Tag Archives: piano chords

How To Master Jazz Piano Chords

Playing jazz piano chords is no difficult task. Learn the structure, choose an appropriate fingering, and press down the keys. Easy-peasy. But jazz piano chord mastery is a different ballgame. We will acknowledge this today as you prepare to get in the driver’s seat.

Mastering Jazz Piano Chords: The Key Ingredient

Jazz piano chords Even with just a modest amount of piano technique, playing new jazz piano chords is about as easy as speaking any new word in your chosen language. You see it or hear it,  then mimic it.

Now, what function does that word have on its own? Not much, usually, until you use it in the context of a phrase or sentence.

Mastering jazz piano chords involves the same process. Like the spoken word, that chord or voicing has no real function by itself. However, when you play that chord in the context of a musical phrase, you’ve put it to good use. You have mastered that chord, at least to some degree.

The key ingredient to mastering jazz piano chords is making it a point to use them in the context of your favorite songs. The more you do this, the more confident you become with that particular chord structure. It works the same way as mastering a new word. Use it or lose it.

The Snowball Effect Of Using New Chord Voicings In Songs Regularly

As with many activities, once you get the ball rolling, the process of incorporating your newly learned jazz piano chords into the context of songs becomes more natural. The brain has a way of automatically returning to you what you feed it.

There comes a time when no thinking is involved. Upon seeing a melody and chord symbol, your fingers just make the formation and you know what it will sound like a split second in advance. Now, that’s mastery!

A Vocabulary Needs To Be Used, Not Stored On The Shelf

Reflecting on my high school experience learning  Italian as a second language in 9th grade, it seems appropriate to bring up this matter of building a vocabulary. I passed the two-year program by memorizing vocabulary words, generally scoring  90% or better on those weekly quizzes.

At the conclusion of the two years, I couldn’t speak Italian.

The reason? Incorporating the words into phrases and sentences wasn’t a primary focus. It was not enforced as a requirement to pass the course. So there I was, a student who passed an Italian course who knew a few words. If I was ever to take a trip to Italy, I would have been lost.

Don’t let that happen to you with the jazz piano language. Once you learn a new chord voicing, use it… OVERUSE IT. Be able to “speak” it in the context of an actual playing situation.

Incorporating A Newly Learned Jazz Piano Chord Voicing Into A Solo Performance

Let’s consider how one might apply this concept to a solo performance…

[Sidebar: although playing jazz piano chord voicings while comping behind musicians and implementing them as a soloist have their own approaches and characteristics, it is my strong opinion that  mastering  two-hand voicings in a solo context is conducive to your becoming a more creative comper]

Okay… you have learned a chord voicing for a Major 7 chord:

Jazz piano chord voicing

Specifically, this is a Major 7 jazz piano chord voicing. We see that the root is C, so we have a Cmaj7 chord voicing. The 7th of the chord is at the top of the voicing. 

The little game you are going to become immersed in is looking through your tunes where a maj7 chord is called for in the symbol while the melody note is the 7th of the chord. This way, your melody will be the top voice (note) in the chord voicing.

Okay, while browsing, you discover that the first melody note (after the pickup notes) of the first measure of Erroll Garner’s Misty is B, the 7th of the chord, which is Cmaj7. Great!

Here is how you can apply your chord voicing:

Jazz piano chord voicing

Now, play the voicing in context. How does it sound? Pretty nice, huh? Congratulations! You are on your way to mastering this particular jazz piano chord. Don’t quit. Look for more opportunities. The satisfaction you will gain from this approach is awesome.

There you have it. Learn a new jazz piano chord voicing, then implement it. Repeat. That’s the formula for achieving CONFIDENCE!

Transpose That Chord To Other Keys

Are you going to search for only musical segments call for a Cmaj7? 

NO! You are looking for any situation where the chord is a maj7 and the melody note is the 7th of the chord. Doing so will lend itself to the opportunity for you to transpose your new voicing to different keys other than C.

Actually, the song Misty is usually seen in the key of Eb. In this case, the melody note you are harmonizing is D while the chord is Ebmaj7. Take it upon yourself to transpose the same voicing to accommodate the melody note.

Remember, your goal is to MASTER this jazz piano chord. That includes playing it in other keys, of course.

