Ear-Training Piano Lesson

B.B. KingCover of B.B. KingEar training is especially important if you want to improvise, compose, or figure out melodies and chords to songs by ear. A good musical ear is an acquired skill, not a gift! and like other skills, it is acquired through practice!
The more we train our ear to recognize this connection, the more we enjoy playing music, because we learn to understand what we play.

Who needs ear training?

All musicians need to train their ear in order to know what they are playing and to anticipate what they are about to play!

Why do ear training?

Because understanding the sounds we hear will be necessary to:

    Jam with other musicians

   Compose music

    Sing in tune

There are 3 qualities that every good jazz musician must possess:

- a great ear, a strong sense of time, and a unique sound.

While there are many different ways to approach these skills, the first two always require a certain amount of drilling. The ear can be thought of as a muscle and to a certain degree must be trained like one. Improved ears will lead to better intonation, improvisation, ensemble playing and transcription skills. With that in mind, here are three great ways of dramatically improving your students' ears and, hopefully, their overall playing.

Associating a familiar melody with each interval is a quick way to learn an interval’s distinct sound. For example, a melodic interval can be ascending or descending. Either way, it’s still the same interval. Now, you don’t want to get confused with interval inversions because a minor third will is still a minor third no matter which note comes first.

Intervals can be classified can be classified as consonant or dissonant. I can tell you that it’s much easier to hear the consonance or dissonance of harmonic intervals than melodic ones.

Here’s a list showing you the relative stability (consonance) or instability (dissonance) of the octaves up to an octave.

Consonant: Perfect, unison, m3, P4, P5, m6, P octave.
Dissonant: m2, M2, +4. (05), m7, M7.

Another gentle approach is to describe Hollow Sounds, like austere and earthy, Indian drones and Scottish bagpipes or heavy metal rhythm- guitar.

Hallow: Perfect unison, P4, P5, P octave. This would be perfect intervals and their inversions.)
Sweet: m3, M3, m6, M6. (thirds and sixths)
Now there are active and passive methods for ear training. A passive drill would be to play two notes in succession and listen to that interval. Sometimes you will be asked to name the next note.

Harmonic intervals can be drilled the same way. These types of drills can be done with chords or chord progressions.

Are you familiar with the underlying scales and moveable "Do" solfege?

It's essential that you learn to sing a chromatic scale. As chromaticism is prevalent throughout modern jazz, this exercise will improve both intonation and students' understanding of the genre. When singing through the chromatic scale, remember to use sharps when ascending and flats when descending.

Chromatic Scale Ascending:

C,  C#,  D,   D#,  E,  F,   F#, G,  G#, A, A#, B, C
Do, Di,  Re, Ri,  Mi, Fa, Fi, Sol, Si, La, U, Ti, Do

Chromatic Scale Descending

C,   B,  Bb, A,  Ab, G,  Gb, F,  E,   Eb,  D,   Db, C
Do, Ti, Te, La, Le, Sol, Se, Fa, Mi, Me, Re, Ra, Do

Target Tones

Target tones are an essential part of any ear training regimen. They force students to hear not only chordd tones, but surrounding tones as well. Now, many students can correctly sing a major scale but they have some difficulty picking out specific intervals at random.

With respect to the scales and scale degrees, the best way to practice this is through the use of target tones. Here are a few exercises:

C, // C, D, C // E, D, C // F, E, D // C, G, A // B, C, A // B, C, B // C

Do you know the sound of these chords?

Major seventh, Major seventh b5, Major seventh +5, Sus major seventh
Minor seventh, Minor major seventh, Half diminished seventh (aka minor seven flat five), Fully diminished seventh
Dominant seventh, Dominant seventh b5, Dominant seventh +5, and Sus dominant seventh

You might be interested in these resources:



Pitch Ear Training Software

Pitch By Ear

"The beautiful thing about learning is that no one can take it away from you." B.B.King
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Out with the Blues Scale: In with the Mixolydian

"Serenade Blues" (sheet music) page ...Image via Wikipedia "Most everyone is familiar with the Mixolydian Scale because it is used in 
so many popular songs."

