Bill Hilton

In this tutorial I look at some constructions you can use as turnarounds in a couple of contexts where you might find a 1 – 4 – 5 progression – namely, the blues and country/folk/pop piano.

Turnarounds are most useful in songs with simple structures, such as 12-bar blues. In this type of chord sequence you can’t rely on a verse-chorus-bridge pattern to tell the listener that the progression is starting again.

In general, turnarounds are very simple, and rely on briefly returning to the 5 chord to signal the start of a new section. This chord is the dominant chord, which wants to pull us back to the tonic to start the progression again.

You may find that in rock or country songs playing the dominant chord or note sounds a little too predictable. If this is the case, try playing the 4 chord but including the dominant somewhere in the chord, such as in the bass. This creates a sound *like* the dominant without actually having to use the dominant chord.

Some songs won’t need a turnaround at all, and you’ll find that you can stay on the tonic chord and start over. This is especially common in pop songs where the verses, bridge and chorus often simply run into one another.

Regardless of the key of the progression you’re playing, you should find that playing the 5 chord (or similar) as a turnaround will bring you back nicely to the start of the progression.

If you found this video useful, take a look at my other videos. You might also be interested in my book, How to Really Play the Piano, which is full of the basics of harmony and chords, as well as tips on improvisation


Bill Hilton

Check out my book!

Here’s a pop piano comping exercise that’s quite fun to play. It’s based on five simple chords (C, Dm, F, G and Am) and a right hand part that just uses the notes C, F and G. It sounds pretty cool and isn’t at all difficult to learn.

Most pop comps you’ll ever play on the piano will be based on fairly simple chord progressions. The only slight hurdle you might have to overcome is making sure you can comp in a variety of difference keys – especially “guitar friendly” keys like E, A, D and G. So once you’ve mastered this sequence in C, try transposing it into some other keys and seeing what you can do.

As with all piano techniques, the trick here is to play over and over again until this stuff just falls under your fingers without you even having to think about it. You need to get to a point where your fingers are doing the thinking for themselves at the keyboard. When that happens, you’ll find you unconsciously begin to change and develop the exercise until you’re playing comps of your own.

If you’re not sure about the basics of chords and how harmony works on the piano, check out some of my earlier tutorials.



T Goforth·27 videos

In this video, I am showing a really nice left hand pattern that you can use with ballads — either as an accompaniment pattern, or to add some interest to your improvisation.

With the left hand, play the root of the chord, then the 5, then jump up to the next octave and place the 1, 2, and 3 of the scale.

Go to for more information!

Bill Hilton·115 videos

More in my book:

Walking bass lines are an essential part of blues and jazz piano – especially if you’re playing solo or without any kind of rhythm section. This video tutorial looks at three different types of walking bass, including a couple of easy ones and a hard one! The secret of success with walking bass lines is to practise really hard and get your left and right hands working well together.