3 Strategies For Mastering Jazz Piano Chords 

  1.  Learn and finger the chord voicing structure

  2.  Transpose the jazz piano chord to different keys

  3.  Use the chord voicing in the context of your favorite songs

A Magnificent Tool For Achieving Jazz Piano Chord Mastery

I love the art of learning and mastering jazz piano chords. My passion in this regard inspired me to create an online program for having fun using the chord mastery approach we just experienced.

I wanted to create a tool with which the learner would not only learn new jazz piano chords on the spot but would be encouraged and guided to use what was learned immediately. 

It was also important to me to convey to the learner how a pro jazz or pop pianist really thinks as these chords are being played. We use excerpts of actual songs to reinforce what is being learned.

Yes, it was my aim to reveal to an aspiring player a pro’s approach to playing piano chords. I decided to call it ProProach. It is affordable, instantly accessible, and chock FULL of insights that can help a player to put his or her playing “in steroids.”

ProProach consists of 25 lessons, each including a textual tutorial (also pdf) and a motivational video demonstration (the mp4’s can be downloaded). So many people have reported that their confidence level with jazz piano chords has skyrocketed more and more as they repeat the lessons.

You’ll get access to all the lessons at once. I encourage you to enjoy one at a time as you use what you learn, as emphasized throughout the program.

A Terrific Companion To ProProach

There’s another tool worth mentioning on this same subject. This particular tool was inspired by ProProach and the positive feedback that program received. Each lesson in this eBook displays a jazz piano chord voicing on a keyboard diagram along with a musical segment in which the chord voicing can be applied. 

This eBook is entitled Pro Piano Chord Bytes:  Secrets To Chord Voicing Magic. This very unique tool is available on Amazon. In addition to what I have stated about it already, this manuscript can make a profound difference in the way anyone plays jazz piano chords.

You see, the commentary in each lesson actually inspires you to create your own jazz piano chord voicings based on the primary lesson.  This tool, in conjunction with ProProach, will have you cookin’ with chords.

You will never view playing piano chords the same way again once you have engaged yourself in these two popular jazz piano chord tools.

Keep It Fun

This cannot be emphasized enough. It’s true that practicing drills has its benefits and this is not being discouraged. That said, given the choice to learn a jazz piano chord in 12 keys as a drill or in a musical context, my choice is usually for the latter. 

Sure, you can transpose a chord voicing up and down the keyboard… in half-step increments, for example. Just keep it playful and musical. Play each voicing as you play the top note a few times like it is an actual melody. Or make up a melody by playing a few notes in addition to the top note of the voicing. Try anything.

Allow your creativity to take over. After all, that IS the ultimate goal.



Jazz Piano Chords Pdf

New Jazz Piano Chords Pdf

Jazz Piano Chords pdfThe newest jazz piano chords pdf that I recently made available features those piano chords and voicings that I used during an eight bar segment of a piano video tutorial I created which focuses on the classic Harold Arlen tune Paper Moon.  This pdf serves as a compliment to a free lesson that I created emphasizing the rewards of smooth voice leading.

How To Use This Jazz Piano Chords Pdf

Firstly, the free lesson including the chord pdf can be found here. A suggested use of this chart is to focus on one chord voicing at a time, enjoying the process of transposing it to several different keys (all 12 preferably!). The value in learning a chord, voicing, pattern, or any musical concept in a variety of keys is tremendous. The majority of people simply do not take the time to do this. It’s one of those things that seems to “separate the men from the boys” in terms of creative piano players.

This particular chord voicing chart illustrates the chords and voicings being used in the sequence they are being played in the corresponding video.  It would be of exceptional value to the individual who actually has some fun with transposing the actual chord progression into several keys and, of course, implementing the appropriate chords and voicings. It’s one thing to transpose the individual chord structures… it’s quite another to utilize them in the context of the chord progression in a variety of keys. To some, this can seem like a tedious process. However, it’s where the real gold exists.

One More Jazz Piano Chords Pdf

Another jazz piano chords pdf that you will want to take advantage of is that which includes a chart of the 1-7-3-5-9 chord voicing demonstrated in Lesson #1 of ProProach.  This voicing is valuable to master, as it can be used easily and practically in the context of your favorite standard ballads. However, the value goes far beyond that You see, within this voicing are others as well (you have the 7-3-5-9 when being played without the root, as might be used in a group scenario in which the bass player plays the root). In addition, a more creative way of utilizing this chord voicing structure may be explored in a special piano video tutorial I created entitled Cocktail Piano Secrets #1.

