• My 9 Favorite Youtube Channels for Jazz Play Alongs

    Before I really started using Youtube, I loved playing along to Aebersold tracks. Working through the tunes in the books and then performing them along with a top-notch band always made practice that much enjoyable. Youtube, however, has allowed for so much more diversity in the play along industry and there are a ton of fun tracks available online for free!

    Here are just a few of my favorite Youtube channels for jazz playalongs.

    1. DC Music School – you can’t go wrong with gypsy jazz

    2. Backing Track Professional – for funk and blues, check out this channel

    3. Learn Jazz Now – for straight ahead jazz

    4. Coffee Break Grooves – for smooth jazz, check out this channel

    5. Learn Jazz Standards – I’ve mentioned their site before and how much I love what they do. Check out their channel with tons of great straight ahead playalongs.

    6. GBQuartet – for some more gypsy jazz

    7. Jam Tracks Channel – for more funk, rock and blues

    8. Fruition Music Performance Tracks – if you’re looking for something more gospel oriented, check out this channel

    9. Sing King Karaoke – if you want some more recent pop and rnb tracks, check out this channel


    Do you have a favorite channel? Feel free to share it in the comments below!

    May 4, 2015 • Lessons • Views: 2193

  • Check Out: Jazz Lessons with Tim Price

    If you are a saxophonist or a jazz musician looking to expand or improve your playing, I cannot express the importance of jazz lessons enough. Even though there are an infinite number of materials available – including pre-recorded digital lessons – and they can do a lot to help you improve if you’re trying to work on your own, private lessons can make an immense difference in your playing.

    Having a great teacher can go a long way – but that doesn’t mean that you can get away with not putting in the work. If you want to see a huge (and fast) improvement, working on the material between you lessons is essential. Still, having a teacher that knows what they’re doing and how to explain things in a way you understand is irreplaceable.

    That’s why I’d like to introduce you to Mr. Tim Price.

    Tim has worked with Teen Jazz in the past, offering a discount on his services during a few of our past 12 Deals of Christmas programs, and the feedback we’ve received from Teen Jazz readers on the lessons they received from him have been nothing but positive. I, myself, have studied with Tim and I have not walked away from a single conversation with him without something new to work on.

    If you’d like a peek at what Tim Price has to offer as an educator, check out his resources page on Sax on the Web. He’s taken the time to publish quite a bit of free material that you can check out to get a feel for his teaching style.

    Schedule a lesson with Tim Price or find out more about his teaching here.

    About Tim Price

    Tim Price holds a degree from Berklee School of Music. He is a Selmer jazz educator and clinician and he has studied with Charlie Mariano, Andy McGhee, Joe Viola, and Nick Ciazza. He teaches jazz saxophone at the New School University in New York City and has several published books including Great Tenor Sax Solos, Julian “Cannonball” Adderley Collection, and Hot Rock Sax – Techniques, Licks And Effects.

    Learn more about Tim’s teaching.

    *Please note that this is not a sponsored post. This is my own personal opinion. I’ve had several discussions from Tim and have studied under him. He did not ask me to write this post, I have written it of my own volition.

    March 4, 2015 • Lessons • Views: 2541

  • An Introduction to the Clarinet by Rheuben Allen

    Hi everyone. This is Rheuben. Today I’m going to introduce you to the clarinet.

    The clarinet is a member of the woodwind family and is unique among the woodwinds. Most woodwinds over blow what we call an octave. When you finger a “d” and push the register key, you get a “d.” The clarinet is unique. It over blows a 12th. So when you finger a low “g” and push the register key, you get a “d.”

    So on the clarinet, you never use the same fingering twice for a note. That makes it completely unique amongst the woodwind instruments.

    Now the clarinet comes in a case, and when you open the case, you’ll see there’s a lot of pieces in it. So we’ll start with the bottom of the clarinet, it’s called the bell. This is the bell section [shows piece]. The next piece is called the lower joint. Now when the instrument is new, they come with corks underneath some of the keys to keep the keys down to keep them safe in travel. So you take a pair of tweezers and pull out the little corks. Now all the keys on this joint wiggle.

    The next piece is called the upper joint. This is the top part of the clarinet. Again, it has a bunch of little corks in it we have to take out so it will play.

    The next piece is the barrel. Now the barrel of the clarinet is very important and it comes in many different lengths. And the reason for the different lengths are because when a person plays, everyone has their own embouchure (that’s the shape of your mouth when you play) and has their own mouthpiece and the barrels come in short, about 62 mm to 67 mm in length. And so different barrels will produce different sounds, but that’s for another talk.

