Dominant Sound : Dr. Bob Lawrence

discover.learn.play the dominant sound!

Dominant Sound


Introduction : Dominant Sound

I have always found it interesting that we rarely engage in musical conversations about the “sounds” of music. We have no problem talking about scales, chords, melodies, rhythms, theory, composition, etc. but yet, we give little attention to addressing these various aspects of music from the perspective of “sound”. Think about it – what do scale produce? They produce a type of musical “sound” – major, minor, dominant, etc. What do chords produce? Again, a type of musical “sound” – major, minor, dominant, etc. So, with this mind, the objective of this blog post is to discover, learn, and play a musical sound – the dominant sound!


Discover : Dominant Sound

When setting out to discover the dominant sound, you should first seek to understand it conceptually. To do this you have to ask and find answers to significant questions (always begin the exploration of a new musical concept by seeking answers to basic and fundamental questions – always!). Here are some questions we must answer:

  1. What is the dominant sound?
  2. Can it be played harmonically?
  3. Can it be played melodically?
  4. Is there only one or are there a variety of dominant sounds?

These questions make sense! Your mastery of any musical concept begins with your conceptual understanding of the “data”. In other words, if you approach the skill you seek to play before you truly discover and learn the skill, you are going to simply impede your progress (if there is any progress at all). So, let’s answer our questions before we begin the process of learning them!

  • What is the dominant sound?
    • It is a major scale or major chord with a flat (or lowered) 7th.
  • Can it be played harmonically?
    • Yes, it can be played as a chord – as simple as 4 notes (it can never be a triad) or it can include upper extensions like a 9th, 11th, 13th.
  • Can it be played melodically?
    • Yes, it can be played as an arpeggio – again as simple as 4 notes or include upper extensions like a 9th, 11th, 13th
  • Is there only one or a variety of dominant sounds?
    • There is only one! It can however be decorated a variety of ways (b9, #9, b5, #5, and more!). This blog deals strictly with the pure dominant sound.

Now that we have successfully taken the time to discover answers to our questions regarding the dominant sound, let’s begin to dissect our new knowledge – let’s learn our dominant sound!


Learn : Dominant Sound

Once you have a conceptual handle on the musical concept you are wanting to master then you can begin to learn the skill. Your best “learning” will always be done away from your instrument. This is so important that I am going to say it again – your best “learning” will always be done away from your instrument! Yes, that is correct – away from your instrument! I like to refer to this learning as “paper practice”. Grab a piece of paper and a pencil – find a comfy chair and begin sketching out/drawing the data. This type of practicing forces you to “think” through the concept. You should be able to spell the dominant sound with ease launching from each of the 12 notes of music (see below). Additionally, although not necessary but nevertheless very beneficial, is to be able to illustrate each dominant using traditional music notation (see below).

Paper Practice:
F Dominant Sound (Scale Format) = F G A Bb C D Eb
F Dominant Sound (Arpeggio Format) = F A C Eb G

*spell out both formats for the remaining 11 notes


Musical Notation Practice:

Dominant Sound

*notate on the musical staff both formats for the remaining 11 notes

 

It is important to draw your attention to the fact that the scale format and the arpeggio format of the dominant sound consists of the same 7 notes (just arranged differently). Both formats represent the entire pure dominant sound! Again, before you begin to play the dominant sound, take the time to recreate the above illustrations for the remaining 11 notes.


Play : Dominant Sound

Once you have completed the amount of paper practice necessary for you to easily spell each dominant sound launching from all 12 notes, then you are ready to play the dominant sound. Of course the first order of business is to get comfortable playing the dominant sound as a scale and as an arpeggio (demonstrated in video). Once you have mastered the scale and arpeggio formats then it’s time to snap the sound into fragments (see illustration below) and begin improvising to develop melodic ideas (demonstrated in video).

Dominant Sound Watch Video Demonstration

I strongly recommend using an app like iReal Pro or Band In A Box to play with so you can “hear” the dominant sound and fragments within a musical context. For more insight regarding the dominant sounds and especially how to successfully play them join discover, learn, play (dlp)!


Final Thoughts : Dominant Sound

If you wish to discover, learn, and play the dominant sound (and much more) you should consider becoming a dlp (discover.learn.play) member. You’ll have access to professional jazz instruction and guidance from a professional jazz music educator (me!). Your dlp membership gives you lifetime access to all of my instructional jazz videos (which you can access and study as often as you wish – again, for life!). Additionally, your own private Mavenlink support portal is established, hosted, and maintained allowing you to interact with me as often as needed each and every week. Likewise, you’ll receive tuition discounts if you ever choose to have private online jazz lessons with me through The Dallas School of Music.

I welcome the opportunity to answer any questions you may have regarding this blog so feel free to Email me drlawrence@jazzpianoskills.com or call me 972-380-8050 Ext. 211. Please take a moment and listen to a few of my recordings or follow me at SoundCloud to get a feel for how I play and approach this wonderful art form we call jazz.

I look forward to helping you discover, learn, and play jazz!

Best Wishes,
Dr. Bob Lawrence
President
The Dallas School of Music
jazzpianoskills | discoverlearnplay

Dr. Bob Lawrence

Jazz Piano Skills : Dr. Bob Lawrence

discover.learn.play jazz piano skills!

Jazz Piano Skills


Introduction : Jazz Piano Skills

I am proud to announce the official launch of my new (and free) service for all aspiring jazz pianists – Jazz Piano Skills. Now you can enjoy a free weekly jazz piano lesson delivered conveniently to your Inbox. Each jazz piano lesson I publish focuses on specific jazz skill and includes a short video demonstration for you to watch as often as you wish. You can easily subscribe by visiting jazzpianoskills.com and submitting your name and Email address – that’s it, no other information needed! Of course your privacy and contact information will never be shared so no worries. You can also unsubscribe at anytime if for some reason you find the Jazz Piano Skills I teach are no longer beneficial for improving your jazz piano playing. Take a few minutes to read more details about Jazz Piano Skills below and do not hesitate to reach out to me if you have any questions at all – I can be reached by phone 972-380-8050 Ext. 211, Email drlawrence@jazzpianoskills.com, or through my Contact Form. Please consider subscribing – I look forward to helping you discover, learn, and play essential Jazz Piano Skills.


