For some, learning jazz can feel to be an extremely difficult task. However, playing jazz on the piano does not have to be difficult. It does contain many complex harmonies and because of this, there is a demand for a certain level of high skill.When you can break down the basics and learn the progressions, it can be easy to learn jazz piano as a beginner.
There are some ways to play jazz piano without having to know a lot about jazz music, but you should have some knowledge of the initial jazz piano chords and terms. Though some of the chord progressions involved in jazz playing are at a higher level of difficulty, especially for those new to the instrument, you can still learn how to play them at a beginner level.
Let’s outline some jazz piano chords and jazz chord progressions that are common in piano playing, as well as some ways in which you can identify jazz chords and how to learn more about them.
IMPORTANT THINGS TO KNOW
Before beginning with jazz piano, there are some things you should know that many jazz pianists will use:
- The left hand of each of these chords is just a root and seventh. This is pretty much the basic concept of what’s known as chord voicings. It is also important that you understand the role of each note inside each voicing.
- You can always use one extension above the chord, known as the chord voicing.
- The major ii-V-I is easily the most important chord progression in jazz standards, so you will want to spend plenty of time working on ii-V-I’s (example below):
- Here’s a video tutorial from our lead piano teacher, Vincent, using the chords:
- Be sure to identify the 3rds and 7ths in each chord because you can use these when you improvise. Jazz improvisation is essential when you master your chords to work on – jam sessions are a fundamental part of becoming more jazz-oriented!
- You HAVE to have rhythm because jazz requires a lot of off-set rhythms within many of its songs.
- Harmonic analysis is important, so study and identifying the overarching keys within your chords, as well as the common chord progressions like the ii V I, which are outlined more below: