Jazzedge Community Forums PianoWithWillie General Music Discussion Practice routine – My personal experience

Practice routine – My personal experience

This topic contains 3 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by bill@leksen.se Bill 4 years, 2 months ago.

  • Participant
    Thierry Notermans

    Dear students,

    I’d like to share some experience/thoughts about the challenge of practicing the piano.
    I’m a Willie’s student on the site from the very beginning (nearly 10 years now) and I think I’ve found (FINALLY), the best way to go.

    If you are like me, you have one dream : just being able to sit at the piano and play !
    And if you are a member of this site, you are probably convinced this is the best place to be to achieve this goal. This is a good start ;-)…

    But, if you are like me, you would like to learn fast and lots of things.
    Willie’s website does not help us with this !
    Why ? Each week, we get access to new content. And if you are like me, this is the first thing you do on Saturday morning : going to the site and see the new lesson Willie or Paul has put online.
    As result, I ended up jumping from one lesson to another, without taking the time to really digest what I was learning.
    Today, after some years of “practicing”, the result for me is not really positive : I can only play one song : Take five.
    Why only this song ? Because I toke the time to really go deep into it…

    So, the general conclusion for me was : If I really want to learn how to play the piano, I have to be coached ! I need someone who will guide me through my practice routine and who will “force” me to stay focused.
    So two weeks ago I started a “success map” with Paul. He provided me with a 4 to 6 weeks practice routine to follow.

    I’m currently working on three things :
    1) ii-V-I jazz licks progressions ;
    2) basics of blues
    3) Jazz mini-lesson over “someone to watch over me”.

    I practice 15′ a day each part, so not too much, and without having the feeling I really practice hard, I come up with my first results.
    Just have a look at my ii-V-I progressions after two weeks (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f3uWs1ogL80).

    Honestly, I do not know where this is bring me, but for the really first time, I feel I really learn something and improve my skills.

    Happy practicing !


    Hello. This is Bill, Stockholm, Sweden, I have purchased over 100 DVDs from Willie and I have been with him almost from the beginning. I have lost track of all years now. Probably 7 years or ‘umthn’

    I have done like you, gathering DVDs lke a Ssuirrel but forgetting where I put all my nuts.

    But I repeat, and repeat and in every lesson there is alway something that I need for my playing.
    I play mostly slow songs like All the Things You Are, Besame Mucho, What a Difference a Day Made,
    Feelings, For heaven’s sake, Fly me to the moon, Georgia on my mind (the best lesson from Willie I have gone thru carefully), Harlem Nocturne, In a sentimental mood, Laura, Misty, Summertime, Tenderly, Smoke gets in yhour eyes, Stardust, Over the Rainbow. I have about 25 songs in my repertoire.
    As to the topic
    I warmly recommend JazzPiano voicing skills by Dan Haerle Jamey Aebersold Jazz ISBN 78-1-56224-058-5
    It has a lot of excercises called skills like 2-5-1 in B-form major keyas, and the same in A-form and the same in minor keys Aform and B-form and excercises like major and relative minor
    like this Dm7, G9,Cmaj7, Fmaj9, B-7b5, E7b9, Am7
    I run thru this in all 12 keys over and over again. Also voicings 2-5-1 FROM Mantooth (Google on that). I have the book somewhere here, but I have made photocopies and put them in a special training set, and I run such stuff over and over again. Also have purchased arrangements from other jazz pianist like the German guy Gundlach etc and analyzed his Over the Rainbow, Smoke gets in your eyes, Black Orpheus etc. Whenever I get my hands on arrangements, I analyse them.

    But I have found that my 2-5-1 traing has made me so skillful so that I can now also cope with other keys. And when I recognize a 2-5-1 my fingers, my backbone, my brain will play this.
    Away with theory. It is bettero to feel the voicing with the fingers. And by playing 2-5-1 like a madman, I no longer have to think what I am doing.

    I have found that the best thing is to get rid of written music and memorize exactly how the voicing feels in my fingers. A jazzpiano guy once told me: don’t think, Bill, just put down your hands an fingers and play chords. If it sounds good it is probably good.

    I also practice all the walkdowns and endings I have from all those DVD’s and transpose those into other keys, so I can finish a song like Stardust elegantly going up a half step and doing a false cadence like the nightclub guys do. Unfortunately I mostly end all songs more or less in the same way, but normal listeners don’t hear my “mediocre playing”. A pro would, though.

    I really recommend working with 2-5-1’s of all kind
    I also notate chords with intervals in my own system like this
    b7: chord starts on flat seven
    QQM3 then a perfect fourth plus anotehr perfect foourth plus a major third
    or QQm3 m3 = minor third T = tritonus
    So for a chord like E7(#9) like in the intro of Laura
    this is to me for the right hand M3: TQ thus starting on the Major third
    and then 6 halfsteps (=T) plus a perfect fourth (Q for Quartal).
    so if I want to lay out a 7#9 chord I can do the same thing in all 12 keys
    I think more in intervals than in chords, because there is no way to learn over 1200 chords and not end up in an asylum.
    I also have The Source by See Barta Hal Leonard ISBN 978-0-937589-00-7
    with some 22 scales in all 12 keys with fingering.
    This is really a complement to Willie’s fantastic lessons.
    today I practiced E-dorian with the correct fingering.

