How to Learn Jazz Piano: A Quick Beginner’s Guide

Written by: MT Team

Updated: Dec 13, 2022

The art of playing a musical instrument takes more than just skill. It requires discipline and passion because both these qualities show when you play your instrument.

Jazz is a beloved genre that invokes a passion for the arts in writers, poets, and ordinary citizens. It is known as the soul’s music, deep and warm, and learning to play a jazz instrument is an invaluable skill. 

Getting Started 

The first thing that you need to do to start learning jazz is to start listening to jazz music. Getting an aural feel for the sound you would like to produce with your jazz piano will help you take a more profound interest in the in-person or online piano lessons you need.

Learning to play jazz piano is a long process, and you will need lots of practice and patience, so finding an interest in the sound is a good start. 

Learning the ‘Jazz’ Language 

We often hear how music is a language, and jazz forms part of that. Every chord, lick, or new scale is part of the language that will help you construct your music sentences. Learning this language is done mainly by ear, and unlike classical music, there is less weight given to notation and more given to feel.

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Listening to jazz music on a loop will help you to memorize their chords, so choose a few chords to learn at a time and repeat them until you can play them smoothly.

Jazz involves many rhythmic pieces, and it’s far more essential to be able to play along to the speed than to write down the notes or chords. 

Understanding the Language

Jazz uses a different language, but there are fragments of piano jazz put together by all other jazz music. Let’s take a look at a few words and phrases:

  • Licks:  Jazz licks are a note-for-note reproduction of a musical phrase that was improvised for a solo. It could be a sample of an existing song improvised into a piece of a solo piece and could be seen as your saving grace when you run out of ideas of what to do while playing. 
  • Chord progressions: The most common chord progression used for beginners learning to play jazz is the 2-5-1 progression. This type of chord progression is the most straightforward one to play and one of the first progressions that any jazz musician learns at the beginning of their journey. These chords follow the diatonic chords, which are a family of chords derived from keynotes.
  • Riffs: The repetitive rhythm in an improvised solo or a song where you hear a base tune repeatedly playing. In other music genres like hip-hop, the riff would repeat a chord where additional music notes are played onto and are commonly referred to as the “hook”. It is the twist in the repetitive tune of a chord. 

Read Next: 10 Easy Piano Songs: The Ultimate Beginner’s List

Make Use Of a Professional Tutor

If you are new to jazz, then a lot of the terminology can be confusing. If you do not understand what you are listening to, you won’t know what you are reading, and that is where a tutor will come in.

Some technicalities require discipline to understand, and a tutor with performance experience and enthusiasm will help you in your learning journey.

Ideally, you would want to pair up with a gigging jazz artist-musician who can tailor the lesson to your level and goals. Jazz is not an easy genre to learn, but someone with the patience to subdivide your modules until you can understand each riff and chord of a song will help far more than you trying to get it done on your own.

A tutor will treat you like you know absolutely nothing about jazz, and the benefit of that is the precision of the lesson. You’ll be able to play in no time, so consider a few in-person or online piano lessons with a practicing piano professional. 

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Digital Piano Vs Acoustic 

Digital pianos or keyboards give a completely different sound than a conventional piano. Acoustic pianos offer a louder, more original-sounding note whereas digital pianos have pre-recorded sounds playing out of speakers within the digital piano.

An acoustic piano has more space inside it to create the sounds, and as we know, jazz chords are all about harmonizing the different riffs and licks together to give you that speedy, melodic sound. An acoustic piano’s natural reverberation will provide you with a louder sound that can quickly fill a room and produce a better jazz tone

However, digital pianos work well for beginners. The sound can be adjusted so that it doesn’t bounce around the room too much, which can be a little intimidating when you start. Hearing that volume when you are not yet ready to play fluently can highlight learning curves that you might not be prepared to share with anyone while still getting to know the techniques. 

Jazz is an eclectic music style that will teach you how to train your memory and test your creativity as you begin learning. When you have gotten used to playing a few chords, you can remove and add your own to make sounds that synchronize together.

Final Thoughts

Remember that it is never too late to start learning about something you have a passion for.

If you are looking for a suitable piano to begin practicing on, click here. The piano is, after all, an essential part of what you will learn, and professional advice on the perfect one for you will take you miles ahead on your journey.

There is so much to look forward to, and starting the journey the right way is the best way to get the most out of your art. 

About MT Team
Posts on all things related to instrument education, gear reviews, and so much more. Written by the MusicianTuts editorial team.

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