Improvising Blues Piano  Readers' Comments

From JG, London, UK

You have made me very, very happy. I bought your Improvising Blues Piano book in November, and have enjoyed using it almost every day since. I have made unbelievable progress, and it gives me a marvellous feeling to play some blues at last.
I used to teach, and have written many self teaching guides, so I really appreciate how subtly you have encouraged the growth of technique and understanding. Your book is easily the most thorough music book I have ever found.
Thank you so much for giving me such great pleasure.

From DC, UK

Just wanted to say thank you so much for the blues piano book, it's a joy working my way through it. It's rekindled my passion for the piano, having not played much in recent years. I always wanted to learn the blues but somehow never found the time, so just tried to learn a few pieces by ear. Your book is so great for anyone not able to get expert tuition locally.

From MT, UK

I bought your book Improvising Blues Piano over a year ago and just wanted to write to tell you that it is one of the most inspirational books I have ever bought.

It's absolutely fantastic. If I had had a teacher as child half as good as your book my life would have probably taken a completely different direction. As it is I am just really enjoying learning to play and improvise. It feels like having the very best teacher there to consult whenever I want and I am constantly reminded to "try it with different bass lines" and "practise in different keys" which has opened up a whole new world.

Anyway, many many thanks for a truly brilliant, inspiring book.

From SD, UK

I just wanted to say that having opened your Improvising Blues Piano book a second time (piano is my second instrument and I have been studying composition) I am even more impressed  - it's easily the best tutor I have read for any instrument (and I teach and play several).

From SS, USA

I think Improvising Blues Piano is, without a close second, the best instruction book ever!

From GS, Arkansas, USA

Your book is beyond any doubt by far the best blues book I have purchased in my 40 years. I have spent tons of money and there are some good ones but generally they are not worth the paper they are written on.

I like it so much I ordered a spare to keep on the shelf.

From GM, USA

Best book I ever bought. Thanks to everyone who put it together...

From BG, United Kingdom

Fantastic and well thought out... Never quite experienced such good book.

From FJ, Canada

Improvising blues Piano is the best thing that has happened to me in years!

Last night I was playing at the Niagara Falls Casino and I had the crowd applauding to all your material. Bouncy Boogie is a real favourite. You have made a tremendous impact on my life!

From Dunstable, England ( - customer review)
5 Stars - The best and most comprehensive book on learning blues piano.

I have bought a large number of books on blues piano. This book is by far the best, taking you logically and progressively through the theory and its applications. It also includes a CD of all the tracks in the book. Don't expect to find this book easy if you're not at an intermediate level to start with. Persevere and it won't be long before you can play the blues...

From BN, Ottawa, Canada ( - customer review)
5 stars - The best self-learning blues piano book

I've flipped and browsed thru many blues piano books but this one takes first prize. Lots of graduated examples, a CD, and cool historic photos and notes. Big thumbs up. Get it if you want to learn dem blues!

From DT, Calgary, Canada

I just wanted to thank you for the book series you've written. I'm another one of the victims of the classical music education system where you're taught to read the page and nothing else.

I headed to a local music store and literally went through every piano book before I found IBP. It's pretty much been a revelation, from discussions of notations to chord types to ideas.

Seriously, your books are phenomenal. If I had found IBP back in high school, I might have gone into music instead of writing.

From CD, United Kingdom

I am an alto sax player who wanted to learn piano and so I bought your 3 books about a year ago and have been enjoying working through them ever since. I consider them the best instructional books about jazz (and probably any subject come to that) ever, and a simply wonderful achievement ! I continue to buy and give them to friends and family as presents and recommend them to other people all the time.

Studying your books and playing the piano a bit has made clear a lot of things for the first time that had eluded me for a long time and they also encourage creativity and exploration.

Your books are excellent material for any musician, regardless of instrument. It's much easier to grasp some of the essentials by reference to a piano, as opposed to a horn, which is limited to a single line and more abstract in the sense that its not laid out there for you to see

Your suggested fingerings are very helpful in this regard. For instance I would have found it impossible and discouraging to try and play your arrangement of Got My Mojo Workin' without suggested fingerings and checkpoints. Thinking about the same tune it's brilliant how you explain the chromatic run-ups to change chord in the left hand and explain what's going on so lucidly. I can hear what Otis Spann is doing sometimes now.

From GS, Ohio, USA

My formal background was in classical piano, and I am also a percussionist, jazz drummer, and vocalist. My desire was to get away from years of classical conditioning and more into improvisational work.

I am writing you to thank you for writing the three books which inspired me considerably to do just that. Improvising Blues Piano and Exploring Jazz Piano I and II have been instrumental in inspiring me to venture out in improvisation and composition. They have opened doors that were seemingly "shut" prior to studying with your method.

Again, thank you and know that through your gifts you touch many in ways that can't be expressed.

From SMB, Kansas City, USA ( - customer review)
5 stars - Great teaching text

Now and then you run across a method book that makes you a better player and is great fun to work through. Improvising Blues Piano is one such book. It starts out very simply and steadily progresses to a pretty sophisticated level. The accompanying disk is well recorded and the author's playing, particularly his timing, is quite musical. On most examples, if you can make your playing sound like Tim Richards, you'll really swing.

Starting in "C" and moving on to other familiar blues keys, the author mixes theory and practice in a logical progression of "bite sized" lessons that are very complete and doesn't assume anything about the student. The volume is accessible to beginners (this will take you a long way) while remaining useful for the more advanced because there is so much good content. I particularly like that he weaves in biographical information of known blues players along with examples of their style. The history of blues unfolds along with the student's expanding ability to play.

