Piano Chord Progression Exercises In 5 Ways

Would you like to learn some great piano chord progression exercises?

You’re in the right place.

These piano chord progression exercises are useful for learning many songs fast.

Let’s get started.

One Chord Progression That Started It All

The first chord progression we are going to talk about is the basic I-IV-V chord progression.

This is probably the simplest among piano chord progression exercises.

However, it forms the backbone for understanding relationships between chords.

Here’s one way of practicing a 12-bar blues using 2-handed drop 2 voicings in the key of C:

Piano Chord Progression Exercises

Work through this exercise in all 12 keys to get a hang of it.

Now that we’ve dealt with some blues, how can you work on the same exercise for jazz?

How To Practice the Basic ii-V-I Chord Progression

The second among our piano chord progression exercises is a ii-V-I exercise in drop 2 voicings.

The first exercise starts off with a root position ii chord. The second exercise starts with the ii chord in the 2nd inversion:

Here’s the sheet music:

Piano Chord Progression Exercises

One of the fast ways to learn the exercise in different keys is to simply transpose the exercise a half step up.

Now both of these jazz piano chord progressions use smooth voice leading as well.

These ii-V-I exercises follow either a root-position-to-2nd-inversion-to-root-position or a 2nd-inversion-to-root-to-2nd-inversion.

It’s important to learn how to do both of these exercises. This way, you can comp in all keys in the middle register of the piano.

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Now try to learn how to apply these exercises to pop music.

The One Secret To Use To Play 100s Of Top 40 Hits

From the realm of jazz, we now try to go and figure out some pop.

The most important chord progression nowadays in pop music is I-V-vi-IV.

Just like the previous blues & jazz examples, work on I-V-vi-IV using drop 2 voicings like this:

Piano Chord Progression Exercises

The great thing about these voicings is that they move as smooth as possible. There’s little movement to get a pronounced effect.

By working on these voicings in all 12 keys and various comping patterns, you can play plenty of top-40 hits.

Now that we have dealt with pop music, let’s go back to both jazz and blues.

How To Play Rootless Jazz Blues Piano Chord Progression Exercises

There are times when you also need to solo in a tune. And so, you need a way to add some comping while doing so.

This is where some left hand rootless chord practice come in.

Here’s a 12-bar jazz blues you can practice in the key of C. Notice that the C7(9) starts on the 3rd:

Piano Chord Progression Exercises

Here’s another exercise. This time it’s in the key of F and the F7 chord starts on the 7th:

Piano Chord Progression Exercises

It’s essential that you can play any of these voicings starting either on the 3rd or the 7th.

Learn these voicings in all 12 keys to handle many blues songs.

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Let’s go back and work on our jazz a little bit more.

How To Practice 2-5-1 Piano Chord Progression Exercises In Major & Minor Keys

The last of our exercises allows us to go practice all 2-5-1 in both major and minor keys.

This exercise has been inspired by the A section of Autumn Leaves, and it goes like this:

Piano Chord Progression Exercises

Here’s another version of the exercise that starts with a 2nd inversion ii chord:

Piano Chord Progression Exercises

In the examples we have above, we used drop 2 chord voicings, which are very useful in comping.

One important thing to know is that the last chord, the vi chord, works as a ii chord for the next key.

This makes it possible for you to work your way through all 12 major and minor keys along the circle of 5ths.

Now, armed with this knowhow, you have just gained the ability to tackle plenty of tunes.

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I hope you enjoyed this lesson on piano chord progression exercises.

If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions for the next lesson, please leave a comment below.

Stay home, keep safe, and happy practicing.

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Mark A. Galang, OTRP, MAM-MT(c)

Mark Galang is one of our contributors at FreeJazzLessons.com. He loves teaching all styles of music especially jazz, blues, rock, classical, and Christian music. Mark is also a licensed occupational therapist in the Philippines that combines music therapy intervention with occupational therapy.