Pop-Rock School: “The House is Rockin'” Piano Solo


A study of one of the shortest and sweetest rocking piano solos ever…

Reese Wynans’ lead from Stevie Ray Vaughn’s “The House is Rockin”, employing some staples from the boogie and blues vocabulary.

Frank Playing…

Frank’s Transcription…


[insert Audio]

Study-Practice-Performance Notes

  • Yes, I played the entire solo in one hand! If playing solo, feel free to add your own left hand, but if playing with a good band, your right hand alone is quite sufficient and appropriate.  Adding noise in your left hand tends to just muddy the sound.
  • This is in Rockabilly, a direct descendant of Blues and Boogie Woogie. How many bars? Twelve, just like 12 bar blues! It sound s bluesy, of course, but it is the straight eighth (as opposed to “shuffle”) rhythm that defines it as rock and roll.
  • Rhythm tip: Don’t let your left hand sit around doing nothing. As you play with your right hand, use your left hand to clap time in your lap. Notice how this really tightens up your rhythmic sense.
  • This may look very complicated on the surface, but the ideas are quite simple and essential parts of the enduring blues, boogie woogie, and rock vocabulary.
  • Using both your ears and your knowledge of scales and chords, study it until you hear and understand its essence and enjoy the results!
  • Special Mention about the Key: Did you know that SRV typically tuned down a fret (= minor second = “half step”) in order to facilitate playing with heavier strings… allowing for a fatter sound with minimal physical strain. So, for example, if he is playing PHYSICALLY in the key of C, the sound would be in the key of B… as is the case for House is Rockin. That said, did you know that Reese Wynans did not play this PHYSICALLY in the key of B. He simply played it (on an electric piano) in the key of C and used the transpose button. While some “purists” might call this cheating, I would strongly disagree. The point of playing is to make good music, not to suffer needlessly with an extremely awkward fingering. Our precious time is much better spent on other more important things like developing other aspects of our musicianship. Cheers!

Choreography Video

Is anyone interested in a how-to video demonstrating the technique and choreography for playing this with freedom and ease? Comment below!

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