Easy Piano Improv: The 4 Minute Jazz Piano Tutorial

Easy Piano Improv: The 4 Minute Jazz Piano Tutorial


There are loads of jazz piano tutorials on YouTube but most of them make improvisation look hard. The truth is, it can be really easy. Piano improv, at its simplest, isn’t rocket science and I’m making this tutorial today to try to prove that. To get started with improvisation, all you need to know is that you can improvise on just one note. Let’s say middle C. If you’ve never improvised before, just sit at the piano a while and do this with your thumb. Play around, see what different rhythms you can come up with. It might seem silly, but stick with me. After a while, you might want to branch out. So don’t go too far – got for two notes. Start using an E flat with your second finger. If you’ve never seen any of my other piano tutorials, this is the way I teach people how to improvise. You start small and you grow. Let’s for for three notes. Add an F with your third finger. Keep playing around with those rhythms. When you get confident with that – and it might take a little while, but keep at it – Add a G flat with your fourth finger. Try playing two notes at a time. Remember the piano’s a percussion instrument. In jazz piano and blues piano, improv is as much about the rhythm as the notes. Last one for now, let’s go for a G (We’ll look at the left hand in a second) Use your fourth finger on the G as well. Look how you can slide from the G flat to the G with your fourth finger. That’s a crush note. Try a tremolo. You might have to practise this for a while, but as you can see, it’s not magic. It does get easy. Piano improvisation needs a left hand as well as a right hand. So let’s add a really simple one. If that’s too hard at first, just practise it by itself. See what I’m doing? Very simple, just two notes at a time. A dead easy pattern to copy. When you’ve got it, start adding the right hand one note at a time. I’m using a tiny bit of pedal to stick it together but not too much. When you’re comfortable with that you can branch out, add a B flat and a top C, maybe add an A and a D, and before long you’ll be using the whole of the blues scale, which is one of the key scales of jazz piano and obviously of blues piano. It’ll take time to perfect that, but if it makes your brain hurt it means you’re doing it right! So there you go. That’s the very, very basics of blues or jazz piano improvisation in four minutes. That is all it takes. It is not magic.

100 thoughts to “Easy Piano Improv: The 4 Minute Jazz Piano Tutorial”

  1. I am really, really greatfull for this tutorial. Once you get the feel its really really doable, offcourse i have a looong way to go. but this is one of the few tutorials i managed to pull of in 2 days. I cant read notes btw.. but i am just starting figure out a little bit how all the keys tie together and how rhytm and timing is of essence… THANKS!

  2. Thanks for this really easy tutorial! Sure it'll take me a while to get this, but having my brain stuck in classical and baroque music for so long, this really helps get me going in jazz!

  3. Hi there Bill, I watched this video a couple of years ago, which started me on my jazz piano journey. Thank you for a brilliant tutorial!

  4. A brilliant tutorial! I'm just starting out with improvising have found your tutorials excellent and have just bought your book 'how to really play the piano'. Thanks very much for making it make much more sense and 'do-able' for an amateur like me!

  5. When playing keyboard how do i look at two different places at the same time!?

    Eg chord rhythm and changes in left hand and right hand improvisation/ melodies….. I know your all going to say PRACTISE! Which is very true but what I'm asking is the best way to practise?

    Where do I look first when I want to play things 2 or 3 octaves away from each other at the same time!!?

  6. Great Tutorial. Simple but extremely effective. I am into classical music but wanna learn some easy jazz improvisation. Thanks.

  7. I think the key to improvisation is understanding which scales/keys you'll be playing. I have some piano improv videos up on my page, I'd love for you to click on my picture and check it out! I think you will enjoy my "Piano Composition SPED UP X2" improv video.

  8. I love this.
    I have been doing this kind of trick in composing music pieces as I realized that later 'cos it came naturally from me.
    I am 1st a percussion player by default as I have been learning and playing "Tabla" an Indian instrument for over 40 years and started learning piano just 2 years back.
    thanks for a fantastic tip.

  9. Great tutorial, it's always great to go back to the basics to even improve advanced playing ..
    I also love to improvise, maybe you can have a look at my video 🙂

  10. Wow, this video is exactly the kind of thing I've been searching for, and you have a whole channel full of this stuff! I had piano lessons for more than 10 years when I was young, but I got next to nothing out of it because my teacher was so bad (I was essentially just trained to read and memorize a new piece of sheet music each month, with NO theory). Now that I'm in my 30s, I want to get back into learning and playing–the RIGHT way–so I can create my own songs. The way you explain things is so easy to understand! You are an amazing teacher; thank you for doing this, and keep it up the great work!

  11. Finally someone who explains it as I need it…I am a classical music pianist and a composer, but jazz JUST ISN'T my thing. I don't know how to do it…and I have been searching for a simple video as this, and yeeey! Christmas came early for me :3 Thank you! Now I can finally start shaping my music into something more interesting 🙂

  12. The thing is, that I can't really think of some cool combinations on the fly. So I end up playing the Same thing every few chords.

  13. If it makes your brain hurt, that means you're doing it right.
    New Life Philosophy How I'll teach my kids everything.

  14. Really appreciate these tutorials, you're straight to the point, accurate with your teachings and add just enough pip to make it exciting with what you do! Thank you, and please keep posting more..i'm learning something new everyday!

  15. I can't say enough about how great this is. The videos (usually one per page or section), give a great angle of the piano, they have a virtual piano above that, and then the notes are at the top along with any playing progression. Then the videos are backed up with easy to understand written instructions. I can play few tunes I set my goal as and more. https://plus.google.com/b/103513802492158625106/103513802492158625106/posts/2Wvm4tmdddx

  16. Hey guys, when you want to hear some melodic piano improvisation to improve watch my improvisation jam on soundcloud 🙂
    https://soundcloud.com/user-536529553/improveisation
    my favorite parts starts minute 1 . 40

  17. You are the answer to my just-started-playing-again-after-30-years prayers, Bill. I had no idea jazz improv could be this logical — Thank you thank you thank you!

  18. Thanks , I was brave and had great fun with this and it gave me courage to move around the keyboard in a way Ive been too cautious to do up till now . Nice one. R

  19. Hey Bill, i just recently got into jazz band for highschool and most of the improvision required is more of an "altering" of an original written solo like changing rhythms or certain ordaments. Im having a bit of trouble coming up with ideas to work with and ideas about what to do with my left hand… got any tips?

  20. Now thats a fun an easy and fun way of learning 🙂 I can't play a piano, but all the tutorials I start generally comes with too many advanced technical details.

  21. This is great. I used some of this Ideas in my latest Video.
    Thanks for sharing your experiences.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z58hHW_qiyo

  22. Man I don't know why the last commentary is from 5 years ago. I'm not really sure about it we need more people like you in the world so please, more videos… or tell us what you are doing right now and share the channel or whatever… Take care dude great job

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