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Minor voicings. Just the mention of the word "voicing" creates immediate confusion and frustration for so many aspiring jazz pianists. Why? Because the skill of "voicing chords" is approached with the belief that the possibilities are endless. So, if you begin with this false premise you believe you're tackling a jazz piano skill that can never be fully explored, understood, or mastered - after all, you're trying to learn "infinity!" (tip: never a good idea or strategy to begin any journey, project, or endeavor with this mindset). So, we are going to take a different approach as we set out to discover, learn, and play minor voicings.
Let's discover minor voicings. Our strategy begins with an understanding that there is a "standard way" or approach to voicing chords that all professional jazz pianists adhere to when playing jazz. To voice chords contrary to the "standard way" would create sounds that are not idiomatic to the jazz genre. In other words, you would not sound like a jazz pianist because you're playing voicings not associated with jazz! So let's take a look at how a jazz pianist approaches minor voicings.
We begin with a numeric understanding of a minor scale:
Left Hand Only Minor Voicings (traditional style)
Time to learn minor voicings. To successfully learn any skill (in any discipline) you must establish an organized approach that allows and promotes repetition and replication. This is exactly what we created in the discover section above - we established three categories of minor voicings with two voicing options in each (structure!). Additionally, we used numeric notation for construction and transposition ease. So, using "C minor" as an example, our organizational diagram from above now looks like this:
C Minor Scale
We now have a very clean and tidy snapshot of "C" minor voicings. Your job is to replicate this model for the remaining 11 minor chords. Once you have an organizational diagram created for each minor chord begin putting your hands on the shapes (over and over again - repetition!). Here are what the shapes look like for "C Minor":
We're now ready to play minor voicings. The final step in mastering a jazz piano skill is to practice playing the skill within a musical context placed in time. Hearing and Feeling a skill within a musical context makes all the difference in the world - it expedites your musical development. I strongly recommend using an app like iRealPro or software like Band In a Box to help you accomplish this task. Watch the video below to see me practicing our "C" minor voicings.
Remember, always play using comfortable tempos - practicing is never a speed race! Enjoy the entire discover, learn, and play process for mastering minor voicings.
If you wish to discover, learn, and play more minor voicings and other essential jazz piano skills, you should join JazzPianoSkills.com. In addition to receiving free professional jazz piano lessons on a regular basis via Email, your membership grants you lifetime access to all of my instructional jazz videos (which you can access and study as often as you wish). Additionally, your own private Mavenlink Support Portal is established, hosted, and maintained by The Dallas School of Music allowing you and me to easily interact with one another as often as needed each and every week. Likewise, you’ll receive tuition discounts if you ever choose to have private online jazz lessons with me through The Dallas School of Music.
I welcome the opportunity to answer any questions you may have regarding this blog so feel free to Email me firstname.lastname@example.org or call me 972-380-8050 Ext. 211. Please take a moment and listen to a few of my recordings or follow me at SoundCloud to get a feel for how I play and approach this wonderful art form we call jazz.
I look forward to helping you discover, learn, and play jazz!
I am a professional jazz pianist and music educator residing in Dallas. I founded The Dallas School of Music and currently serve as President. Likewise, I am the creator and developer of JazzPianoSkills.com.
Location (Dallas, TX)