In this tutorial I answer a question I’m always getting asked: when improvising on the piano, how do I know which notes I can play ag…

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25 thoughts on “Piano improvisation: how do I know which notes I can play?

  1. Greg Esser says:

    Bill, this is THE ANSWER that I have been looking for. That is my problem
    but, where in your book can I find the best way to PRACTICE for this. When
    you say “scale” how do I go about finding how to practice or should I first
    practice the scales till I know them like I know the chords? I am looking
    for practice ideas so I can then be comfortable in “what notes do I play
    with these chords”? Thanks, Gregor

  2. Flute Ninja says:

    This really helped a lot! I cannot read sheet music, and I know very little
    about music theory, but I go by sound and memory. I’m teaching myself how
    to play piano (just a little) and I’ve always wanted to know the answer to
    this question. Thank you very much for sharing this.

  3. Imperial Nymph says:

    very helpful indeed! but here’s the question: “how do i know which outside
    notes i can play?” (particularly when playing jazz)

  4. Bill Hilton says:

    Now there’s a question. Simple answer: use your ears. Detailed answer:
    needs another video (or several). Have a dig back in my timeline, because
    there are one or two there!

  5. TheyCallMeRamen says:

    Bottom line: You need to know your scales! Scales are the alphabet, not the
    poetry of music. And depending on how far you want to take it, you need to
    know the alphabet, grammar, vocabulary, spelling and so forth before
    ultimately you can start writing words, then sentences and finally poetry!
    Once you have internalized your scales well enough to a point, they start
    become an available pool of notes you can dip into to form your
    improvisational lines and tasty voicings.Good video nevertheless!

  6. TheyCallMeRamen says:

    A very common thing is to play a scale a half step up to get more of an
    outside approach. You can also use sequences (make your own or transcribe
    ones to your liking). You can also play a tri-tone away or incorporating
    fourths into your playing. Btw, when I say sequences there are two: Melodic
    and rhythmic. If you really want this, you don’t have to wait on teachers.
    Teachers are only a guide and can only take you so far.

  7. John Darke says:

    Hello Bill, Just discovered (and subscribed) to your chanel. Great stuff. I
    like your style and will look back on your previous videos. I also like the
    fact that you use a digital piano which always stays in tune. However, we
    can hear the action in your keys which is a bit distracting. Perhaps you
    could consider a direct input from your keyboard and a sensative mic
    mounted on your head for a better result. Just a suggestion and not to
    distract from your good teachings.

  8. jbtcc says:

    I’ve played by ear for years and cannont read a speck of music…I just
    feel it…or hear it if you will……however, you explain yourself so even
    I can “get it” nonetheless. Outstanding….

  9. Maky Tondr says:

    WOW that completely changed my perception of chords 😀 I always tried to
    match the melody with the chords, not the key 🙂 Thank you very much.

  10. LFiers says:

    Awesome tutorial man! Loved it! Also you seem really genuine & friendly too
    which goes a long way in tutorials! Good job!

  11. KeysOfMyMind says:

    Yeah I put a video response on here because I’d like your expert opinion on
    my work, I’ve been playing for 2,5 years now, I’m self-thaught, everything
    I play is pure improv and I wanna know what I can improve upon. Also I
    can’t really read sheet music but I do know my keys but I have no scales I
    use on piano, I just kinda feel it out.

  12. 58gpr says:

    Bill I wish i would have had you as my piano teacher back in the days 🙂
    Thanks for all your great videos! I’ll definetely order your book very soon!

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