Blues Piano Licks #1 and #2 from “A Study in Blues Piano — Focusing on 12 Licks”

Hello there, students of blues, jazz and rock!

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“The Blues Piano Crash Course” Main Page

Course Description

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.

To receive updates of all new posts on this site (including new blues lessons), you can provide your email address here (we never share your address with anyone, period!)

Helpful Course Documents

(Click document’s image below to download or view.)

Catalog of Chords and Scales
Catalog of Chords and Scales (for Blues Piano Crash Course)

 

Recommended Listening
Recommended Listening (Blues)

The Complete Course (video pages w/ text intros)

Lesson One – “The Blues Scale”

Supplemental (optional) from “A Study in Blues Piano” – Licks #1 and #2

Lesson Two – “A Left-hand Groove”

Lesson Three – “Five Must-know Riffing Devices”

Lesson Four – “The Classic 12-bar Blues Progression”

  • Attention visitors: Lesson #4 is available as a full lesson preview.

Lesson Five – “Put Your Hands Together”

Lesson Six – More tips and practice for the Two Fisted Jammer

Lesson Seven – A Walking Bass Line & More Coordination

Lesson Eight – Blue Notes and pitch-bending

Lesson Nine – The Melody Machine

Lesson Ten – Turn-arounds and Endings

Lesson Eleven – Playing Blues in Any Key

end of list (all core lessons)

 

“A Study in Blues Piano – Focusing on 12 Licks” from Piano With Kent

Blues piano lessons from Kent Smith 

 

UPDATE from Kent, Sep. 13, 2018, 7:58 pm PST:

“A Study in Blues Piano” is presently being uploaded to our site here, as I write this. 

All twelve video lessons (they’re taught by me) AND also all eleven video lessons for “Blues Piano Crash Course” (also taught by me)  will be live and accessible 24×7, for streaming directly from this and other pages on this site.

You’re gonna love these courses, I guarantee it!

Here’s what we have so far (below).  FYI, a complete course description, lesson descriptions, and all that, are also coming on line soon.

Lick #1 of 12

Lick #2 of 12

Check back soon!

 

 

Video: Ray Charles “What I’d Say” — Practice your blues licks with this one!

 

What’s up, Blues Cats and 12-bar Chicks?

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.

Here’s some insight to help you:

(1) The key is E.  You can start joining in by using the E-minor blues scale, throughout the whole jam, right hand only.  The E-minor blues scale is E, G, A, Bb, B, D, (E). Even if that’s all you practice here — which is quite valuable — it still helps to realize the following things about the chords involved . (If you’re especially ambitious,  you can try playing these chords in your left hand, while riffing with the right.)

(2) The chords are E7, A7 (added ninth, optional), and B7.

(3) The chord progression is a classic 12-bar blues, in its most basic form, outlined here:

E7 — 4 measures (bars)

A9 (or just A7) —  2 measures (bars)

E7 — 2 measures (bars) 

B7 — 1 measure (bar)

A9 (or A7) — 1 measure (bar)

AND THE TURN-AROUND:

E7 — 1 measure (bar)

B7 — 1 measure (bar) 

Now go back to the top.

(4) Repeat the above progression over and over, as you would in any 12-bar blues.  EXCEPTION: You may notice that the B7 in the turn-around does not happen in the 12-bar introduction, where Ray is playing the left-hand bass line and nothing else.  Here, E7 is implied throughout the last two bars.

(5) In the sections where the band stops, but the singing or soloing continues (called a break, or “stop-time”), the prevailing harmony is four bars of E7, as usual. Each time this break happens, we are sitting at the top of the 12-bar cycle. Therefore, each break leads us right into the A7 at measure 5.

So here’s the video, and have fun!

Blues lick #12 from “A Study in Blues Piano”

Hey man.

Below is a sample lesson from my course “A Study in Blues Piano — Focusing on Twelve Licks.”

This one covers the ins and outs, the backs and forths, and the ups and downs of what we call a “turn-around.”  This is when we come to the end of a repeating (cyclic) chord progression, and we do stuff (chords) that bring us musically back to the top.  You’ll see.

 

Enjoy, and don’t forget to comment or ask questions!  Let’s have a community goin on up in here, man!

UPDATE Sept. 13, 2018:  There’s a newer version of this video coming to the site as part of our uploading the whole course here, which is a cleaner version with less “ums” and “ahs” and some other improvements. We’re uploading these better versions as I write this update.