This is a public version of the members-only Jazz Piano With George Whitty, at ArtistWorks. Functionality is limited, but CLICK HERE for full access if you’re ready to take your playing to the next level.

These lessons are available only to members of Jazz Piano With George Whitty.
Join Now

Quickstart Guide to Jazz Piano
Level 1
Level 2
Level 3
Level 4
Level 5
30 Day Challenge
Electric Piano & Keyboard Concepts
«Prev of Next»

Jazz Piano Lessons: Technique Builder: The Crossover Pentatonic Exercise

Lesson Video Exchanges () submit video Submit a Video Lesson Study Materials () This lesson calls for a video submission
Study Materials Quizzes
information below Close
information below
Lesson Specific Downloads
Play Along Tracks
Backing Tracks +
Written Materials +

+Level 1

+Level 2

+Level 3

+Level 4

+Level 5

Additional Materials +
resource information below Close
Collaborations for
resource information below Close
Submit a video for   
Jazz Piano
information below Close
Course Description

This is only a preview of what you get when you take Jazz Piano Lessons at ArtistWorks. Sign up today for unlimited access to all lessons, plus submit videos to your teacher for personal feedback on your playing.

CLICK HERE for full access.
We've been talking throughout the first
hundred lessons or whatever we've covered
now, about how it happens that so
much of this stuff we're working on
doesn't use the fourth and fifth finger.
But when I'm actually improvising,
those things are in there,
its like that's the starting five.
You can't do anything if you've
only got a starting three.
Just because the fragments that we've
been working on don't employ those,
they need to be just as strong as
any other finger on your hand.
And we're gonna take a break here and
I'm going to tell you a technical exercise
that really works those fingers in just
as much as they work the first three.
But also this exercise,
if this doesn't get you fingering
on the fly, nothing will.
Check it out.
It's working with our pentatonic scale.
The other thing I really like about this
exercise, is it takes our pentatonic scale
and breaks it up into fragments that
are really useful as melodic devices.
I rarely play more than four
notes of this stuff in a row.
most of what we've been doing now has been
kind of based on playing
the notes consecutively.
This is gonna take that, and
completely turn it on its ear.
Essentially, it's this.
What we're
doing is going
There's a PDF on this.
It's a very simple concept.
We start on the five, [SOUND] we skip
a note and [SOUND] go to the next note.
[SOUND] Then we go [SOUND] down one note.
We skip [SOUND] a note, and
we just repeat that pattern.
But since it's a pentatonic scale,
we don't really see the same
configuration of the same notes
under our finger for awhile.
Let's look at how I'm fingering this.
The PDF has this exercise in all
12 keys and it's all fingered,
but I encourage you to see if you
can do this finding your own way.
Go as slow as you need to,
here's how I do it.
And you'll see that the fourth
finger is constantly in use here.
As we get into other ones,
like the C sharp minor,
look at that.
We've got awkward
crossovers galore in there.
We've got our thumb on a black note,
we're crossing over to a white note.
This is stuff that, if you can manage
to get to where this is fluid for
you, you're really ready to hit
a lot of stuff, and not struggle.
Let's look again at the fingering, here.
Start with the 2 on the G, up to the 5.
4 on the B flat.
Thumb down there.
2, 5, 4, 1,
2, 5, 4, 1,
2, 5, 4, 2,
1, 5, 4, 2.
You can see what I mean
that it's not periodic.
It's not one of these things where it's
a group of three and a group of two,
a group of three and a group of two.
You're gonna have to think on this one.
But it really cranks open,
as far as just getting that global
overview of notes that you wanna play
that's necessary when you play jazz.
In terms of maybe seeing a shape or
a sequence of notes,
instead of just from note to
note trying to figure it out.
This is excellent, because you're
gonna really see the pentatonic so
clearly by the time you've
worked on this exercise some.
And it takes a certain kind of muscle.
It's a different thing, then this.
This is a lot of this.
It reminds me of
the Herbie Hancock exercise.
And then,
what is it even?
he starts crossing over with the third.
And then the fourth.