Discover : Jazz Piano Skills

Each Jazz Piano Skills lesson focuses on a very specific and single skill. Knowing that my readers are at different junctures in their jazz journey, and some may already be aware and familiar with the skill being introduced, I make it a goal to present the skill in a way that helps every one discover new perspectives. As a student of jazz piano myself, the one thing that I can attest to is that every teacher I have study with over the past 30 years has helped me discover a new way of exploring the most fundamental and basic jazz piano skills. This realization was in fact the primary motivation for me developing and launching this new (and free!) service for all aspiring jazz pianists. Give it a try – subscribe to Jazz Piano Skills and I guarantee, you will discover new skills plus new perspectives on skills you are already familiar with – I promise!


Learn : Jazz Piano Skills

After introducing you to new (and some old) jazz piano skills, I always spend time discussing how to properly approach learning the skill. When I speak of learning I am speaking about the proper way to “think” about the skill – I tell all of my students “conceptual understanding drives physical development”. In other words, if the skill you are trying to learn is confusing, difficult, cloudy, vague, etc. upstairs (mentally) then you can bet that it will be confusing, difficult, cloudy, and vague downstairs (physically on the keys). On the other hand, if the skill is rock solid conceptually (mentally) then your ability to successfully develop the skill physically (on the keys) is greatly enhanced. Again, give it a try – subscribe to Jazz Piano Skills and I guarantee, you will begin to successfully learn new jazz piano skills, and some old ones that you may still be struggling to master.


Play : Jazz Piano Skills

After helping you discover and learn a jazz piano skill I model how to play the skill with a simple video demonstration. Of course you can watch the video as often as you wish to help you see and hear the skill within a musical context/setting. Often times I include a slow motion section within the video to help you nail down fingerings, proper hand motion, and articulation. As the old saying goes, “seeing is believing” so I think you will find the short and sweet videos to be very beneficial for learning jazz piano skills. Once again, give it a try – subscribe to Jazz Piano Skills and I guarantee, you will begin to successfully play new jazz piano skills that will radically change your sound and help you develop into the jazz pianist you are wanting to become.


Final Thoughts : Jazz Piano Skills

If you wish to discover, learn, and play essential Jazz Piano Skills you should subscribe – you have nothing to lose, it’s 100% Free! You’ll have weekly access to professional jazz instruction and guidance from a professional jazz music educator (me!) delivered conveniently to your Inbox. If you decide you want more in-depth instruction you should consider becoming a discover.learn.play member. Your dlp membership gives you lifetime access to all of my instructional jazz videos (which you can access and study as often as you wish – again, for life!). Additionally, your own private Mavenlink support portal is established, hosted, and maintained by The Dallas School of Music allowing you to interact with me as often as needed each and every week. Likewise, you’ll receive tuition discounts if you ever choose to have private online jazz lessons with me through The Dallas School of Music.

I welcome the opportunity to answer any questions you may have regarding Jazz Piano Skills or discover.learn.play so feel free to Email me drlawrence@jazzpianoskills.com or call me 972-380-8050 Ext. 211. Please take a moment and listen to a few of my recordings or follow me at SoundCloud to get a feel for how I play and approach this wonderful art form we call jazz.

I look forward to helping you discover, learn, and play Jazz Piano Skills!

Best Wishes,
Dr. Bob Lawrence
President
The Dallas School of Music

Dr. Bob Lawrence

What A Difference A Day Makes

discover.learn.play jazz standard “What A Difference A Day Makes

What A Difference A Day Makes


Introduction : What A Difference A Day Makes

What A Difference A Day Makes” is one of my all time favorite jazz standards (fyi – I say this about practically every song I play – because it’s true!). I once heard it said that the mark of a great tune is that it can be performed a variety ways using various grooves, styles, and tempos. It can be performed by large and small ensembles or a soloist in a multitude of settings from concert halls to lounges to living rooms. Regardless of the tune treatment or venue, we always end up saying, “that’s a great tune!”. If indeed all these variables must be met in order to label a song as a “great tune” then “What A Difference A Day Makes” is a perfect example of a “great tune” – so many recordings and treatments of this classic by so many wonderful musicians.

Let’s discover, learn, and playWhat A Difference A Day Makes“. If it’s not already one of your favorite tunes, it soon will be.


Discover : What A Difference A Day Makes

“What a Diff’rence a Day Made” is a popular song originally written in Spanish by María Grever, a Mexican songwriter, in 1934 with the title, “Cuando vuelva a tu lado” (“When I Return to Your Side”). The song is also known in English as “What a Difference a Day Makes”, as popularized by Dinah Washington. The English lyrics were written by Stanley Adams, and was played by Harry Roy & his Orchestra. It was published in late 1934. The most successful early recording, in 1934, was by the Dorsey Brothers, although it was first recorded in English by Cleveland crooner Jimmie Ague.

Dinah Washington won a Grammy Award in 1959 for Best Rhythm and Blues Performance with this song. Her version was also inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1998. It also earned her first top ten Pop hit, reaching #8 on the Billboard Hot 100. In 1975, Esther Phillips recorded her version of the song. Her comeback record had a disco feel to it. The Esther Phillips version reached number two on the disco charts. Her version also did well on the US soul and Top 40 charts. Phillips performed the song on Saturday Night Live, during its first season.

