Mastering Stride Piano

Fats Waller, three-quarter length portrait, se...Image via Wikipedia

The swinging, stride sound of early jazz pianists like Fats Waller and James P.Johnson is undergoing a new found popularity. Suddenly, everyone wants to play and hear this bouncy style again. So here are some exercises to help you get in the stride groove. Remember, when playing stride you should not be thinking about lightning-fast tricks or an amazing left hand, but rather a steady left hand and an all-around relaxed feeling.

Exercise #1 (play 2 x's)

Bb/Bb D F

G/G Bb D F

C/ G Bb C Eb

F/ F A C Eb

Exercise #2

D/D F# A C

E/D F# A C

F/D F# A C

F#/D F# A C

G/D F G B

A/D F G B

A#/D F G B

B/D F G B

C/C E G Bb

D/C E G Bb

D#/C E G Bb

E/C E G Bb

F F/ l.h. octaves

F, Eb, D,C/ l.h. single notes

Exercise #3

C/G A C E

C#/G Bb C# E

D/ G B D F

G/G B D# F (repeat)

C/ C E

Bb/Bb C E

A/A C F

Ab/Gb Ab C Eb

G/G C E

G/G B E

C,B,A,G/ l.h octave single notes (repeat)

Puttin' On the Ritz - Solo Stride Piano



Chris Dawson plays this great rendition from the title song of the 1930 film. Clear crisp lines! Everything between the melody bookends is improvised. None of this was arranged beforehand. Chris is a consumate improviser.

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