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Learning Jazz Chords with D & D dice #2916891 11/27/19 07:23 AM
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Peddler100 Offline OP
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I thought I would share with people a variation on the use of dice for piano practice. I have shifted to learning Jazz Piano and have discovered that aside from it being controlled chaos smile knowing the 7th chords in each of the major keys plus inversions goes a long way to helping with lead sheets. My problem was that I could figure out the chords but it typically took a bit and recognizing inversions and where to use them was not happening. Playing the chords around the circle of 5ths was useful but I still had problems quickly identifying chords on a lead sheet. I thought of creating flash cards but when you take into account 12 keys, 5 chords and 3 inversions it seemed a bit much. I did read about the use of dice in some situations and even saw that I could order piano dice on Amazon or one site had a template to print out.

Enter Dungeon and Dragons, for those of you not familiar D & D uses all sorts of dice to determine the outcomes of battles among other things. They have everything from 4 sided to 20 sided dice. A quick stop at the local game store and I picked up a 4 ,6 and 12 sided dice for about $2.50 from the 2nds jar. Here's how I use them.

Depending upon what I am working on I roll the dice into a small cardboard box setup on the keys on the right hand side of the piano. The 12 sided dice determines the key, I made up a chart but the basic plan is 1=C, 2=Db and so on. If I am working on Major 7th chords I go play the Major 7th chord for that key. If I want to work on inversions I add in the 4 sided dice. If a 1,2 or 3 comes up then I play the chord I am working on in the key on the 12 sided dice with the 1,2 or 3 inversion. If a 4 comes up then I play the chord without an inversion. The last thing option is the 6 sided dice. This determines the chord that is played, in my chart a chord is signed to each number.

An example would be if all 3 dice were rolled and the 12 sided dice came up with a 6 then the key would be F Major. If the 6 sided dice came up with a 2 the chord would be the Minor 7th and lastly if the 4 sided dice came up with a 3 then I would play the 3rd inversion. This may seem a bit involved but it actually works out well and makes the drills more like a game. Just create a chart showing what the number on the dice corresponds to. Once you get going it's pretty easy to use. So far it has improved my ability to play a chord without working my way into it. This has been especially helpful for practicing inversions.

If anyone has any suggestions on other ways to use dice in practice or modifications I would love to hear about it. In addition to the dice I am using there is also a 8 sided dice and 20 sided dice available.


Yamaha NU1X, Sennheiser HD 599 headphones, dabling with PianoTeq
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Re: Learning Jazz Chords with D & D dice [Re: Peddler100] #2916935 11/27/19 09:28 AM
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That may be fun for you, but it seems like a lot of work to me. Buy Rob’s book on Amazon..

https://d188rgcu4zozwl.cloudfront.net/content/B00B8KHTGY/images/cover.jpg

Last edited by TomLC; 11/27/19 09:30 AM.

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Re: Learning Jazz Chords with D & D dice [Re: Peddler100] #2916963 11/27/19 10:40 AM
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Cool! Reminds me of my "Mug of Scales" - popsicle sticks with whatever I want to drill written on them. Pull one out, and do what it says...

[Linked Image]

Sam

Re: Learning Jazz Chords with D & D dice [Re: Peddler100] #2917003 11/27/19 12:11 PM
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If your goal is to play jazz, I'm not sure learning to play all the inversions of 7th chords is really useful for two reasons:
1. There are certain standard voicings of chords that jazz players use. Most voicings, for example, do not include the 5th. Why learn inversions you won't use?
2. To play jazz you have to play chord progressions. When I started jazz, by teacher had me practice the basic chord progressions, using voicings where you don't have to move your hands much to go from chord to chord.

Perhaps putting it another way, I'd suggest it makes more sense to learn the chords as you'll actually use them in jazz.

Re: Learning Jazz Chords with D & D dice [Re: jjo] #2917033 11/27/19 01:39 PM
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Originally Posted by jjo
If your goal is to play jazz, I'm not sure learning to play all the inversions of 7th chords is really useful for two reasons:
1. There are certain standard voicings of chords that jazz players use. Most voicings, for example, do not include the 5th. Why learn inversions you won't use?
2. To play jazz you have to play chord progressions. When I started jazz, by teacher had me practice the basic chord progressions, using voicings where you don't have to move your hands much to go from chord to chord.

Perhaps putting it another way, I'd suggest it makes more sense to learn the chords as you'll actually use them in jazz.


jjo thanks for the advice. I get what you are saying just not sure how to start with it, time to go back to Mark Lavines Jazz Theory book. I've dabbled a bit with the II-V-I progression but nothing with the voicing.