I hope the lesson referred to above proves to be of some value to you. As with any learning tool, the real benefits manifest when used with some diligence in conjunction with an attitude of optimism and playfulness.





Mu sically,


An Open Jazz Piano Voicing You Must Know

A Great Jazz Piano Voicing To Use In Ballads

Jazz Piano Voicings ExploredAlthough its use is certainly not limited to ballads by any means, it’s a terrific jazz piano voicing that can really beautify those favorite ballads of yours. I say this because it is has such a such a substantial sound that resounds prominently when played with melody notes of long duration. I sometimes refer to these as “resting points” because these notes are the target notes that give a phrase its feeling of resolution.

Let me give you an example:

Erroll Garner’s Misty (for which Johnny Burke later wrote the words) has always been a favorite ballad of mine. Let’s take a peek at the first measure. It has two pickup notes that lead to a melody note of a longer duration (3 beats). The chord is a Cmaj7:

Jazz Piano Voicings - Cmaj7





How would you play a Cmaj7 chord with that B in the melody?

There are a number of ways to do it. A beginning player who is familiar with 7th chords might play the Cmaj7 like this:

Jazz Piano Voicing - Cmaj7

Above we have the Cmaj7 chord illustrated in its basic, root position. Now, there wouldn’t be anything wrong with playing this chord in that manner. Actually it sounds good when played in the area an octave below the melody.  If you haven’t played this before, I certainly encourage you to do so for a couple of reasons:

  1. You’ll want to gain familiarity with all of your 7th chords in all positions and this is one of them
  2.  You are likely going to want to use this particular version of the Cmaj7 when playing ballads. Playing it this way when interspersed with tasteful piano chord voicings, such as the one we are about to explore, can really add some nice variety to your playing

Okay, as we take a look at that Cmaj7 chord structure above and relate it to the C Major scale (C D E F G A B C), we have the 1,3,5,7 of the scale, respectively.

Sidebar: When people refer to the “1 of the chord” or “3 of the chord” or “5th of the chord,” etc., they are actually referring to the degrees of a corresponding scale.

If we play a little game with those chord tones by rearranging them a bit, we can arrive at a jazz piano chord voicing that looks like this:

Jazz Piano Voicings - Cmaj7 in open position


Here we have a wonderful stock voicing used by the pros time and time again. We refer to it as a “stock” voicing because it’s one that is known by every competent jazz pianist and is used quite often.

This is one of the more basic type of voicings due to the fact that it includes the very same amount of notes as the original example above and exactly the same chord tones. The only difference, in terms of playing it, is that we have moved two of the chord tones, the 1 and 5 of the chord, down one octave. But what a difference when it comes to how it sounds!

What we are playing here is known as an open chord voicing because we have taken notes from the chord and created space. In other words, looking at the first illustration above, that Cmaj7 chord has tones that are as close as they can possibly be to each other. Therefore, we refer to this as a closed position chord. But you’ll notice that, upon playing our new voicing, that those notes are not as close to each other as they could be. There are actually chord tones (that we are not playing) in between the notes we are playing.

Go ahead and play the basic position of Cmaj7 above and then play this voicing. Compare how they sound to you. Go back and forth between the two. Listen… listen… listen. Really learn to love listening to the distinctive sounds of the various positions and voicings of chords. This is key to becoming a tasteful player.

Now, let’s take another look at the segment of the melody for Misty shown above.  Notice that the melody note that we want to harmonize and the top note of the chord voicing we arrived at are the same note. Please go to your piano or keyboard and play that melody while complimenting that B (for 3 beats) with that voicing. Listen!

Isn’t it nice and full? It sounds nice and rich. Would you agree? The first time I had heard someone play that jazz piano voicing, he was, in fact, playing Misty. I just had to run over to the piano and ask him what he was playing. Like most jazz pianists, he showed me without reservation. Wow! I had a new sound that I could play whenever I wanted to. I soon made it a point of incorporating this voicing in both tunes that I had already known as well as new ones.

It is my hope for you, friend, that you develop the same “child like” enthusiasm that I had (and still have) whenever a new chord sound is discovered.

Play that jazz piano chord voicing in more keys:

C  F  Bb  Eb  Ab  Db  Gb  B  E  A  D  G

It would be great to learn that voicing in all those keys. At the very least, learn a few of them and used them in songs that you know. Then learn the others. Use what you learn. This is important!

