Week 5: How to Play Jazz Piano (It’s “Comp” time!)

I think we have reached the halfway point in our learning projects! I feel like I am developing more independence in my jazz playing skills (for example, I can just sit down at the piano and experiment – get this – WITHOUT SHEET MUSIC!). Last week was all about reading a lead sheet and this week I focused on the art of comping. In a jazz group rhythm section, there is usually a bass player (responsible for the root of the chords), drums (rhythmic accompaniment) and piano/guitar to fill in the chord harmonies. Comping is essentially accompanying a soloist in an interesting way. Here is my progress with comping so far:

What I worked on:

  • Practicing the chords for “Misty” (focus on playing the root, 3rd and 7th notes)
  • Experimenting with different comping patterns for “Misty”. I learned about 3 different styles: walking bass, open voicings, rootless voicings. I chose open voicings this week.
Spread Voicings
Source: The Jazz Piano Site


  • I felt like I was able to use my creative side and experiment with different comping rhythms and voicings. It was fun!


  • Feeling hesitant with my chord voicing choices and concerned with playing the “wrong” notes. As soon as I relaxed, it felt a lot easier.

Resources used:

Next week I plan to continue experimenting with different comping styles (different rhythm patterns and rootless voicings) and try out a different jazz standard.  I think am ready to start jamming with other musicians – any takers?? 🙂

12 thoughts on “Week 5: How to Play Jazz Piano (It’s “Comp” time!)

  1. Catherine, it’s sounding great! I used to find a little glass of wine really helped me in loosin’ up my fingers when I used to play guitar a lot!

    By the time you got to attempt 3 in your video you really nailed it!


    Liked by 1 person

  2. Haha! Thanks for the tip and feedback. That probably explains why you often see jazz musicians with a beer during their sets 😂


  3. Hey Catherine – two things: 1. Nice progress on your jazz piano playing! and 2. I really enjoyed watching your Youtube video. What editing program are you using for your video? It is so well done!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the feedback, Nancy! I am using WeVideo (paid version). Every week I figure out how to do something different with the tool. It is very easy to use!


  4. Wow you are doing an amazing job at accomplishing your goals and learning more about jazz piano!! It sounds like you are learning so much. Your vlogs are looking really good too. I like how you put the pictures of each chord on the screen while you were playing them. Did you do this with iMovie? I noticed you overlaid a video on a video too… what a great feature! Thanks for sharing all of your efforts with us… and yes, I would love to jam some time!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Amanda! I’m using WeVideo and just figured out how to do the overlay, so I’m using it a lot lately! Maybe you could learn the Blues? It’s only 3 chords and then we could jam!


  5. Great job this week Catherine. Comping! Wow! Seems very tricky and all without sheet music but you did a really nice job. I also really liked how you did your editing this week. I am finding that iMovie is becoming limiting in how creative I can be and I think I am ready to give WeVideo a try. A few weeks ago you said you had a link to register with RPSB… would you be willing to share with me?

    I look forward to your next vlog! Keep up the great work 🙂


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