to play with, so feel free to do whatever you want. I think that's one thing I didn't really realize about playing the piano, that you don't have to press white notes over here. You can actually press them up there. Often that makes it actually easier to hit a note. Another thing is sometimes people struggle to develop power, and making louder the sound with their pinky and ring fingers. But you've got your whole forearm to rotate. You put your whole shoulder, you've got your whole arm. I want to really pop this note. I'm going to turn my whole hand. I'm not just going to go. Yeah. But your whole forearm to create some power. Do you ever see classical pianists, they're very expressive with this forum rotation it's a pretty important tool. The first chord, the second chord. Nice. Then I drop the pinky again. Nice. Then the same shape just down one. Yeah. For this last course, when dropped the pinky once, we dropped the pinky twice. This finger for my ring finger, I can either play with my middle finger or my ring finger. What do you find more comfortable? Middle finger that works and then you can just shift that down with is whatever you find most comfortable to the rest. Nice. That easier? Much easier. Much easier. Good. Let's try that again with the new fingering with the sort of finger. Again, we want to drop the pinky and then shift. Nice. Good stuff. Again, you want to take time to practice this slowly until it feels like your brain is living within your left hand and you definitely have to think about it. Nice. It's quite satisfying, isn't it? It is. It's quite therapeutic. That was jazz. Perfect. Okay. This is the pinky drop chord progression. Awesome. Okay, so that was the pinky drop chord progression, which I'm going to start practicing two, three, four. Nice. Good stuff. Now in the next video, we're going to put the minor pentatonic scale on top of that and we'll try to play hands together. Thanks for watching, and we'll see you in the next one. 10. Bringing It Together: Welcome back. We now know the pinky drop chord progression and the minor pentatonic scale on top of the 251 chord progression under the major pentatonic scale. I'm now going to genuinely for the first time to try and put these two scales together, the pinky drop plus the minor pentatonic. John, you can give me some advice on what I'm doing wrong. I'll criticize you critically. You just need to remember your starting position, perfect. Yeah. Everything else stems from that. Okay. I'm going to count out loud, one, two, three, four, just to keep the rhythm. Got it. A good way to practice that at home is to use a metronome. Maybe something around 90 beats per minute on your metronome is a good place to start. Cool. One, two, three, four. One two, three, four. One, two, three, four. One, two, three, four. Perfect. It's just that start. Yeah. One, two, three, four. One, two, three, four. One, two, three, four. One, two, three, four, and then the starting note. It's difficult, isn't it? Because it's awkward because you have your pinky in your ring. Yeah. They don't want to work independently of each other. Playing the piano you have to accept these guys, that they come as a package. If you're moving your ring finger, you're going to want to move your pinky as well. They work together. Don't try and fight that independence, just let it happen, clip them down. Nice. Good stuff. Four, one, two, three, four, and then to the start. One, two, three, four nearly. One, two, three, four. One, two, three, four. One, two, three, four. One, two, three, four. One, two, three, four. One, two, three, four. One, two, three, perfect. I think the key is really to think about the next chord, rather than resting on your laurels and bail like, "Oh crap last minute." No. Do we dare add the minor pentatonic on to it? Yeah, how hard can it be? This is my starting. I see you've changed the fingering, so it's whatever is most comfortable. Yeah. I'm going to count. One, two, three, four. One, two, three, four. One, two, three, four. I saw you panicking, I was just going to do something here. Fine go. One, two, three, four. One, two, three, four. One, two, three, four. One, two, three, four. Start the count down, one, two, three, four. One, two, three, four. One, two, three, four. One, two, three, four. My blood pressure is through the roof, three, four. One, two, three, four. One, two, three, four. Nice. One, two, three, four. Get in the hang it with your left hand. Nice. Think about the next chord. This is [inaudible]. Let's try it one more time. Good stuff. [inaudible] was an F, then shift. Good stuff. Back to our starting position again, and then drop, and you want to drop again. We just need a song. Yes. My hands feel really cramped. I really want to practice this more. This is fun. It's good stuff, isn't it? All right. It's so simple as well. After just a few rounds, I was really getting into the groove of knowing vaguely where my fingers were supposed to be. The muscle memory is developing, and I could see once you started getting more comfortable with your left hand, your right hand started doing new things. Once I didn't have to think about the left hand anymore. Exactly. Perfect. Now I love playing it. No F's, no B's. If I see anyone playing an F or a B, I will find you. Great. That was the pinky drop chord progression with the minor pentatonic scale. This is actually quite fun if you have a friend. You can just both play the same chord of the same scale, and just do a funky little. No jam. No jam. Thanks for watching. Next video, we're going to be talking about a third scale. This is where it's going to get really fun because we're going to talk about the blues scale. Thank you for watching, and we'll see you in the next video. 