  • Andy Russell, a Mexican-American singer, recorded a bilingual version of the song in 1944 (Capitol #167, paired with “Don’t You Notice Anything New?”) which reached #15 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
  • Vaughn Monroe‘s 1955 version reached #60 in the US Music Vendor survey.
  • Bobby Darin‘s version of the song is on his album Winners released in 1964, although he recorded it in 1960.
  • Dean Martin covered it in his album Dino Latino in 1962.
  • Little Anthony and the Imperials about 1962,
  • Ben E. King covered the song on his album Ben E. King Sings for Soulful Lovers in 1962.
  • Lonnie Johnson covered the song on his album Losing Game.
  • Australian group The Black Sorrows released a version as their debut single in 1984. It was included on their debut studio album, Sonola.
  • It was recorded by Diana Ross in 1972, but not released until thirty-four years later when her Blue album was discovered in the Motown vaults and released in 2006.
  • An instrumental version featuring keyboardist Clare Fischer on piano with strings arranged by Jorge Calandrelli was recorded by Etore Stratta and The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra on their 1993 album Symphonic Boleros.
  • Natalie Cole recorded the song on her 1996 album Stardust, and later in 2013 a Spanish-English version was included as an iTunes bonus track of her album Natalie Cole en Español.
  • Barry Manilow recorded the song on his 2006 album The Greatest Songs of the Fifties.
  • In 2007 R&B/Dance singer Deborah Cox recorded the song for her album Destination Moon. Also in 2007, former Kiss drummer, Peter Criss, covered the song on his album One for All.
  • China Moses covered the song with Raphael Lemonnier in 2009 in their album This One’s for Dinah in 2009.
  • Deana Martin recorded “What a Difference a Day Made” on her 2009 album Volare.
  • Rod Stewart – Fly Me to the Moon… The Great American Songbook – Volume V (2010)
  • Julie Dawn and Roy Marsh and His Swingtette released a version of the track paired with “I am Going to Love That Guy” (this track bringing together Julie Dawn and Frank Deniz and His Spirits of Rhythm). The exact release date unknown at the moment (Decca 8034 Matrix numbers I 1320 and I 1322).
  • Other artists who covered the song include Sarah VaughanRenee OlsteadAretha Franklin on her 1964 album, Unforgettable: A Tribute to Dinah WashingtonEydie Gorme on her 1964 album, Freddy Fender recorded a version for his 1976 LP If You’re Ever in TexasEydie Gormé canta en Español con Los Panchos, Bobby Lewis (released on the single “Ace of Hearts 7622” in 1977), Cher performs the song in The Cher ShowLuis Miguel on his 1991 album RomanceLaura Fygi on The Latin Touch (2000), Jamie Cullum on his 2003 album, Twentysomething, and Gloria Estefan on her 2013 album, The Standards.
* the above information provided by Wikipedia

Learn : What A Difference A Day Makes

When learning a jazz standard like “What A Difference A Day Makes” (or any tune for that matter) you want to really learn the tune. In other words, you do not want to simply “memorize” the chord changes and melody in a specific key from a fake book – this is not learning a tune! I promise you, if you take this memorization approach you will never build a repertoire that “sticks” with you forever – your memory will fail, you will forget the details, you will forget the tune. Why? because you are trying to learn a tune (chord changes and melody) through your eyes and not through your ears! After-all, music is an aural art form not a visual art form (side thought – why do so many jazz teachers teach this art form with so much dependency on the eyes?). So, how should you learn “What A Difference A Day Makes“?

You always want to begin with a good set of chord changes (see my changes to What A Difference A Day Makes below). If you do not have access to a good set of changes then I recommend finding a recording of the tune by your favorite artist or a version of the tune that you enjoy so you can transcribe the changes using – yes, your ears! Once you have a solid set of chord changes, then analyze them using numbers that reflect the harmonic movement/function (you can use roman numerals like traditional jazz musicians or the Nashville number system illustrated below). Either way, you are notating what I like to call the “Harmonic DNA” of the tune. Once you have this in place you can play the changes in any key (provided you know your scales/keys). Likewise, I recommend learning the melody by ear (not by reading notes like you would in learning a classical piece of music). In doing so your melody playing will sound like you’re singing it (“vocal like”) and not like you’re reading it (“mechanical like”).

With your ears fully engaged in learning the chord changes, movement/function and the melody of “What A Difference A Day Makes” (or any tune) you have successfully synced your mental understanding of the tune, with your aural understanding, with your physical understanding. You will find that developing your ability to sync your mental + aural + physical skills in learning “What A Difference A Day Makes” expedites your learning of additional tunes. Why? Because all tunes share common chord progressions/movement that you will begin to identify quickly through aural recognition. Wow! This is truly learning a tune, this is truly learning music!

Here are some common/standard progressions in “What A Difference A Day Makes” to focus on syncing your mental, aural, and physical skills:

2-5-1 (measures 1 and 2 – measures 5,6 and 7)

1-4-3-b3 (measures 3 and 4, measures 19 and 20)

4-b7-3-b3 (measures 25, 26, 27 and 28)

1-b2-1 (coda/ending)

Listen to My Arrangement

 

What A Difference A Day Makes


Play : What A Difference A Day Makes

Below I have included a Play Along of my arrangement (minus me on the piano) for you to practice playing “What A Difference A Day Makes“. If you want to slow down my Play Along for “What A Difference A Day Makes” then I recommend using Anytune.

Anytune

If you want to use my changes and create your own play along then I recommend using an app like iReal Pro

iReal Pro Music Book and Play Along

or software like Band In A Box.

Band In A Box


My Arrangement as a Play Along (no piano)

 

If you would like more insight regarding the playing of “What A Difference A Day Makes” (various stylistic treatments, piano voicings, improvisation approaches, etc.) then I invite you to join discover, learn, play (dlp)!


Final Thoughts : What A Difference A Day Makes

If you wish to discover, learn, and play What A Difference A Day Makes (and many other great jazz standards) you should consider becoming a dlp (discover.learn.play) member. You’ll have access to professional jazz instruction and guidance from a professional jazz music educator (me!). Your dlp membership gives you lifetime access to all of my instructional jazz videos (which you can access and study as often as you wish – again, for life!). Additionally, your own private Mavenlink support portal is established, hosted, and maintained allowing you to interact with me as often as needed each and every week. Likewise, you’ll receive tuition discounts if you ever choose to have private online jazz lessons with me through The Dallas School of Music.

