If you want to get better at your blues piano playing, who better to learn from than Ray Charles? Try playing this video while throwing in your own blues licks on top. Also try to imitate or paraphrase some of Brother Ray’s.
Learn the essential elements of improvising blues piano, including the (minor) Blues Scale, the 12-bar Blues pattern, left-hand grooves, coordination exercises, and plenty of raw material for your own licks.
My goal is for you to start improvising great blues solos!
Although most of this course is in the key of C, there is a detailed lesson that covers transposing the blues scale, and the 12-bar blues progression, into other keys.
Is this what you’re looking for?
Students taking this course should be interested in learning blues improvisation. Improvisation in blues usually has an underlying structure, a key center, and a chord progression that is being followed. The rhythm and the chords give us that beautiful sense of a distinct groove, and the soloists do their thing “on top of” that. In this course, you will learn the basic structural stuff, but you will also be given (taught) the popular raw materials for creating blues licks and melodies in general. It will be your job to turn those raw materials into original licks. I can give you expert guidance, hints and tips and raw material, which I do, but in the end, it’s your solo! That’s the beauty of studying improvisation. You get to own it.
Blues-inspired improvisation is at the core of, and will always have an influence on, countless musical genres. The blues scales, blues chord progressions, the “Blue Notes”…these are staples of so much great rock, hip-hop, jazz, country, gospel, and so on. That’s just to name a few of the mega-genres that have “blue blood” in their veins!
We can either forget about, or fail to recognize, the blues roots in so much contemporary music, but it’s everywhere.
So, back to the question, “Is this what you’re looking for,” I would suggest “yes,” because you read this far, still hanging in, after reading what’s what, so therefore you might like the class. That may be an odd conclusion.
Preview: To help you get an idea of how these videos might work for you, Lesson #4 (link below) is currently watchable as a full lesson preview.
Recommended knowledge or experience
You will need NO ability to read music (true for this particular course, and for most lessons on this site).
Knowing the names of the notes on your keyboard (like E, F#, G) is helpful in this class, but is not absolutely required.
We do start out hoping you already play “a bit of piano.”
Musicians who are already experienced with another instrument, including blues guitar, can benefit from this course as well. That is, you could potentially (1) pick up some keyboard skills and/or (2) learn new theory stuff and/or (3) get new ideas.
Helpful Course Documents
(Click document’s image below to download or view.)
We have here a two-handed intro section, a great setup for getting any blues jam started. This opening groove covers a full 12-bar cycle, giving your listeners an exciting intro (a.k.a. “head”) which leads nicely into the next 12-bars, where you can begin your right-handed soloing. Note, you can use the left-hand (bass line) of this groove throughout your entire jam. It’s a simple and powerful bass line that keeps the beat going strong. But wait, there’s more! This lesson also includes a sample opening for your solo. No way!
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!
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.