RHYTHMIC JAZZ EXERCISES – Coordinate Left & Right Hand


Hi. In this lesson we’ll do some rhythmic jazz exercises and we’ll learn how to coordinate the left and the right hand. The exercises are very essential if we wanna learn to improvise Jazz in a totally free manner being able to form our Music in both a tonal and a rhythmic sense. All of the stuff we are going to learn in this lesson I actually use in the B section of this Music Video I published some weeks ago. Let’s take a very brief listen to this piece… So let’s look into the rhythm and how we can connect the right and left hand as in the jazz piece and let’s do some exercises. This is a NewJazz lesson by the way and my name is Oliver Prehn. Ok, let’s start with the right hand. We name our fingers finger 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5. Now let’s create or compose a little pattern for our right hand so we simply write down some random finger numbers. It could be any combination but what about playing finger 5-4-2-1-3. And we are going to repeat this pattern right after each other. So we are gonna do this with our fingers: 5-4-2-1-3 and so on… Now let’s choose some keys for our fingers. In other NewJazz lessons we have discovered the great power of the minor pentatonic hand grip and it’s also this very same grip I use in the Music video. So let’s place our hand on for example the D minor pentatonic scale… and we got our hand grip with our fingers always placed like this: 1-2-3-4-5 Now let’s play our little composition on the pentatonic notes. So we play finger 5-4-2-1-3 and so on… Ok let’s start a metronome at a slow speed. What about 60 BPM. Now what we wanna do is to play 16th notes. We could also play triplets or swing 8th’s
– it all works great. So, in our case, on every main beat we hear on the metronome we have 4 sub beats like this: dik-ke-dak-ke dik-ke-dak-ke dik-ke-dak-ke dik-ke-dak-ke 1234 1234 1234 1234 So here comes the trick. We wanna play a note on every sub beat… and we have 4 sub beats for every main beat BUT our pattern is 5 notes long. So our MELODIC pattern will constantly be shifted compared to the RHYTHMIC pattern, right? It sounds like this… On the graphic above, you can also see how the melodic pattern and the chunks of 4 sub beats constantly are shifted. In this way we have created a nice counterpoint between melody and rhythm. And the fact that our melodic pattern and the rhythmic pattern does not fit actually makes our exercise very effect full. We’ll realize that when we add the left hand very soon. But before we do that, practice this exercise carefully. This may not be easy, but if you can manage to play this we are actually a huge step further in the process of understanding how phrases and rhythm can work together in a thrilling way. Ok, let’s stop the metronome for a while and talk about what to do with the left hand. So our right hand is placed on the D minor pentatonic scale. Let’s place the left hand on the D minor pentatonic scale as well just an octave lower… And then we thin out the grip like this… and we got a nice quartal chord. So for now we have placed our left and right hand in two almost unison grips just with a thinned out left hand. Now we have to decide WHEN to play the left hand chord. Instead of just playing the chord on a certain sub beat it could be much more fun and much more educational by the way to pick a specific right hand finger on which we wanna play our left hand chord. So let’s choose a right hand finger. It could be any of the fingers but what about choosing the 5th finger. So every time we use the right hand 5th finger we must play our left hand chord. Let’s start the metronome and try this out… So let’s start up the right hand engine… now every time we strike the 5th finger… we must play our left hand chord… So it sounds like this… Now, the really smart thing and the really educational thing about this exercise is that right now we automatically learn to put in the left hand chord on all the different sub beats. Above on the 16th notes you can see how we, on turn, manage to hit the different individual sub beats: first, second, third, fourth – first, second, third, fourth – and so on… so an exercise like this is fantastic actually. This exercise helps us to become more free with our left hand in a rhythmic sense. Do this Exercise a lot before moving on and you will learn to manage both the left and right hand together. Ok, but we are not done yet, not at all. Now I will show you an easy way to vary our exercise in a tonal sense. We’ll add Music to our exercise and learn how to move our hands around on the keyboard. That will for sure be fun. Now we’ll try to transpose our pentatonic grip to other tonalities. So we can for example go back and forth between the D pentatonic hand grip… and the Eb pentatonic hand grip like this… let’s try this out with the metronome on… So now we have added some variation to our exercise… When you feel ready you can play other tonalities as well. For example we can mix in the C pentatonic grip… and what about also mixing in the A pentatonic grip… Every tonality goes actually, just experiment and try out different tonalities… Ok, let’s shortly summarize before moving on. In our exercise we actually just follow some very simple and well defined directions: we use a pentatonic hand grip to manage our fingering… and we use a 5 note melodic pattern… on a rhythmic pattern based on only 4 beats. Now, let me show you another thing we can do. In other previous lessons we have learned how we can play for example the Dorian scale and other church modes, or Major modes as some call them by making a row of fifths with our pentatonic hand grip. Well, let me show you how simple this is. If our left hand is on for example the thinned out D pentatonic hand grip… then we can with the right hand play D pentatonic… AND we can go up a perfect 5th to the A pentatonic… AND we can go up another fifth to the E pentatonic… these three pentatonic tonalities go very well together… and if for example D is the bass note we actually play the D Dorian scale. With this row of pentatonic grips we can actually play all 7 Church modes it just depends on how we relate the bass note compared to our row of pentatonic grips. Well, now we are actually on a huge detour, talking tonalities and scales. I just wanna tell you that when combining the pentatonic tonalities that we find in the row of fifths we create a strong well-known sound structure that is always nice to use. If you wanna dig deeper into this I will of course paste some relevant links below. Now back to the topic of this lesson. Let’s keep the left hand on the D pentatonic thinned out hand grip. Then we can play our right hand melody pattern shifting around random between the 3 pentatonic tonalities like this… as you may have discovered we don’t have to play the positions of our right hand grip in a row like this. We can play them in different octaves and mix them around… Let’s try this with the metronome on… We start the right hand engine… and now comes the rhythmic tricky part; add the left hand on the right hand 5th finger… Ok, let’s stop the metronome for a short moment. As we did earlier in this lesson we can of course transpose everything up and down the register. So we can for example go up a half step to the Eb pentatonic hand grip… and we can make our row of fifths to locate where to place our right hand… and we can play the 3 pentatonic positions randomly… and we can for example also do the C-pentatonic hand grip… and we make the row… Let’s start the metronome and try this out… And we can play other tonalities as well… Now things get pretty advanced, I know. It’s very important that you do each step in this lesson carefully before jumping to the next level. When you reach this present level of our exercise you will discover that you already now have gained an enormous freedom when expressing yourself, improvising Music. Ok, now this lesson was based on a specific right hand pattern: the 5-4-2-1-3 progression. But just imagine we can start all over with our exercise and just create another melodic pattern. And if the melodic pattern makes a counterpoint to the rhythm it’s even better. So melodic patterns with for example 3, 5, 7 or 9 notes in a row are well suited to play against the 16th notes, right? So my real intention with this lesson is actually to inspire you to compose your OWN melodies and patterns design your own practice so to speak. So with this exercise we can just go on and on for a whole lifetime and just get better and better practicing our favorite patterns. When you’ve created and exercised a few different patterns and you have learned to put on the left hand on different right hand fingers as well you are totally ready to loosen up in a more free manner like this… and now we actually play as in the Music Video I presented to you in the start of this lesson… Ok, that’s it for now. You are of course so much welcome to donate a small amount. I’m so grateful to all of you who have donated you make all this real to me dedicating my life to make free, public and hopefully also somehow useful and “liberating” Music lessons. Thank you so much. And also a big thanks to all those who give me likes and post really nice comments below my videos. All this surely encourages me to keep on doing lessons. I surely love you all. See you in about 3 or 4 weeks. Warm regards from Oliver Prehn

