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Jazz Piano Voicings - book by Dorothy Shaw

If you can play the piano to around grade 3 and/or know basic triad chords in at least 12 keys, then we recommend Jazz Piano Voicings by our music tutor Dorothy Shaw. 

It is a practical, hands-on course book covering all styles of jazz and related music and this is the main book we use currently in our private jazz tuition sessions in the form of 1-to-1 lessons. 

It is available as a pdf download for printing or viewing on screen. The price is currently £7.50 - reduced from £15. Please use the form at the end of this page to order the book and request payment details.

Below are excerpts - including an introduction and information on how to use the book. 

Why learn Voicings?

"I’ve often had excellent mainstream jazz pianists come up to me and say “how do you sound so
modern?” Conversely, when I first started playing jazz I had no idea how mainstream pianists
managed to sound so lush and swingy, nor how to play the blues, as I was brought up in the bebop
/ cool jazz chord scale tradition. I had to go back and learn all those things from listening, as they
don’t seem to teach them on jazz courses!

There are so many different techniques of jazz piano that most pianists (including myself) choose a
limited repertoire and style that suits them. All of them are associated with a particular way of
playing chords, or “voicings”. For example, bebop is associated with sparse, bare left hand chords
whereas George Shearing, Errol Garner and others in the mainstream mould were known for their
lush, swinging block chords.

Many jazz books don’t necessarily cover earlier styles of jazz...

I have attempted to cover all the types of voicing, starting from the most basic and building up to
the complex rootless voicings of contemporary jazz. I have tried to go through the history of jazz
in chronological order, but have sometimes used later recordings / compositions in an earlier style
as an example, as the piano can be difficult to hear on old recordings.

I have not repeated materials that can be found in other books and have referenced those books
where appropriate. However, no other textbooks are absolutely necessary to complete the course
– these are mostly given as further reference for in-depth study of a particular area.

How to use the book

This book is intended for use at home, in private classes or in school. Many of the exercises can be done with groups of students, but all can be done on the student’s own as well. 

The student will need to be sitting at the piano to use the book – with a CD player, MP3 player or computer for listening to the tracks. There are 22 Chapters. Each chapter is intended to take a month or two to learn – depending on the amount of time you have to practise. 

You can use this book alongside studying for the Associated Board’s jazz exams; however, the scales and exercises given may be different from those for the particular grade you are on.

You don’t need to master every style or every type of voicing in this book. You will find that all the pieces in the book are common jazz standards" - Dorothy Shaw. 

Jazz Ensemble Playing - books by Dorothy Shaw

"This series of books is a collection of materials I found useful when teaching my 2-year course on jazz ensemble playing at Abingdon Music Centre. I have taught this course for 6 years and adapted it to suit the different students over that time; these materials have been tried and tested on those students and refined down to those that proved most effective. 

The course is intended for adults but there is no reason why it cannot be used with older children in schools. Each book should take 1 term to complete; there are 6 books in all" - Dorothy Shaw. 

'Jazz Ensemble Playing' books 1 to 3 are available as pdf downloads. Each book is currently priced £10. Please use the form at the end of this page to order each book and request payment details.

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