-- Miles Donahue

I just finished reading an article in one of my Jazz Magazines that was titled,
Out With the Blues Scale; In With The Mixolydian.
Credit: Tenor sax and trumpet player, Miles Donahue

Many students believe that the blues scale is really all one needs to know 
in order to play over a blues chord progression. Although this is a great jazz tool 
when playing the blues, it's just not the main scale used for improvising.

Understanding the Blues Scale

When you use the blues scale of the key you are in, it's not usually used over the 
I chord, but over the IV or V chord. This means in the key of C, you would play 
the C blues scale against the F7 or the G7.

If you are a beginner, sit at the piano and experience improvising by hitting any
black key while someone else (a teacher) vamps on the two chords of a song.

These five notes are the minor pentatonic scale and when you add the A natural it
changes to the blues scale.

When you ask a student what the Mixolydian scale is, they usually tell you it is 
the scale where you flat the 7th. Well, this isn't exactly correct. Definitely that's the 
difference between a major scale and a Mixolydian scale.

Think of the Mixolydian scale as the scale within a major scale that starts on 
the fifth degree of that scale. Now the key signature for G Mixolydian has no sharps
and no flats (key of C). 

So, you're not  having sharps and flats but depending on simply knowing the notes in 
each major scale. A Mixolydian is 2 sharps (C# and F#), etc.

Here are some examples of Mixolydian Melodies in popular songs:

* Stevie Wonder's "Signed, Sealed, and Delivered" starts with the descending line,
1, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 1. Play these notes; E, D, C#, B, A, G#, E.

* "Pretty Woman" starts with an arpeggio of the Mixolydian chord (dominant 7th) -
and then the line ascends to the 9th - 1, 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 8, 7. Play the following notes;
E, E, G#, B, D... E,E, G#, B, D, F#, E,D,...

* The Beatles' "Birthday" uses the passing tone of the 6 in its opening line, 1, 1, 3, 5,
7, 6, 5, 1. Play the notes; E, E, G#, B, D, C#, B.

* "Norwegian Wood" is a more difficult melody because it is longer and has bigger
interval skips. Play these single notes; B, C#, B, A, G#, F#, A, G#, E, D, A, C#, B.

* Another Beatles song, "Day Tripper," has a half step approach to the third (non Diatonic
note), as well as the 9th as part of the introductory melody. Diatonic means "from the key"
and generally diatonic melodies are much simpler than melodies that use non diatonic
notes. Play; E, G, G#, B, E, D, B, F#, B, D, E.

* George Benson's version of "Broadway" (5, 3, 1, 2, 5, 3, 1, 7, 2, 1, 5) is played in six
different mix keys. The song starts in Ab mix and modulates to Db, A, D, Bb, and Eb.
At the end of the song, the band vamps on Bb mix and that is where the improvising 
takes place. You will play; B, G#, E, F#, B, G#, E, D, F#, E, D.

I think we all need examples of many jazz tools before we can incorporate them into
into our own style of improvising. Now you have an understanding of the Mixolydian scale and
and you're learning one of the most important scales used in jazz.

Thanks again dear readers for following and reading along. You might be interested
in this music resource:

 Musician Breakthrough

All the best,

"The beautiful thing about learning is that no one can take it away from you." B.B.King
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Software Demo: All You Wanted by Michelle Branch

Cover of "All You Wanted"Cover of All You Wanted I've been busy practicing and having so much fun with this new and inexpensive rhythm software. Here are some videos of what I'm talking about that I'm playing on the keys.

 "All You Wanted" software demo:


 "Beach Salsa" software demo:


"Amazing Love" software demo:


"Praise Adonai" software demo:


For PC and Mac. Easy download for #37.00

Back Pocket Band

 * Chord Chart to All You Wanted

Intro:  Riff x2

Fm7 Eb Db(9)  Ab6
I wanted to be like you
Fm7  Eb  Db(9) Ab6
I wanted everything
Fm7 Eb Db(9)  Ab6
So I tried to be like you
Fm7 Eb  Db(9)  Ab6 Eb
and I got swept away

Fm      Eb         Db(add9)         Ab      

I didn’t know that it was so cold and

Fm              Eb               Db(add9)              Ab

you needed someone to show you the way

Fm                   Eb       Db(add9)          Ab     

So I took your hand and we figured out that
Fm          Eb                   Db(add9)        Ab   Eb (x4)
when the tide comes I'll take you away


Fm     Db(add9)  Ab        Eb

If you want to, I can save you

Fm    Db(add9)        Ab               Eb

I can take you away from here

Fm        Db(add9) Ab           Eb

So lonely inside so busy out there

Fm              Db(add9)               Ab               Eb

And all you wanted was somebody who cares


What if you could turn your computer into a
complete practicing machine?