11. The Blues Scale: Let me go. That is an introduction to the blues scale. That first bit was what you were playing new version and then you were playing pro version. Pro versions. The blues scale feels like one of the staples of jazz even though I know nothing about jazz. It's just people always talk about the blues scale. What's the deal? What is the blues scale? If we look back to our minor pentatonic scale where we have the A, C, D, E, G, A, we're actually playing all of those notes, but we're adding one more note, and that completely changes the vibe. Adding that E-flat before the E. If you remember back to the very first lesson, what's the enharmonic equivalent of E-flat? D-sharp. Is it? Good. If someone comes up to you on the street, like, "What's the enharmonic equivalent?" you won't have to cry soft asleep about not knowing. Exactly. That E-flat, that's where the jazz is stored. As soon as you press that, you just unlocked jazz right away. That has automatically sounds like [inaudible]. It just sounds pro. You don't have to do anything. Just one note changes the thing. Okay. Yes, exactly. This works over any of the chord progressions we've covered so far, so the 2-5-1. But it sounds especially good over the pinky drop. Good stuff. Recommended to fingering for the blues scale as well. Yeah. I like to go 1, 2, 3, 4, so up to ring finger, and I tuck under, 1, 2. That's a country again. If I were to practice this, it's like. Good stuff. The M with improvising is you want to have little patterns and licks and chops that you commit to muscle memory that you just throw out whenever you want. You might take this for example, like, Oh sorry. You might just memorize that and then you get to the end of the piece and you're like. You basically want that chop stored in your muscle memory. Whenever you're ending a piece and you want to go, there you go. You can just put it out and you've ended a piece. Perfect. I feel like we've gone off-topic. Yeah. Please get back on this. Okay. We were going over the blue scale. Literally, just minor pentatonic plus an E-flat. Plus an E-flat. You still got the E. Even though we're adding the E-flat, we're not swapping it for anything. Perfect. Slow down, dude. I'm getting around that. That was the blues scale. Again, I basically never done that before. But like once you are familiar with how to play one scale, ie, the major pentatonic, you can then just. Becomes more intuitive. Apply those principles to everything else, and then you can start just messing around. Good stuff. I don't know how very good, but if you can do, you can stop messing around. We've talked about the blues scale. In the next video, we're going to go over our final chord progression that's going to sound super, super jazzy. Thanks for watching, and we'll see you in the next one. 12. The "Just the Two of Us" Progression: Time for our final chord progression of this class. We have talked about the 251 and the pinky drop already. What are we talking about now? This chord progression, I call the just the two of us chord progression, because it's used in a very famous jazz song called Just the Two of Us by Bill Withers. Sounds like this. This is very much an advanced chord progression. So if you're really trying to push the boundaries of what you think you can do, this is a great chord progression to start that. Should we get into it? Yeah. What's the deal? Let's do it. Some some these chords, we've looked at before in the course, others are completely new. This is our starting position. Left-hand, it's going to go F-A-C-E. I don't want a lot for Christmas. F-A-C-E. Face. Yes, face. Think of it like that. Face. Whatever fingers you're comfortable with. I like what we've got going on here. Pinky, middle, index, thumb. Then we're going to shift down. Do you remember in the last chord progression, the pinky drop, we shift down to that E? Yeah. We're actually going to do that, but we're going to notch up our middle finger to that g-sharp. We're going to shift and then notch up. We're starting here? Yeah, then we want to shift. Shift and notch up. Then notch up. Perfect. Starting our F-A-C-E, then shift and notch up. Perfect. What's this? E major seven? This is E major seven, yeah, or E7. We call it E7. E major seven is slightly different. Then we're going to go to the first chord progression of the pinky drop. Do you remember your root position from the-? Yes. Nice. Then we're going to go into the first quarter of the- Which is A minor seven. It's A minor seven. Perfect. Then these last two chords take up the time span of what one chord used to be. It used to go 1, 2, 3, 4 for one chord. Now we're going to go 1, 2 change 1, 2. It would sound something like this. 1, 2, 3, 4. 1, 2, 3, 4. 1, 2, 3, 4. 1, 2. 