Where to go from here for a beginner?

Hi Hayden,

I’ve watched the entire “Jazz Piano Course” and have completed “Nearness of You” (simple version) smoothly. Now working on the 3-notes playing style of 251. Already completed 6 keys and shall move onto the remaining 6 keys later.

As a beginner, I wonder should my next course be the “Extended Chords & Voicing” or “Master Left Hand Voicing” or any course within your portfolio which you may like to recommend.

My short term aim is to develop how to use chords and voicing freely so that I could spice up a song anytime I feel like.

Many thanks!!

Hi Lawrence :wave:

Welcome to the community area!

Congratulations on learning “The Nearness Of You” and on completing the foundations course. Onto your questions:

You are very much on the right path with breaking down the 3 note 251s into groups of keys to make the task more manageable. The 251 progression really is the foundation of jazz harmony and so learning each key thoroughly will make your life a lot easier later down the line.

In this forum post I give more advice on breaking the theory drills into groups of 3 or 4 keys.

Good question!

I recommend that you continue with the jazz standard tutorials in the “Beginner Jazz Arrangements” course which you are already working on. I also recommend that students study multiple courses at once and in particular, the following 3 courses together tie together nicely for students who are new to jazz piano:

Much of the theory is interrelated and it will give you more of a sense of progression when you see how the foundational material is applied and developed in the subsequent courses.

Don’t worry if you encounter theory that doesn’t make sense. When I started out I was just copying the voicings that my teacher showed me and at the time the full theoretical understanding was not there. Over time it will all make sense.

Structuring Our Practice Time:

I recommend to broadly split our practice time in half, starting with the theory drills and exercises outlined in our PDF practice planners and then for the second half of our practice time just have fun playing the standards which are listed on each practice planner.

Here is some feedback on a student’s experience with the practice planners which you may find insightful to read.

With your aspiration to play any song create a nice arrangement using your own harmonic knowledge and creativity, I’d recommend to study the jazz standard lessons and the voicing techniques used. Also out these post in the forum where I give a lot of similar advice:

It does take time so be patient with it and aim to gradually build out your repertoire of jazz standards. This will then inform the way you choose voicings for any song you would like to play.

Above anything else Lawrence enjoy the journey and have fun with it. Learning jazz is definitely the most difficult, and challenging, but also rewarding thing I have ever chosen to pursue and it’s a constant learning journey. There is always more to learn which is one of the fascinating things for me.

Enjoy the lessons and any other questions let us know :sunglasses:

I just finished recording 7 beginner songs from your site. Now into my 3rd year playing. The last 12 months using your site and watching you play was enlightening. I learned the pieces in tempo but mostly play them freely as I feel like playing them, adding my touches to a couple. My big concern is the tempo on some. feedback hasn’t raised that as a criticism but would like to hear if tempo makes those pieces hard to listen to.

I just turned 60 and feeling a bit nervous about how to spend my time over the next 12 months, want to get the most out of this time. My original plan was to learn as many songs as I could in 12 months then record them. Then go back and deconstruct them to figure out what’ going on, watch your lessons again ect… I will do that and along the way play closer attention with new pieces. Also plan on spending more time fundamental tutorials.

It is nice to see new beginner pieces, so thanks for that. I thought I had picked off the easy stuff ( still hard for me), now I have a few more to learn. Darn the dream is taking forever, nice song though, it will be worth it. fyi,. Nearness of you, is a nice level, was able to get the notes down in a week and getting the tempo up now, it’s a winner. note; Love audio files that go with the transcription, huge for me.

I love the way your play and teach. Your gifted with the video presentations, I hope your appreciated for this talent as well as your playing. Your video lesson presentations are another talent.

How would one post the songs on the forum for feedback. I used a sound cloud link to share with family, does that work?

thanks! I look forward to the next 12 months on your fantastic site.


Hi @ben :wave:

That’s wonderful to hear on your progress. I’m sure many other new students will be inspired reading this.

Yes some of the arrangements on the site are challenging. Remember that we will be playing these tunes for the rest of our lives and so as each year goes by we we get more and more comfortable with them.

Thank you very much Ben. It’s always wonderful to hear such feedback.

It would be delightful to hear your performances and yes I will give you my feedback and I’m sure our others teacher and students will do too.

Yes Soundcloud is a great choice, simply click “share” on the Soundcloud recording and copy the embed code. It creates a nice looking embed, see here an example:

Cheers and thanks again for sharing your experiences it’a pleasure to read and I’m sure will be very useful to others.

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@ben - I think your playing is brilliant and it’s wonderful how you are adding your own touches here and there. With each new tune you learn, the easier it becomes to learn new ones.

I’d be very happy with the progress you have made within a year, to be able to play 8 tunes so beautifully. Congrats!

Here’s some ideas which may help:

Once we have learnt and memorised the harmony of a tune tune, we can start to listen to transcribe little fills and ornamentation from our favourite recordings. Perhaps create a Spotify or YouTube playlist for each of the songs you will hear little things that you like. It could be the phrasing of the melody (I hear you are already adding little ornamentations here and there which is awesome). It could be a particular voicing, introduction, fill, or ending etc… The goal is to transcribe those things are with our ears, and then add them to our arrangement.

If you are new to transcription check out Tuomo’s transcription section of the forum:


I also noticed that most of the tunes you are playing are in Eb:

  • Over The Rainbow
  • Misty
  • Tenderly
  • Someone To Watch Over Me
  • Like Someone In Love

It can be nice to use the 1625 progression to link our arrangements together. Particularly when playing for friends and family to create a medley of jazz standards in one continuous stream. Check out the lesson on that here:

Thanks again for sharing these, as I’ve mentioned I think your playlist will serve as great inspiration for others students. It’s also a fantastic example of what can be achieved within a year of studying.

Cheers and let me know if I can help with anything you are working on.

Wonderful I enjoyed listening to your tunes very inspiring :slight_smile: :grinning:

Ben, it’s a pleasure to listen to your tunes. May I ask how you record? I’ve been trying to learn Logic Pro X.

You mention turning 60 and wondering how to best spend your time learning jazz piano. I’ll be 68 this year and have been wondering the same thing. I study something and hear that it may take a lifetime to learn this or that. Well, based on the actuarial tables, that puts us at a disadvantage. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye: At any rate, thanks for sharing.