#2 - Chord Extensions Practice Planner

(Hayden Hill) #1

Welcome to the Chord Extensions Practice Planner.

PianoGroove’s course on Extended Chords & Voicings introduces the concept of chord extensions and we explore the following topics:

  • What are chord extensions?
  • Where do chord extensions come from?
  • What are some common/useful extended chord voicings?
  • How can we apply extended chords to tunes we are working on?

Extended voicings give us the rich and lush-sounding chords that are one of the hallmarks of jazz piano. If you’re intrigued into how chord extensions work, then this course will answer all of your questions.

Download The PDF Practice Plan Here:

Chord_Extensions_Practice_Guide.pdf (1.9 MB)

This PDF download contains 6 core theory areas and associated drills for each topic. These 6 drills have been split over 4 digestible videos which are referenced below. These 4 videos will give a logical and methodical approach to learn and master extensions for major, minor, and dominant chords.

The plan has been created for a 1 hour practice slot. If you have longer available - 2 hours for example - simply double the time of each practice slot.

Let’s now run through the topics of this practice plan.

Slot 1: Major & Minor 9th Chords:

major-minor-9th-chords-piano-practice-exercise

Slot 1 contains a selection of exercises and drills to get comfortable with major and minor 9th chords. The 9th is the first of the upper extensions 9, 11, & 13 and so it makes sense for us to isolate this ‘colour’ and work on it individually.

Here’s the video demonstration for slot 1:

Slot 2: Extending Past The 9th - Introducing 11ths & 13ths

how%20to%20practice%209ths%2011ths%2013ths

In the second practice slot, we extend past the 9th of the chord to access the 11th and the 13th for major, minor, and dominant chords.

There are a few important points to understand: with 9ths, 11ths, & 13ths:

  • The 13th is the highest extension, if we extend past the 13th, we get back to the root.

  • The 9 is the same note as the 2 (but an octave higher), the 11 is the same note as the 4 (but an octave higher), and the 13 is the same note as the 6 (but an octave higher).

  • For Major and Dominant Chords, the 11 will typically be sharpened by a half step to the #11, this removes the dissonant half step interval between the major 3 and the natural 11.

Here is the video demonstration for slot 2:

Slot 3: The Major 251 Progression with 9ths & 13ths

major%20251%20progression%20with%209ths%2013ths

In the Jazz Piano Foundations Course, we drilled through the 3-note voicings, for example, a 251 in C Major would be D-7 / G7 / Cmaj7

For practice drill 3, we will add the 9ths and 13ths to create a richer, and more harmonically interesting progression.

We follow the exact same principle that we did with our 3 note voicings, the b7 of the 2 chord drops by half a step to become the 3rd of the V chord. And what’s wonderful is the 9 doesn’t need to move and that same note becomes the 13th of G7.

Here is the video demonstration for slot 3:

Slots 4, 5, & 6 - How To Learn & Memorise Chord Voicings

how-to-learn-chord-voicings

The final 3 practice slots of this plan are all covered in 1 demonstration video.

The following lessons explore 3 useful minor 11th voicings.

  • The So What Voicing
  • The Herbie Hancock Voicing
  • The Kenny Barron Voicing

Whilst practice advice and guidance is given in each of the above lessons, the video demonstration below is an updated and consolidated tutorial which breaks down everything you need to know when learning new chord voicings:

A 5-Step Process For Learning Chord Voicings:

  • The first thing to do is understand and memorise the construction in terms of scale degrees. This is the ‘formula’ or ‘blueprint’ for the chord. Pay particular attention to the top note of the voicing.

  • Next, take the voicings through all 12 keys. This is important! You can do this chromatically, and also around the circle of fifths. Once you have done this, you will never forget the voicing.

  • Then pick keys at random to test yourself.

  • Apply your new voicing in the context of the 251 progression. This will help you apply the voicing in the context of an actual progression so that you are ready to use it in the tunes you are playing.

  • Finally, flick through your fake book and look for opportunities to apply your new voicing. Look for the chord quality with the same scale degree in the melody as the top of the voicing. And bingo.

Always remember that when you work something out yourself, you will retain that information much better than from me showing you exactly what to play.

Enjoy following this practice plan, and if you have any questions, comments, or suggestions, we are happy to assist below.

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(Scott Pugh) #2

Brilliant stuff, Hayden! Hits right at the beginner level I am working on, and is patient, clear, and extendable. Thanks, and thanks to Pierrot and others for the suggestions of others for (shared) practice methods.

Scott

1 Like
(MARC WALUS) #3

Really good !!! clear

(Celia ) #4

Wonderful! Thank you!!!

(Ivan Kugelmas) #5

From my perspective the practice group should be divided in difficulty levels because jazz is a very extensíve topic with endless tricks só people will have to know the level where the practice lesson comes from.It can be somewhat intimidating when you dont know where you are standing while learning knowledge so it would surely helps.

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(Pierre) #6

@ivan I agree sure practice groups should be with different levels
But for the moment Hayden just create some drill to focus on little part of the big plan. He doesnt talk about practice group for the moment.

