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Play Boogie Woogie Piano

Updated on August 29, 2012
JohnMello profile image

JohnMello is a writer, composer, musician and the author of books for children and adults.

Pete Johnson
Pete Johnson | Source

Get Down & Boogie

Playing boogie-woogie piano isn't difficult when you know a few basics. Just take a repeating bassline, add that famous 12-bar blues pattern, mix in a few chords, and you've got a recipe for fun and entertainment!

To make things easier, I've uploaded the score to Score Exchange. Follow this link to see, listen and print the music off as you work through the hub. You might need to download the free Scorch plug-in to view and hear the score, which you can get by clicking here.


Learn the Bass Line

First off, learn the left hand bass line pattern. We're using the key of C so there's no unnecessary complication.

Practice playing the notes C, E, G, A, Bb, A, G, E in a repeating up-and-down pattern. Keep it simple in a steady quarter-note rhythm.

Change Position

Got it? Good. Now try the same pattern starting on F. This time the notes will be F, A, C, D, Eb, D, C, A.

Change Once More

Next, try the same pattern in the G position: G, B, D, E, F, E, D, B. Then try all three patterns one after the other to get used to moving your hand around.

Learn the Chords

Well done! Now let's practice the chords. We'll start with the C chord in its second inversion, the notes G, C, and E reading from bottom to top. HINT: Middle C should be the middle note of the chord.

The second chord is the F chord in its first inversion, the notes A, C, and F. Once again, middle C should be the middle note of the chord, making it easy to move from one chord to another.

And the final chord is G, or the notes G, D, and B. The lowest note G is the same low note used in the C chord.

Mixing it Up


Practice playing the three chords one after the other. When you can do that, try ONE bass line pattern with ONE chord. Make sure to play the chords on EVERY SECOND BASS NOTE only.

Next, try playing the bass lines in the other two positions with the relevant chords -- i.e. F chord with F bass line, G chord with the bass line starting on G.

Okay, now for the big test. It's time to put the whole thing together. Go slowly, start off in the C position, and play it over a few times until you're comfortable. Work on the first line only until you’ve got it. Then move to F on the second line, and on to G on line three.

You'll notice that half-way through the score there are twice as many chords. You don't have to do it this way, but I think it adds excitement. If you're having trouble, slow down and practice one bar at a time.

Practice makes Perfect

Keep repeating the pattern until it's ingrained in your fingers. Then finish off with my 2-bar ending (you can work it out!) or experiment and come up with your own ending. HINT: make sure you finish on the note C in the bass and with a C chord in the right hand.

Congratulations! Nothing to it when you know what you're doing, is there? And if you enjoyed that, why not check out my Writing the Blues hub for some more fun with jazz piano? See you there!

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    • JohnMello profile image
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      JohnMello 2 years ago from England

      Good luck!

    • WillStarr profile image

      WillStarr 2 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      We have a piano we bought for our daughter when she was taking lessons. She's grown now, so it just sits there, and the tuner shows up once a year.

      I've been toying with the idea of learning to play it, and boogie-woogie is one of my favorites.

      I'll let you know what happens!

    • e-five profile image

      e-five 4 years ago from Chicago, Illinois, USA

      If you think it's impossible to play Boogie Woogie piano, check out 7-year old Frank "Sugarchile" Robinson from the 1946 film "No Leave No Love": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rcq93txBdtM

    • JohnMello profile image
      Author

      JohnMello 4 years ago from England

      Thanks B. Leekley. Glad you enjoyed it... hope you get to try it out soon!

    • B. Leekley profile image

      Brian Leekley 4 years ago from Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA

      Up, Useful, Interesting, shared, and thanks. I'm bookmarking this hub for future reference.

      When my wife and I moved in 2010, we had to leave some items behind, including my keyboard (a long ago Christmas gift), which a friend is storing. If someday I recover it or get another or a piano and if I can learn to budget just for fun piano time, I'll practice this hub. My father had a jazz 78 rpm record collection, and I grew up in the 40s and 50s listening to Jimmy Yancy and Meade Lux Lewis. One of my lifelong daydream wishes has been to play boogie woogie piano.

    • JohnMello profile image
      Author

      JohnMello 5 years ago from England

      That's great. Nice to know it works! And thanks for the welcome.

    • LuisEGonzalez profile image

      Luis E Gonzalez 5 years ago from Miami, Florida

      You know, I actually tried this on my mom's piano and actually got some right...lol

      Welcome to HubPages

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 5 years ago from Wales

      Wow I used to play the piano when a little girl and passed four exams two of them with Distinction ;but I haven't played since then; and am often tempted. I do not have piano but I do have a keyboard.Where all features are in the same order.

      Thanks for sharing this gem;take care and enjoy your day.

      Eddy.