1, 2. You see how the rhythm changes? Yes. Nice. Our first of those two chords, I like to couple them together, is a G minor seven. We have G, B-flat, D, and F. Perfect. That's the first one. The second one, super simple. We're just going to notch down our index and our thumb to the next white notes. Perfect. Then back to the F-A-C-E chord, the face chord. Perfect. Let's go through that one more time. We have face and then we shift down and notch up. Then the first chord of the pinky drop. Perfect. Then our G minor seven. Do you remember it? Then notch down. Perfect. Then back to the face. Nice. Got it? Interesting. This is super jazzy. If you know how Just the Two of Us goes, it goes like this. Like that. Uses exactly the same chord progression. Great. Now I'm going to practice this. Starting with face, F-A-C-E. Perfect. Then you tell me the next step. You want to notch down and shift up. Perfect. 1, 2, 3, 4 and then our last two, 1, 2; 1, 2. Perfect, You got it. Good stuff. Saved it. There we go. A lot of practice with that because some of the chords are pretty awkward. Especially this one can be quite an upward change. But that just requires, again, go as slow as you need. Literally, you can start off like 1, 2, 3, 4. As long as you get that muscle memory and build that brain in your hand, you should be all good. Great. That was the final chord progression. [inaudible] and I put everything together in the next video. Thanks for watching and we'll see you there. 13. Hands Together: In this video, I'm going to practice a hands together with just the two of us, chord progression and the blues scale. The blues scale. Okay, we're going straight there. Both of these things I've never done before today, before the session, we'll just see how it goes. If you can count for me. One, two, three, four. One, two, three, four. One, two, three, four. One, two. One, two. One, two, three, four. One, two, three, four. I've lost it. One, two, three, four. One, nearly. One, two. One, two. One, two, three, four. One, two, three, four. One, two, three, four. One, two. One, two. One, two, three, four. One, two, three, four. One, two. Nearly. One, two, three, four and then the G minor. One, two. One, two. Now, go back to the first. I saw you play an F there, I will end you very seriously. I'm not supposed to play an F. Let's try that again. Repetition legitimizes. Nice. Remember for that one, everything stays the same. We just want thumb and then back to shift. Got it. It sounds really ominous. You've got your minor pentatonic as well. Shift, yeah. Pinky drop. Nice. Then the shift. Good stuff. One, two, three, four. I'm trying to go too fast. I know. See that's the problem. You might find that you want to go fast, but your fingers just aren't letting you at the moment. Exactly. I get excited and the fingers are not keeping up. Exactly. That's exactly how I used to be with practice, I'd be like, why do we have to play this slow when you can play it quick. It might not be as good but it's still quick. But you realize that the muscle memory you build by going slow is actually impressive. Although it might be a hit to the pride to go slower, slower is better, I promise you. Because there is no shortcut to it. You just can't go straight into playing fast. Nice. Then the index [inaudible]. Good. Easy on the pedal. I played an F, should I leave? Yeah, leave. That was the final chord progression, trying to vaguely put them together. I definitely need more practice in this. I need to learn to play it slowly. In the next video, John is going to do some showing off where he's going to combine everything that we know so far from only this class, plus he's been practicing for a while. You can see what level you can get to by just using these three chord progressions and these three scales that we've taught you in this class. Thanks for watching and we'll see you in the next one. Bye-bye. 14. John's Demo: All right, welcome back. In this video, I'm going to be taking a backseat and John is going to be putting together all of the different things that we've learned in this class so far. The three-chord progressions and the three different scales. You can just do some. Some wizardry. Some wizardry to inspire me and to inspire the people watching this to do some practice. If you can talk through things as you go along, then that would be helpful. Sound good. Let's do it. Enjoy. Okay, let's take our starting points. Let's go for a 2, 5, 1 in our left. We'll start with major pentatonic scale. Whenever I flip scale, I'll let you guys know. Let's go major pentatonic, minor, please. That E-flat is your friend. Let's do the pinky drop chord progression and maybe a blue scale over the top. Then we could do the Just the Two of Us chord progression, major. I'm going to do that again. I'm actually 2, 5, 1. Cool. That was absolutely beautiful. Just as a reminder, all of that was just pure improvisation. It's not like you've memorized things on, like learning how to play pieces, which is how I dabbled how to learn the piano initially. I would find a tutorial on how to play River Flows In You or something like whatever. Whereas this is just pure improvisation. Once you've got the principle, you can then combine them. It basically giving you the tools, teach him how to fish, basically. Teaching you guys how to fish, if this was an ocean. That was hopefully a look at this stuff you'll be able to do once you practice with this. For the final few videos in the class, John is going to be sharing some tips on how to practice effectively, practice appropriately, and how to do fingers strengthening exercises to help actually make the stuff seem seamless. Thanks for watching and we'll