By the way, the example above was excerpted from a popular jazz piano voicings program of mine entitled Pro Piano Chord Bytes. You will find it in Lesson #1, which is offered free as you will see once you follow that link.  Upon getting involved with that program, you will receive a new lesson each week for 24 weeks. Each consists of examples both illustrated on the staff and on the keyboard (so even if you don’t read music yet, you can simply play what you see on the keyboard illustration). In addition, the added commentary will lead you to more and more chord voicing creativity if you will follow its suggestions, which I hope you will have fun doing.

Okay, let’s do a little something to this voicing that will give us another texture. Play the exact same chord voicing while leaving out the 5 of the chord. So, the result will be that you will be playing the C in the bass area of the piano keyboard with the left hand and the E and B above with right hand. Again, play and listen. Do you notice that the chord still sounds fantastic, only with a bit of a “thinner” quality? This is a perfect example of how making ever so slight changes to our voicings can result in different “colors!” I would like to show you a demonstration of this chord voicing being used in Misty, this time in the key or Eb. This is a short excerpt one of the lessons in ProProach. In that program, we actually learn how to incorporate what we learn into actual tunes, which is a very popular feature with members. Let’s give a look and listen:

Here is a fun, simple exercise that I would like you have some more fun with: If you have sheet music, pick a few songs that you like and browse through the music. As you do so, look for Major 7th chords. At the same time, see if you can locate melody notes that are actually the 7th of the chord. Go ahead and play the voicing above (both with and without the 5 of the chord)  to compliment that melody note. Put it in context of the melody before and after. Although this chord voicing really “rings” nicely for notes of a longer duration, don’t limit yourself to using it in other areas of the melody. For now, wherever you have a Major 7th chord that coincides with a melody note that is the 7th, play it and put it in context! As you gain more and more experience, you won’t be playing a voicing like that everywhere you possibly could, of course, but you do want to be able to! Really get to know that voicing! Sure, you are already acquainted with it. But you know that you know it when you can use it “on demand.” This is what I want for you, friend. I want you to make a habit of really using what you learn, as I mentioned earlier. Your confidence is really going to escalate!

As you explore this voicing further and master it to the point of it being at your fingertips whenever you choose, remember…






Jazz Piano Voicings: A Fun & Easy Primer

Piano Chord Voicings

Abracadabra! Alakazoo! Who’s on the way to
piano chord mastery? That person is YOU!



How To Arrive At Some Basic Jazz Piano Voicings Right Away

Would you like a super easy way to be playing some pretty cool sounding jazz piano voicings? Here is a little something you can have fun with right now…

This is a  fun way to experiment with chords on the piano even if you
don’t have much experience at all. What you need to know are two things:

1) The C Major Scale

2) The C Major Triad

Playing through this exercise will result in some very interesting sounds and insights!

Here is what to do:

1) Simply play the C Major triad with your right hand

If you need help with triads, a good learning tool, which includes a video and guidebook is here (This is available via instant download). For now, here is how to play a C Major chord:

2) At the same time, play the C Major scale, one note at a time,
and LISTEN to the results!

For example, play the C Major triad with your right hand
(C E G… play the chord using “middle C”) while playing the “C” one octave below “middle C” with your left hand…

A Jazz Piano Voicings Primer

Doing this, you are simply playing a C major chord…


NEXT, while playing the same C Major chord with your right hand,
play the “D” with your left hand and LISTEN… you are now playing something quite different! You’re actually playing a chord voicing a Pro would use. It’s actually a piano chord voicing for a D-11 chord!

NEXT, change that left hand note to the E (you’ll be playing a slash chord – C/E)

Then… F… Then G… Then A… Then B…

Here is what you’ve done:

With C at the bottom, you’ve got a Cmaj chord
With D at the bottom, you’ve got a D-11 chord (or Dmin11)
With E at the bottom, you’ve got a C/E chord
With F at the bottom, you’ve got an Fmaj9 chord
With G at the bottom, you’ve got C/G
With A at the bottom, you’ve got an A-7 chord (or Amin7)
With B at the bottom, you’ve got a Cmaj7/B chord

For extra fun, play inversions of the C major with the right hand!

Can you do this with the other scales? Like a G major chord with the right hand playing a G Major scale with the left hand? You bet you can!

This is a fantastic jazz piano voicing primer that can have you experiencing some chord sounds you may never have before. Of course, if you experiment with the various keys, taking this fun exercise beyond the scope of this lesson, you will be taking your chord confidence to higher levels!