    Then we go to the mouthpiece. Now this clarinet comes with a mouthpiece reed and everything all put together, so we’ll take it apart and show you all the different pieces.

    We have the cap which is used to protect the reed and mouthpiece when you’re not playing the instrument. We have the ligature which is what hold the reed on the clarinet mouthpiece. We have the actual mouthpiece and, of course, the reed.

    Now the first thing I’m going to do, is I’m going to put the instrument together and while I’m doing that, I’m going to soak the reed so that you can play the reed. You must soak it and get it wet. Just put it in your mouth and soak it.

    While I’m doing that I’m going to open this. It’s cork grease. Now to put the instrument together, the clarinet has a lot of course between the connecting pieces. So you have to put a little grease on your finger, run it around the cork and make sure the cork is greased. Then you put the pieces together.

    Now when you put the barrel on the lower joint, you wrap your hand gently around the bottom two keys so that you don’t bend them and you put on the bell section.

    Then for the upper joint, the side where the keys extend beyond the cork, that goes into the lower joint so you have to put a little cork grease on the cork. When you put this piece on, it’s very important that your fingers go around and close the key that lifts the bridge key (demonstrates) so that you can’t bend it when you put it together. Close this down, hold it, and then you attach it to the lower joint so you don’t bump into the bridge key. You line it up so that this part (demonstrates) is even in the middle.

    The next thing you put on would be the barrel (puts cork grease on top of upper joint and then places barrel on clarinet). Then, the next thing you put on will be the mouthpiece (puts cork grease on cork on mouthpiece).

    Now, as you look down the back of the clarinet, you will see that the thumb rest, the octave key and the mouthpiece need to be straight in line.

    Okay, now that you have the reed wet, you put the ligature on the mouthpiece. You take the reed and you slip it underneath the ligature and line it up even with the mouthpiece. The tip should be lined up with the top of the mouthpiece. You pull the ligature down and tighten the screws. Once that’s done, you’re ready to play.

    The clarinet, like I said, over blows a 12th, so when you finger a note, like you finger a “c” (the first three fingers on your left hand pressed down), when you push this register key, it becomes a “g.” It’s not a “c” any longer, it’s a “g.” So this makes it completely unique.

    Now this works the same as any woodwind instrument (other than flute), it has a reed. You put your bottom lip over your bottom teeth. (Points to mouth) This is called your embouchure. The top of your mouthpiece goes in your mouth (demonstrates and plays) and that’s how you produce a note.

    When you get ready to quit playing, you put the cap back on the mouthpiece and that way the mouthpiece and reed are protected.

    Now to take the instrument apart, you remove the cap, take off the ligature and reed. Then you remove the mouthpiece. Essentially you do the same thing you did to set up but backwards. Take off the barrel, put it in the case.

    Make sure that when you take it apart, you press down those same keys so you don’t bend the bridge key. Remove the upper joint. Lay it in the case. Close the bottom two keys with your hand and remove the bell. Put that in the case. Put the bottom joint back in the case.

    Put the cap back on the ligature and mouthpiece and put that back in the case. Usually you have something to put the reed in to protect it in the case, I don’t have that at the moment, so you don’t just lay it in the case like I’m doing right now, but that’s that. You close up your cork grease and put it in the case. Close the case and you’re ready to travel.

    The clarinet is very light, very small and very easy to get around with. And that’s the introduction to the clarinet. Thank you so much.

    November 17, 2014 • Lessons • Views: 2452

  • Leo Potts: The Lindeman-Sobel Approach to Artistic Wind Performance

    Part I

    My name is Leo Potts and I’d like to share with you some concepts of the Lindeman-Sobel Approach to Artistic Wind Performance.

    The first concept we’ll deal with is “how do you play the first note of a musical phrase?”

    Now prior to playing the first note of a musical phrase, most musicians will already have the keys depressed. Let’s say it’s “b”. If I already have the key down… Now the sound is going to be produced at the mouth, at the mouthpiece, so the reed is not going to vibrate the way that it should and the sound is going to be tight. It’s going to sound like this. [demonstrates]

    The concept that I’m dealing with is that I never have my fingers down before I play. It’s all about airstream, articulating with the tongue, and fingers meeting at the same time, creating that first note.

    You know what, we can use this analogy, it’s kind of interesting. If I’m playing baseball, let’s say. The idea is that I have my bat and the pitcher throws the ball and I swing, and the bat and the ball meet to create that home run. That energy. That’s what happens when I don’t have the finger down. It’s right there.