see you in the next one. 15. The Principles of Improvisation: All right, welcome back. This lesson is called the principles of improvisation. John, what are the principles of improvisation? The thing with improvisation is it's like speaking a sentence. If I'm speaking to Ali or if I'm speaking to you guys, I'm not making you words. I'm using words that already stored in my head and I have existed for eons of time. I'm just reordering them in a particular way to convey a particular message. It's the same thing with improvisation. You're taking little twiddles, little chops, and you're storing them in your muscle memory in your brain that you can just whip out at a moment's notice, so that you have an impulse, and you act on that impulse, and you just start playing that chop that you've memorized. It's just having a lot of muscle memory stored up that you can just reorder and rearrange. With practice of that, it gets to a point where you just have a thought about a set of notes and your hand will just do it. Some people say like when they're extremely good at improvising that they're basically outworn by the piano. Now that sounds a bit cringe. But I can tell you from first-hand experience, it's literally like that. Like sometimes I have an impulse of just a set of notes I want to play, and I'll just do it, and then I sit back and like, you're probably wondering, how did I do that? You can see behind the whole [inaudible] I've seen it. Exactly. It's so true. With lots of practice and developing a lot of muscle memory, that's actually not too unattainable. It's like we're picking a chord progression. Then on the right-hand, we're doing their own thing. You're trying to store what you're playing and practice it over and over. That might be a chop that I've spent learning in my own time. For you, that's like extremely impressive, but I'm not even engaging my brain, because I've just practiced it so much. I can just whip that out at anytime. I can just be minding my own business. It's just ridiculous. Fantastic. It's about learning some of these things. Can you teach us some of these for the rest of the videos? Some of these chops? Yeah. Great, so the final few videos, we're going to learn some right-handed chops that I can practice, you guys can practice, and we can just whip them out whenever we like. Thanks for watching and I'll see you in the next one. 16. Learning the Karate Chop: Welcome back. In this video, John is going to teach me and you guys the karate chop. John, what is a karate chop? This is the karate chop. You can just keep doing that all the way down the piano. What does that sound like if you do all the way down? If we do all the way down and we try a little bit of sustain on it, it's going to sound slightly ridiculous. Nice. How do we do that? We have our thumb and our middle finger on G and C. Perfect. This A is going to be hit by your index finger. It's almost like a hammer. Let me just get into there. You can do that twice. There you go. Perfect. This is a bit of a jump. We're doing our hammer action twice, one, two, and we're going to hit G with our thumb. It's going to go. We're going to do a little jump with our hand, and we're going to hit a D and a G at the same time. I'd like to see that with my two and my five. You can do a hammer up there. There you go. Then see how this middle finger's hovering over E-flat? Yes. The E-flat is calling you. Nice. We do a hop to D and G. The E-flat is calling you. Yeah. Then you just run down D and C. Should we try that together? Let's go. The E-flat is calling you. Hang on. It should be okay. I like to use previous two and five. It's a bit more efficient, and that will allow you to chain them all the way down. Hang on. Let me just learn this. Go for it. Hop. E-flat is calling you. Remember you got that pinky on G. No. G with your thumb. Perfect. Spot on. Nice. We can do that again. There we go. My turn. Okay. That's pretty much it. Now you're chaining these. You can just chain them, yes. It's a bit of a hack, really. You can just go all the way down the piano. No. By all means, practice this slowly. Don't just try and start going ridiculously quick straight away. That E-flat is calling you. Nice. That is the karate chop. How do you play that on top of a chord progression? A chord progression, we could just do a 251. It's a bit complicated, I think. I think this would be difficult too. Okay. Let's not do that. If I'm just playing a random chord progression. It works. I'm trying to think the best way to explain this, because the rhythms are pretty complex. Should we leave it up to them to decide how they use it? Yeah, that sounds like a good plan. Up to you how you use it. We're not going to teach you. But that was the karate chop and now let's move on. 17. Learning the Lamb Chop: Welcome back. We've talked about the karate chop. In this video, we're going to go over the lamb chop. John, what does the lamb chop sound like? This is the lamb chop. Oh, it's so jazzy and nice. All right, how do you play the lamb chop? If you remember when we looked back at the blues scales, so we have that E-flat and the E. Because the E-flat and the E are right next to each other, there's no reason why you can't just slide it. Have you ever seen guitarists when they slide a chord? Oh yeah, it's cool. Exactly, the same with piano, it's cool. This instantly makes you cool. We're going to slide from