100 thoughts on “RHYTHMIC JAZZ EXERCISES – Coordinate Left & Right Hand

  1. hi i'm indonesian this really great step to understanding for begining playing jazz and Im so appreciate your genius lesson concept (Y)

  2. I’m not gonna lie, I don’t have the dedication to practice this hard, but I can for sure use this as inspiration in my Arpeggiator!

  3. คุณเป็นครูที่ดียอดเยี่ยม
    ขอขอบคุณมาก
    ขอพระเจ้าอำนวยพระพร

  4. I am from Malaysia..and I wanted to learn my keyboard that I bought few years ago..This lesson is really helpful for me.. I'll practice this..tq for the lesson. appreciate it much.

  5. Maestro oliver ,los musicos que nos gusta tu canal y lo digo por mi ,si podrias hacer las escalas un poco mas lento .

  6. This is completely incredible, you create the best lessons imaginable in terms of the way you introduce the concepts but also the musicality of the exercises. If I ever study seriously instead of just mess around I will go through your program. Just the fact that your videos exist is actually a motivation in itself.

  7. Hi Oliver, this is Bo. I feel a bit confused by something in this video. On the 54213 practicing, you put the left hand chord to each 5 in the melodic pattern. And you explained that this is more fun and more professional. However, after 20:50 of this video, while you were playing some fool around, you put the left hand chord to each beat. So when should I put the chord to a melodic pattern note, and when should I put the chord to a beat? What is the difference? Thank you. — Bo

  8. Thanks a lot. I've been a long time trying to play and improvise jazz but it has been impossible until now. This video helped me a lot.

  9. You're really a genius!
    You have a pure gift of teaching piano! I'm really learning watching your videos!
    Blessings!

  10. Love your lectures. You are a good instructor/teacher and pianist..Thank You so much…I need to learn more..Your tips is good..I liked jazzy styles.Have a nice day…..

