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SUMMARY. Scale to 1 Principle

First of all: Thank you for downloading this and staying in touch with me!
As I said in the YouTube video, I learned this method many years ago when I started out
as a jazz pianist. Many people seem to struggle when it comes to create the long lines in
their improvisation. Understandable! I did too. But that was before I learned the scale-
to-I principle.

A summary (In case you didnt understand from the YouTube video).

A II-V-I Progression (Called Two-Five-One progression) is something we can find in

almost all jazz standards written.

Basically it is this:

1. The major scale (diatonic scale) is in C the following notes: C-D-E-F-G-A-B-C

2. If you play a TRIAD starting from C, you get the following chords:
3. The II-V-I progression is what is written in RED above.

The scale-to-I principle means you use notes from the C scale to improvise over the
whole II-V-I progression (IF the chord progression is a Dmi7-G7-C)

Also, many jazz tunes includes only II-V- progressions. You can also here improvise by
using the scale-to-I principle.

For example:

You see this chord change in your realbook:

Now: Think of the G minor chord as the II chord, the C7 as the V chord.
You can use the Scale-to-I principle here! So you can improvise by using the F scale,
since F is the I chord (one chord). You can use this principle if the next chord after C7 is
an F or not.
When it gets really interesting:

The scale changing is not that hard! You ONLY need 12 scales! And 6 of them uses the
same fingers!

What will probably take you some time is to be able to make the switch quick enough.
Heres how I would do it:

1. Practice the 12 scales so well that you really know them. If you for example find
one of them hard, stay longer with the hard scale until it is as easy as playing
the C scale.
2. Do the exercises over II-V-I progressions and II-V progressions. If you know how,
you could create a play-along track for this. (If youre one of my members of the
jazz piano step-by-step course, just download the play-along-track from the
bonus section)
3. Practice the scale-to-1 principle over all the jazz standards you know.

Please note
The scale-to-1 principle works in all tempos. I demonstrated this in the YouTubevideo in
a fast tempo over All The Things I Used To Be (Same chord changes as All The Things
You Are), but the principle would work just fine in a ballad.

Also note: In the demonstration, I also played the Scale-to-I principle with arpeggios.
Still the same principle. (Notes from the I-scale, played as arpeggios).

This is exactly how I suggest you practice the Scale-to-I principle:

THE II-V-I Exercises:

1. Make a line of notes where you start from the middle area, until the top of the
piano (the rightmost keys) and back. It should be a consistant stream of notes
where all notes are close. (I refer to this as linear playing in the jazz course).
2. Change the scales so they will fit the chords. For example you start on II-V-I to C,
then you can play the C scale. The next II-V-I would be Cmi7-F7-Bb. As soon as
youll get to the Cmi7, you continue playing the Bb scale. IMPORTANT: Start the Bb
scale where you left off when you played the C scale
3. Play this in Eight notes, then triplets, then 16th notes.
4. When you know this, then you can play the a mix between all of them. Also try to
experiment with including more vertical lines (arpeggios) as well as other
chromatic and/or altered scales.

ALL THE THINGS I USED TO BE: (Or other standards)

Do as in the II-V-I exercise, but now you use the chord changes as foundation.
Remember: It is very effective if you have a play-along-track for the tune you
(See PDF for example of a line (for members))

JUST II-V Exercise:

Yes: I didnt include the I on purpose. So Dmi7-G7-C#mi7-Ab7-Cmi7-F7 etc.
Thats the sequence of chords.

Or the other way: Dmi7-G7-Ebmi7-Ab7-Emi7-A7 etc.

When you play in a II-V sequence like this, use the same method as in the II-V-I
exercise. (If you are a GOLD member of the jazz piano step-by-step course, you can find
the play-along-track in the bonus section)

Thats it!

Remember: Ive spent hundreds or thousands of hours to really master this principle, so
please let your expectations align with the amount of hours you put into this exercise.

If you have any questions, please contact me at

If you are not yet a jazz piano student of mine, youre more than welcome to sign up.

Take care of your music!

- Gjermund