The term “cocktail music” conjures up a lot of images. Generally it is associated with that now bygone era of class, associated with high society from the 1920’s thru the early 1960’s. But cocktail still remains cool and enjoyed in certain social settings today. Cocktail piano means to play in a pleasant manor while people are enjoying evening cocktails and making conversation in a social setting anywhere, be it at a corner bar, cocktail lounge, private party, wedding, company event or restaurant. Playing for diners in a restaurant is also referred to as “dinner music’ and should be played quietly so as not to interfere with conversation or digestion. There are many ways to play cocktail style piano. I have been able to survive the ups and downs of my career by having multifaceted music skills. I play a wide variety of styles in classical, jazz, band and solo stage playing. I can incorporate a lot of this versatility into my playing when I’m on cocktail gigs. I have a few favorite or personal styles that I default into naturally. One of them is to play in a clean, soft, sensitive, classical jazz style that sounds quite controlled and arranged. Another is to open up and play in an uncontrolled, splashy style with a quasi stride effect at times. You’ll be able to hear some of what I’m trying to describe in the video recordings below and the CD following them. If you find my cocktail styles appealing you can get some inside details on what I am doing in my video lesson, “Cocktail Piano Arrangements“, where I attempt describe the voicings and techniques I use in various standards as I play them down.
Include the "five Jazz Chord Types lesson (Above) for just $12 more.
Now read this!
VLC Media Player info
VLC can be downloaded for free. I highly recommend it to al my students. Get it at this link: https://www.videolan.org/vlc/index.html
Open voice students, check out these instructions and tips that Dave in Denver has provided for help with studying the lessons:
The app has multiple applications for a student trying to both listen to a teaching video and be able to actually see what is happening on the keyboard. Here are a few suggestions you may find very helpful:
1. With a video playing go to the top left go to: PLAYBACK, SPEED. There you’ll be able to suit the audio and visual aspects of the video to suit your own needs. Whichever speed you chose both the audio as well as the video will change to your selected speed.
2. With a video playing go to the bottom left go to the small “n” shaped icon. This is used to make a “loop” of anything you wish to have played over and over repetitively without your having to do more than define the stop and ending points. Thus with the video playing click on the icon at the point where you want the video to start the loop. Continue watching the video and click on the icon when you wish to define the end of the loop. The loop will now repeat until stopped by clicking on the icon third time.
3. If you are still puzzled and would like the video to slow down as much as possible, you can watch the video frame-by-frame. On the bottom left look at the top row of icons. The one on the far right is shaped like a triangle pointing to the right with a tiny bar just to its left. With the video playing click on the triangle. Each click will show a single frame of the recording. Keep clicking and eventually you will be able to minutely follow what the teacher is doing. To return to “normal” speed click on the black triangle at the far bottom left row of icons.
4. If you have a mouse that you can program to control movement up/down a page in a document, you can also use the mouse to vary volume up and down as well. To do this with the video playing put the mouse cursor on the upper right of the screen. You will see nothing happen, but as soon as you roll the mouse-wheel up/down you’ll see and hear the volume change accordingly. This can be especially useful when playing a “loop” as you can lower the volume of the loop to a level where the constant loud repetition will not drive you (or anyone in the near vicinity) absolutely nuts.
Dave in Denver
Matching Chord Inversions to Melody - Lesson #2
Contact me : firstname.lastname@example.org
Matching Chord Inversions to Melody - Lesson #1
"Five Jazz Chord Types lesson"
Click on the video below to see how it's done
After showing how to find the correct inversion for each chord to to harmonize the melody, I will show how to play two different waltz rhythms to create an arrangement for the song.
Lesson #3, Gershwin's famous standard “Lady Be Good will be the study tune.
This beginning lesson orients you on how to go about learning and studying a song. First determine how many chords are in the song then practice them separately. First play them all in root position then in their inversions. Then place inversions on the first and third beat of every bar, matching the right inversion to the melody note where needed. After the melody is harmonized some basic left-hand techniques are shown.
MP4 video will take
10-20 minutes to download
The Five Jazz Chord Types Video Lesson
includes 24-page PDF, study charts
In this YouTube video, I demonstrate eight different cocktail piano styles
Good evening, Glen!