Yamaha NU1X, Sennheiser HD 599 headphones, dabling with PianoTeq
Formerly known as oneilt130
Re: Learning Jazz Chords with D & D dice [Re: Sam S] #2917034 11/27/19 01:39 PM
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Originally Posted by Sam S
Cool! Reminds me of my "Mug of Scales" - popsicle sticks with whatever I want to drill written on them. Pull one out, and do what it says...

[Linked Image]

Sam


I love it! Another way to randomize practice!


Yamaha NU1X, Sennheiser HD 599 headphones, dabling with PianoTeq
Formerly known as oneilt130
Re: Learning Jazz Chords with D & D dice [Re: Peddler100] #2917847 11/29/19 06:38 PM
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If it helps get patterns into the brain then why not I suppose, but I stopped thinking in terms of keys, chords and progressions ages ago so it wouldn't suit me. Also I am averse to being told what notes to play, either by person or method because it impedes the creative impulse, which is very precious. Sixty years ago, when my teacher had me learn these things there was little that was random about the process. If I hadn't memorised a great heft of chords by the next lesson there would be trouble. Against all this though there is the importance of music being fun, and anything which diminishes deadly seriousness has to be good.


"We shall always love the music of the masters, but they are all dead and now it's our turn." - Llewelyn Jones, my piano teacher
Re: Learning Jazz Chords with D & D dice [Re: Ted] #2917850 11/29/19 06:46 PM
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Originally Posted by Ted
If it helps get patterns into the brain then why not I suppose, but I stopped thinking in terms of keys, chords and progressions ages ago so it wouldn't suit me.


I am a rank beginner at Jazz with the deficit of coming to it from classical. smile Getting patterns into the brain is what the exercise is all about. I can figure out all of the chords and inversions in the major keys but they don't jump out at me when I play. For me it also makes practice a bit more like a game. As a former DM in my youth rolling D & D dice for piano is fun. (Yes, serious nerdness going on.)


Yamaha NU1X, Sennheiser HD 599 headphones, dabling with PianoTeq
Formerly known as oneilt130
Re: Learning Jazz Chords with D & D dice [Re: Sam S] #2917889 11/29/19 09:16 PM
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Originally Posted by Sam S
Cool! Reminds me of my "Mug of Scales" - popsicle sticks with whatever I want to drill written on them. Pull one out, and do what it says...

[Linked Image]

Sam

I'm off to buy popsicle sticks. Do grocery stores have them?

Re: Learning Jazz Chords with D & D dice [Re: keystring] #2917963 11/30/19 05:11 AM
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Originally Posted by keystring
Originally Posted by Sam S
Cool! Reminds me of my "Mug of Scales" - popsicle sticks with whatever I want to drill written on them. Pull one out, and do what it says...

[Linked Image]

Sam

I'm off to buy popsicle sticks. Do grocery stores have them?


Craft stores are a better bet. If you were in the US, I would say Michaels, Hobby Lobby, Wal-Mart, or even one of the dollar stores. Do they have those in Canada?

Sam

Re: Learning Jazz Chords with D & D dice [Re: Sam S] #2917984 11/30/19 06:38 AM
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Originally Posted by Sam S
Cool! Reminds me of my "Mug of Scales" - popsicle sticks with whatever I want to drill written on them. Pull one out, and do what it says...

[Linked Image]

Sam

I don't know if you have two mugs, but if you do, when you have drawn a stick and have drilled whatever was written on it, you could put the stick in another mug, to make sure that you'll drill everything.
Sam, do the stones also have a function, or are they decoration?


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Re: Learning Jazz Chords with D & D dice [Re: Animisha] #2918002 11/30/19 07:48 AM
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Originally Posted by Animisha
Originally Posted by Sam S
Cool! Reminds me of my "Mug of Scales" - popsicle sticks with whatever I want to drill written on them. Pull one out, and do what it says...

[Linked Image]

Sam

I don't know if you have two mugs, but if you do, when you have drawn a stick and have drilled whatever was written on it, you could put the stick in another mug, to make sure that you'll drill everything.
Sam, do the stones also have a function, or are they decoration?


I use the stones to count repetitions when drilling a problem spot. Play it once (correctly!), move over a stone. Repeat. I keep 5 or 6 small stones on the music desk. Those are Maine beach stones from Summerkeys. No sandy beaches in downeast Maine.

You could use anything to count with - I got my wife doing it, and she uses colorful shards of pottery.

Sam

Re: Learning Jazz Chords with D & D dice [Re: Peddler100] #2918269 11/30/19 05:32 PM
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Originally Posted by Peddler100
Originally Posted by jjo
If your goal is to play jazz, I'm not sure learning to play all the inversions of 7th chords is really useful for two reasons:
1. There are certain standard voicings of chords that jazz players use. Most voicings, for example, do not include the 5th. Why learn inversions you won't use?
2. To play jazz you have to play chord progressions. When I started jazz, by teacher had me practice the basic chord progressions, using voicings where you don't have to move your hands much to go from chord to chord.