I welcome the opportunity to answer any questions you may have regarding discover.learn.play so feel free to Email me drlawrence@dlpjazz.com or call me 972-380-8050 Ext. 211. Please take a moment and listen to a few of my recordings or follow me at SoundCloud to get a feel for how I play and approach this wonderful art form we call jazz.

I look forward to helping you discover, learn, and play jazz!

Best Wishes,
Dr. Bob Lawrence
President
The Dallas School of Music

Minor Chords

Minor Chords : Dr. Bob Lawrence

discover.learn.play minor chords!

Minor Chords


Introduction : Minor Chords

Having a strong conceptual understanding of the harmonic structures of music (chords) is an absolute must if you are wanting to develop into an accomplished jazz musician. This is true whether you play piano, guitar, or any melodic instrument like saxophone, trumpet, trombone and yes, even vocalists! In fact, this blog looks at how to discover, learn, and play minor chords melodically (voicing minor chords are covered in a different blog). So, how does one determine how well and thoroughly they know minor chords? How can one conclude that they know all of the minor chords? In fact, how does one discover how many minor chords actually exist? These are very important questions with very clear and specific answers. This blog, “Minor Chords“, is the third in a series of chord blogs (Major Chords, Dominant Chords) with the goal of answering those questions and many other regarding the study and mastery of chords. So, lets discover, learn, and play minor chords – an enlightening and fascinating journey that will help you become an accomplished jazz musician.


Discover : Minor Chords

When setting out to learn your minor chords you should first seek to discover the facts by asking the right questions (always begin learning a new musical concept by seeking answers to basic and fundamental questions – always!).

  1. How many minor chords exist in music?
  2. Are there different types of minor chords?
  3. How are the minor chords constructed?
  4. How do I properly study the minor chords?
  5. How can I determine when I can confidently say, “I know the minor chords“?

These questions make sense! Your mastery of any musical concept begins with your conceptual understanding of the “data”. In other words, if you approach the skill you seek to play before you truly discover and learn the skill, you are going to simply impede your progress (if there is any progress at all). So, let’s answer our questions before we begin the process of learning them!

  • How many minor chords exist in music?
    • 12 (one minor chord for each of the 12 notes in music)
  • Are there different types of minor chords?
    • Yes (a minor chord can be as simple as 3 or 4 notes or include upper extensions like a 9th, 11th, 13th.
  • How are the minor chords constructed?
    • We build minor chords by stacking every other note of a major scale starting on the scales 2nd note (ex. C Eb G Bb – starting on the 2nd note of the Bb major scale)
  • How do I properly study the minor chords?
    • Proper study of minor chords require a pencil, some paper, and your instrument (more on this in the “Learn” section below)
  • How can I determine when I can confidently say, “I know the minor chords“?
    • When you can instantly, and with ease, spell and play the minor chords (more on this in the “Play” section below)

Now that we have successfully taken the time to discover answers to our questions regarding minor chords, let’s begin to dissect our new knowledge – let’s learn our minor chords!


Learn : Minor Chords

Once you have a conceptual handle on the musical concept you are wanting to master then you can begin to learn the skill. Your best “learning” will always be done away from your instrument. This is so important that I am going to say it again – your best “learning” will always be done away from your instrument! Yes, that is correct – away from your instrument! I like to refer to this learning as “paper practice”. Grab a piece of paper and a pencil – find a comfy chair and begin sketching out/drawing the data. This type of practicing forces you to “think” through the concept. You should be able to spell each of the minor chords with ease. Likewise, you should be able to identify and properly notate the emphasized sound of each of the minor chords – for example:

  • C Minor = C Eb G (a triad)
  • C Minor 7 = C Eb G Bb (7th added)
  • C Minor 9 = C Eb G Bb D (9th added)
  • C Minor 11 = C Eb G Bb D F (11th added)
  • C Minor 13 = C Eb G Bb D F A (13th added)

This kind of understanding not only paves the way for your physical mastery of the minor chords, it sets the stage for the formation of proper ear training.


Play : Minor Chords

Once you have completed the amount of paper practice necessary for you to easily spell each of the minor chords in their entirety (7th, 9th, 11th, 13th – for all 12!) then you are ready to play. Here is where jazz musicians approach the playing of minor chords differently than other musicians. You never want to simply play minor chords as a triad only (ex. C Eb G) – in other words, you want to be able to play and hear minor chords from the root to the 13th (the entire minor sound!). We want our launch point (the root) and our destination point (5th, 7th, 9th, 11th, 13th) to always be identified before we begin to play. In doing so we prep ourselves for the proper and necessary development of muscle and aural memory. I strongly recommend using an app like iReal Pro or Band In A Box to play with so you can “hear” the minor chords within a musical context.

When practicing minor chords in this manner you have expanded the scale beyond a simple technique exercise – you have actually established an invaluable responsibility for your ears. Do you hear what a minor 7th sounds like? How about the sound of the minor 9th? Do you hear how the the minor 11th and 13th sound different that than minor 7th?

For more insight regarding the minor chords and especially how to successfully play them join discover, learn, play (dlp)!


Final Thoughts : Minor Chords

If you wish to discover, learn, and play minor chords (and much more) you should consider becoming a dlp (discover.learn.play) member. You’ll have access to professional jazz instruction and guidance from a professional jazz music educator (me!). Your dlp membership gives you lifetime access to all of my instructional jazz videos (which you can access and study as often as you wish – again, for life!). Additionally, your own private Mavenlink support portal is established, hosted, and maintained allowing you to interact with me as often as needed each and every week. Likewise, you’ll receive tuition discounts if you ever choose to have private online jazz lessons with me through The Dallas School of Music.

I welcome the opportunity to answer any questions you may have regarding discover.learn.play so feel free to Email me drlawrence@dlpjazz.com or call me 972-380-8050 Ext. 211. Please take a moment and listen to a few of my recordings or follow me at SoundCloud to get a feel for how I play and approach this wonderful art form we call jazz.

I look forward to helping you discover, learn, and play jazz!

