#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:

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

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

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

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.

Beginner Jazz Courses: Roadmap & Syllabus
#1 - Jazz Piano Foundations Practice Planner
#1 - Jazz Piano Foundations Practice Planner
Basic 12 Blues Bar Tutorial
(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.



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.

(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.


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.


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.

(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.