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Piano Nanny - Free Piano Lessons
Advanced Studies

Lesson 7 - Section 1

Planning to Solo

Ready for more Jazz?

Let’s do it!

In order to construct a new melody based on existing chords, it is a wise idea to begin by using the notes in the scale for each chord in the song. Consider the following changes (chord set) from a song:

Cmaj7 – Dm7 – Em7 – F – G7 – C

In your music note book, write the chord symbol for each chord on a separate staff. Use a treble clef sign for each staff. You should have six separate staffs. Please see the image for this section to see how this should look.

Next, construct the appropriate scale for each chord and write the notes on the staff. Review “Intermediate Studies” if you’ve forgotten how to do this. When you are done, you should have six treble clef staffs with a chord symbol above the staff and the scale for that chord on the staff.

Go through and randomly circle two notes on each staff. When you have completed this you should have twelve notes circled, two from each staff.

For the last step, add one new blank treble clef staff.

On this new staff, enter all the notes you circled beginning with the Cmaj7 chord staff and ending with the C chord staff.

Make each note a quarter note. Make the time signature 4/4.

Now draw in the measure lines. You should end up with three measures of 4/4 with four quarter notes to a measure (also known as a bar).

Please see the image for this section to see how this should look in your music note book.

Now play the notes you wrote down in the last staff; your 3 measures worth of twelve notes. 

Lesson 7 - Section 2

Guess What?

Have you any idea of what you have just done? If I were there in person I would give you a big bear hug and a big pat on the back.

You my musical friend have just played your first solo.


Now in your music note book, add the chord symbols above each of the two notes that came from the scale for that chord.

Next, play the notes again using your right hand and, at the same time, play the chords with your left hand. Play each chord as a if it were made up of Half Notes. Basically, you are now playing your new melody line in the right hand while chording underneath the melody with your left hand. In other words, you are soloing.

This exercise may seem very simple, however, this is how Jazz solo’s are played. This is the basic method for constructing any solo.

Using your resource list, you have creatively assembled a melody line that works with a set of chord changes.

The hard part is practicing this method until you can do it without first writing it down.

Eventually you will be able to do this in your head and create these new melody lines in an instant.

Becoming a Jazz Soloist

Please be patient with yourself when developing this skill set. On the average, it takes from five to seven years to get good at this.

Practicing with other musicians and playing gigs always helps to move this process along.

One of the best set of changes to use for practicing your soloing skills is the 12-bar Blues.

I also recommend any of the Jamey Aebersold "Music Minus One" products. It's like having your own band to pracice with anytime of the day or night.

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