A lot of aspiring jazz pianists struggle with chord voicings. Every time they sit down to play, they have to think way too much about each chord. If you can relate to this, it’s not your fault. It’s just that most of the jazz books out there start with voicings that you’ll be ready for in a year, not now. And you’re not alone: during the 35 years that I’ve been teaching, I’ve seen that most students are defeating themselves by practicing the wrong voicings at the wrong time.
While it is good to practice any voicings that interest you, you’ll improve the fastest overall if you spend the majority of your practice time learning techniques that you’re able to currently use when you play tunes.
In this respect, the 3 levels of chord voicings are:
1. 7th chords in root position and inversions. When you know these thoroughly, go on to…
2. Rootless voicings with upper extensions and alterations. When you have a firm grasp of these, you can…
3. Freely improvise your own voicings.
You can start get on the right track now by learning a lot of tunes with voicings at the level that’s right for you. (They all sound great, so don’t worry about that.) And when it’s time to move on, move on!You’ll find that jazz piano is a lot more “do-able” if you approach it like this.
Good luck and “let the music flow!”
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