Leadsheets- Top 10 Basic Chords

I've been giving private piano lessons to all ages for quite sometime now. I have to agree with Keith Fletch, "The reality of life is that students and teachers only have so much time to devote to scales and chords studies."

Keith's book, Chord/Scale Mastery, is a textbook used by jazz educators internationally. He has performed all over the world for Yamaha Music Education. He can be visited at

* TOP 10 CHORD APPROACH used in jazz, presented in the Key of C

1. Major7 Chord: C E G B
Play the Major Triad, Then the 7th Chord

Major7 Scale Options
I-Major, Ionian Mode: C D E F G A B C
IV-Major, Lydian Mode (#4) C D E F# G A B C
VI-Harmonic Minor (#2, #4) C D# E F# G A B C

2. Dominant7 Chord: C E G Bb
Play The 7th Chord

Dominant 7 Scale Options
V-Major, Mixolydian Mode(b7) C D E F G A Bb C
IV-Melodic Minor(#4,b7)(Lydian Dominant Scale) C D E F# G A Bb C
V-Melodic Minor(b6,b7) ("Hindu" Scale) C D E F G Ab Bb C

3. C7(b9): C E G Bb Db
Play The 9th Chord

Inverted Diminished (H,W,H,W,H,W,H,W)
Extensions: b9, #9, #11, 13
C Db D# E F# G A Bb C

4. C Minor7: C Eb G Bb
Play The Minor Triad, Then The 7th Chord

II-Major, Dorian Mode(b3, b7) C D Eb F G A Bb C

5. C Minor7: C Eb G B
Play The 7th Chord

I- Melodic Minor (b3) C D Eb F G A B C

6. C Diminshed7: C Eb Gb Bbb
Play The Augmented Triad, Then Play The 7th Chord

7. C Diminshed: C Eb Gb Bb

8. C7 Augmented(#5): C E G# Bb

Whole Tone (W,W,W,W,W,W)
C D E F# G# A# C

9. C7(#5,#9): C E G# Bb D#
Play The 9th Chord

VII-Melodic Minor (b2,b3,b4,b5,b6,b7)
("Altered", "Diminished Whole Tone", or "Super Locrian" Scale)
(H,W,H,W,W,W,W) Extensions:b9,#9,#11,b13

10. C7(#5): C E G# B
Play The 7th Chord

III-Melodic Minor (#4,#5)
(Inverted Altered or Lydian Augmented Scale)

Keith's Basic Training Method:

"After the player finishes practicing the four triads matched with the 10 chords with a chosen scale for each, a leadsheet is presented with the chords in the same order, four bars for each chord."

Testing students' knowledge by having them only look at the chord change, play the chord to the 7th/9th, and then play the scale in one octave is good practice. Try soloing using chord tones and then successfully playing the whole scale. Add an improv track and play along, too.

I hope you enjoy using this method with your students as I have.

Articles on Scales, Chords and Modes

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