    I don’t believe in digging too deep in only one of Willie’s lesson, but to hover over more than 100 DVDs and then repeat as many as you have time to, but purchasing arrangements and analyse how the big guys do.

    I purchased the Days of Wine and Roses, Paul’s fantastic lessons, but I don’t play the tune like Paul does, only about 75% of his stuff. The rest is mine.

    Willie once said. You should not play like Willie, you should play like you Bill. So now my playing is personal, my voicing is not always what others play and not even the same in ever chorus. At last I have reached the stater where I can take a fake book an make arrangements of my own. Uhfortunatly not so nice arrangements as Willie or as Paul do. But still friends say. How have you learnt to play like this?
    2-5-1-practice is the trick. It always sounds professional. At least to my own ears.
    Good luck!


    Hi I am Lloyd Rees from Wales in U.K. I have been with Willie about 5 years and like you all I’m sure, dashed from one topic to another over the years. I have found by far the best way to practice in a truly dedicated manner is to purchase as many “Success Maps” with Paul as you can get hold of.I am on my second map ie. second month and I’m delighted with the results.
    This month I am practicing all the “Warm Up” series together with “The Faster Fingers” section in particular the 12 keys Major scales but with all arpeggios of Major Minor and Dominant in all 12 keys….this exercise ( if you can take it) is fantastic for fingering and speed I am now up to 120bpm.
    Another part of my practice routine is the quartal exercises including Mc Coy Tyner quartal exercises.
    The final portion concentrates on understanding a song and mine is “Days of Wine and Roses” for the month. Working through and understanding the Reharmonisation Techniques and then learning the final Arrangement of Pauls.
    To sum up 1 hour of this type of practice a day each month a different Success Map in my opinion is the best way to whatever success you wish for yourself.


    Hopefully this is the correct spot for my piano tips

    Hello piano student friends.

    Bill Leksen, Stockholm, Sweden here again, with some tips of his own.

    I am from the beginning a classical piano player, Mozart, Chopin etc.
    Over 60 years ago, I started out learning to read music in both clefs, but still today I don’t like
    Reading music with many ledgers udner viz. Over the stave, and I utterly hate things like
    E# which is an F or Cb which is a normal B, or B# which in my European language is Hiss (H#)

    My harsh German classical piano teacher forbade me to jot in en F in the music or H (e.g. when I worked with Bethoven’s Moonlight Sonata, but when I started out with Willie’s pianojazz, I no longer care.

    So I write chords like this
    D F# C / E G B ( a nice Bill Evan’s D7)
    Lefter hand slash right hand. Many jazzpiano teachers write LH: …. RH:
    My way is quicker at least for me

    C G E’ / the single quote means to my that the note is taken in the next octava.

    I can also write a line above e.g. E G B which means taken in the octava above the normal middle-C-octava or a double line ===== above for yet a higher octava or such lines under the notes in my left hand.

    This is a quick way of jotting down voicings, when I see them on Youtube in Willie’s lessons or from other gurus on the Internet. There is so much gratis voicing to get from guys such as 7notes lot2learn and all such sites. But you have to jot them down quickly and in this case traditional sheets are not the real thing.

    I have a computer program which can write music sheets in the traditional way, but I prefer my quick-n-dirty-jotting. I have also made a library of my own of a lot of voicings and now and then I practice those to get them into my back bone, and brain, and preferable in a dark room without seeing the keys, only feeling them.

    In another comment here the other day , I also described how I make denote intervals like this
    b7: right hand starts in flat seven or m3: right hand starts on minor third or M3: on major third
    and Q (quartal, a perfect forth) T a tritonus M3 a major third P5 a perfect fifth m3 a minor third
    to me b7: TQ is a tritonus plus a quartal.

    I recommend to learn by heart all the tritonus such as C- F#, Db-G, D-Ab, Eb-A, E-Bb, F-H.
    Then you don’t need to count keys, just feel with your fingers and see with a quick glance
    Also note that if you skip two whies keys you mostly get a quartal or skip one black note for a quartal,
    But of course beware of the places where this isn’t so, e.g. F-H which is a tritonus.

    And as Willie recommends, play tunes when you practise 2-5-1-progressions of all kinds in all 12 keys.
    Bystanders, listeners, will eventually hink that you are one of those clever guys who can compose a song on a fly. What song is this? Never heard ite before! Yeah, me neither!

    That’s how I practise every day. Since I am now retired I have plenty of time.

    By the way, thanks to Willie’s eminent JAZZ CHORD lessons, today I even understand how the Moonlight Sonata is harmonically constructed. I wish I hade gotten that knowledg from my classical piano teacher in my teens, insted of pressing certain keys according to the sheet music not even unerstanding the construction of all thes nice jazzy chords of Bethoven’s and his voice leading and arpeggios in minor thirds in the first movement, a very nice piece for those who wants to study chords and voice leadings more. And in written in C-sharp, which is a a challenge itself for music readers too.

    I am so grateful that I happened to find Willie’s lessons some 7 years ago. I just say WOW!

    Happy playing!

    Bill Leksén

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