What if you could pull a real-sounding band out
your "back pocket?" (...so to speak).

Sounds crazy but with the power of technology,
my friends over at Hearandplay are going to show
you how to finally make practicing fun,
productive, and effective.

To see their video presentation, visit:
Music Software Demo

(I only wish I had tools like this when I was
coming up!)

They call it "Back Pocket Band" because it
literally puts a band at your fingertips.

There's a full video demonstration at:
Back Pocket Band

Here's what it does:

* It gives you access to over 350 real-sounding
   backing tracks.

* Practice and live performance files are played
  in all 12 keys.

* You can choose between multiple speeds: slow,
  medium, and fast.

* 3 different sections, 9 styles of music, &
  drums-only option (...they also give you lifetime
  updates and they're already working on jazz, blues,
  and funk backing tracks to release very soon).

* Instant streaming playback and automatic downloading
  to your system for burning to cd, transfer to ipod,
  and editing.

* And much more...

Music Software

For a limited time, they're making you an unbeatable
deal on everything.

Once you get your hands on this, you'll see
why so many are excited about it.


If you have any questions, feel free to e-mail

All the best,


"The beautiful thing about learning is that no one can take it away from you." B.B.King
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Piano Chords: Amazing Love


Amazing Love Chord Chart

Gm7 - C (intro)

C  Dm7  G  F  C

Dm  F  G  C

Gm7  C  Gm7  C  Gm7  C  Gm7  C  Gm7  C

C  Dm7  G  F  C

Dm7  F  G  C

Am  Dm7

G  F  C

C  Dm7  F  G  C  

Gm7  C

The rhythm that you here in the background is from
the new software for PC and Mac.

Back Pocket Band Software

"The beautiful thing about learning is that no one can take it away from you." B.B.King

Back Pocket Band Software: Praise Adonai

Backpocketband Software

"What if you could turn your computer into a complete practicing machine?
What if you could pull a real-sounding band out your “back pocket?” (…so to speak).
Sounds crazy but with the power of technology, I’m going to show you how to finally make practicing fun, productive, and effective." -- Jermaine Griggs
I bought this new music software, created by the founder of Hear and Play, called Back Pocket Band Software. It's available for PC and Mac. I did this video rather quickly to give you an idea how you can use the many backup rhythms that are available in any key and for any speed. I want to thank all of the Pastors and Church Musicians who have stopped by and sent me emails letting me know where they're at and what they need as a worship leader or musician. I recommend this product. Take a look. The chord chart below is what I'm playing. I'll try to set the camera at a better angle next time! lol

Praise Adonai

Paul Baloche

Em	    C
Who is like Him
The Lion and the Lamb
Seated on the throne
Em		C
Mountains bow down
Every ocean roars
To the Lord of hosts


C          Em
Praise Adonai
From the rising of the sun
    	 Am7           C D
'Til the end of every day
C          Em
Praise Adonai
All the nations of the earth
	Am7             C	        
All the angels and the saints
 D      F2  Em   
Sing praise

 * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Praise Adonai

Paul Baloche

Who is like Him
The Lion and the Lamb
Seated on the throne
Mountains bow down
Every ocean roars
To the Lord of hosts


Praise Adonai
From the rising of the sun
'Til the end of every day
Praise Adonai
All the nations of the earth
All the angels and the saints
Sing praise

Who is like Him
The Lion and the Lamb
Seated on the throne
Mountains bow down
Every ocean roars
To the Lord of hosts


Back Pocket Band Software

 Happy 4th!

"The beautiful thing about learning is that no one can take it away from you." B.B.King

Surfin' for Dem Blues

Walking along the harbor, I looked up and saw our flag!

"Surfin' for Dem Blues!"

I have quite a collection of blues cds in my music library. 

Here's just a few artists:

1. Walter Trout

2. Charlie Daniels

3. Bill Magee

4. Whitney Conwell

5. Bonnie Raitt

Minor pentatonic blues scale on AImage via Wikipedia
The Blues Scale

This scale is derived from adding a "blue note" to the minor pentatonic scale. 
This blue note is on the #4 or b5 and a tritone away from the tonic.

