does anybody know a good way of practicing tremelos/trills in a bluesy situation...for example octaves or 5th and b7th.  i am really having problems doing this cleanly. is this a lack of rhythmic understanding.  any suggestions of how to think about it and practice?

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for octaves i jiggle my whole forearm and hand, it's a flutter, a quick small motion. i don't rely on the finger muscles. it's like quickly jiggling a key in a lock, only faster.
it's also a practice thing.  the coordination can be difficult for some people to get.

a good way to practice is to do a slow blues and play simple chords in both hands (two handed chords). tremelo both hand so that you get a wall of sound and then a  new chord comes up, don't stop, just shift your hands to the closest position for the new chord and keep going.

to build up some strength and endurance for this kind of thing, look around for the george cables exercise i have posted around here somewhere (do a file search for george cables)
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my classical teacher says it's all in the wrist, and i can pretty much nail them now (after months of not quite getting it).  but some intervals are harder than others
so is there a specific rhythmic concept behind it?  like all sextuplets or all 32nd notes or something like that?

i would start by playing your tremelo in 8th notes at a slowish tempo, with a metronome (say at 100bpm for starters). then at the same tempo upgrade to triplets, then 16th notes, then sextuplets. by then it should sound like a tremelo. however, an effective tremelo should be relaxed and feel good, so it doesn't really matter which of the above (if any) it ends up as.

when trilling thirds, try practising with dirrerent sets of fingers, and aim to become equally comfortable doing it with 1 & 3, or 2 & 4, or 3 & 5.

in blues piano, 3- or 4-note chords are often tremeloed in the right hand. for instance, over a c7 chord you might play a tremelo of the notes e - g - bb - d, giving the ninth on top. there are several ways you can make this happen:

1.  alternate the bottom note (e) with the top 3 notes played together.
2. alternate the bottom two notes (e and g, played together) with the top two notes (bb and d) played together.
3. alternate the top note (d) played by itself with the bottom 3 notes played together.

these three methods all have their individual sounds, and you'll probably find some more comfortable than others. that's part of what gives different pianists their individual styles.
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