Piano Technique 7

  1. Fluency No.1 & No.2
  2. Fluency No.3
  3. The School of Velocity
  4. Blues Chromatique
  5. Symmetric scale
  6. Practice Material

    Subject Index - Topic Index

    PIANO LAB - Intro - Songs

Lessons | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | ?? |

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KT 7.1 - Fluency No.1 & No.2

Fluency exercises are the fourth and final component in a effective keyboard technique practice session. They are etudes which typically contain long scale runs, arpeggios and repeated finger patterns.

The focus in these etudes should always be on achieving evenness, not high speed.
Once controlled evenness is achieved, higher speeds will develop naturally and without much effort.

Practise therefore all Fluency exercises


with an ACCENT on each DOWNBEAT

Fluency No.1 focusses on scale runs played in the right hand.

Audio 7.1 - MM = 50
Audio 7.1a - MM = 100


Make sure to :

  1. use the fingerings as indicated on the scores,

  2. place a firm accent on each beat.

  3. start slowly, with a tempo of 50-60 beats per minute.

  4. play half the time with a Metronome, half without it.
Gradually increase the tempo.

When you can play the piece fluently and evenly at speeds of 100+ beats per minute you may take out the accents physically, but keep thinking them in your mind at all times.

Fluency No.2 focusses on scale runs in the left hand.
Approach this and all other Fluency pieces in the same way as described above.

Audio 7.2 - MM = 50
Audio 7.2a - MM = 100


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KT 7.2 - Fluency No.3

Below three of the scale-tone chords of the C major scale.
(Scale-tone chords are chords that consist entirely of notes from a particular scale.)

Audio 7.3

These are the :

These three chords form one of the most important chord segments used in Jazz and Popular Western music :

the IImin7 - V7 - Imaj7 chord progression

Audio 7.4

Always avoid playing the three chords in root position as shown above. The shifts up and down from one chord to the next sound very amateurish.

Instead alternate voicings, for example shown below, where the II and I chords are played in root position and the V chord is played in 2nd inversion. (For chord voicings see Lesson 10).
This produces a very smoothly voiced chord sequence.

Audio 7.5

Fluency No.3 is based on the IIm7-V7-Imaj7 chord progression and covers all twelve keys.
The right hand plays a scale run, the left hand plays the IIm7 - V7 - Imaj7 scale-tone chord progression that is derived from the same scale.

Audio 7.6

This is a good Fluency exercise and at the same time teaches you the the IIm7 - V7 - Imaj7 chord progression and its underlying scale in all keys.

There is a Play-a-Long tracks (P-a-L) for Fluency No.3 included in this Course.
Use it after you have practised the exercise for a while and feel confident with it.

As a general rule play closed position chords (when all chord tones fall within the span of 1 octave, usually played with one hand) so that the bottom note of the chord voicing falls within this range:

Chords played below this range sound 'muddy', chords above this range start to sound 'tinny'.

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KT 7.3 - The School of Velocity

kb007.gif To compliment the Fluency Exercises in this Course I suggest you get a copy of the School of Velocity - Opus 299 ('Die Schule der Geläufigkeit') by Carl Czerny (1791 - 1857).
Carl Czerny was a student of Beethoven and later became the teacher of Franz Liszt.

The School of Velocity is possibly the most famous set of exercises ever produced and has been practised at one stage or other by most famous classical trained professional pianists.

When Oscar Peterson once was asked in an interview how he developed his phenomenal technique, he simply replied : "Czerny, Czerny, Czerny!".

In the Fluency Exercises for this Course I have tried to follow the style and approach of Czerny's exercises, but using Jazz oriented harmonies.

The School of Velocity album contains 39 exercises and is available in music shops throughout the world.

You need not go through all of the exercises, just a few.
Practise these the same as the Fluency exercises.

  1. Practise everything very slowly, steadily and evenly, with an accent on each beat.

  2. As your fingers get to know each study you may gradually increase the speed, and finally when fluent take out the accents and add dynamics and musical interpretation.

  3. Start with No. 1, adding No. 2 ,then No. 5 within the first three to six months. These are predominantly scale studies.

  4. Once you start feeling comfortable with arpeggios (see Lesson 8) add No. 3.

  5. Work solely on the first five studies for the first year, than gradually add others.

  6. Six to ten pieces in all is ample practice material for at least three years.

It is very important to realise that it is quality and not quantity that counts with these studies !

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KT 7.4 - Blues Chromatique

Blues Chromatique is a chromatic scale exercise over the 12 bar blues progression.

Fingerings for the chromatic scale (which contains all the notes within the octave) are very simple, and identical for both hands.

  1. Use the 3rd finger on all black keys.

  2. Use the thumb on all white keys that are between two black notes.

  3. Use the thumb and 2nd finger on E and F and on B and C.

Chromatic scale

Practise the Blues Chromatique in two ways.

Melody in the right hand and chords in the left.
Play left hand chords on each beat with a light staccato touch.

Audio 7.7

Use the following chords for the blues :

Melody played with both hands, left hand 1 octave below the right.

There is a Play-a-Long tracks (P-a-L) for Blues Chromatique included in this Course.

For more about Blues Chromatique see the Song explanations.

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KT 7.5 - Symmetric scales

In the chromatic scale all notes are spaced at equal (semitone) intervals.
This is the defining characteristic of all so called symmetric scales.

Other popular symmetric scales used in Jazz are the :

  1. Wholetone scale - all notes are spaced at 1 whole tone (2 semitones) intervals

    Wholetone scale

  2. 8-note Dominant scale - the notes are spaced : semitone - tone - semitone - tone - etc.

    8-note Dominant scale

  3. 8-note Diminished scale - the notes are spaced : tone - semitone - tone - semitone - etc.

    8-note Diminished scale

Start practising the symmetric scales only after you are comfortable with the major and harmonic minor scales.

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KT 7.6 - Practice Material

Fluency Exercise No.1 TextDemop.1 p.2
Fluency Exercise No.2 Text Demo p.1 p.2 p.3
Fluency Exercise No.3 TextDemoP-a-Lp.1 p.2 p.3
Chromatic scaleTextDemop.1
Wholetone scaleTextDemop.1
8-note Dominant scaleTextDemop.1
8-note Diminished scaleTextDemop.1
Blues ChromatiqueTextDemoP-a-L p.1

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© 1999 Michael Furstner (Jazclass)