Rocket Man Piano – How To Play Elton John Licks

Rocket Man PianoWould you like to learn some Rocket Man Piano Solo licks by Elton John?

You’re in the right place.

In this lesson, you’ll learn how to play 2 Elton John licks from a live version of “Rocket Man”.

These licks will help you develop chops for awesome piano soloing.

Let’s get started.

Elton John’s Rocket Man Piano Solo

Before we begin studying the licks, listen to Elton John performing Rocket Man. This includes an awesome solo piano prelude in the beginning:

Now that you’ve listened to Elton John performing, let’s learn some of his moves.

How Elton John Sets The Stage For The Rocket Man Piano Solo

Rocket Man PianoBefore Sir Elton John starts shredding, he makes sure he has some solid rhythmic backing.

He does this using a simple 8th note broken octave line over C:

To achieve a solid footing for the Rocket Man piano solo, work out your left hand. Playing this simple left hand comp against a metronome.

Start slow until you are able to play these broken octaves steady at around 140 to 150 beats per minute.

Once you have that solid left hand going, let’s work on some right hand licks.

How To Shred Like Elton John

Here’s a great sounding chord tone soloing move Elton John pulls off at a fast tempo:

Rocket Man Piano

Before trying it out, listen to Sir Elton John play this lick for his Rocket Man piano solo here:

To play this lick, I would recommend using a 1-2-4-5 fingering over G-C-E-F (the 4 notes of the lick).

Practice this lick at slow tempo first with your right hand then gradually speed up.

Now let’s look at another Sir Elton John lick.

How To Add A Bluesy Flavor Like Elton John

Sir Elton John’s Rocket Man piano solo combines classical with blues and rock influences.

This next lick demonstrates Elton John’s penchant for blues-influenced sounds.

Again, before working out the lick on your own, listen well to how its played:

To make things easier for you, here’s a transcription of that lick:

Rocket Man Piano

This lick focuses on two things:

  • Simple triads and arpeggios.
  • Blues grace notes (minor 3rd to major 3rd).

This minor 3rd to major 3rd move is something that’s very common in blues, rock, and jazz.

Look closely at this:


Rocket Man Piano

In this example, Sir Elton John pulls out a move from the New Orleans school of piano playing.

What we have here are flat thirds moving into major 3rds of the chord. For instance, we have Bb moving to B natural for G and then Ab to A natural for F.

Rocket Man PianoThis is very similar to Ray Charles’ New Orleans style soloing technique that you can learn in Play Like Ray.

Inside Play Like Ray, you’ll discover a complete method that shows you step by step how to play great piano in multiple styles like the legendary Ray Charles.

Learn how to Play Like Ray here.

Now that you have learned these two licks, it’s time to advance your skills further.

How To Play In A Really Groovy Way Like The Rocket Man Himself

One of the interesting you’ll notice in Sir Elton’s solo piano performance is a solid left hand groove while working out his licks.

It may seem like a simple task to play a left hand broken octave groove while soloing.

Why don’t you give it a spin? Try playing both licks with the left hand groove:

Rocket Man Piano


If this is all new to you and you try to play it at speed, you’ll realize how difficult it is.

The most common problem you will encounter is a failure of synchronization between both hands.

You may find your left hand slowing down even if your right hand is keeping up with the tempo.

Conversely, the opposite may be true.

Now, how do you go about playing a solid rhythm while pulling off these Rocket Man piano stunts?

  • First, make sure that you are able to play the left-hand broken octaves in time. You can accomplish this by practicing with a metronome and gradually bumping up speed.
  • Second, work out your right hand the same way. Practice the licks along a metronome.
  • Third, practice hands together at a slow tempo, making sure to nail it down to the smallest rhythmic subdivision.
  • Lastly, when you can already play both hands perfectly that you find it boring, speed up the tempo just a little bit.

One important reminder: If it feels too challenging at a particular tempo, slow it down. Practice at a tempo challenging enough but easy enough to succeed playing the licks cleanly.

I hope you enjoyed working on these two licks from Elton John.

Remember to try and incorporate these ideas into your own solos to solidify and make them your own.

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

Have fun practicing.

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Mark A. Galang

Mark Galang is one of our contributors at He loves teaching all styles of music especially jazz, blues, rock, classical, and Christian music.