Blues Lick #7: “Flat Three to Five”

You may hear this series of notes a lot in jazz and blues solos.  Which means, you could call this a cliché.  But in the Blues especially, we need to use clichés, in order to let listeners know where they are:  “You are in the Blues, thank you very much!”  Any time you venture off into highly original blues territory, a cliché is a great place to come home to!

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Blues Lick #5: “Ba-do-dee You Bop”

Welcome Back!

Today we present Lick Number Five, which is formally called the “Ba-do-dee you bop” lick. That is some academic terminology right there, and you know that I did not make it up.

Ha-ha. As with Lick #2, I named this lick with syllables that match each note of the pattern, so that you can sing the name of the lick as you practice it, which is a really good way to get the feel of it. You might want to read the lesson description for Lick #2 for more insight on that singing idea.


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Blues Lick #4: “You Gimme the Run-around”

Welcome back!

I call this type of pattern a “run-around” lick.

Lick patterns like these are easy to make into ear-catching runs, the kind you can easily move around the keyboard. The result can be some interesting and longer lines, even though the lick it’s based on is usually quite simple. A good “run-around” lick fits well under the fingers, and often has two connected fragments, which allows the two parts to kind of “leap frog” and “run around” with each other.  Dig? You’ll see.

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Blues Lick #3: “Boogie House”

Welcome back to A Study in Blues Piano!

Here’s one that feels right at home in a classic boogie-woogie piano groove, as well as in a hard-driving modern “boogie rock” or “boogie country” jam. At the end of the day, this lick fits in anywhere that is bluesy or funky.  So think of the classic boogie-woogie beat as you get the rhythmic feel of this pattern. The way that I’m demonstrating this lick keeps that boogie feeling in mind.  So, don’t just think of the individual notes; listen to the groove, and tap your foot while you work on this!

Oh, and make it fun, that’s part of the assignment, for all these lessons. It’s a very serious assignment I’m giving you, a requirement that there has to be a grand dose of fun in this mix. The fun aspect is also helpful when studying, writing, or performing “classically serious” kinds of music.  That’s why, in the end, even with much serious study, our most desirable and worthy goal with music is to play it, and never to work it.  (I didn’t make that one up, and I forget where I heard it first, but I have to remind myself of that important truth sometimes, so I’m reminding you here, too 🙂 Even the most focused and drill-like practice can be made better by remembering that it won’t be “perfect” until it really sounds like there’s some fun up in there.  OK so let’s jam!


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Blues Lick #2 : “Da-boo-da, boo-dee-ooo”

Welcome to Lesson Two!

In David Sudnow’s classic book, “Ways of the Hand,” he describes his personal journey towards becoming an accomplished piano improviser.  Eventually, he discovers the secret to playing great jazz (or blues) lines:  Sing!  That is, above all, you must mentally sing the ideas (hear them in your head, as something you would sing). Then, translate that “sound” to your fingers.  You don’t need to be an accomplished singer to do this.  It’s really about the act of singing in your head, not so much your vocal accuracy.  Which brings us to the name of this lick!  If you sing “Dabooda, Boodie You”  with a solid rhythm, it will be much easier to adapt the idea behind this lick into your solos. (Each note in this lick is tied to one syllable in the name.)


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Blues Piano Crash Course, #7: Walking Bass Line & More Coordination Practice

PREMIUM CONTENT (Lesson #3 is a free sample).

from The Blues Piano Crash Course

Lesson #7  Walking Bass Line & More Coordination Practice (video)

Rhythm is never to be neglected in the Blues, even in performances that are so slow and sultry that it feels like we’re all just breathing, no real beat, just waves…oh sorry, I spaced! Ha. Thing is, even a very slow blues is going to rely heavily on rhythm to give us another undeniable take on real life. We all know how “slow” can sometimes be more alive than “fast” anyway. It all depends right?

I’m saying that about rhythm here because this is the third lesson in a row where we’ve been practicing two-handed coordination on the piano. And I think I’d better explain myself, before you get too bored or too frustrated or both.

First, the more fun work (fun work? yep) picks up again after this third lesson on coordination. I swear. Also, you will learn how to do a walking bass line in this one.

Finally, this maybe-less-than-fun stuff is truly important, this coordination work on piano, because if your hands aren’t “of one mind” — coordinated — then the exalted Rhythm Itself will suffer. And we can’t have that in the blues, not on my watch, dig? If you want to sound great, instead of just good or worse, then quite often it’s just a matter of fixing up that rhythm. Something that can mystify us sometimes — that frustrating sense of “it just doesn’t sound right” — can often be traced back to one thing: The Lack of a Solid Groove. Rhythm is King!

Lick #7 Video Lesson

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