Learning Jazz Piano Voicings: Not Just For Jazz Players
Since my earlier days, when I was first introduced to what a jazz piano voicing even was, my investigation included reading books, listening to recordings, and finally hooking up with a teacher much later who gave me a better handle on chord voicings. I came to realize that those who were knowledgeable about chord voicings and were competent with using them were those who were playing jazz. But I also became in tune with the idea that one does not have to be a jazz player to take advantage of such knowledge. Truly, if you want to enhance your own piano playing and jazz piano voicings are not a part of your act, you are missing out on something. For example, if you’ve ever wondered why that standard song you’ve been playing for years doesn’t seem to have that “certain something” even though you know the chords you’re playing are consistent with those chord symbols, chances are pretty good that gaining some chord voicing insights would turn that all around for you.
Learn Your 7th Chords
If you have a knowledge of basic chords, including 7th chords, you’re ahead of the game. You can know what a 9th, 11th, or 13th is, and even play them above those basic chords in their basic form but, even then, unless you’ve got some handle on how to voice them, there’s more you can aspire to.
I’ve been coaching people on people for years (over 30) and it never ceases to amaze me the delight they experience once they learn some profound ways of voicing chords they’ve been playing the same way for ages. I get a lot of satisfaction out of that. This was a significant reason why I created ProProach. I actually share how my incentive for creating that popular piano chord voicing program here.
Enjoy The Entire Process
I would like to encourage the individual who has little or no chord voicing experience to learn to appreciate the journey rather than to approach the whole game from a standpoint of “knowing it or not knowing it.” The truth is that you never know it all, which is actually what makes it such an interesting adventure. Think of yourself as an artist who has four or five paint colors on his or her palette. Sure, much beauty can be achieved by using just those colors. However, if you take those colors and start mixing them in certain ways in an exploratory fashion, you can achieve more and more interesting results. Your newly found discoveries certainly don’t take anything away from your previous capabilities. Rather, they enhance them. So, think of what you don’t already know as something to be thankful for, as you’ll constantly be open to more creative potential that you previously were not aware of, and that’s always exciting.
So, learn one new voicing at a time and give yourself plenty of time to incorporate that new sound into your playing over the course of a week or so. The more you use it, the more it becomes a part of your own natural style. Pick a favorite ballad that you like to play, for example, and look for places where that voicing can be used. If it’s a Cmaj7 voicing you’ve learned, notice where all the maj7 chords are and use it, transposing the voicing to accommodate Fmaj7, Gmaj7, etc. You’ll be so glad you did this! This is why ProProach is presented in weekly lessons, of course. It has been proven time and time again by users of the program that this approach to learning and incorporating new sounds really works to the benefit of assimilating the material in such a way where results are realized long before one takes himself or herself through the program the very first time. Those who take themselves through all the lessons again and again realize even more benefits (all the lessons are provided at the conclusion of the first time through for this convenience).
Tiny excerpt from a popular video session that focuses on the
“So What” jazz piano chord voicing, a favorite among jazz pianists:
One of the terrific things about learning voicings is that, although the purpose is to incorporate those sounds into your own favorite songs, the mere playing of the voicings through different keys provides a certain satisfactory sense of accomplishment. For example, learning a certain maj7 voicing and playing it through different keys at a sitting is musical in its own right and provides quick incentive for wanting to take things further. Truly, once you become absorbed in the world of jazz piano voicings, there’s no turning back! You’ll never view playing piano chords the same way ever again… along with that, your playing will never sound quite the same again!
PLAY WITH PASSION!