If you are interested in the blues, I can't think of a better learning tool.

From AV, South Africa ( - customer review)
4 stars - Outstanding, musical, and playable method
There really are not many great methods for the blues out there, but Tim Richards' is thorough and goes into the required detail to show you how each blues style works.

The examples are very playable, suiting more or less an intermediate level pianist. Richards is one of the few take-away instruction teachers to be concerned about fingerings, and takes the trouble to suggest good ones. His playing instructions work very well and add a dimension that you don't often get in these method books - he has a great insight into the chords, and the notes and the way they fit the music. The breakdown of theory is very well explained... but he never floods you with scales without showing you how to apply them - that in itself is a good thing!

Richards' choice of music is impeccable, and classic blues standards of af all styles are presented from boogie, to funk, slow blues, and some jazzy numbers. And he shows you music in a number of keys so you aren't stuck to one or two and get a work out in the other keys.

The historical background he gives is accurate and informative and the pictures of blues and jazz legends really make this book interesting.

A very useful and inspiring book.

From ML, Québec, Canada ( - customer review)
5 stars - A must have

I purchased a lot of books, but this one is really the best. When my teacher saw it, he immediately ask where he could purchase it. A lot of songs, exercises and explanations.

The book is not only about improvising, it's also about all kinds of left-hand pattern and I know what I'm talking about. The examples on the CD are also great. If at first look it seems expensive, you will see that it is worth every penny

From PO, Canada ( - customer review)
5 stars - Buy this book if you want to learn blues piano!

This is, by far, the best blues piano book out there. Mark Harrison's book is also good, but more as a quick guide for those who already have some chops and some understanding of theory.

Richards' book is a full course in blues theory and practice and as such, you have to work through it. I've been at it for 14 months now and have just finished the second chapter. The material is perfectly paced for a pianist of my level (about AB Grade 2-3, 30+ years ago). The pieces are fun to play and jam packed with important ideas and blues cliches. I'm really starting to see the beginnings of true hand independence that works , not only when I play memorized pieces, but that I can invoke when trying improvisations!

If you want to play professional-level blues piano in a month, then this is not the book for you. If, however, you live in the real world and are prepared to work at it, this book will do more than show a few riffs or tricks. It will give you a deep and firm foundation in popular piano improvisation in general, and blues in particular. I estimate I'll be another couple of years with this book and I can't wait to get back to it!

This book is a work of genius. Thank you, Tim Richards!

From AP, Philadelphia, USA ( - customer review)
5 stars - A new classic in piano instruction

Why is this book so good? Unlike most books, Richards takes the time to explain why each of the example pieces are important, and what you should pay extra attention to. He also really holds your hand in the improvisation practices by suggesting notes (and explaining why the suggested notes were suggested). Also very good is the use of different keys in the pieces. Some blues books tend to stick to C or G, but in this book the keys are varied (and Richards suggests going back through the pieces in other keys, which is a very good idea).

This book is the best there is on the market for blues or improvisation instruction.

From CR, New York, NY ( - customer review)
5 stars - Just what I was looking for
This is a great book! I'm a beginning/intermediate piano player, I went through the first two Alfred's All-in-One Adult piano books and really enjoyed them, but I found myself at a fork in the road: I was happy to continue memorizing "pieces", and practicing "technique", but I found myself wanting to know more about improvising.
I play drums in a blues band, and I've had some music theory for keyboard percussion, so I'm not a total musical-novice. I tried out another book (Mark Harrison's "Blues Piano"), but it's still a little over my head, perhaps in a year or so it'll be good for me. Also "David Bennett Cohen Teaches Blues Piano", but it really didn't light my fire either, and if I recall correctly, didn't have finger markings which I still find helpful.

This book pulls it all together for me: some blues music theory, some blues history, clearly-marked "assignments", a CD included... I'm hooked!

From Austin, Texas, USA ( - customer review)
5 stars - Best blues piano book I've seen.

I've bought several other blues piano books over the years, and in my opinion this one outclasses them all. The pieces sound great, and the pacing of the material is fantastic. The book does a great job of slowly introducing the idea of improvisation, by encouraging mixing and matching ideas from the different pieces. It also goes into ideas like horizontal and vertical improvisation without making it too intimidating, and introduces some blues "cliche" endings and turnarounds. It covers many different styles from barrelhouse to stride to jazz blues.

The included CD lets you know how this stuff is really supposed to sound, and it's got a full "Recommended Listening" in an appendix if you want to explore further. All around one of the best instructional musical texts I've seen.

From the Caribbean ( - customer review)
5 stars - Terrific book.

If you can play a little piano say grade 2 or 3 and like the blues you will get a lot out of this book. Beautifully presented with pictures of the masters and different types of blues, takes a slow and easy progression from very basic triads to simple but really terrific sounding stuff to the more complex stuff.

He encourages you to experiment and improvise and truely teaches ways to do this. Happily for my neighbours I have headphones on my piano! The CD has all the music on it with some different versions in triplet feel etc. Richards is a performer and teaches at a London music college. Certainly helped me. If you want to learn the blues this is really nice book.

From PJ, Ontario, Canada

I want to thank you for having produced Improvising Blues Piano. Your book (and accompanying CD) has been very useful to me in my progress and development of blues piano technique and repertoire. I have found the book to be truly excellent at all levels, and I have been recommending it to my musical friends.

From my point of view, the careful work you put into IBP was well worth it. You produced a beautiful work and you should be commended for it. I really appreciate the care, breadth and depth you put into IBP. It will keep me busy for a long time to come.