the E-flat. I like to do it my middle finger. Okay. Then pinky on G. Then we can do a really fast twiddle from D to E-flat. You're actually just going D, E-flat, D, C, but just doing it really quick. That will take some practice at first. You might be like, but the aim is to get it really fluid. If you're struggling to get some volume and some power on this G, remember you put your whole forearm to rotate. That can go perfectly over chord progression anytime. I can change into the other one. There you go. That's a nice lamb chop. A very nice lamb chop. If I'm playing 251, I can go. That one was a bit well done. You want to hit the G first then up. That G can happen at the same time. There you go. No need to rush the G. Perfect. I'd probably send that one back to the kitchen. But its okay. There you go. Good stuff. You want that to become fluid. You want that muscle memory to be literally just. You just take the lamb chop, and your hand just plays it. You don't have to think about each individual note. That's the idea with improvising. Nice. Yeah, Great. Perfect. Oh. It's all right. I thought you had to be there. I do apologize. I'm allowed to play with the left-hand side. Yeah, with the left-hand its okay. I mean, I'll be honest with you guys. You are allowed to play B's and F's. But if I see you doing it, I might hurt you. All right. Amazing. That was the lamb chop. Thank you for watching, and I'll see you in the next video. 18. Finger Strengthening Exercises: Now we're going to talk about the finger strengthening exercises, which is the practice routine that John is going to give me to get better at this stuff. What are we doing? These are basically some little drills that will build up your dexterity and basically allow your fingers to work independently from one another. We basically just want to put both our thumbs on middle C. Middle C is the middle C of the piano, it's very self-explanatory. Both of them at the same time. I like to do it like that with a nail. Then we're just going to run out each finger, so indexes together, middles together, rings together, pinkies together. Do you want to have a go with that? Good. You want each finger to work as an individual hammer or an individual piston. Nice. You want to keep the volume as level as you can. It's actually very hard to keep everything consistent. Good stuff. Good, that works. Number 2. This one is a little bit more tricky and this will develop really fast fingers, especially your fingers 1, 2, and 3. These are the fingers you'll use the most in piano, it's important that they're very strong. Obviously do not neglect fingers 4 and 5, but fingers 1, 2, and 3 are the most important. I don't know what I'll call this. We'll call this- The magic twirl. - the magic twirl. This drill is called the magic twirl. We want to start with our right-hand thumb on any C of your choice, and you want to run up to your middle finger. Then you just want to shift your hand and do the same from D, and then E. Then you can do it down as well. Perfect. Of course. Pretty hard to do it quick. Oh, my God. Perfect. Very nice. Thank you. You can do that with your left hand as well. This is going to be torture. Pick a C and this. You know how you went up with your right hand, same with your left. Then shift. Nice. Wow. It feels really weird, doesn't it? It will feel at first like you have almost no control over your fingers on what's happening, but that's where the practice comes in. The best thing is you can practice this just on your lap or on a table or when you're on the bus, anything. Perfect. Yeah. Okay. That's number one. Good. Then? Literally, five minutes a day will yield surprisingly good results. Great. Okay. You'll be surprised. This is the magic twirl. Now try with your left hand, That's where you try and skip the left hand. Nice. You want your target to be the next note. You can keep going as long as you want, you can come back up whenever you want. It's not too important. It's more important that you practice that finger independence. It keeps on wanting to. The more you fight that, the greater the link will become between your brain and your hands. It's just easy try real quick, it just all backfires. That's why slow practice and then built up. Nice But yeah. There's some nice little drills that you can take around with you on a bus, in your house, just on a table. Works really well. There we go. Those were some fingers strengthening exercises. Thank you for watching, and we'll see you in the next video. 19. Thanks for watching: That brings us to the end of the class. Thank you so much for watching. Filming this quite a while later, you can probably tell the hairstyle has changed and everything like that, but really hope you found this class useful. Please do remember to post something in the class project section once you've done your jazz improvisation or done anything, chord progression and scale from this class, we'd love to see a video or an audio recording of it. Then me and John can give you feedback. John's feedback will be worth more than mine, for whatever that's worth. If you want to learn more piano stuff, check out John's profile on Skillshare, that'll be linked down below. If you want to check out my other classes, I have got loads and loads on Skillshare, so please do make sure to follow my profile. Really hope you found this class useful and we'll see you in the next one.