A Guide To Help You Play Better Jazz Piano

Ron Drotos

History and overview:
Originally published in 1921, “There’ll Be Some Changes Made” is one of the oldest tunes in The Real Book. The music is by Benton Overstreet (GREAT name!) and the lyrics are by Billy Higgins (not to be confused with the jazz drummer.)

The song is one of the great ballads, and is usually performed by vocalists. But don’t let that stop you from playing the melody on piano; these standards sound wonderful as instrumentals too!

Recommended videos/recordings:
(for international readers who may not have access to these YouTube links, I’ve indicated the original album names wherever possible so you can listen to them on music streaming services, etc.)

Benny Goodman and His Orchestra

Ray Charles (TV appearance)

Billie Holliday: Last Recording

Musical ideas and jazz piano practice tips:
“There’ll Be Some Changes Made” is a wonderful ballad to play. The entire song consists of only two sections, with the second one being a little longer due to a 2-bar “tag” at the end. Although it’s in the key of Bb, each section begins on the VI7 chord (G7) and it doesn’t resolve to the Bb tonic chord until the end.

Because the melody and chords are a little static, the song’s lyrics can give us a real entry point into interpreting it in a meaningful way. Get to know at least some of the lyrics, and keep them in mind as you stay on G7 for 2 measures while repeating that A in the melody. The lyrics on a ballad like this can also help us experience the emotion of the song in the way that the composers intended, since there’s a true marriage of words and music in the best standard tunes. Learning at least the gist of the lyrics will also help you play an accompaniment that supports a vocalist’s interpretation. The more you can relate to the vocalist’s experience of singing a jazz song, the more they’ll enjoy performing with you.

Enjoy the journey, and “let the music flow!”

Further links and resources:
The Best Way To Use The Real Book

How To Learn Jazz Piano
A podcast to help you learn jazz piano more effectively

Take a Free Jazz Piano Lesson

Mastering The Real Book: A 10-week Skype Intensive for Jazz Pianists

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