Do you want to teach yourself how to play blues piano but aren’t quite sure where to start?
I feel you.
As a classical pianist, learning blues piano had always been on my bucket list, but I was very clueless as to how to really get started. When I first started learning blues piano 5 years ago, I had a lot of help from books and online courses. I don’t consider myself a blues pianist, but I have definitely learned a thing or two about blues piano and expanded my musical understanding with the help of those materials.
In today’s post, I will share some of the best blues piano books that I have discovered along the way. You will find both instructional books and songbooks on the list, so you can pick whatever kind of book you need.
I hope this list will be a good starting point for your blues piano learning journey!
If you don’t have any prior knowledge of blues piano but want to have a quick start, this method book by Mark Harrison, published by Hal Leonard will be a great start. It’s not going to make you an Otis Spann, but it will it will give you a practical and solid foundation to build upon.
With this book, you will learn all the essentials of blues piano including theory, comping, soloing, walking bass, crossover licks, and more. Additionally, the book comes with an accompanying audio, providing you with seven tracks to jam along and letting you put into practice what you have learned.
Best of all, these tracks can be slowed down, changed keys, and panned left or right through a special audio player included to best fit into your practice and improvisation.
A First Book of Blues is a great songbook that includes sixteen easy arrangements of the most popular blues songs including Careless Love and St. Louis Blues. If you have started learning blues piano, this book will provide you with enough material to practice your blues skills. I think the fact that it is under ten bucks makes it a no-brainer purchase for anyone who wishes to learn blues piano.
The arrangements in the book are well-written in that they are melodic and easy to play for beginners. In addition, the songs are arranged with increasing levels of difficulty, so I would suggest following the book in order to get the most out of each arrangement.
Easy Blues Piano by S J Tylers is one of my favorite books for beginning blues piano. J S Tylers is a fantastic writer whose teaching style I’m really fond of, and this book is no exception.
This book is the perfect first book for beginner blues pianists. It covers all the basic and essential concepts for blues piano including blues chord progressions, blues shuffle, and left-hand bass lines. Tylers’ explanations are clear and straight to the point, which makes you acquire concepts in a quicker and more effective way.
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The included downloadable audio access is a great plus. Overall, I wholeheartedly recommend this book to any level of pianist who wants to have a solid start to the blues piano.
This is another fantastic blues piano book that I can’t recommend enough. I’m confident that regardless of your skill level at the piano, you will get immense value out of it.
This book will equip you with all the necessary skills to become a well-versed blues performer. From blues chords and patterns to licks to different blues styles, the book covers a range of concepts and techniques, all presented in a progressing level of order.
Moving through the book, you will acquire the skills that will make you comfortable playing with others and improvising. Included online audio tracks perfectly complement the instructions in the book to let you practice and improve your skills.
Not only that, but you will also learn a ton about the history of the blues piano and the most prominent players in the area.
This is another invaluable blues method book by Hal Leonard. Written by the prominent blues pianist and keyboardist, Marty Sammon, this book is a fantastic guide that offers instructions on both traditional and modern blues piano.
From blues licks to phrasing and soloing, this book aims to build a comprehensive blues vocabulary and essential skills to become a better blues performer. This book may feel slightly advanced for beginner players, so it is best suited for intermediate players or above. You can also get the most out of the book if you are already a bit knowledgeable on the basic blues concepts.
One common confusion about this book is regarding its difference from Mark Harrison’s book. I don’t think they are by any means the same, and each has a different approach to teaching blues piano. While Harrison’s book is more systematic, structured, and theoretical, Sammon’s book is a bit more disorganized and instead focuses on providing more creative and bold examples. However, none of them is above the other, and it really comes down to what you expect from a book. I would suggest Harrison’s book to elementary players and Sammon’s book once you have a basic grasp of the blues piano.
Once you start to progress on blues piano, you’ll want to have a supplementary songbook to practice your skills and widen your blues piano repertoire. This one by Hal Leonard is a pretty popular choice when it comes to blues songbooks. It includes 50 famous blues tunes arranged to be easily playable by beginner blues pianists.
Some titles you will see in the book are Ain’t No Sunshine, The Thrill Is Gone, and Basin Street Blues. Overall, I highly recommend this book if you’re looking for a simple songbook to complement your instructional book.
Improvisation is an integral part of blues piano, and this book does an excellent job of providing players of any level with the foundation for improvisation and creative exploration of blues music. The reason I love this book so much is that it delivers all concepts in an accessible manner for any level of pianist.
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It includes simple and fun exercises on improvisation, theory, ear training and technique, and presents everything in a step-by-step and clear approach. Overall, if you want to become a more confident and creative blues performer or open up new horizons in your piano playing, Discover Blues Improvisation is a must-have.
This is another excellent book by S J Tyler, focusing specifically on the walking bass technique in blues piano. Walking bass is one of the key components of blues piano, so mastering the walking bass is vital for gaining proficiency and smoothness in blues performances.
Some of the titles in the book are walking-bass patterns, chord progressions, chord transitions, and explanations of how the walking-bass works. Overall, the book follows a step-by-step approach and Tyler’s explanations are very easy-to-follow.
I highly recommend getting this book if you want to have a better grasp of walking bass and improve your overall blues piano skills.