Best Wishes,
Dr. Bob Lawrence
President
The Dallas School of Music

Minor Chords

Dominant Chords : Dr. Bob Lawrence

discover.learn.play dominant chords!

Dominant Chords


Introduction : Dominant Chords

Having a strong conceptual understanding of the harmonic structures of music (chords) is an absolute must if you are wanting to develop into an accomplished jazz musician. This is true whether you play piano, guitar, or any melodic instrument like saxophone, trumpet, trombone and yes, even vocalists! In fact, this blog looks at how to discover, learn, and play dominant chords melodically (voicing dominant chords are covered in a different blog). So, how does one determine how well and thoroughly they know dominant chords? How can one conclude that they know all of the dominant chords? In fact, how does one discover how many dominant chords actually exist? These are very important questions with very clear and specific answers. This blog, “Dominant Chords“, is the second in a series of chord blogs with the goal of answering those questions and many other regarding the study and mastery of chords. So, lets discover, learn, and play dominant chords – an enlightening and fascinating journey that will help you become an accomplished jazz musician.


Discover : Dominant Chords

When setting out to learn your dominant chords you should first seek to discover the facts by asking the right questions (always begin learning a new musical concept by seeking answers to basic and fundamental questions – always!).

  1. How many dominant chords exist in music?
  2. Are there different types of dominant chords?
  3. How are the dominant chords constructed?
  4. How do I properly study the dominant chords?
  5. How can I determine when I can confidently say, “I know the dominant chords“?

These questions make sense! Your mastery of any musical concept begins with your conceptual understanding of the “data”. In other words, if you approach the skill you seek to play before you truly discover and learn the skill, you are going to simply impede your progress (if there is any progress at all). So, let’s answer our questions before we begin the process of learning them!

  • How many dominant chords exist in music?
    • 12 (one dominant chord for each of the 12 notes in music)
  • Are there different types of dominant chords?
    • Yes (a dominant chord can be as simple as 4 notes (it can never be a triad) or include upper extensions like a 9th, 11th, 13th.
  • How are the dominant chords constructed?
    • We build dominant chords by stacking every other note of a major scale starting on the scales 5th note (ex. C E G Bb – starting on the 5th note of the F major scale)
  • How do I properly study the dominant chords?
    • Proper study of dominant chords require a pencil, some paper, and your instrument (more on this in the “Learn” section below)
  • How can I determine when I can confidently say, “I know the dominant chords“?
    • When you can instantly, and with ease, spell and play the dominant chords (more on this in the “Play” section below)

Now that we have successfully taken the time to discover answers to our questions regarding dominant chords, let’s begin to dissect our new knowledge – let’s learn our dominant chords!


Learn : Dominant Chords

Once you have a conceptual handle on the musical concept you are wanting to master then you can begin to learn the skill. Your best “learning” will always be done away from your instrument. This is so important that I am going to say it again – your best “learning” will always be done away from your instrument! Yes, that is correct – away from your instrument! I like to refer to this learning as “paper practice”. Grab a piece of paper and a pencil – find a comfy chair and begin sketching out/drawing the data. This type of practicing forces you to “think” through the concept. You should be able to spell each of the dominant chords with ease. Likewise, you should be able to identify and properly notate the emphasized sound of each of the dominant chords – for example:

  • C Dominant 7 = C E G Bb (1st, 3rd, 5th and 7th of F major scale)
  • C Dominant 9 = C E G Bb D (9th added)
  • C Dominant 11 = C E G Bb D F (11th added)
  • C Dominant 13 = C E G Bb D F A (13th added)

This kind of understanding not only paves the way for your physical mastery of the dominant chords, it sets the stage for the formation of proper ear training.


Play : Dominant Chords

Once you have completed the amount of paper practice necessary for you to easily spell each of the dominant chords in their entirety (7th, 9th, 11th, 13th – for all 12!) then you are ready to play. Here is where jazz musicians approach the playing of dominant chords differently than other musicians. You never want to simply play dominant chords as a 7th only (ex. C E G Bb) – in other words, you want to be able to play and hear dominant chords from the root to the 13th (the entire dominant sound!). We want our launch point (the root) and our destination point (7th, 9th, 11th, 13th) to always be identified before we begin to play. In doing so we prep ourselves for the proper and necessary development of muscle and aural memory. I strongly recommend using an app like iReal Pro or Band In A Box to play with so you can “hear” the dominant chords within a musical context.

When practicing dominant chords in this manner you have expanded the scale beyond a simple technique exercise – you have actually established an invaluable responsibility for your ears. Do you hear what a dominant 7th sounds like? How about the sound of the dominant 9th? Do you hear how the the dominant 11th and 13th sound different that than dominant 7th?

For more insight regarding the dominant chords and especially how to successfully play them join discover, learn, play (dlp)!


Final Thoughts : Dominant Chords

If you wish to discover, learn, and play dominant chords (and much more) you should consider becoming a dlp (discover.learn.play) member. You’ll have access to professional jazz instruction and guidance from a professional jazz music educator (me!). Your dlp membership gives you lifetime access to all of my instructional jazz videos (which you can access and study as often as you wish – again, for life!). Additionally, your own private Mavenlink support portal is established, hosted, and maintained allowing you to interact with me as often as needed each and every week. Likewise, you’ll receive tuition discounts if you ever choose to have private online jazz lessons with me through The Dallas School of Music.

I welcome the opportunity to answer any questions you may have regarding discover.learn.play so feel free to Email me drlawrence@dlpjazz.com or call me 972-380-8050 Ext. 211. Please take a moment and listen to a few of my recordings or follow me at SoundCloud to get a feel for how I play and approach this wonderful art form we call jazz.

I look forward to helping you discover, learn, and play jazz!

Best Wishes,
Dr. Bob Lawrence
President
The Dallas School of Music

Dominant Chords

Study Music Correctly : Dr. Bob Lawrence

discover.learn.play music correctly!

