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Left Hand Chord Progression Training
#3050434 11/28/20 10:35 AM
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Hi all,

I have been taking a turn from classical to Jazz and one reason is to use as a left hand exercise to help with stroke recovery I had a year + ago. I have been focusing on the basics and using the PianoWithJonny site (BTW over this weekend they have a good offer for the holidays, 50% off a annual subscription and the rate stays locked in.) and I have been getting a better understanding, though still beginner, of the basic jazz concepts. While doing this I have learned that some things are easier and harder for the left hand. Playing scales and the standard 7 chords I have a good handle on but with chord progressions not so much. I think part of the problem is the lack of a reference point for the left hand. For example doing the turn around progression (1-6-2-5) in a stride format with chord shells in F is much more of a challenge than playing four octave scales in Gb. (The current goal is to be able to do so at 60BPM) So as part of my recover program I am working out chord progressions and other exercises that involve lifting the left hand and moving it to a new position. I would appreciate any suggestions for other chord progressions that I should also learn to shake things up a bit to use as exercises. My DP is in my home office so I will jump over and take a 5-10 minute break several times a day playing just scale related exercises. Thanks in advance for your help.

BTW any other suggestions on a practice plan to go along with scales practice would also be appreciated. Right now I am doing the major scales, 7th chords, pentatonic 7th chord,s 2-5-1 and 1-6-2-5 chord progressions in a stride format.


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Re: Left Hand Chord Progression Training
Peddler100 #3050459 11/28/20 11:45 AM
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A few suggestions:
1. Do a ii-V-I moving through all the keys. So you play a ii-V-I, and then turn the I chord into a minor, which starts a new ii-V-I. This sequence will take you through half the keys. You then need to start over on a ii chord a half step above the original ii. E.g: A- D7-Gmaj G-7, C7, F maj, F-7, etc.
2. Practice Rhythm Changes. You should be able to look up that 32 bar form.
3. Play over the 12 bar blues form using bebop changes, which you can probably look up, as well, or just find the changes to some Charlie Parker blues heads like Billies bounce.

Re: Left Hand Chord Progression Training
jjo #3050464 11/28/20 11:55 AM
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Originally Posted by jjo
A few suggestions:
1. Do a ii-V-I moving through all the keys. So you play a ii-V-I, and then turn the I chord into a minor, which starts a new ii-V-I. This sequence will take you through half the keys. You then need to start over on a ii chord a half step above the original ii. E.g: A- D7-Gmaj G-7, C7, F maj, F-7, etc.
2. Practice Rhythm Changes. You should be able to look up that 32 bar form.
3. Play over the 12 bar blues form using bebop changes, which you can probably look up, as well, or just find the changes to some Charlie Parker blues heads like Billies bounce.

Thanks for the suggestions! Just what I am looking for.


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Re: Left Hand Chord Progression Training
Peddler100 #3050500 11/28/20 01:55 PM
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I second jjo's recommendations!

Bebop blues changes and Rhythm Changes in all keys will have you playing all chord types in all 12 keys. Plus you have a built-in repertoire of tunes to play.

Also make sure that your iiVs are in both major and minor.


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Re: Left Hand Chord Progression Training
JazzPianoOnline #3050535 11/28/20 03:40 PM
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Originally Posted by JazzPianoOnline
I second jjo's recommendations!

Bebop blues changes and Rhythm Changes in all keys will have you playing all chord types in all 12 keys. Plus you have a built-in repertoire of tunes to play.

Also make sure that your iiVs are in both major and minor.

Yep, know what I will be working on for the next year or more. smile Gotta find some info on Rhythm change....


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Re: Left Hand Chord Progression Training
Peddler100 #3061820 12/27/20 04:51 PM
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Hi peddler100

Sent you a pm

Re: Left Hand Chord Progression Training
Peddler100 #3061844 12/27/20 06:47 PM
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I play my left hand in around 7 ways, so I practice switching every 4 bars or so.

Last edited by RinTin; 12/27/20 06:48 PM.

Jazz piano Instructor. Technical Editor for Mark Levine's "The Jazz Theory Book". Studied with Mark Levine, Art Lande & Mark Isham (1981-1990). Also: Barry Harris and Monty Alexander (1993-present)
Re: Left Hand Chord Progression Training
Peddler100 #3071350 01/19/21 07:54 AM
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You probably want to work on a walking bass with your left hand. In keeping with Rin Tin’s 7 way left hand, you could go through all the ii7 V7 I^7s then go through walking bass for all those progressions. I like rootless bass chords and stacked fourths. So for the first ii V I, for example you could play a nice low couple of Ds first beat then move up an octave to ii9 without the D by the pinky for a few beats. Leave out the 5th so you have the Ds, then up an octave to F#, C, E. Maybe for the V7 you want a 13th. So a couple of low Gs, then up an octave to F, B, E. Instead of the I^7 sometimes go for the I6/9.

Re: Left Hand Chord Progression Training
Peddler100 #3071383 01/19/21 09:35 AM
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Originally Posted by Peddler100
... I am working out chord progressions and other exercises that involve lifting the left hand and moving it to a new position. I would appreciate any suggestions for other chord progressions that I should also learn to shake things up a bit to use as exercises...

