5 Chord Progression Moves Every Player Must Know

chord progressionWant to learn 5 chord progression moves every top level player must have in their toolbelt? Cool, you’ve come to the right place!

This lesson will be especially helpful if you’re playing chord progressions exactly like a million other piano players out there.

It’s time that you learn how to separate yourself from the herd.

So, today’s lets talk about 5 things you can do fancy up a basic chord progression.

1) Side Stepping Down

Want to make a chord progression really ‘pop’? Play a chord a half step higher and then quickly slide down to your main target chord.

If you use this technique this immediately adds a beautiful soulful flavor to any chord progression you play.

For example, if a chord progression is Dm7 G7 Cmaj7.

  • You’d play Ebm7 going to Dm7.
  • Then, Ab7 going to G7.
  • Then Dbmaj7 going to Cmaj7.

The tricks is all about nailing the chords on the right beat.
And when you get this technique under your playing watch your audience’s eyes light up with delight.

Blue piano legend Bruce Katz uses this technique all the time with great effect.

In fact, if you want to learn how Bruce uses this to supercharge his chords and sweeten the blues then check out this program  https://www.freejazzlessons.com/breakthroughblues

2) Chord Progression Reharmonization 101:

Jazz is about self expression. You should put your own voice into the art form.

Easier said than done right? How do you do that?

Well, one of the easiest ways to do that is to change the basic chords inside a song.
Now, if you don’t know how to do that let me give you an example.

Lets say you have a Dm7 chord inside a chord progression and the melody is F (which is the 3rd of the chord).

Instead of playing Dm7 you can play any other chord that has an F in it. 

  • For example, you can play Eb7 (because F is the 9 of that chord)
  • Or Db7(because F is the 3rd of that chord)

The possibilities are endless for reharms. It’s well worth the time to sit down and explore chord options w/ various melody notes.

Check out this video of me showing you some 1st steps.

If you want to learn more about this technique we have a program that shows you how to play jazz standards with reharmonization using a unique twist on learning that’s never been reveled before.  


jazz chord progressionLearn how to do it inside real jazz standards check out the step by step trainings inside this course.

3) Arpeggiation With A Twist

Most people who learn a few jazz chords usually just play them as block chords.
If you’re doing that you’re leaving 95% of the meat on the bone. 

1 technique you can absolutely do is break up the notes in a chord progression in a rhythmic fashion.

Lets say you have a 4 note chord.
Instead of just playing all the notes of a chord for a whole note you can instead play each note individually for a quarter note each.

Bottom, then next note up, then next note up, and then highest note.
This add a HUGE amount of texture to the sound of a chord progression. 

Another technique you can use is a technique called outer inner.
This is the two outer notes on the 1st and 3rd beat.
Then, the inner notes on the 2nd and 4th.

Got this one from Oscar Peterson! Super subtle and super powerful. Just grab a simple chord progression and try each one out.

Now, If you like to learn by ear or by sheet music don’t worry. I got your back. You can watch me play them and grab sheet music in this program right here —-> https://www.freejazzlessons.com/premium

4. Inner Voice Motion Like A Legend

Yes, I learned this technique from Bill Evans. Instead of playing each chord as it is, you play your 1st chord for 1 beat.
Then, you quickly create a little passing chromatic line that leads into a chord tone of the next chord.

Do that on ever chord in a chord progression and you’ve created a beautiful stew of chromatic jazzy soulful harmony.

Talk about freedom when any note can work on any chord.

For example, check out how I lead chromatically from the Em7 chord to the Am7 chord on God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen. This is from my Christmas Jazz Piano Super System course.

You can make any tune jazz if you know what you’re doing 😉

5. Use These 3 Classic Jazz Rhythmic patterns

Most people play chords just on downbeats. Oy vey!
You can instantly make your jazz chord progressions sound more interesting if you start moving around the beats you play chords on.

Most people don’t know this but jazz has very specific rhythmic patterns that if you play them instantly make you sound more authentic.

For example the Charleston pattern. Or, instead of always playing your chords on the downbeat you play them an eighth note earlier. This is called anticipation.

One of my favorite techniques is playing the chords in response to your right hand.

All you do is just play left hand chords attacks in the space between the right hand melody notes.
It’s magical when you get this right.

This is a great way to get a huge sound at the piano.

You can watch how I use this technique on Blue Monk inside the Zero To Jazz Piano Hero program.

Just take the rhythms you learn in there and plug them into any tune.
Bam, you’ve got a groovin’ left hand and right hand.

Alright that’s enough for today. You’ve gone 5 tools to start making your playing more interesting. Use them in good health!

Steve “Your Jazz Shouldn’t Play Like The Herd” Nixon

Steve Nixon