How to Play Stride Piano
A lot of people know how to play the piano but not everyone knows how to play stride piano. Stride piano is a style of jazz piano that was popularized in the 1920s and 1930s. It is characterized by a left-hand bassline that “strides” or “walks” up and down the keyboard.
In this blog post, we’ll give you tips on how to play stride piano so that you can start jamming out like Fats Waller and Jelly Roll Morton in no time!
1. Get a Feel for the Rhythm
The first step to playing stride piano is to get a feel for the rhythm. This style of music is all about the groove so you need to make sure that your rhythms are tight.
One of the best ways to practice this is to find a metronome and set it to a slow tempo. Start by playing simple eighth-note patterns with your left hand and then slowly add in more complex rhythms as you get comfortable with the tempo.
2. Learn Some Basic Chords
Stride piano is mostly improvised so you don’t need to know a ton of theory, but it helps to have a few basic chords under your belt.
Start by learning some simple major and minor seventh chords as well as some basic sixth chords. These will be the building blocks for your improvisations.
3. Listen to Some Stride Pianists
One of the best ways to learn how to play stride piano is by listening to other pianists who already know how to do it. Check out some recordings by Fats Waller, Jelly Roll Morton, Art Tatum, and James P. Johnson.
As you listen, pay attention to the way they use their left-hand basslines to drive the music forward. Also notice how they use embellishments such as grace notes, trills, and chromaticism to add interest to their solos.
4. Practice Your Scales
In order to improvise well, you need to have a strong grasp of your scales and arpeggios. Spend some time every day practicing major and minor scales in all 12 keys.
Also, make sure you can comfortably play these scales in both hands simultaneously. This will come in handy when you start adding in those left-hand basslines!