(Hayden Hill) #7

@scott @marc421812 @celia

Awesome… I’m really happy to hear you guys like it!

I’m still working on the best template for this kind of tutorial, and I feel we’ve made good progress so far. This lesson was so long (54 minutes!) that I had to turn it into 4 lessons :grinning:

It was very difficult to cover all of the information needed without the lesson running long.

@ivan

Yes, brilliant suggestion Ivan.

I agree that these plans should be graded by difficulty levels. This is easy to do… I will add these into this forum category.

@Pierrot

Yes, I’m adding more of these tutorials, and then we can get started with the practice group.

I’m still contemplating how this will work and I have some nice ideas to share.

I will be adding practice plans related to each course, and this will help provide inspiration for the practice group topics.

(Natasha Moszenin) #8

I think these drills and videos are fantastic :star_struck: well done @Hayden

(Lori Nelson) #9

I was just thinking I need a structure… I’ve been meandering.
Thanks!

(Hayden Hill) #10

Awesome! Thank you @natasha0412 - I’m glad to hear they are useful.

I agree @LoriNelson that these practice plans will provide a more structured approach to progress through our courses and learning materials. Sometimes I just like to wander though jazz standards in a ‘free flowing’ process of exploration and discovery.

But… structure is good too… i actually found that by making these lessons, there were certain keys, chords, and scales that needed some attention in my own playing.

I think these kind of exercises tie in nicely with the wonderful post that @scott created about Bill Evans’ concept of “playing within the boundaries of what your fundamental control permits”

The temptation is always there to be learning new concepts which is a good thing in my opinion, but this should not be done by leaving the foundation theory half finished.

The idea behind these practice plans is to use the circle of 5ths as a tool to ensure that all 12 keys are being covered, mastered, and fully internalised so that we can use the material in our playing. without hesitation.

I think that these exercises will help us develop a very habitual process of taking things around all 12 keys, chords, scales, licks, lines, patterns, progression, solos, even entire tunes.

That’s one of the key things I have taken away from working with so many wonderful musicians over the course of this year… Get into the habit of taking everything around all 12 keys and so it’s nice to be incorporating this process as a core part of our learning syllabus.

(Christian Silva) #11

Hi @Hayden! I have a question about embarking on this section of the coursework.

I’ve been following the Beginner Jazz Courses Roadmap & Syllabus, and I’ve been having a great time with it. To give a little perspective on where I am: I can play Tune Up and Misty straight through pretty comfortably with only a few mistakes to polish off here and there. With Tune Up I’ve incorporated the extensions (still working on the reharmonization bits), and with Misty it’s just 3rds and 7ths for now. I’ve been using the Foundations Practice Planner as recommended and splitting my practice sessions (which range from 60-80 minutes) between the exercises and the repertoire as suggested. I’m pretty comfortable with the Foundations exercises in that I can get through each of them in all keys without much of a struggle, though I still continue to practice them to really get them in my head and develop a stronger muscle memory for everything.

I’d like to start working on the chord extensions exercises, and in turn incorporate those into Misty (and then, a little bit down the road, start working on Tenderly). So my question is this: how should I spend my practice time if I want to start working on the chord extensions exercises but still need some time to master the Foundations material? Should I replace the Foundations exercises with these ones, or should I increase the length of my practice sessions to incorporate both the Foundations and these Extensions exercises? Or, should I be a bit more patient and spend a few more weeks/months with the Foundations exercises before moving onto this material?

This may seem like an overly obsessive set of questions, but I really dig these practice planners (and the roadmap/syllabus), and I would just like to hear your input on how to manage the transition from one set of course material to another.

Thanks!

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(Hayden Hill) #12

Hi Christian :wave:

Absolutely, here’s my recommendations for you:

That’s brilliant to hear and congratulations on your progress!

Understand that we can always improve at these exercises in the sense that we can find the chords quicker, play the progressions smoother, and manoeuvre through the inversions with more ease.

The main thing is that we understand the theoretical underpinnings, and not that we can play everything flawlessly in all keys. The latter comes with time and years of practice.

I think that’s a great idea - I’d recommend diving into the chord extensions course straight away.

There is so much overlap and by working on chord extensions, you will also be revisiting the foundational theory.

For example, when we stack a chord up to the 13th, we could play this as a 7th chord in our left hand (R-3-5-7) and a triad in our right hand (9-11-13) - and so we are still visualising the core building blocks of harmony which are triads and 7th chords.

This continues throughout the syllabus. We are always incorporating previous topics as we progress into more advanced theory.

Based on your progress outlined above, I would recommend that you start to alternate the practice plans.

You could do 1 day on the foundations plan, and then 1 day on chord extensions plan, and repeat this.

Or perhaps 2 days on the chord extensions plan, and 1 day on the foundations plan. I think this will be better for you and it will give you more of a sense of progression through the syllabus.

From the sounds of your progress I think you are more than ready for this.

I’ve mentioned to other students that we can study multiple courses at once and in fact I highly recommend this. It’s a nice way to keep practice time interesting, challenging, and rewarding.