Perhaps putting it another way, I'd suggest it makes more sense to learn the chords as you'll actually use them in jazz.


jjo thanks for the advice. I get what you are saying just not sure how to start with it, time to go back to Mark Lavines Jazz Theory book. I've dabbled a bit with the II-V-I progression but nothing with the voicing.


The best way to learn these chords is to use them in context. Learn to play tunes. Get a decent fakebook (provides the melody line and the chords written above it and work them out. You can do this using a good book on jazz chords for both hands for piano or working them yourself. There is plenty of information around the internet on voicing chords.

Examples of good fakebooks:

https://tinyurl.com/v9spblp

https://tinyurl.com/u4whdou

https://tinyurl.com/rwou8ys

https://tinyurl.com/s85z69c

https://tinyurl.com/t58g96d

https://tinyurl.com/rrly7y2

https://tinyurl.com/rg45hrm

A good chord voicing book:

https://tinyurl.com/wclg54s

Tony


Last edited by TonyB; 11/30/19 05:34 PM.
Re: Learning Jazz Chords with D & D dice [Re: Sam S] #2918271 11/30/19 05:39 PM
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Originally Posted by Sam S
Originally Posted by Animisha
Originally Posted by Sam S
Cool! Reminds me of my "Mug of Scales" - popsicle sticks with whatever I want to drill written on them. Pull one out, and do what it says...

[Linked Image]

Sam

I don't know if you have two mugs, but if you do, when you have drawn a stick and have drilled whatever was written on it, you could put the stick in another mug, to make sure that you'll drill everything.
Sam, do the stones also have a function, or are they decoration?


I use the stones to count repetitions when drilling a problem spot. Play it once (correctly!), move over a stone. Repeat. I keep 5 or 6 small stones on the music desk. Those are Maine beach stones from Summerkeys. No sandy beaches in downeast Maine.

You could use anything to count with - I got my wife doing it, and she uses colorful shards of pottery.

Sam


Great idea. I use quarters. I have 5 quarters lined up to count individual repetitions and another 5 to count groups of 5 repetitions. The way I do it is to start with all the coins heads side up. With a successful play through, I flip a single count quarter over so tails side is up. If I get through all tails up on the single count side, I flip one group count quarter tails side up. If I make a mistake, I go back to the beginning and start over. As far as I am concerned, it takes as long as it takes, ad it is through careful repetition that I get to the point where I can consistently play through with no mistakes. Rushing through to get finished does no good, but CAREFUL repetition does.

Tony

Re: Learning Jazz Chords with D & D dice [Re: Peddler100] #2918360 11/30/19 09:28 PM
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I've never understood learning all chords in all inversions. The reason is because it doesn't work this way in real music. Your chords may be played in different positions, but these are not inversions. Your RH follows the melody and this pretty much determines where your RH needs to be and what harmony you play beneath the melody. I think this is what is meant by learning inversions as yes, you will end up playing the chord in any position. The bass note in your LH though is what determines the inversion and they don't change that much and when it does change, it is only one note you need to worry about which still has nothing to do with the positioning of your RH.

I agree with Tony. Learn chords in context of real music. Drilling block chords in RH or LH in all inversions isn't really practical. Your RH follows melody and LH follows the bass note which is usually the root of the chord (with a rare alternate bass note and true inversion). The rest of harmony is spread out between both hands which really only will make sense in context.

Re: Learning Jazz Chords with D & D dice [Re: Peddler100] #2918394 11/30/19 11:33 PM
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Aside from the comments that others made about learning chords, the dice are an interesting idea! It's definitely quite a bit of effort, but I could see this being particularly fun for those into tabletop games who also want to learn instruments and/or music theory.

Re: Learning Jazz Chords with D & D dice [Re: Peddler100] #2918474 12/01/19 07:11 AM
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Thanks for all of the suggestions. I do have the Real Book and am going to mix that into the practice plan and ditch inversions for now. Actually the real book along with some training videos is what started me down the random chord practice plan. I started with Autumn Leaves and I thought it took too long to work out the chords just to play a block chord along with the melody. That and several training videos including Open Studio and Piano With Jonny recommended getting a solid handle on jazz chords as a base before going too far.

Now the practice plan is to still use a random approach to learning the 5 standard 7th chords for the 12 major keys and then the minor keys but also select a piece from the Real Book and work on the chords in that piece. (And I need to incorporate the Popsicle sticks and rocks in somehow smile )

The dice may seem a bit strange but they are easy to use and make practice a bit of a game, at least to me. Also any opportunity to use D & D dice is always a good thing.


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Formerly known as oneilt130

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