  11. Thankyou for your tutorial!
    I come from germany.
    I' m on a cross road and gonna have to decide if I quit playing jazz, go on with it, or do something else.
    On the other hand: When I listen to your or other teachers videos , I wonder if I would regret this later on, because there still are beautiful things discover and learn and get into the flow state and thus beeing high without one drop of alcohol or a single pull from a joint…I have given up practising daily due to the fact that there are too few opportunities to play together with other jazz musicians in my area. I even have to drive 3/4 of an hour to rehearse in a an amateur bigband with a few studied musicians-it does not even pay off!! It just costs money to drive there and to the few gigs per year.
    Okayokay-how about building an always- ready-to-play-solopiano programme for birthdays and other occasions? That could be it-but only as a compromise for jazz is also a matter of interaction between individuals, which is a basic need for a human beeing. As if it's not enough, our opportunities to play payed gigs (with trios or quartets) have diminshed to almost zero. The major part of the people around here are willing to pay € 8,- or more for a McDonals meal or devices for electronic entertainment with no real value whatsover than for a music download. There is no more real worship for music in our area-because it's given away for free or can easely be stolen from the internet without the consequences for theft of mental goods. Is all that practising worth it when it comes to face the facts mentioned above?
    I don't know gor myself jet-I'll just keep listening to tutorials and maybe do some of sll that good dtuff for recreation purpose only-If I ever get over my frustration…thanks anyway, I still find pleasure to listen to your good work.

  12. Hi Corey, you are a very skilled musician. Pray you stay healthy and preserve yourself from sickness, so that you can continue to bless the world with this gift. Now the thing I want to see is Real Old School Chords and runs that take you to church. Many try but you can hear the contemporary sound, but I would love to see a mini series of Old School Gospel and then A mini series of New school Gospel. A lot to ask I know but the vast knowledge you have is tempting and I love to pick the brain of musicians like you.

  13. This is so great and love that you connected it to https://youtu.be/NshqUzXFRKM I am diving back into piano after 30 years and I think this will be the first exercise I do after getting scales nailed down. Your videos are by far the best on the internet for Jazz Piano.

  14. wow indeed there are varieties of piano teachers, you're the best
    but please do that of key F and let me see

  15. Sometimes I watch these at night and get so excited to practice. Unfortunately I have kids and a parlor grand and cant play till the morning. Need to invest in a digital piano with headphones. Your videos are amazing. Thank you.

  16. C’est vraiment une excellente manière d’apprentissage et de compréhension des utilisations de la gamme pentatonique. Bravo

  17. This is probably one of the best simple, understandable and easy to follow lessons I have come across on jazz improvisation. Thank you so much for all you do! Do you have any lessons on building speed and playing freely in each key?

  18. Oliver, if you ever want to move to the United States and become a music teacher, I can PROMISE you, you will be able to quit your day job. You have an amazing teaching style, and from word of mouth alone, you will get more students than you can handle. Thank you so much for your free lessons. I did make a contribution as a small token of my appreciation, and I look forward to becoming an amazing keyboard player. Thank you!!!

  19. Hi Oliver, How can We talk about spreding your videos through my channel. I wonder to fill it with translation in Portuguese for my followers. How I can do that please. Is there a way to talk to You privitly please???

  20. verdaderamente esto es asombroso y estoy muy emocionado. tu trabajo es de gran calidad gracias por compartir tus grandes conocimientos .saludos y que siempre te encuentres bien

  21. I just have to say thank you soo much for sharing your wisdom. I’m in the process of buying a korg Kronos 71, the first thing I said to myself is that I want to get my chords mastered. I will be doing this practice I will be donating soon to you my friend or professor !!!

  22. i so wish i could have grown up with your lessons i would be amazing on the piano.. really mind opening stuff.. Thank YOU so much!

  23. Wow, you are The Man…. what a fabulous lesson and direction for practice. I'm psyched… thank you sooo much Oliver. May the long time sun shine upon you..Pearse

  24. The longer I'm listening to this the more I'm convinced I've heard this melody in an education video from highschool. Something about the circulatory system or about transit infrastructure. Well thought lesson and pleasant to listen to whilst practicing 🙂

  25. Hi Oliver you're a great theacher. I discovered you yesterday and i was amazed at how you simply understand things about jazz music that i had never been able to fully understand. I'd like to have you as a theacher…. Thank you so much Oliver

  26. your lessons are simply fantastic! In my opinion you're one of the best teachers on the web world. thank you with all my heart

  27. Thank you, great way to have some fun on the piano without learning any specific tune step by step . Suddenly new waves of sound possibilities appear . The finger mechanics have to be mastered though….

  28. Amazingly good. So professional indeed. Can u please send a full video of you performing that piece with that exercise. Will definitely make a donation for the next lesson. Thanks.

  29. Essa foi a melhor didática de ensino que encontrei no Youtube.com até hoje, com excelente áudio e vídeo. Parabéns pela dedicação. Deus abençoe você.

    This was the best teaching didactic I found on Youtube.com to date with excellent audio and video. Congratulations for your dedication. God bless you.

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