Block Chords Video- How To Play Over A Real Jazz Standard

Do you want to learn how to play block chords over a real jazz tune? Then, this lesson is for you!

Block chords are a really cool chord voicing technique that you can use to harmonize your songs. They’re very fun to play, sound great, and pretty easy to learn too.

The true value of learning great jazz piano voicings is actually applying them to real tunes of course.

So, in today’s jazz piano tutorial we’re going to teach you how to apply block chords to the famous jazz tune “The Nearness Of You”.

We’ve brought back our special guest jazz piano teacher Pete Benson for this tutorial.

Pete’s going to share with you his approach to the tune. Lets get started learning!

Block Chord Video Lesson

Why not take 5 minutes and watch as Pete shows you how to play these chords in this video.

7 Tips That Will Help You Master This Block Chord Lesson

1. There are several different ways to play block chords. The style that Pete teaches in the video above is the locked hand style.

2. This style was made famous by pianists like George Shearing and Ahmad Jamal.

If you want to hear more of this style of playing I recommend you listen to this recording of George Shearing playing Misty below.

We also feature lots of additional block chord techniques inside:

These can all be found inside The Premium Membership Course.

3. In the locked hand style we double the melody note in octaves. The right plays the higher melody note and the left hand plays the same melody note an octave lower.

4. In between we fill in the harmony of the chord with additional chord tones.

5. One of the cool parts of this block chord style is that every melody note is harmonized with a new chord voicing.

It makes each melody note sound very full and very rich.

block chords6. Pay special attention to how Pete uses diminished chords in this lesson.

Because diminished chords need to be resolved, they work perfectly as transition chords leading into the next voicing.

7. From a technical perspective, also notice how Pete only uses 3 fingers in the left hand (fingers 1, 2, and 3) to play these chords.

This is because the hands are close together and there isn’t as much room to play with fingers 4 and 5 in the left hand without getting in the way of the right hand.

Block Chords Practice Tips

You can apply block chords to any tune but often times the technique works best when there is a lot of stepwise motion in the melody.

To help you practice this technique further, I recommend you flip through a fake book and find some tunes where there aren’t a ton of jumps in the melody.

For example, you can apply it to tunes like Bye Bye Blackbird, the B section of Green Dolphin Street, The Nearness Of You, There Will Never Be Another You, and many more.

If you need help learning tunes or want to learn how to apply block chords quickly, there are lots of arrangements inside The Premium Membership Course that show you how in a step by step method.

Have fun practicing and see you in the next tutorial!


Do you have a question about this lesson? Did you enjoy today’s lesson? Please leave a comment below and let us know.

I’d like to also thank Pete Benson for taking time out of his busy gigging schedule to come in and share music with our community here! Thanks Pete!

Steve Nixon