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Discussion Starter #1
I teach my son jazz piano. He has yet to learn to improvise but is probably ready to start playing around with blues.

One thing I get him to do is 'Hit the road jack', but in a different key each lesson.

He is also keen to get out and play but with limited improvising skills he needs a way of extending a session.

My suggestion was going to be 'how about Hit the road jack but modulating up a key every couple of repeats' (it would be great practice at any rate).

I thought it would be easy to work out how to incorporate the key change at the end of the form, but nothing I came up with 'worked' all that well.

Any suggestions?

His start key is Gm and the chords are:
Gm7, Gm7/F, EbMaj7, D7b9

(or once he is comfortable with it)
Gm7, F7, Eb7, D7b9

I was thinking about modulating up a semitone or tone each couple of form repeats.
 

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Just keep it interesting for him and have him play music he likes, or he’ll eventually get bored trying to live your dream. He also may need a different teacher, hard to study with a parent. Most pushed kids just quit or revolt.
 

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You're in the starting phases, what YOU think is fine.

But, a cautionary tale that reinforces the previous response: one of my sons was a champion swimmer. At age 14 he was being recruited by Auburn, Tennessee, Georgia. The Olympics wanted to start training him for upcoming trials. He rebelled, and quit swimming, due to the enormous dedication it required, with necessary reinforcement by parents. He was a really good trumpet player too, and quit that for the same kinds of reasons -- his mom was his Middle School Band Director. What an enormous loss on both fronts.

Now he's a bass player and very successful sound/lights/ops guy for various concerts and tours, so it all worked out fine. It could have gone a different way if adults wouldn't have tried to push him too hard. Sometimes its better not to be your kid's Little League coach. I second the recommendation to get a different teacher.
 

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I don't understand what you're getting at with the chord example shown - that's not a modulation. If you can confuse experienced musicians with this, how is a kid supposed to cope?
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Geez I'm beginning to wish I never started this thread.

Not sure what the back story has to do with it. It so happens that I was pushed a LOT as a kid and for a while like you say drifted away from it. Which is why I've eased my son into it with relatively modern music, not forced him to do classical and exams and competitions etc. So yeah I've been there.

It happens to be him that asked me how he could extend his songs to make his repertoire go further as he has an opportunity to play and as a matter of fact make a bit of cash - he'd prefer that to working at Subway!
 

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Jeez you guys, being a little presumptuous in some of these responses, no ?

Nothing in Elec's initial post implied that his kid was somehow learning keys grudgingly...or Dad was living his musician fantasies thru his son...eh ?
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Yes I know there is no modulation in that chord sequence - just a couple of dominant substitutions in the second example. What I am asking is how, seamlessly, to transition to another key for the next few repeats of the verse.

ie.
Gm7, Gm7/F, EbMaj7, D7b9

Rather than repeating in the same key for verse / choruses ad infinitum (which can get especially monotonous if you are not a great improviser), it would be interesting to use a set of bridging chords to move to another key for the next few repeats. It is not a new idea.
So the next verse could be up a semitone:
Abm7, Abm7/Gb, Emaj7, Eb7b9

Or up a tone:
Am7, Am7/G, Fmaj7, E7b9

This idea could be repeated a number of times for the duration of the song, say for 3 or 4 key changes thereby giving the listener something to grab onto.

There is one particular pop tune that does this for each verse but I can't put my finger on it right now.

The question was how to achieve this.
 

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I think your idea of changing keys is a good one for practicing, but I'm a bit confused about the 'get out and play part.' Do you mean with other musicians, maybe at a jam session? I'm only asking for some clarification. Because if he goes to a jam and plays that tune, then starts to modulate up a half or whole step, that could throw everyone off.

But I suspect I have that all wrong in terms of what you're asking. So to try and answer the question, maybe play the melody, then move up a half or whole step and play the melody again in the new key, then continue improvising on it in the new key. Play the melody again at some point and shift the melody up to another key. I'm not sure how well that would sound, but it's what comes to mind. I think you have to establish a melody or something characteristic, then repeat it in the new key to establish the shift. Or something like that...
 

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Discussion Starter #12
I am talking solo piano in a shopping centre - they pay good money here. He can play it (and most of the other standards I've taught him) using a basic stride pattern in the LH. I asked the question here becuase I can't for the life of me find a decent jazz piano forum (and I've advanced my saxophone a lot through this web site)!

Really I was just looking for a way of moving from one key to the next with say an alteration in the harmony in the end of the verse preceding the key change. Perhaps just moving to the next key without a bridging chord, (or an alteration to the last chord) is totally OK.
 

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I am talking solo piano in a shopping centre

Really I was just looking for a way of moving from one key to the next with say an alteration in the harmony in the end of the verse preceding the key change.
Thanks for clarifying. Obviously if he's playing solo piano he can change keys without worrying about other band members...