C Blues Scale: 

C, Eb (b3), F, F# (#4), G, Bb  (b7), C.

The blue note gives the blues scale its characteristic,
bluesy sound. Notice that none of the thirds in the I, IV,
and V chords, are present in the blues scale.

If you play guitar or have a bend wheel on your keyboard,
begin your practice with notes that can bend from b3 to a
natural 3, and 6 to b7.

Blues Chords

The I, IV, and V chords form the backbone of the blues.
You can make the chords into dominant sevenths like the 
1, 3, 5, b7 or even ninths like 1, 3, 5, b7, 9.

Improve Your Piano Playing
Access Free Piano Tutorials Here

When I Found Jesus (I Lost The Blues) Larry Carter


The Best Blues Web Sites 

B.B. King Official Website

Blues Acess; Blues Magazine about Festivals 

Electric Bass Lessons on the Net 

Blues Music, Riffs and Licks

Blues World of Radio, Records and More

Blue Highway Band

Lonnie Brooks Band

Charlie Daniels Band "Devil Went Down to Georgia" Grand Ole Opry


The Devil Went Down to Georgia
By:  Charlie Daniels

Dm gets boring if you don't have the rhythm. Try to arppegiate the chord.

Violin solo to these chords on guitar:
Dm, C ;  Dm-C-Bb-A-G-F-E-Dm ; Bb-C-Dm

[Dm]The devil went down to Georgia
he was looking for a soul to steal
He was in a bind cuz he was way behind
he was willin' to make a deal
When he came across this young man
sawin' on a fiddle and playin' it hot
And the devil jumped apon a hickory stump
and said boy let me tell you what[Bb-C-Dm]
[Dm]I bet you didn't know it
but I'm a fiddle player too
And if you'd care to make a dare
I'll make a bet with you
Now you play a pretty good fiddle boy
but give the devil his due
I bet a fiddle of gold against your soul
cuz I think I'm better than you[Bb-C-Dm]
The boy said my name's Johnny
and it might be a sin
But I'll take your bet your gonna regret
cuz I'm the best that's ever been

[Dm]Johnny your rosin up your bow
and [C]play your fiddle hard
Cuz [Gm]hells broke loose in Georgia
and the [Dm]devil deals it hard
And if you win you get this shiny [Gm]fiddle made of gold
But [A]if you lose the devil gets your soul

Violin solo:  Dm, C ; Dm-C-Bb-A-G-F-E-Dm

[Dm]The devil opened up his case
and he said I'll start this show
And fire flew from his fingertips
as he rosined up his bow
And he pulled the bow across his strings
and it made an evil hiss
Then a band of demons joined in
and it sounded something like this[A-C-Dm]

Devil Solo:  Dm C Dm (7 times) then G-A-Bb-C-C#-Dm  C-C#-Dm

[Dm]When the devil finished Johnny said
well you're pretty good ol' sun
But sit down in that chair right there
and let me show you how its done

[D]Fire on the mountain run boys run
[C]The devil's in the house of the risin' sun
[D]Chicken in the bread pin pickin' out dough
[C]Granny does your dog bite no, child, no

Solo:  Dm, C, Dm, C, Dm, C, {A} {A} {A}  A-C-Dm

[Dm]The devil bowed his head
because he knew that he'd been beat
He laid that golden fiddle
on the ground at Johnny's feet
Johnny said devil just come on back
if you ever want to try again
'Cause I told you once you son of a bitch
I'm the best that's ever been

And he played [D]fire on the mountain run boys run
[C]the Devils in the house of the risin' sun
[D]Chicken in the bread pin pickin' out dough
[C]Granny does your dog bite no child no

Outro solo- Dm, C, Dm, C, Dm, C-Dm-Em-G-A-G-F-E;
Dm-C-Bb-A; Dm-C-Bb-A; Dm,  C-Dm
There's a wealth of material on the net regarding the blues.
We've just touched the surface. You can use the search box
to find more of my posts on the blues.
Wishing you a wonderful and safe 
Happy 4th of July! 

"The beautiful thing about learning is that no one can take it away from you." B.B.King
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