Study Music Correctly


Introduction : Study Music Correctly

How to study music correctly – what a topic, so let’s dig in! When I stop to think about how many fabulous musicians we (the public) miss out on hearing throughout our lifetime simply because they quit studying music soon after starting – it saddens me. Of course, there are always several reasons one gives for quitting their pursuit (and dream) of playing a musical instrument:

  1. Didn’t like my teacher (sadly, far too common of an excuse)
  2. I found out I was tone deaf! (totally impossible)
  3. I hated practicing (probably because they weren’t doing it correctly!)
  4. My parents let me (a classic!)
  5. I had no success, no feel for it, no talent (a total myth accepted as reality – so unfortunate)

The truth is simply this – these excuses, and many others, are only symptoms of the true culprit causing students young and old to throw in the towel on their dream of playing a musical instrument. What is the true culprit you ask – (drum roll please!) – students are not taught how to study music correctly! Notice I said, how to study music correctly – I did not say, how to study the piano correctly, or how to study the guitar correctly, or how to study the flute correctly, etc. It’s not the mechanics of the instrument teachers fail to teach – it’s how to study music correctly that they fail to teach.

At The Dallas School of Music, our company slogan is discover . learn . play (now you know how I got the name for my blog). When hearing or seeing these words together for the first time one might casually think – I like it, it’s catchy! But, our students quickly realize that it’s much more than a “catchy” company tagline – it actually expresses the teaching approach that we endorse and follow. Why? Because it clearly and succinctly outlines how to study music correctly!

So, lets take a closer look at how to study music correctly, let’s learn how to discover, learn, and play music to assure progress, success, a lifetime of amazing enjoyment, and the fulfillment of a dream.


Discover : Study Music Correctly

Music consists of various skills made up of various elements which are all drawn from a fixed database. Fact #1 – music is comprised of 12 notes (the same 12 Bach used, Beethoven used, Mozart used, you use, and I use). Fact #2 – those same 12 notes are arranged into keys (scales) which produce a specific (and limited) harmonic structure (chords). This is just one example that illustrates the fact that music is a fixed database – it’s mathematical! Here’s a thought (fact) to think about – something that is mathematically fixed, which music is, can not produce infinite possibilities. So, there are not countless number of notes, or chords, or even rhythms. The first order of business for any skilled teacher is to present this reality to the student so that music becomes a “manageable” and “achievable” endeavor. This is how to teach and study music correctly – beginning with the understanding that music is not mystical, magical, or consists of “endless” possibilities – it’s structured, organized, limited, and learnable!

A skilled/professional music educator helps a student discover the various elements of each skill found within the fixed database we call music. Once the discovery of a new musical skill occurs then the student can begin to learn the skill in preparation for playing the skill.


Learn : Study Music Correctly

Once a skilled music educator helps a student discover a new musical skill (and clearly illustrates how this new discovery fits into the fixed database of music) then the student is ready to begin the next step in the how to study music correctly process. The best “learning” will always be done away from the instrument. This is so important that I am going to say it again – the best “learning” will always be done away from the instrument! Yes, that is correct – away from the instrument! I like to refer to this approach to learning as “paper practice”. I encourage every student to grab a piece of paper and a pencil – find a comfy chair and begin sketching out/drawing their new discovery – the data! This type of practicing forces the student to “think” through the concept so a strong conceptual understanding is developed. I remind every one of my students (over and over) that conceptual understanding drives physical development. In other words, if it is not clear “upstairs” (mentally) then it’s not going to come out “downstairs” (on the instrument). It’s that simple! So get use to doing “paper practice” – that is, if you want to study music correctly!


Play : Study Music Correctly

Once a student has completed a sufficient amount of paper practice (enough that they can easily explain, describe, and even teach the data discovered and learned) then the student is ready to play. I strongly recommend students to use apps like iReal Pro or software like Band In A Box to play with so they can “hear” the new musical skill within a musical context. With the use of technology, students can practice playing skills using various tempos, styles, and genres. Both programs mentioned allow students to easily create custom exercises, set practice loops, control instrumentation, change keys, and so much more. Most importantly, using one of the various technology programs available today allows students to experience ensemble playing which quickly develops musical time and feel. Finally, students must quickly realize that practicing musical skills apart from any specific song is the most efficient and effective way to become a proficient musician (simply playing songs will never get the job done!).

So, there you have it – to study music correctly, one must discover, learn, and play the concepts/skills of music! For more insight regarding how to study music correctly join discover, learn, play (dlp)!


Final Thoughts : Study Music Correctly

If you wish to discover, learn, and play jazz you should consider becoming a dlp (discover.learn.play) member. You’ll have access to professional jazz instruction and guidance from a professional jazz music educator (me!). Your dlp membership gives you lifetime access to all of my instructional jazz videos (which you can access and study as often as you wish – again, for life!). Additionally, your own private Mavenlink support portal is established, hosted, and maintained allowing you to interact with me as often as needed each and every week. Likewise, you’ll receive tuition discounts if you ever choose to have private online jazz lessons with me through The Dallas School of Music.

I welcome the opportunity to answer any questions you may have regarding discover.learn.play so feel free to Email me drlawrence@dlpjazz.com or call me 972-380-8050 Ext. 211. Please take a moment and listen to a few of my recordings or follow me at SoundCloud to get a feel for how I play and approach this wonderful art form we call jazz.

I look forward to helping you discover, learn, and play jazz!

Best Wishes,
Dr. Bob Lawrence
President
The Dallas School of Music

Study Music Correctly

Major Chords : Dr. Bob Lawrence

discover.learn.play major chords!

Major Chords


Introduction : Major Chords

Having a strong conceptual understanding of the harmonic structures of music (chords) is an absolute must if you are wanting to develop into an accomplished jazz musician. This is true whether you play piano, guitar, or any melodic instrument like saxophone, trumpet, trombone and yes, even vocalists! In fact, this blog looks at how to discover, learn, and play major chords melodically (voicing major chords are covered in a different blog). So, how does one determine how well and thoroughly they know major chords? How can one conclude that they know all of the major chords? In fact, how does one discover how many major chords actually exist? These are very important questions with very clear and specific answers. This blog, “Major Chords“, will be the first in a series of chord blogs with the goal of answering those questions and many other regarding the study and mastery of chords. So, lets discover, learn, and play major chords – an enlightening and fascinating journey that will help you become an accomplished jazz musician.