I'm not an expert at modulating (I'm sure there are others on here who could give you a practical working solution), but just to take stab at it, I'd say one good way of modulating to a new key would be to move through a ii-V in the new key center to establish the new key.

For the tune in question, you are in a min key and you'd move (in the new key) to a IImin7b5 - V7 - Imin7.

So if you're in Gmin and want to move the tonic up a half step to Abmin, when you get to that D7b9 chord, move to Bbmin7b5 - Eb7 - Abmin7. Try it and see; and someone please correct me if I've got this wrong!
 

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Yes I know there is no modulation in that chord sequence - just a couple of dominant substitutions in the second example. What I am asking is how, seamlessly, to transition to another key for the next few repeats of the verse.

ie.
Gm7, Gm7/F, EbMaj7, D7b9

Rather than repeating in the same key for verse / choruses ad infinitum (which can get especially monotonous if you are not a great improviser), it would be interesting to use a set of bridging chords to move to another key for the next few repeats. It is not a new idea.
So the next verse could be up a semitone:
Abm7, Abm7/Gb, Emaj7, Eb7b9

Or up a tone:
Am7, Am7/G, Fmaj7, E7b9

This idea could be repeated a number of times for the duration of the song, say for 3 or 4 key changes thereby giving the listener something to grab onto.

There is one particular pop tune that does this for each verse but I can't put my finger on it right now.

The question was how to achieve this.
You just put the V7b9 before the key change you want to do. So if you are doing:

Gm7, Gm7/F, EbMaj7, D7b9
Gm7, Gm7/F, EbMaj7, Eb7b9
Abm7, Abm7/Gb, Emaj7, Eb7b9
Abm7, Abm7/Gb, Emaj7, E7b9
Am7........etc.

That's the easiest way and it sounds great.......
 

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That's basically what JL said above but I left out the ii chord. I didn't see his post before I posted.
And you don't necessarily need that ii chord. I think Nef's solution is a bit more elegant actually, leaving out the ii chord. At least in this particular case. I tried those chords on the piano (without the ii chord) and it sounds fine. Bottom line is you have to try things out and see how they sound, but the basic idea is the fact that leading into the new key with a cadence helps establish the new key.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Thanks guys

Yep that's what I'm talking about. I knew I had to get to the V7b9 of the next key but was trying to get there via a number of chord changes, trying to find common chord between the 2 keys, substituting m7 with dom7 and tritone subs. But you are right, simple is the best and simply sticking with the same root of the 2nd to last chord, and making it a dom7 in the last chord, leads nicely to the next key a semitone up - and it is easy to remember. I have a habit of over complicating things.

Along those lines this could also be OK as it allows there to be a chromatically descending baseline.
Gm7, Gm7/F, EbMaj7, D7b9
Gm7, Gm7/F, E7, Eb7b9
Abm7, Abm7/Gb, Emaj7, Eb7b9
Abm7, Abm7/Gb, F7, E7b9
Am7........etc.
 

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Good deal. Glad it makes sense to you.

Something else just occurred to me. Sometimes when I'm messing around on the sax with various ii-V lines (some that I learned from Nef's excellent ii-V-I book), I'll stumble into a different key because I played something that resolved into a different tonic than I was working toward. This really starts to happen with diminished lines on the V chord. So there are various 'routes' that will lead you into another key. Often it amounts to targeting the 3rd of the new tonic chord. But this is playing a line, rather than a sequence of chords on the piano.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Cheers JL

Is what you are referring to related to the fact that a V7b9 uses the same diminished (or 8 note dominant depending on how you look at it) scale as the other V7b9's a minor 3rd apart (D7b9 = F7b9 = Ab7b9 = B7b9). Therefore allowing to resolve to any of the 4 different associated keys also a minor 3rd apart (G, Bb, Db, E)? I can see how that would work.
 

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First of all I think it's fine for a parent to help their children, as long as they don't get pushy which I don't see happening in this case. I'm sure Elecmuso knows the line between helpful and pushy.,

There is one particular pop tune that does this for each verse but I can't put my finger on it right now.
I also get the feeling there is one, and I can't put my finger on it.

However it's quite common to modulate up a semitone each chorus with Mack The Knife.

Which is why I've eased my son into it with relatively modern music,
Hit the Road Jack? Does your son think that's modern? It's probably about 60 years old :)



You just put the V7b9 before the key change you want to do. So if you are doing:

Gm7, Gm7/F, EbMaj7, D7b9
Gm7, Gm7/F, EbMaj7, Eb7b9
Abm7, Abm7/Gb, Emaj7, Eb7b9
Abm7, Abm7/Gb, Emaj7, E7b9
Am7........etc.

That's the easiest way and it sounds great.......
This is the simple way. Even simpler and also fine I would just stay on the tonic for the last bar and then go up tonic to tonic +1 semitone.
 
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