I am simply loving the open voicings classes! They are not easy nor difficult, they are just perfect for me. And you have the ability to turn everything easy! Step by step, it’s wonderful! I am learning everything I have always wanted to learn. There are many many teachers on the internet, but you have the art of teaching!
Heloisa, Belo Horizonte, Brazil
You are putting everything into the Big Picture - along with the practical application of the theory. It has been fun learning but now even more so since you are demonstrating my goal: playing lead sheets. Just wanted to thank you again for all the tips on Open Voicings. Your approach has brought several breakthroughs in my daily piano.
Mike in Redondo Beach, California
I just watched your recent video on Open Voicings for Autumn Leaves. It is a terrific instructional video. You explain and demonstrate everything so clearly.I especially loved the work you did on the right hand---playing the melody and adding the 3 and 7. I think this is the first time that I really understood how to begin doing that. Also, at the very end--playing the song in different styles: swing, rolling chords, bossa nova-- that was wonderful. Thank you for putting this stuff out there.
Best regards, Ken
Greetings from Switzerland.
Your method to teach, to show and demonstrate is excellent, your pace is quite right for me and I am astonished what I have achieved in such a short time. I need to say, that I never ever had so much fun and interest in Jazz Piano before.
From my perspective It is essential that I see (and hear) you playing these jazz standards utilizing simple concepts and having it sound like jazz. As I was watching it. I was waiting to see if you were going to actually play it from beginning to end and making it sound like something I would be willing to play for family and friends, and you did. Now, I can work at getting my physical skills to a point where I can do the same thing.
Full description on "Play from a Fake Book page"
Big package - Match Inversions to Melody for $72 (save $23)
Study tune: "Lady Be Good"
Study tune: "Manhattan"
Click on the photo below to see
excerpts from the one-hour lesson.
"Match Inversions to Melody" , 3 Lesson Package
Get all three lessons for $60 (save $15)
Matching Chord Inversions to Melody - Lesson #3
Check this out!
Slow down the videos to study them more closely with these helpful apps.
I have been hearing from a student of mine about an app he uses to slow my video lessons down so he can study them more closely. The App's retains the pitch while slowing the video itself down This way one can see more precisely where my hands are moving in case they are moving too fast for you. It's called, Transcribe+
Here's what he says about it. . .
I used to use Amazing Slow Downer. I think it was with a CD player? Transcribe+ is on the iPad / iPhone and works so well on a tablet-touch interface. For me it has replaced Amazing Slow Downer..
Usually I don’t need it because you explain so clearly. Sometimes though I will loop and slow down a passage so I can be sure to repeat it enough to drill it into the hands. What the program does is to give users complete control over the video and audio speed. That way, you can slow down the performance as much as you want and learn to copy the performance note-by-note without changing the pitch. I learned from Transcribe+. for example, that in your Christmas Song performance you used 10ths a lot in the left hand. And you often skipped the 5th in the left hand and played only root and 10th. I also noticed where you timed the RH melody to coincide with the LH chords. I found this stuff out by applying Transcribe to your video.
Mike in Redondo
To get started with the Matching Inversions to Melody lesson you will need the "Five Jazz Chord Types" lesson If you don't have it already then get it here or on the of the Cocktail Piano Lessons page.
Here are some longer cocktail piano sets of my playing on Youtube
Study tune: "My Buddy"
Here is what piano students are saying about the
In Lesson #3, Rodgers and Hart's famous standard, “Manhattan” will be the study tune.
First we find the correct inversion of each chord to to harmonize the melody we add a bass note on beats one and three throughout the song to create a simple rhythm.
We discover also how to add a "9" to chords by sometimes moving the root note in the chords up a whole step. Other professional tips are given also.
Chord players . . .
In this lesson we learn how to harmonize tunes in fake books using four-note 7th chords the most basic of jazz chords. We learn how to invert these block chords to fit under melodies. The melody often is a 9,11 or 13 sitting on top of the 7th chord, so nice sounding jazz chords are automatically created.
When playing solo piano, this is one of the primary way to harmonize melodies.
Simple block chords under melody.
In this three-lesson series, we use the four-note 7th chords, as studied in the "Five Jazz Chord Types" lesson, (below) to harmonize melodies with a pleasing cocktail piano sound. This is one of the fundamental ways for all pianists to combine
chords with melody when playing from lead sheets in fake books.
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