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Jazz Piano Lesson: Adding Guide Tones


As you progress as a jazz musician, regardless of your instrument of choice, one of the most critical elements to begin implementing into your improvisation and rhythmic comping is the use of guide tones. Guide tones help lead the listener through the chord progression of the piece you’re playing, and their use also projects musical maturity and a deeper understanding of harmony.


In this online jazz piano lesson, master jazz pianist, recording artist, producer, and ArtistWorks instructor, George Whitty, explains how to begin incorporating guide tones into your solos and comping in the context of a blues in F. In addition to outlining the concept of guide tones, he also provides detailed musical examples at a slow, digestible tempo so that you can easily begin including these ideas into your playing.


LEARN MORE: Want to learn how to play jazz piano from a master musician like George Whitty? Try some free online piano lessons now!


“Using guide tones properly assists greatly in your voice leading,” George explains. “It gives the listener a clear idea of where you’re going to go and also outlines the quality of the chords you’re playing in the piece’s progression.”


What are Guide Tones in music?

Guide tones are the third and seventh scale degrees of any given chord you’re playing. They are the most harmonically important notes of the chord because they define the quality of the chord you’re playing. Guide tones indicate whether the chord you’re playing is major, minor, minor-major, or dominant. These tones almost single-handedly guide your listener through the harmonic progression of the piece you’re playing.


“The guide tones are the third and seventh of the chord,” explains George. “They give us the essential quality of the chord. The fifth generally isn’t necessarily to convey the essential quality, unless we’re playing a special kind of minor chord that we’ll discuss in future lessons.”


To learn more about guide tones, their significance in jazz music, and how to begin incorporating them when comping and improvising, dive into this online piano lesson from George Whitty:


Adding Guide Tones with George Whitty:




Have you always wanted to learn how to play jazz piano? Through our comprehensive piano lessons online and Video Exchange Learning platform here at ArtistWorks, you can learn from internationally renowned players, like George Whitty, and get personal feedback on your playing.


George’s course starts with the basics and teaches everything from beginner piano to advanced performance techniques, improvisation methods, jazz standards, and beyond. So, whether you’re a beginner, intermediate, or advanced player, all levels are welcome and all students will grow and improve their skills as pianists and musicians.


Sample some free music lessons here and see what makes ArtistWorks courses some of the best online music lessons around!



Jazz Piano Lesson: The ii-V-I Progression with George Whitty

Jazz Piano Lesson: An Intro to Improv Using the Pentatonic Scale with George Whitty

Piano Lesson: Tips To Get You Sight Reading Music with Hugh Sung




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