In terms of jazz standards:

Even in the beginner lessons such as Tune Up, we do reference and incorporate more advanced theory.

This is how I was taught. My teachers would show me things which at the time I didn’t fully understand what I was playing.

I found this was a great way to keep me motivated to improve, and keep up that desire to learn and master more advanced theory.

Some of the jazz standards are difficult to categorise as Beginner/Intermediate/Advanced and so if you are interested in a particular tune, I’d recommend learning the arrangement even if you don’t feel fully comfortable with the underlying theory.

That full understanding will come with time.

Also understand that we will be playing these tunes for the rest of our lives. We can always come back to the arrangements when we learn new theory and enhance them with new chords, progressions, reharmonisation etc… this is one of the things i find so enjoyable about playing jazz.

Not at all obsessive questions… brilliant questions and I’m sure others will find the advice useful.

I’ll be continuing to add and develop the practice plans for all of my courses on the site, and it’s wonderful to hear you are digging the planners!

If you’d like me to elaborate on any of the above just let me know.

Try out the alternating your practice plan schedule for a few weeks and let me know how you get on. I think you will be pleasantly surprised with how logically it fits into what you already know, and how it revisits and incorporates the foundational theory.

Cheers!
Hayden

(Christian Silva) #13

Thanks, @Hayden! I really appreciate the thorough response :slight_smile: That all makes sense! I’ll take your advice and trying alternating between 2 days of chord extensions/voicings and 1 day of foundation for a few weeks. I’ll check back in with a post here to let you know how it goes!

1 Like
(Christian Silva) #14

Okay! Somewhat overdue update on this but I wanted to share my progress.

I think this is a winning strategy. I’ve been able to really feel the complementation of the foundations work to the chord extensions, and I think it’s helped me make the transition to incorporating the latter into “Misty” as well as “Tune Up.” I’m now proceeding relatively comfortably (still some kinks to iron out) through all of “Misty” with all of the extensions and reharmonizations featured in the lesson, plus a couple of my own additions here and there that I’m experimenting with (which I didn’t think I would be able to do for a while, so I’m surprised by myself). And, for now, the balance feels right. After two practice sessions in a row on the extensions material, it’s nice to return to the relative simplicity of the foundations, and then after that lesson, I feel ready to embrace the challenge of the extensions.

So even in terms of pure technical progress, I think this is a smart strategy, but it also has had for me a bonus to my confidence and motivation. Above I just described the foundations material as simple, and yet it really was not that long ago when the transition from triads to seventh chords felt challenging and like it would take me forever to internalize that material. And being able to see that in retrospect and compare it to my current experience makes me feel like I can tackle 9ths/11ths/13ths and eventually reach a similar place with them, and beyond. It really is remarkable how the possibilities for playing exponentially increase moving from triads to 7ths, then again from 7ths to 9ths/11ths/13ths–it can be truly daunting at first. But what’s more impressive, I think, is how you have put together a lesson structure that really makes those possibilities feel within my grasp. It makes me feel like I can’t wait to experience the rest of the lessons. So, once again, thank you, @Hayden, and the rest of the PianoGroove team. I really appreciate all the effort you’ve put in and have nothing but positive things to say about this platform.

I think for now I’ll continue with the 1 day/2 day structure for a while, but part of the beauty of this system is its modularity, so I could very well see me doing 1 day/3 days, or 1 day/1 day/2 days when I reach the next batch of lessons. It seems to me that it’s always good to revisit more fundamental material even as you progress.

Thanks again!

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(Hayden Hill) #15

It’s wonderful to hear of your progress Christian.

I can relate to everything you say from my own journey studying jazz harmony.

In particular transitioning from triads to 7th chord - which at the time seems daunting - and then making that next transition into extended harmony which opens up a ‘whole new world’ of sounds, colours, and textures on the keyboard.

It’s always great to hear that the PianoGroove lesson structure & syllabus is teaching this effectively and that our students are ‘getting it’. Really great to hear :smiley:

The next big leap in harmonic study is our Altered Harmony Course where we alter those upper extensions to get b9s, #9s. #11s, & #5s/b13s - I’m currently working on the practice exercises for this area of the syllabus.

It might be nice for you to casually watch a few of those lessons in that course just to see what’s coming up next. I found that was always a good way to keep myself motivated to master the foundations and also keep intrigued as to the next steps in jazz harmony.

Yes I think that’s a good idea to stick with 1 day / 2 day alternating between the Foundations and Chord Extensions. Those 2 courses alone cover a good chunk of the theory we need to feel comfortable and confident when reading from lead sheets.

I agree that the modularity of the PianoGroove Syllabus gives our students the flexibility to stay focused on the basics, whilst also the option to ‘get our toes wet’ in more advanced theory if we desire.

We can then reallocate and reshuffle our practice time accordingly based on progress in the different areas of the syllabus.

I’m excited to get the next 2 practice planners created for our courses on Altered Harmony, and Chord Subs & Reharms.

The goal is to ‘pave the way’ from being brand new to piano, to having a thorough and well-grounded understanding of jazz harmony.

I’m having a lot of fun mapping this stuff out :sunglasses: cheers!