Rock And Roll Piano Lesson – Classic, Fast, And Easy!

In this lesson, we’re going to talk about rock and roll piano – well, I guess I should say rock ‘n’ roll, to be official.

This will hopefully be a very simple lesson for you, because rock and roll piano uses some very simple structures.

Before we do anything, here’s a picture of the piano keys and note names for your reference. This pattern repeats up and down the piano, so the note names remain the same – they just make higher or lower sounds.

Piano Note Names

First, let’s talk about the chord progression.

The most standard progression is based on the “12-bar blues” progression:

(4 bars of I) + (2 bars of IV) + (2 bars of I) + (1 bar of V7) + (1 bar of IV) + (2 bars of I)

If you’ll recall from some of my other lessons, the roman numerals correspond to chords based on scale tones. Capital numbers are major chords, and the number corresponds to the scale tone of the chord root.

For example, in the key of C:

I = C major = C-E-G
IV = F major = F-A-C
V7 = G7 = G-B-D-F

Now, let’s talk about each hand separately, then we’ll put them together for the finale, OK?

For the left hand, I suggest starting with one of the following two bass lines:

1-6-5-6

or

1-3-5-6

OK, so what does THAT mean?!

Well, those numbers represent notes in the major scale in whatever key you’re playing.

For example, in the key of C, a C major scale is:

C D E F G A B C
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

So, those two bass lines become:

C A G A (moving DOWN from C to A and A to G, then back up to C)

or

C E G A (moving UP the entire time)

For a song that’s “in 4” (4/4 tempo – 4 beats to a measure), simply play this pattern over and over in your left hand.

Got it?

Now, for the right hand…

The easiest thing to play would be the following pattern, depending on the chord being played:

Alternate these two chords over and over for the “C major” portion of the progression:

C-E-G
C-F-A

Each chord should be played at the same time as the left hand. In other words, both hands press the piano keys at the same time:

LH RH
— —
C C-E-G
E C-F-A
G C-E-G
A C-F-A

(This is actually a nice little 2-hand practice pattern)

For the “IV” part of the progression – let’s stick with the key of C for this – play the following 2 chords:

F-A-C
F-Bb-D

while the left hand plays the same pattern as before, but beginning on F:

F-D-C-D

or

F-A-C-D

Finally, for the “V7” portion of the progression, the left hand portion is:

G-E-D-E

or

G-B-D-E

and the right-hand chords are:

G-B-D
G-C-E

The rhythmic pattern is the same throughout this entire progression – simply apply the appropriate chord and bass pattern to each section to build the following chord progression for each measure of 4 beats:

C – C – C – C – F – F – C – C – G7 – F – C – C

It’s kind of like putting together the pieces of a puzzle. In fact, that’s exactly how I think of it when I learn a new tune.

And if you’d like to dive in a little deeper, you might want to check out my Rock and Roll Piano… FAST online/DVD video piano course.

Hope that helps you rock a little harder, or at least easier 😉

64 thoughts on “Rock And Roll Piano Lesson – Classic, Fast, And Easy!

  1. Marlene De Lung said:

    Thanks so much for your support on piano playing. I absolutely love piano and want to learn all I can for improvement. Looking forward to just setting down at the piano and going over what you have shared. Thanks, Marlene

    • Bill said:

      Wonderful, Marlene! This past year, I had an experienced “dueling pianist” teach this old dog a few new tricks, so I’ll hopefully be sharing some of those soon, too. 😉

  2. Dr Mary Munro-Hill said:

    Oh, Bill! I’m a classically-trained pianist and organist and I have always wanted to play jazz. I have taken careful note of each of your lessons but find it all a little bit too much to take in all at once. (It’s probably my age!) I will continue to try, however, and when I have an odd moment I will practise!

    It is extremely generous, kind and gracious of you to give these free lessons. If I make some progress I will let you know.

    Many thanks.

    Mary.

  3. kathy said:

    do you have a diagram showing where the notes or letters go on the keyboard.

    • Bill said:

      Yes, I just put a diagram in the post – thanks for the reply!

  4. Claude said:

    Sorry, don’t get it. I do not know how to read music, play by ear a bit. would like to learn basic chords and maybe sheet music later. right now what your talking about c-d-e what ever along with strange numbers, do you have pictures of the keyboards telling us where and how to place our fingers per chord. I do have a portable keyboard Casio, its old and has a few instrument banks etc…but I would rather learn the real way…can you help or am I wasting my time!

    • Bill said:

      Sorry about that, Claude. I just included a piano note chart for everyone.

  5. Rick Spooner said:

    so much to learn, thanks for the help.

  6. Joyce Berry said:

    Hi Bill: Thank you for all your piano tips. I need you to help me. I accidentilly unsubscribed to yur blog. Please re-instate me…I am getting so much out of your lessons. Thank you…Joyce

    • Bill said:

      No problem, Joyce. You can either subscribe by clicking the orange RSS “thingy” in the upper right corner, or simply submit your name and email address in the box at the top right of the blog again.