    Now the other way, if I already have my finger down, it’s more to me like it’s like I stick the bat out there [places hands together in front of body] the pitcher throws [the ball] and I hope, that maybe, he might hit the bat.

    This is my concept of producing the perfect note. I’m not going to have a finger down before I play, so I’m feeling the pearl on my finger. Ready to put that finger down. Feeling that energy. Now I’m going to breathe from the diaphragm. In one continuous motion, the articulation, air meeting the finger as it closes. No [pause], [the air is] through into [the finger].

    Here we go. [demonstrates]

    Now just say I’m going to start the note without the tongue at all so that it’s going to be quite. It’s going to be sort of like it’s sneaking in but you’re going to hear the beginning of the note. It’s just not percussive in any way, shape, or form. [demonstrates]

    I’d like to, one more time, just let you hear what it sounds like when the key is down as far as sound is concerned, articulation, and the beginning of the note. And then when I’m doing the concept of air and fingers meeting to create that sound. So he we are [with the finger down] and it’s more a matter of thinking up here [points to mouthpiece] than here [points to hand].[demonstrates both]

    It’s a much richer sound. The fundamental of the sound is there and it doesn’t sound tight. It’s open and singing. And that’s really what I’m trying to do all the time. Air and fingers meet to create that.

    So that’s a concept that I’m dealing with. Try it. Work on it and see how you like it. And enjoy.

    For more information, visit leopotts.com

    Part II

    My name is Leo Potts and I’d like to share with you some concepts of the Lindeman-Sobel Approach to Artistic Wind Performance.

    This is session two, a continuation of session one. I would like to introduce you to the concept of finger technique. The tendency is to slap a key down and upon the release, let the finger fly. This is going to affect the quality of sound and pitch relationship. Let me just demonstrate that really quickly for you. I’m going to put [my fingers] down not very nicely and release them the same way. [demonstrates]

    As you can hear, the tone quality on the release, the pitch relationship is sharp and I’ve lost all the bottom int he sound. Now I’m going to do it conceptually the way that I think. [demonstrates]

    Now I’ve a balance of tone quality. Nothing is sticking out, nothing is popping out. The upper note is not exploding on me. Something I find very helpful is to practice in front of a mirror. This way, you can see your fingers. You can see if you’re really keeping your fingers on the pearls. And now you’ll be able to hear the difference. Your tone quality will be the same. The line will flow and actually, it will be easier to play.

    So the next time I’ll be in your area, I hope you’ll come and join me for my master clinic and hope to see you then. Thank you.

    October 13, 2014 • Lessons • Views: 2085

  • Lessonface // Sponsor Love

    Today I’d like to spotlight Lessonface, one of our our wonderful Teen Jazz Sponsors!

    We have a number of sponsors without whom, we would be unable to do what we do here at Teen Jazz. As a big thanks to each of these fantastic companies and artists, I’d like to begin introducing a few of them to you.

    How It Works – Speed Demo! from Lessonface on Vimeo.

    Lessonface is a live online music lesson website that specializes in connecting students with teachers around the world with face-to-face video lessons. Each teacher is screened and specially picked by Lessonface to guarantee students a great experience; so much so, that they offer a money back guarantee if you aren’t happy with your first lesson!

    Lessons are offered on nearly every instrument including saxophone, trumpet, tuba, ukulele, dulcimer, banjo, piano, voice, beatboxing, harmonica, violin, and more. They also offer instruction in Logic, Pro Tools, Sound Forge, Mixing and Mastering, Theory, Improvisation, Songwriting and more.

    Both individual lessons and group classes are available through Lessonface (you may have seen our post discussing a masterclass with Katie Bull) and you can participate using a computer and webcam or tablet.

    Site | Twitter | Facebook

    Where to start: Parents Start Here | Find a Teacher | How it Works

    Want to be featured on Teen Jazz? Check out our sponsorship options here.

    August 12, 2014 • Lessons, Teen Jazz • Views: 2010

  • 12 Things to Practice and How they Help You

    Last year, as part of my Project 365, I’ve experimented with several different practice materials to see what would help me improve the quickest and most efficiently. To start, I’d like to say that it’s good to mix up your practice sessions, so don’t stick to any one kind of resource. It’s good to constantly challenge yourself and try new things.

    If you’d like our free Project 365 worksheet, you can download it here.

    1. Etudes

    Etudes are really great for sight-reading and really focused studies. If you’re having an issue with any aspect of your playing, there are almost always etudes that focus on helping you improve those areas. I keep a large collection of etudes on hand in a variety of styles to keep my sight-reading abilities up.

