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 Memorizing Songs and Song Patterns

Recently I got asked this question from a piano student of mine. "In your brain, do you remember all the chords for Misty, or any particular song?"
I replied: Most professional pianists, such as myself, can recite, write down or play the chord changes to hundreds of standards. Songs like Misty, and many others. But it’s not as difficult as it may seem, because we see chord changes in songs in groups of patterns, rather than as individual chords.

Familiar chord patterns are the key

Many of the same, familiar chord patterns are used throughout all the standards literature. Not all of the chords are found in patterns, but many of them are. 
The more we play and study chord progressions, we start to recognize that the “extra chords” that are not part of the patterns also develop a familiarity that is often recognizable. The trick is to know and recognize the patterns in all twelve keys. Once you start becoming familiar with the patterns in all the keys, then things get easier. You can start to remember songs more easily because you see the songs in collections of familiar patterns, not as just a long string of random chords to be memorized. By the way, Misty is what I call a gateway song to
understanding jazz patterns. When you understand its construction, you will see many parts of it used over and over again in many other standards
There are many types of common chord patterns, but 
basically, most of these well-known patterns are just combinations, variations or permutations of our basic ii-V-I progressions, in both major and minor forms. The circle of fifths is also one of our recognizable patterns and the ii-V-I is actually a small circle of fifths all by itself. We also use tritone substitutions, which add many other colorful variations to our patterns. The tritone concept is an advanced harmonic discussion, however, so it’s better to explore it after one already understands and can play the ii-V-I patterns very well. 
If you would like more information about ii-V-I patterns, I have two lessons on the website which teach and explain them in depth.

1. Understanding the 2-5-1 Jazz Progression
2.The Minor 2-5-1 Jazz Pattern

By the way, I made a new Facebook page. Please come and check it out. I will be posting things there when I can.

Keep enjoying your piano,
Here are the links to the Youtube previews of the 2-5-1 pattern lessons:
Understanding the 2-5-1 Jazz Progression
The Minor 2-5-1 Jazz Pattern
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Jazzy Piano
2006 HWY 101
Florence, Oregon 97439

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Jazzy Piano · 2006 HWY 101 · Florence, Oregon 97439 · USA

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