In this walkthrough I play through a typical boogie woogie while looking at some of the techniques you can use and the difficulties you might encounter.
Despite the slightly tricky left hand part, this boogie woogie isn't too hard to play on the piano because of its rolling, almost rock and roll style. The key is to master the left hand and to get an idea of the kind of licks and riffs that you can play in the right.
Since your left hand is relatively "locked" on the piano keyboard you have to be a little bit careful about not crashing the two hands together. This becomes a problem especially when you're going for fairly chunky, chord-based improvisation in the right hand.
Another slight difficulty that you may face is how to move up the piano keyboard. Most people find that in any kind of improvisation, it's much easier to play riffs moving downwards, since you can rock off your thumb. When moving up the keyboard, the hard work falls on a weaker part of your hand. This can make your improvisation sound less confident. I find that a really easy and fast way of moving up the keyboard is to use arpeggios.
In terms of right hand riffs, you can play anything from simple patterns using a few notes from the blues scale to fairly complex, chord-based, extended riffs which roll down the keyboard. Make sure you're really comfortable with your scales as they come in really handy in terms of knowing which notes to play.
There are various other techniques you could try in order to add a little interest to your boogie woogie, for example moving out of the key, playing crush notes, and playing with tremolo in the right hand.
Finally, make sure that you don't get trapped in the key of C. Experimenting with as many different keys as you can will really improve your improvising ability.
If you found this tutorial a little too advanced, check out some of my earlier tutorials on blues and boogie piano basics.
You can slow it down, if you like - click the little cog icon in the bottom rh corner of the video and select the speed you want from the menu that pops up. (Right now I think that only works on the desktop version of the site rather than mobile.)
+Daniel Oliveri Yes, there is! The main reason is that C-blues scale (which actually is minor, I found it a little bit odd) have all the main notes of all the keys, F-major have Bb and we play A# - the same sound (not the same note unfortunatelly). G-major - F# and we have it as well. To be honest playing in F-scale on F chord may expand the bounds (same with G), but leave that key-changes to jazz, they love to play with harmony which is the main idea in bop.
Unfortunately, as many great performers, they suck at teaching. If only they took a little more time to explain, and did it more calmly, many beginners, like me, would benefit from the lesson, and could get interested in buying the book. By the way, can anybody tell me what keys he is hitting on with his right hand? Seems like he skips some, but it's too troublesome to pause the vid on every single key to try to figure out things.
He explains it quite well, he is simply assuming that you've seen his previous videos on the blues
The keys he's playing on his right hand are from the blues scale, which he goes through in a previous video
Loved video. I want to pass this lick onto your viewers. You mentioned not to get stuck on c things. Well I had been doing an f blues lick for years.
The problem was I did not go all in direction with the lick. I always would reposition my fingers after a a few notes. It sounds good but it always lacked a certain smoothness. I used to play it like pinky on f then middle on a aflat then index then thumb on b then middle on aflat then replace pinky on on c. This was high to low. Well one day. I was woodshedding and I was determined to do this going low to high which doesnt seem to be that easy.
Well here it is I love this lick on bflat seven the four chord of f. T on f then index on a flat then b then middle on b flat then thumb on b then middle then middle on e flat then tuck thumb uner to f. Down is the reverse motions. This is reversable on the fly.
the right hand is way too fast, and I believe you know that because on the easy riffs you slow down, and then when you roll down, you speed up and make what would be much easier you either purposely don't do, the left hand is only complicated if you don't put 1000 hours into the muscle memory. I don't show you civil maritime law in 10 minutes and would not make such a video. This rolling style needs to be in slow motion as you do on other videos on right hand riffs - s l o w d o w n o n the r I g h t hand when you are connecting "further down the piano". I've played years of you videos. With respect as usual.
I love the way you teach. It is so easy to understand. I have only recently found your sites on Youtube and would like to know if you have any lessons on how to improve playing the left hand .... different styles and rythmns and ways to fill in when playing a slower melody in the right hand. Thanks
Very good pianist and teacher !!
I have a question, can anyone answer me please : for exemple in that video he plays on a C blue scale, but very often he also plays a D or a A which is not in the C blue scale but it sounds good. Is there a notion I have to learn to understand it or is it with the experience that we know which note will sounds good even if this note isn't on the scale.....
Help me ^^ :)
Hi Bill, Great playing there. I heard you were very busy- so I feel this lesson was rushed- understandably, but your hands moved so quickly , I could not see what right hand notes you played a lot. Maybe a better contrast of the notes would help.
I noticed with your setting sun, that the keys showed more contrast=easier to see the notes. Would love to see more boogie/blues lessons.(Enjoying your PlayPiano ebook too.)
