Free Printable: 12-Bar Blues in C

3major0My blogging has been rather sporadic so far this month — this is a busy time of year for piano teachers, isn’t it!  I’m so glad my Spring Recital is over, but this month is still somehow very booked.  :)

On Saturday, I had another Piano Party with my students.  It was a small group of students this time because it was the tail-end of Spring Break when many students were out-of-town.  However, I took advantage of the fact that I was working with just four students and planned to do something a little bit different this time!  Our theme-of-the-day was chords.  Students play duets with each other, one student playing a melody and the other accompanying with chords.  Two students played on my Kawai, and the other two played on my keyboard which I set up in the guest bedroom.

One of the things we did was a duet improvisation with the 12-bar blues.  Tim Topham has made a video that breaks down the 12-bar blues into manageable steps for teachers to use with
their students:


To help my students learn how to improvise the 12-bar blues, I created this printable:


On page 1, the notes of the C blues scale are shown both on the keyboard and on the staff.  I put the student sitting on the treble side of the keyboard in charge of playing a melody using these notes.  If you are not doing a duet, this is simply the RH part.  I helped the student work out a good fingering to use.

Then, I showed page 2 of the printable to the other student.  I chose the “Blocked 5ths & 6ths” pattern and made sure the student understood how to play the pattern for each chord change.

Finally, I showed students the 12-bar blues progression on Page 1 and set them loose to work it out!  The most important part, of course, was helping them learn to listen to each other to stay on beat.  I went back-and-forth between the duet pairs and coached them throughout the process.

I plan to follow-up with these students during their next lesson, to further experiment with the 12-bar blues.  It was a fun part of our Piano Party this month!

You can download the “12-Bar Blues in C” printable (it’s free!) on the Downloads > Sheet Music page.

Joy Morin is a piano teacher in northwest Ohio (United States) who enjoys keeping her teaching fresh with new ideas and resources. serves as a journal of her adventures in piano teaching as well as a place to exchange ideas and resources.

Joy has blogged 1142 posts here.

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  1. Kerri
    Posted 9 April 2013 at 11:35 am | Permalink

    I love this idea! What a fun group class activity. Thanks so much!

  2. Cheri Verhey
    Posted 9 April 2013 at 8:42 pm | Permalink

    I’m feeling a fun summer class coming to this studio!!

  3. Posted 12 April 2013 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

    What a great idea and a great printable! I love teaching beginners the 12-bar blues. Such an easy, fun, learnable little structure and a perfect way to get students improvising. Thanks for sharing that video, too.

  4. Susan Hong
    Posted 12 April 2013 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

    Thanks Joy !!

    Can’t wait till I try this out :))


  5. Laura B
    Posted 14 April 2013 at 6:28 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the printable! I use the 12-bar blues pattern a lot for students doing the Guild Musicianship Phase: Improvisation. I like having the kids begin their RH with 3rd finger on C instead of thumb. So the scale would be G-Bb-C-Eb, or with more notes as they are able. Having the tonic in the middle gives them a way to use the 7th with ease.

  6. Posted 7 September 2013 at 10:16 pm | Permalink

    I did something like this during summer of this year. My students who are mostly between the ages of 10 and 14 years old enjoyed every bit of it.

    I love the materials that you have created.

    All the best!

  7. Keely
    Posted 11 November 2013 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

    what kind of melody do you get them to play. Do you have them make it up?

    • Posted 11 November 2013 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

      Yes, they improvise the RH using the blues scale or part of the blues scale.

  8. Luke Usiahon
    Posted 22 January 2016 at 5:31 am | Permalink

    Please, I want to learn How to play the 12 bar blues.

  9. Gudrun E. Adalsteins
    Posted 11 April 2017 at 9:07 am | Permalink

    I’m interesting learning Blues on my Button C-grip accordion.
    I’m not sure how is the best way to learning that.
    Best regards.

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