  7. Joseph Meisenhelder said:

    Hi Bill,

    I’ve a black thumb with music, but these lessons are a swell undertaking of yours.

  8. chuck murray said:

    Hi Bill, I have enjoyed your lessons and my daughter bought your book for me and it has made playing so much more fun Thanks again. Chuck

  9. Joyce Berry said:

    Whew! Thank you. I really look forward to each and every lesson. I am having trouble making both hands work together on the Rock & Roll Piano Lesson..Did I hear you say Practice, Practice, practice? Thanks again…joyce

  10. Lisa said:

    Hi Bill, i have really enjoyed taking your lessons..i gave up playing piano when I was still at school, primary actually…was beyond me but can play by ear but would really like to learn how to read music…your free lessons have taught me a lot and i can actually attempt to try and read the music sheets of some popular songs…thanx heapz…

  11. Jeremy Simmons said:

    your first sample base line of 1656 does not jive with the explanation of cagc

    • Bill said:

      Jeremy, C is 1, A is 6 (below it), G is 5 (below A), and back to C (1).

    • Bill said:

      Sorry Jeremy – I should have paid more attention – you were right the first time!

  12. Dear Bill:
    You list the 12-bar chord progression as follows:
    (4 bars of I) + (2 bars of IV) + (2 bars of IV) + (1 bar of V7) + (1 bar of IV) + (2 bars of I)
    The chords between your second and third pair of parentheses are identical: (2 bars of IV).
    Shouldn’t the latter of these two by (2 bars of I) again? Also, isn’t this the basic boogie woogie chord progression?
    Thanks for all your insights. Will

    • Bill said:

      You’re absolutely correct, Will, and I’ve made the correction – thanks! Yes, you’ll find this progression in blues, rock, boogie woogie, and in lots of other places.

  13. Jesse said:

    Bill, I just want to thank you for inspiring me to start learning piano again, your course was right on point and easy to follow. I play piano and organ at church and find your course very helpful. Let me know if you have an advanced follow-up course that I can get. Keep up the good work.

  14. Joan said:

    Hi Bill, I had almost given up on learning to play the piano. But you have been such an inspiration with your tips etc. I am 70 as of today, and I enjoy the piano so much. thanks for all you do.

    • Bill said:

      Thanks Joan. Happy Birthday!

  15. Bill,

    In today’s email you hope we learn to ‘rock hard’ — but at my age, that wouldn’t be easy.
    My wife would be first to agree. And she has
    her own way of reminding me, just before lights-
    out. …Do you teach trumpet??

  16. dave simmons said:

    Bill, why is 1-6-5-6 CAGC and not CAGA? As always, thank you for the free lessons… you’re lessons have motivated me to start practicing again. However, you also linked to Oscar Peterson videos and watching him shred the piano – while impressive – is also a downer cause I’ll never be close to that!! hehe

    • Bill said:

      Oops… quite right, Dave – sorry!! I was too busy playing it in my head and not typing it correctly on the computer keyboard!

      YES! It should be C A G A – THAT’S 1656.

      Thanks 😉

  17. Dr Mary Munro-Hill said:

    May I suggest, Bill, that you extend your keyboard to include at least one more octave, preferably two, so that beginners can better appreciate where to place each hand?

    Best wishes,

    Mary.

  18. George said:

    Hi Bill, how about some MP3 files. To hear the pattens would round out the lessons making them completely foolproof.

    Your efforts are appreciated,
    George

  19. shamim said:

    thank you this is kinda helpful i dont know if its suppose to sound the way but it sounds ok

  20. thanks so very much ; you’re awesome to give of yourself free lessons; i love to see what you have next.
    dr

  21. Tony said:

    Hi Bill thanks for the free lessons. I can play with notes but i always wanted to play by ear. I am 74 years old. Any tips on playing by ear? tks.

  22. Wayne said:

    Hi, am I missing something? I like the info but really feel like there should be a youtube link or a embedded clip accompanying this lesson.. The student who is unfamiliar with what you’re illustrating really needs to hear how it sounds. At least that’s what I think… Maybe I’m missing something. But I do appreciate the info you share for free… Keep it up…
    thanks,
    Wayne

  23. Julie said:

    Hi Bill, Thanks for the mail, I have printed off all the previous lessons you have sent, only need a bit of spare time now to mull over them, I do play reasonably well so when I sit down at the keyboard tend to go straight into playing mode rather than practice which is naughty I know, but promise to use all the material you have sent as there is always room for improvement,the only parts I have found a bit confusing are thr roman numerals,but on further investigation I am sure all will be clear, also would love to be able to play by ear, as I tend to need to see the music,my one advantage I can read music so a lot of what you write makes sense.
    As have mentioned before I also do a lot of painting so its just having enough time to juggle the two hobbys.
    Thank you for getting in touch again.
    Best Wishes Julie

  24. Doug Collins said:

    I would give anything if I could understand how the hell you do the above lesson as you have instructed. Example: EC-F-A doesn’t go together nor sounds right.