BTW any other suggestions on a practice plan to go along with scales practice would also be appreciated.

Sure, how about nearly any jazz standard (will likely work with stride). Stride is a very versatile accompaniment but the biggest issue with stride is voicing and you can't work on voicing when you don't know what you're even playing. So, these canned progressions are useless in real music.

In stride you have a lot of opportunity for redundancy, you have harmony in your LH twice, and harmony in your RH. If you are on a chord for 4 beats, you likely are going to play the LH chord again, so now we have 5 opportunities for redundancy.

Start with something like Georgia On My Mind, or Laura. In the beginning, just use a single note on the bottom of your stride. Otherwise you will have new finger combination in LH on every beat. That is a lot to think about.

The top of the stride should get close to the full chord, but what harmony is your RH already covering?

I really don't see the point of exercises that don't translate well. Why not learn some real music in a real context while your at it.

Re: Left Hand Chord Progression Training
Greener #3071518 01/19/21 02:52 PM
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Originally Posted by Greener
Sure, how about nearly any jazz standard (will likely work with stride). Stride is a very versatile accompaniment but the biggest issue with stride is voicing and you can't work on voicing when you don't know what you're even playing. So, these canned progressions are useless in real music.

In stride you have a lot of opportunity for redundancy, you have harmony in your LH twice, and harmony in your RH. If you are on a chord for 4 beats, you likely are going to play the LH chord again, so now we have 5 opportunities for redundancy.

Start with something like Georgia On My Mind, or Laura. In the beginning, just use a single note on the bottom of your stride. Otherwise you will have new finger combination in LH on every beat. That is a lot to think about.

The top of the stride should get close to the full chord, but what harmony is your RH already covering?

I really don't see the point of exercises that don't translate well. Why not learn some real music in a real context while your at it.

Hi Greener,

Thanks for the suggestions I'll definitely look at that as part of my practice plan a bit down the road. Part of the goal is to help with left hand / arm coordination issues resulting from a stroke. (Beats the heck out of picking beads out of therapeutic putty. smile ) One of the issues I have is landing something when I need to lift and move the left hand. For example I am working on stride playing the root note followed by shells, either 7-3 or 3-7 alternately. When I play this with the shells in close proximity to the root note it's not a problem, however move the root down one octave and if the root is a black key then targeting that note with my left hand pinky at any real pace becomes a bit of an issue. I actually prefer walking bass lines but stride piano provides the most benefit when it comes to rehab. Interesting aside is that if I were to add another note, say the 3rd or 5th, it gets easier. It's the single note that is the challenge.

Edited to add from my tests it appears doing an almost overstated arc with the arm is easier than just moving the hand and trying to hover over that keyboard.

Last edited by Peddler100; 01/19/21 02:56 PM.

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Re: Left Hand Chord Progression Training
Peddler100 #3071572 01/19/21 04:47 PM
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Yes, I have always preferred piano over beads in putty too. But, I guess I kind of missed out on the therapeutic angle.

I see, well on the bottom of stride, you can always use 1,5, often 1,6 or 1,7 on a 7th., of course. Top of the stride you can fill the chord up more, but just pay attention to what RH is doing. If you need to play stride on the same chord twice, the 2nd iteration should be or could be slightly different. Instead of going back to 1, perhaps go back to 5 on the base and some other harmony like a 4th above this, or some other combo. Also, change the orientation of the chord on top by moving top note to bottom this time, or the other way around. You have to keep it interesting is all. There is a feel to stride (maybe exercises can at least help with the feel) and once it clicks, it is not the hardest of all accompaniments. Also, nothing stopping you from mixing it up with a walking base or even broken chords for a verse if it fits.

Best of luck with your recovery.

Re: Left Hand Chord Progression Training
Peddler100 #3071574 01/19/21 04:49 PM
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duplicate removed.

Last edited by Greener; 01/19/21 04:50 PM.
Re: Left Hand Chord Progression Training
Greener #3071742 01/20/21 06:39 AM
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Originally Posted by Greener
Yes, I have always preferred piano over beads in putty too. But, I guess I kind of missed out on the therapeutic angle.

I see, well on the bottom of stride, you can always use 1,5, often 1,6 or 1,7 on a 7th., of course. Top of the stride you can fill the chord up more, but just pay attention to what RH is doing. If you need to play stride on the same chord twice, the 2nd iteration should be or could be slightly different. Instead of going back to 1, perhaps go back to 5 on the base and some other harmony like a 4th above this, or some other combo. Also, change the orientation of the chord on top by moving top note to bottom this time, or the other way around. You have to keep it interesting is all. There is a feel to stride (maybe exercises can at least help with the feel) and once it clicks, it is not the hardest of all accompaniments. Also, nothing stopping you from mixing it up with a walking base or even broken chords for a verse if it fits.

Best of luck with your recovery.

Thanks for the suggestions. Currently I am working on turn around progressions just to get a feel for stride and work on left hand coordination but I have to admit it does get a bit boring. I have thought of moving towards lead sheets playing the single note melody in the right hand and quarter note stride pattern in the left hand.


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