I sit behind the piano once in a time and learn some song. The toughest thing I can play is Humoresque by Dvořák. However, no matter how fundamental blues I try to play, I can't. My left hand is paired with the right one and goes only with the same rhythm. You know what I mean? With blues or boogie left hand jumps back and forth with some pattern but right hand dances around independently to that. How on earth can I manage this problem?! Need more brain nerve connections installed probably...
John moody - I'm sure that Bill put up some early exercises specifically about getting your hands working together with some some riffs. Over time it will become natural and your brain will not even notice. Personally I found that if you train your left hand to go on auto-pilot, then your right hand will be able to flow more creatively. Look for some of the early lessons from Bill.
I started four months ago and practice for an hour each day. I can play the left hand and the right, but my problem is I cant do them together. As soon as I start, my right starts following my left or the other way round. Try as I may I cannot get them to act independently, any suggestions? I can play good guitar using picking and running chords so I know both hands can act independently if they wish.
Scales! The really important stuff for boogie woogie is finger control, so lots of scales will help (always take it gently at the start of each practice session though, as it's easy to injure yourself if you go crazy without warming up).
Also, really pursue that classical stuff, and keep working at it - it'll really help. If, one day, you can get more lessons that would be really useful. Good luck!
Hello, mister. I love classical music, specially the piano. I try to play it sometimes with sheet music that I download online. I've had only a couple months of lessons and had to stop it to go to college. However, sometimes I manage to go the piano room and play a little bit. What kind of piano exercice do you recommend me to do before I try to play boogie woogie?
i love in some of these older videos how you just jam out for a bit... i really like the lessons/tutorials and i've learned a lot but it would be fun to see a few videos where you just play out without explaining or striving for a specific goal.. its awesome just to hear what you can do
Hi Bill ! you inspired me to get back to piano again. I was playing that wonderful instrument when I was 7. Now I'm 25 ... and obviously I have to start from the begining. First thing .. scales, chords and we'll see how it goes ;)
Btw. I think you're great pianist and I wish to thank you for sharing those videos ! pssst .. bought your book too, but don't tell anyone !
Don't forget to post more of 'em !
Well, I have to say Bill, you are an amazing pianist and teacher. You have improved my skills on playing piano in various different areas. Also you are great to listen to! So, I shall say my thanks, and keep up the great work!
Right! The very next video will be this same stuff, slowed down! It might take me a few days, as I'm working away from home a lot at the moment (hence the general lack of videos...) - but what the audience wants, the audience shall get!
hry bill, what are the note you are using in this video? im struggling to make them out. you can email me at [email protected] im realy interested in learning jazz on the piano. and ive recently got an interest in boogie woogie since ive watched your videos
Hi that's a great video thank you for posting it. The lick you play at 2.45 onwards, do you have a video just on this? I'd really like to get the whole thing down note for note but just can't work it out from the vid. This is a classic lick and would be really popular I think. Cheers.
Just bought my first piano (Yamaha P120) after playing guitar, bass, and drums for the past 12 years and I have to thank you for the videos. I'm glad that you likened the piano to a percussion instrument because I thought that myself when I first laid hands on it. It's the world's best tuned drum kit.
The speed you played was fine. I picked up the LH pattern with no problems at all. Now it's time to knock out those RH blues scales and put the patterns together.
Thanks again, mate!
Love your videos, you're really good at teaching! :D You should probably slow things down a little bit though;) Especially the riffs. I had to run up and down stairs 8 times to figure it out on piano ;)
Nice video, helped me lots, thanks:D
Sorry if you think it's too fast - can I recommend you look at the other videos I've posted which explain this stuff in more detail? The context might help - give me a shout if there's anything particular you're finding difficult :)
i thank you for your time and effort in putting these vids on youtube,,and appreciate that they are free and hope that u keep em that way for poor fools like me who dont have pennys to spare so thank you and wishin u all the best Mac
this really is fantastic but you should go slower when demonstrating techniques it is much easier to see what you are doing and how you are doing it. go fast then go slow when you are explaining the techniques
It's been a dream of mine to be a blues/boogie woogie piano player, I've been trying to teach myself. You videos really help. What make of keyboard is that? It has a really lovely sound! Thanks for the video!
@Tallmark1 Glad you like the vid :) Re: the DVD, yep, it's something I've thought about, though I'd quite like to remake a lot of the earlier vids (the ones I shot before I really figured out what works and what doesn't, got a decent camera, etc.) before I do it. Another alternative is that I might offer them as a single disk image for download. Watch this space...!
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