  25. evelyn said:

    Can you provide a sample in video form so that I can visualized? Thank you so much for your help. It has been very helpful thus far

  26. Bob Turmell said:

    ……hey Bill. Am really taking my time with this page . Opportunities for having fun at church abound because of being “drafted” to play the service hymns every Sunday due to sudden resignation of organist.Am transferring every lesson to manuscript for practice.You should of heard what was done to “Jesus loves me”, last week.You would be proud of youself.
    Please keep the lessons coming,Sincerely Bob T

  27. Bob Turmell said:

    OK–I am not sure how to reply?

  28. Tadeusz said:

    Hi Bill,
    When I subscribed to your lesson I was sceptical.
    How this men can teach me play piano over email ? Today I know. You are great teacher !!!
    Thanks and have a great day
    Tadeusz

  29. GR Smith said:

    Hi Bill,
    In the past I Played acoustic Bass and Bass guitar ii a jazz band. Also played 2nd trombone in a brass band, with folk music on classic guitar and mandolin. My keyboard is limited to playing classical music but I would like to play some appropriate jazz on keyboard.
    Having suffered a stroke some time ago there is some impediment to learning but I find your lessons interesting and serve to get my mind back into shape. Please keep up the good work. PS.
    I don’t expect to reach professional standards on account of lots of health problems affecting my arms and hands.
    Cheers
    G.

  30. WILLIAM JANKINS said:

    I HAVE LEARNED A GREAT DEAL FROM YOUR LESSONS AND AM IMPROVING WITH PRACTICE, THANKS A MILLION!!!

  31. thanks for the love you have to give piano’s free lessons.God bless you BILL!

  32. Geraldine said:

    Thanks so much for your help. This is great. I’m looking forward to more of your work.

  33. Tony said:

    Hi Bill. Greetings from Aus. Thanks for giving us your time and inspiration. Many of us need all the help we can get.
    Tony.

  34. wesley said:

    Hi Bill,You are great teacher.
    Thank you so much for sharing your blessings with us.

    May the Lord bless you.

    keep up the good work.

    Wesley (from UK)

  35. Mark Brown said:

    Just like to thank you very much for all the valuable lessons Bill. You have a talent for making things simple while taking a light and entertaining approach. I am recommending you to my music-deprived friends, bravo and all that jazz!

  36. Doug Collins said:

    I did not mean to drop your lessons. I just clicked on the cancel address thinking it was a lesson. Please do not drop my lessons that you send.

  37. jeffry said:

    Bill thanks for your klessons ,you are the real thing ,for real

  38. Lynne Yeager said:

    I already play by note but want to be able to play by ear. I am NOT a fan of Jazz,could we also have some music where you can hear the melody, just pretty, easy music

  39. Les (in) UK said:

    Just brilliant would like to ask questions if possible

    • Bill said:

      Sure, Les. What questions do you have?

  40. John said:

    Many of us can read music if only a little, so it would be great to include the score if possible – and it would also help to teach non-readers to read the dots!

    It would mean a departure from simple text but oh so rewarding for your clients!

    Keep up the great work…

  41. Mr.Bill,thank you for your much needed help…
    on chords and scales. i can read music..but it
    does’nt sound full. i need to know how to use
    Patterns to improve my playing. Mr. Bill you
    was so kind to send me a copy of Music Fundamentals or Piano Encyclopedia i did’nt get a
    chance to finish reading the material before my
    computer crashed and it was on my desk top..well
    i lost the information…Please send it to me again asap. Thanks for time well spent!

  42. anothermike said:

    everything you are teaching is helpful. you have simplified some of the lessons….as far as “playing by ear”, at that point all bets are off. Lessons won’t do them any good. I tried it years ago, but kept bumping the side of my face on the keyboard…impossible on a accordion….

  43. roland said:

    thanks a lot its a big important for me that i have learn more how to play and study of all notes thanks for your kindly sharing for us.

    your amazing god bless u

  44. Ermelo Carlos said:

    Hi, Bill
    Nice work your tips are very helpefull, i love that, i would like to learn play by the ear, can you teach, a exercice?

  45. CeCe said:

    This ‘old dog’ took some lessons at the adult education center and when they were canceled the class I looked online for help – and found YOU!! YAY

    Thank your for doing this and making it free. I was having a hard time understanding chords and scales but you have cleared that up for me.

    I will continue following.

    God Bless

  46. kenny said:

    hi mr bill rommer i really apprerciate ur piano leason, my mind was open to so many idea on piano thanks so much. pls if i may ask is that all you have for piano? pls i need more leason on piano expecially hand ffrelling exercise. thanks so much

  47. karl joseph Gonzales said:

    thanks you sir i really love piano… your post help me a lots.. keep on posting sir…nice job… God bless you..

  48. Swami Aranyam said:

    Thank you Bill Romer!

    Please send me finger lessons (left & right hand) and scale of major, minor, and 9th chords…

  49. Max said:

    Good teachers make details open and interesting without a lot of bruhaha. You have it down to a science Bill.
    I join the ranks of those most appreciative.

    Best regards,

    Max

  50. Thanks for this lesson, Bill. Always wanted to learn to play rock on piano!

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