Discover : Major Chords

When setting out to learn your major chords you should first seek to discover the facts by asking the right questions (always begin learning a new musical concept by seeking for answers to basic and fundamental questions – always!).

  1. How many major chords exist in music?
  2. Are there different types of major chords?
  3. How are the major chords constructed?
  4. How do I properly study the major chords?
  5. How can I determine when I can confidently say, “I know the major chords“?

These questions make sense! Your mastery of any musical concept begins with your conceptual understanding of the “data”. In other words, if you approach the skill you seek to play before you truly discover and learn the skill, you are going to simply impede your progress (if there is any progress at all). So, let’s answer our questions before we begin the process of learning them!

  • How many major chords exist in music?
    • 12 (one major chord for each of the 12 notes in music)
  • Are there different types of major chords?
    • Yes (a major chord can be as simple as 3 notes (a triad) or include upper extensions like a 9th, 11th, 13th)
  • How are the major chords constructed?
    • We build major chords by stacking every other note of the major scale (ex. C E G – see my blog Jazz Major Scales to discover, learn, and play major scales)
  • How do I properly study the major chords?
    • Proper study of major chords require a pencil, some paper, and your instrument (more on this in the “Learn” section below)
  • How can I determine when I can confidently say, “I know the major chords“?
    • When you can instantly, and with ease, spell and play the major chords (more on this in the “Play” section below)

Now that we have successfully taken the time to discover answers to our questions regarding major chords, let’s begin to dissect our new knowledge – let’s learn our major chords!


Learn : Major Chords

Once you have a conceptual handle on the musical concept you are wanting to master then you can begin to learn the skill. Your best “learning” will always be done away from your instrument. This is so important that I am going to say it again – your best “learning” will always be done away from your instrument! Yes, that is correct – away from your instrument! I like to refer to this learning as “paper practice”. Grab a piece of paper and a pencil – find a comfy chair and begin sketching out/drawing the data. This type of practicing forces you to “think” through the concept. You should be able to spell each of the major chords with ease. Likewise, you should be able to identify and properly notate the emphasized sound of each of the major chords – for example:

  • C Maj = C E G (1st, 3rd, 5th of C major scale)
  • C Maj 7 = C E G B (7th added)
  • C Maj 9 = C E G B D (9th added)
  • C Major 11 = C E G B D F (11th added)
  • C Major 13 = C E G B D F A (13th added)

This kind of understanding not only paves the way for your physical mastery of the major chords, it sets the stage for the formation of proper ear training.


Play : Major Chords

Once you have completed the amount of paper practice necessary for you to easily spell each of the major chords in their entirety (5th, 7th, 9th, 11th, 13th – for all 12!) then you are ready to play. Here is where jazz musicians approach the playing of major chords differently than other musicians. You never want to simply play the major chords as a triad only (ex. C E G) or a 7th only (C E G B) in other words, you want to be able to play and hear the major chords from the root to the 13th (the entire major sound!). We want our launch point (the root) and our destination point (5th, 7th, 9th, etc.) to always be identified before we begin to play. In doing so we prep ourselves for the proper and necessary development of muscle and aural memory. I strongly recommend using an app like iReal Pro or Band In A Box to play with so you can “hear” the major chords within a musical context.

When practicing major chords in this manner you have expanded the scale beyond a simple technique exercise – you have actually established an invaluable responsibility for your ears. Do you hear what a major triad sounds like? How about the sound of the major 7th? Do you hear how the the major 9th sounds different that than major 7th?

For more insight regarding the major chords and especially how to successfully play them join discover, learn, play (dlp)!


Final Thoughts : Major Chords

If you wish to discover, learn, and play major chords (and much more) you should consider becoming a dlp (discover.learn.play) member. You’ll have access to professional jazz instruction and guidance from a professional jazz music educator (me!). Your dlp membership gives you lifetime access to all of my instructional jazz videos (which you can access and study as often as you wish – again, for life!). Additionally, your own private Mavenlink support portal is established, hosted, and maintained allowing you to interact with me as often as needed each and every week. Likewise, you’ll receive tuition discounts if you ever choose to have private online jazz lessons with me through The Dallas School of Music.

I welcome the opportunity to answer any questions you may have regarding discover.learn.play so feel free to Email me drlawrence@dlpjazz.com or call me 972-380-8050 Ext. 211. Please take a moment and listen to a few of my recordings or follow me at SoundCloud to get a feel for how I play and approach this wonderful art form we call jazz.

I look forward to helping you discover, learn, and play jazz!

Best Wishes,
Dr. Bob Lawrence
President
The Dallas School of Music

Major Chords

Jazz Major Scales : Dr. Bob Lawrence

discover.learn.play jazz major scales!

Jazz Major Scales


Introduction : Jazz Major Scales

When seeking to learn how to play jazz and improvise, the first piece advice every student receives is, “you’ve got to know your scales” (this blog explores the Jazz Major Scales). Upon receiving this information, the student experiences much joy and exhilaration because it sounds like some really important, solid, and practical advice. Sadly, just a few moments later, they come crashing back to reality with overwhelming feelings of confusion (and in some cases depression) because a barrage of questions flood their minds. How many scales are there? Which scales should I practice? Are all the scales necessary for playing jazz? Is there a correct way to practice scales? Where and when do I use scales after I learn them? Will the scales really help me improvise? How realistic is it for me, really, to learn all of the scales necessary for playing jazz? The list of questions go on and on and quite often (unfortunately) when returning to the individual who initially suggested scale practice with hope of receiving clarification and additional guidance, only vague music theory rhetoric is offered and tossed around. Welcome to the search for the ever elusive “correct” method of studying jazz and jazz improvisation!


Discover : Jazz Major Scales

It is so important to realize that conceptual understanding drives physical development. In other words, you must have a clear and concise understanding/perspective of the musical concept you are wanting to master before beginning any efforts of physically playing it! So, upon discovering a new musical concept (ex. jazz major scales) you must immediately begin seeking necessary answers to some fundamental and crucial questions.

