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Improvising Blues Piano part 1: The basic principles

with Tim Richards

By the end of this course you’ll be able to play an authentic blues in the keys of C, F & G and improvise using a range of great sounding right-hand ideas and licks.

The course draws on lessons, exercises and pieces from Tim's best-selling book, 'Improvising Blues Piano', published by Schott Music. "The essential book for all aspiring blues pianists" - Jools Holland

Instrument Piano

For you get:

  • Sheet music & Backing tracks included!
  • On-demand lifetime access to all lessons
  • Available on desktop, mobile and tablet
  • 100% satisfaction guarantee
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Course Length
48 lessons · 95m 13s

Tim's been playing the blues since the 1980s and this course draws on his experience touring and recording with UK and US legends such as Otis Grand, Earl Green, Dana Gillespie, Larry Garner, Joe Louis Walker and many many more. Tim composed all pieces in this course except where otherwise indicated.

By the end of this course you’ll be able to play an authentic blues in the keys of C, F & G and improvise using a range of great sounding right-hand ideas and licks. You’ll also learn several left-hand bass patterns, some useful two-handed accompaniment styles, and tricks to improve your coordination & independence.

The course is for any intermediate pianist who wants to start playing the blues and improvising in the style. You don't need any knowledge of blues scales or harmony before starting the course, everything's included!

The blues is one of the most loved, and most influential forms of music in history, and forms the basis of a lot of today’s contemporary music. Learning the blues is also a great way into playing jazz as the skills and concepts are common to both.

So if you want to learn to play authentically and improve your overall musicianship then this is the course for you.

Many of the pieces and examples in this course are taken from Tim's best-selling book 'Improvising Blues Piano' that has helped tens of thousands of pianists. The book is not required to take the course but contains additional exercises and material for those wishing to go into even more depth. 

Click here to buy the book.

Let's get started with a Blues in C.

Lesson Plan

Show All 48 Lessons


Beginner's Blues (performance)

C Jam Blues (performance)

Blue Third Blues (performance)

Five Finger Blues (performance)

New Orleans Triplet Workout (performance)

On-Off Boogie (performance)

Jump Shuffle (performance, accompaniment pattern)

Jump Shuffle (second chorus performance)

Sixth Blues (performance)

Riff Blues (performance)

Riff Blues (performance with improvisation)

Barrelhouse Blues (performance)

Seventh Blues (performance)

Blues for Sal (performance)

See See Rider (performance)

Smooth Blues (performance and analysis)

Tim Richards

Tim's first encounter with a piano was at the age of 8 in a dentist's waiting room. After classical piano lessons he taught himself jazz and blues from the age of 14, inspired by seeing pianist Otis Spann with the Muddy Waters band. Other blues influences include Ray Charles, Pete Johnson, Meade Lux Lewis, Jimmy Yancey, Professor Longhair, James Booker and Henry Butler.

He has been an active performer on the blues scene since around 1988 when he took over the piano chair from Bob Hall in Otis Grand’s ten-piece band The Dance Kings. This group toured extensively, playing at many European blues festivals including Peer (Belgium) where they appeared opposite John Lee Hooker. They also toured and recorded with US guitarist Joe Louis Walker who produced their album ‘Always Hot’, now available on CD (Indigo IGOXCD505).

Since the days of Otis Grand, Tim has performed on and off in the bands of many of Britain's most popular blues artists, such as Dana Gillespie, Todd Sharpville and Earl Green. In 1998 he toured Europe with renowned Louisiana guitarist Larry Garner, appearing in Britain, Germany, Denmark and Ireland. In 2002 he appeared at the Eccaussinnes Blues Festival in Belgium with 73-year old harmonica legend Mojo Buford (ex-Muddy Waters band). He also toured the UK in October 2004 with Chicago blues singer Deitra Farr.

In parallel with his blues career, Tim has run his own jazz groups SPIRIT LEVEL and GREAT SPIRIT, featuring the cream of Britain’s jazz musicians, including Pete King, Ed Jones, Tony Kofi, Jason Yarde, Denys Baptiste, Gilad Atzmon, Dick Pearce, Seb Rochford and many others. As a bandleader he has toured throughout the UK and Europe, appeared at festivals opposite Horace Silver, Miles Davis, McCoy Tyner, Jo Zawinul and others, and released over a dozen albums under his own name. In a more straight ahead vein, the Tim Richards TRIO has entertained audiences from Istanbul to Inverness and released three CDs of swinging jazz and blues on the 33 Records label.

Aside from his playing activities, Tim is a also dedicated educator. In 1990 he set up the UK’s first and only weekly blues piano evening class at London’s Goldsmiths College, which he still teaches today (at Morley College). This class was the basis for his subsequent book, the acclaimed IMPROVISING BLUES PIANO (Schott Music, 1997), widely acknowledged as one of the best music tuition books ever written. He also teaches jazz piano at Morley College and The City Lit, and in 2005 released EXPLORING JAZZ PIANO, winning the prestigious MIA award for 'Best Pop Publication'. Tim also runs short courses for piano teachers on the ABRSM Jazz Piano syllabus, and works for ABRSM as jazz examiner


Full Bio

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