And he has this so wired, but
he's got it to where he
can cross over anything to
anything perfectly seamlessly and
This is a little taste of that,
and it's really good for you.
So, put the metronome on for this one.
You can do it on a play along track too,
I suppose.
You're gonna end up shifting play
along tracks alot as you go, so
I would just put the metronome on 2 and 4,
practice it with our jazz
accenting a little bit.
One, two, one, two, three, four.
for real fun,
we go back up.
I eventually
turn these into something,
where I would start
improvising on it
in this way
And what I'm doing there is
I'm alternating in somewhere,
instead of going up
then down, then up, then down.
I would put a couple
ups in a row
like that.
For now, let's just worry
about getting this together.
You'll find it a challenge to get
your fingering together in time,
especially on the way up.
There's something really awkward about it,
but that's what's great about it.
It's the kinda exercise,
that's awkward in the way that improvising
certain kinds of lines is awkward.
And it's great practice for that.
That's what it sounds like if I
mix in two ups in a row on the way up.
Let's finger one more, and
then I'll turn you loose
with your metronome.
The C sharp minor,
let's make that our next one.
The way I do it,
again I start on the five always up here.
Two, five, four, one, two, four,
three, one, two, five, three, one,
two, five, three, one, two, five,
four, one, two, five, four, one.
Really just a mix,
pretty much always hitting two and
five on the ones that go up,
the intervals up.
And then I'm using either three,
one or four,
one depending on what really just honestly
what comes under my fingers first.
In some cases that's more natural
than stretching that one.
Now on the way back up, three,
one, two, four, five, one, two,
four, five, one, two, four,
five, one, two, four, five.
This one actually is interesting.
It's offset a little bit but
it really is sort of the same
fingering crabbing its way up.
Right there we have a little
crossover though don't we?
Cuz if you look at it as.
Somewhere there you got to make a little
adjustment and
that's why I'm doing a little crossover.
There's another one.
That's what I call the crossover
fourths exercise.
Great addition to your technique building.
If you want to,
you can kind of hammer it out.
Let me see if
I can still do this.
I bet I can't.
The old ladies with the buns in their hair
used to make me balance
a coin on my wrist.
And I think my wrist is quiet enough,
even doing this exercise.
I'm on my way
back up.
I can still kind of do it.
I can feel that I'm making
a little extra effort.
But the wrist is really quiet,
even doing this stuff.
We're small muscle people.
Again, to quote the great Hal Galper.
So focus on that.
You need to have your wrists nice and
high here.
I don't know how I could ever
do this if I was down here.
There's no room to cross your
thumb under when you're like that.
There's plenty of room to pivot things
around, if your wrists are nice and high,
really level, and your arms
are parallel with the floor, basically.
If you're doing this, or
especially if you're doing this,
you're asking for trouble.
So, it gets to a point with this exercise
where the notes are under there and
again, we can start to
focus on everything else.
Our breathing, our posture,
on playing the time consistently no matter
how awkward the figure, we get into.
As I mentioned, that's the art
of keeping the time consistent,
even no matter how we're accenting.
What I'm doing there is
accenting every third note.
One, two, three.
One, two, three.
One, two, three.
One, two, three.
One, two, three.
One, two, three, like that.
That keeps me off balance and
it makes me, for one thing
if you do this,
What I'm doing there is I'm really
hammering on it with my fourth finger to
make sure that that guy is as
developed as the rest of my hand.
And you'll find as you play
this that you often and
you cycle through where the accent is
gonna keep falling on the same finger, and
I love it when it's the fourth because
it makes sure that that gets developed.
So there's our crossover fourth exercise,
use it in good health.
Don't do it till it hurts.
That's not what we're here for.
But use it because it's
a really good expander,
that emulates the shape of
a lot of cool jazz lines.
I'll see you for the next lesson.