  • How many jazz major scales are there?
  • How are the jazz major scales constructed?
  • Are jazz major scales different from regular major scales?
  • How should I practice the jazz major scales?

Let’s take the time in this blog post to answer each of these questions and solidify our understanding of jazz major scales – in doing so we’ll establish a solid framework for successfully learning them.

How many jazz major scales are there? The answer is 12. How did we arrive at this answer? Simple, there are 12 notes in music (A, Bb, B, C, Db, D, Eb, E. F, Gb, G, Ab) and we can construct a jazz major scale from each of the notes using a combination of whole steps and half steps. Below are the 12 jazz major scales:

  • A B C# D E F# G#
  • Bb C D Eb F G A
  • B C# D# E F# G# A#
  • C D E F G A B
  • Db Eb F Gb Ab Bb C
  • D E F# G A B C#
  • Eb F G Ab Bb C D
  • E F# G# A B C# D#
  • F G A Bb C D E
  • Gb Ab Bb Cb Db Eb F
  • G A B C D E F#
  • Ab Bb C Db Eb F G

At this point you may be asking how are these “jazz major scales” any different from the regular major scales used in music? The difference is not found in how they are constructed but rather in how we actually learn and play them which will be explored below.

So, we now know a specific number (12) of jazz major scales exists plus we know how they are constructed. This is a huge step – moving a concept from an abstract label to factual data allows us to wrap our minds (and hands) around the concept thus making it possible to establish a game plan for learning and playing the skill.


Learn : Jazz Major Scales

Once you have a conceptual handle on the musical concept you are wanting to master (i.e. jazz major scales) then you can begin to learn the skill. Your best “learning” will always been done away from your instrument. Yes, that is correct – away from your instrument! I like to refer to this learning as “paper practice”. Grab a piece of paper and a pencil – find a comfy chair and begin sketching out/drawing the data. This type of practicing forces you to “think” through the concept. You should be able to spell each scale with ease. Likewise, you should be able to notate the whole step and half step relationships within each scale. You should be able to identify the 3rd, 5th, 7th, 9th, 11th, and 13th of each scale. This kind of understanding not only paves the way for your physical mastery of the scale, it sets the stage for the formation of proper ear training.


Play : Jazz Major Scales

Once you have completed the amount of paper practice necessary for you to easily spell each of the jazz major scales and identify interval relationships (3rd, 5th, 7th, etc.) then you are ready to play! Here is where jazz musicians approach the major scales differently than classical musicians. You never want to simply play a major scale from root to root (C to C, A to A, F to F, etc.) in other words, from “Do” to “Do” (as in Do, Re, Mi, etc.). We want our launch point (the root) and our destination point (5th, 7th, 9th, etc.) to always be different. Let’s use the C major scale to illustrate this point:

  • C D E F G (Root to 5th)
  • C D E F G A B (Root to 7th)
  • C D E F G A B C D (Root to 9th)
  • C D E F G A B C D E F (Root to 11th)
  • C D E F G A B C E D E F G A (Root to 13th)

Each example above is a C major scale! When practicing jazz major scales in this manner you have expanded the scale beyond a technique exercise – you have actually established an invaluable responsibility for your ears. Do you hear what the 5th sounds like? How about the sound of the 7th? Do you hear the beauty of the 9th?

For more insight regarding the jazz major scales and especially how to successfully play them over chords and progressions, join discover, learn, play (dlp)!


Final Thoughts : Jazz Major Scales

If you wish to discover, learn, and play jazz major scales (and much more) you should consider becoming a dlp (discover.learn.play) member. You’ll have access to professional jazz instruction and guidance from a professional jazz music educator (me!). Your dlp membership gives you lifetime access to all of my instructional jazz videos (which you can access and study as often as you wish – again, for life!). Additionally, your own private Mavenlink support portal is established, hosted, and maintained allowing you to interact with me as often as needed each and every week. Likewise, you’ll receive tuition discounts if you ever choose to have private online jazz lessons with me through The Dallas School of Music.

I welcome the opportunity to answer any questions you may have regarding discover.learn.play so feel free to Email me drlawrence@dlpjazz.com or call me 972-380-8050 Ext. 211. Please take a moment and listen to a few of my recordings or follow me at SoundCloud to get a feel for how I play and approach this wonderful art form we call jazz.

I look forward to helping you discover, learn, and play jazz!

Best Wishes,
Dr. Bob Lawrence
President
The Dallas School of Music

Jazz Major Scales

Welcome to My Blog

discover.learn.play – jazz!

I am excited about the launch of my new and exciting Blog. I look forward to sharing with you many of my thoughts and insights regarding the study of jazz. It is my hope that parents, children, adult students, beginners, and advance players will find posts beneficial for their musical understanding, growth and development. A wide range of musical topics will be explored – some will address serious musical concepts while others will simply serve as entertainment.

In addition to publishing regular blog posts I send out a free weekly Email to help jazz piano lovers discover, learn, and play essential jazz piano skills; please visit JazzPianoSkills.com to learn more and be sure to subscribe. You can also become a JazzPianoSkills.com Member and enjoy comprehensive jazz piano video lessons – for life! Please feel free to contact me with any suggestions that you have regarding content, presentation, and educational material – I always welcome your pointers and the opportunity to get to know you.

Finally, you will also find at JazzPianoSkills.com many mp3 recordings of me playing a variety of society and jazz standards. You can listen to all recordings in their entirety from this site or you can download your favorites and enjoy them on your personal mp3 player, phone, tablet, or computer. Not only will you be listening to great jazz you will be helping many women (and men) needing our support through the White Rose Clinic located here in Dallas, TX.

I hope you enjoy my blog posts and find them beneficial for developing your jazz piano skills. I look forward to our musical journey as we discover.learn.play jazz!

Warm Regards,
Dr. Bob Lawrence
President
The Dallas School of Music

Dr. Bob Lawrence