Week 4: How to Play Jazz Piano (‘Leading’ the Way)

This week I tackled how to read a lead sheet (or fake sheet) in jazz piano.  Basically a lead sheet has a melody line and chord symbols – the musician is expected to fill out the rest (using their understanding of the style of music and the type of accompaniment required). This is where my classical background and key knowledge was very helpful, since I already know how to read chord symbols and translate this to the piano.  But the challenge this week was to read a lead sheet like a real jazz musician – incorporate 3rds and 7ths in the voicings and always make sure the melody note is the played “on top” in the right hand. Hopefully my vlog this week explains my process with a jazz standard, “Misty”.

**Note – in a jazz group, there is a “rhythm section“. This usually includes piano (and guitar), drums and bass. The bass in responsible for playing the “root” of the chords, so the pianist usually omits the root of the chord when playing. Since I don’t have a rhythm section, I have included the root of the chords in my version!

What I worked on:

  • Analyzing and reading the lead sheet for the jazz standard, “Misty”
  • Used the 2-5-1 exercise and C Blues as a warm up


  • I felt very invested in my learning project this week because I realized how much I enjoy the analytical side of music. Figuring out the chord voicings in my head was tough but rewarding!
  • Stayed on track with my practice plan this week. Short and frequent sessions as suggested by my classmates.
  • I learned how to do a video overlay in WeVideo (similar to what Amanda and Brooke did with their videos last week! Thanks for the idea!)


  • None! It was a good week!

Resources used:

I hope you enjoyed watching what I mean by “classical fake jazz playing” and learning to read a lead sheet.  I am looking forward to pulling out my “Real Books” (massive collections of jazz standard lead sheets) and putting my new skills to work. Next week I would like to try another style of Blues (perhaps with a walking bass line) and start looking at comping patterns in the left hand.

8 thoughts on “Week 4: How to Play Jazz Piano (‘Leading’ the Way)

  1. Hi Catherine,
    It is always so exciting to see the next step of your journey. Last week the 2-5-1 exercise sounded so cool and looked so easy, I decided to try it at home. It was a total fail, but I love listening to you play! I also enjoyed the video overlay. Hopefully I’ll have some time in the near future to tray it out.
    Looking forward to hearing more from you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for checking out my progress! I took some advice from you in your last post about choosing things you are interested in (like the Ellie Goulding song). It helps with the motivation!


  2. Hi Catherine,

    I’ve enjoyed watching your videos and love the analytical approach you are using. It’s very easy to understand what you are attempting despite having limited background knowledge myself. You’re already using WeVideo super well too–what a great website!


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Riley! I am realizing there are a lot more options with WeVideo. Looking forward to fine-tuning my editing skills and trying out different options.


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