    2. Scales

    Scales are a great way to warm up your fingers and they are also a fantastic way to familiarize yourself with various keys. I suggest learning major scales, minor scales, chromatic scales, thirds, arpeggios, fourths and other scale-like patterns in every key. They can be quite fun to play and they force you to learn to move around comfortably in the more difficult key signatures.

    3. Warm Up Exercises

    Long tones, patterns, tonguing or picking exercises are another great way to warm up your fingers and help you improve things like your tone, articulation, pitch, etc. Warm-up exercises aren’t always a lot of fun to do, but they can really help eliminate inconsistencies in your playing.

    4. Transcriptions (from books)

    Book transcriptions can be a great resource. I particularly like the Charlie Parker Omnibook and I also have a few others. I don’t seem to internalize the book transcriptions I study quite as well as the transcriptions I do from recordings, but I think they work well in that they allow you to really study harmony. You can see which notes the performers are choosing over to play various chords, what scales they’re using and which arpeggios.

    5. Transcriptions (from recordings)

    This past year, this has been the best way for me to improve. It allows me to really push myself and forces me to “use my ears.” I’ve learned quite a bit of new vocabulary studying various recordings and this has been an incredibly helpful and beneficial way for me to practice.

    6. Live Performance (tracks)

    I’m not suggesting that you should practice on a gig, but any time you’re out performing, you’re getting experience and you’re learning. Plus, you get to see which aspects of your practice “stick” in a live situation and which you need to keep working on. Playing track gigs presents the challenge of creating an energetic live performance without the help of other musicians. It also helps you build your playing endurance because you’re playing far more than you would be if there were other musicians.

    7. Live Performance (band)

    Playing with other musicians (especially when they’re better than you) is a great way to grow and improve as a musician. I recommend doing this as often as possible if you really want to push yourself. But, you can’t just go and play and expect to get better. You have to be willing to stretch and try new things, let the other musicians push you places you wouldn’t normally be comfortable going.

    8. Jam Sessions

    See live performances above. Jam sessions are a great way to “test” yourself. If you’re not sure whether or not you’re ready to gig, you can head out to jam sessions to get live performance experience and test the waters. You’ll meet a ton of other musicians at various levels, play new material, get ideas for tunes you want to learn and more.
    + Jam Session Etiquette
    + Jam Session Directory
    + How to Get the Most Out of Jam Sessions

    9. Recording

    Recording requires a completely different approach to performance than the live setting. It requires a higher level of execution and an entirely different energy. You can always practice recording yourself on your own – you can write songs and record yourself playing or singing along, you can record along with karaoke tracks or create your own tracks for your favorite songs.

    10. Improvisation

    Whether or not you play in the jazz genre, I think improvisation is a great thing to practice especially if you’re interested in composition. There are great instruction books that help illustrate improvisation methods, but you can also find a ton of videos on Youtube for free.

    11. Learning tunes/repertoire

    The more material you know, the more opportunities you’ll have to perform. I recommend learning a ton of the music in the style you perform, but it’s also fun and beneficial to step outside what you’d normally play and learn something in an entirely different genre. You never know what kind of ideas you’ll get.

    12. Learning music outside of the genres you typically play (see above)

    What do you like practice?

    July 29, 2014 • Lessons • Views: 2118

  • Finding Your Mentor and Your Voice | Katie Bull

    We’d like to thank LessonFace for sponsoring this post. You can check out their upcoming masterclass with Katie Bull here. 

    “The voice is beautifully mysterious – sound vibration is an awesome, beautiful phenomenon – sometimes joyous, sometimes scary. So it’s good to have a playful heart when you’re in that landscape.” – Katie Bull

    Our voices are the one musical instrument we are born with, and while it can be argued that not everyone “should” sing, there’s no reason that we all can’t sing. It’s only a matter of tapping into what we’ve been given and making the most of that resource.

    “But I can’t sing!” you say. Did you know that this sense of inability, of creating this sort of exclusion, the idea that music performance is reserved for an “elite” collection of musicians who have spent the time honing their craft, is a very Western (and even relatively recent) idea. There are many cultures around the world and in history that see music as a community activity where everyone participates and enjoys performing in some way regardless of skill.

    And this idea, that we just need to own what we already have, closely aligns with vocal coach Katie Bull’s teaching methods, “Ultimately, you really are designed to sing and speak, which is about communication. It seems simple, but the natural voice is about authentic conversation, something we use every day; so, tap into that.”

    In preparation for her upcoming masterclass with Jay Clayton, LessonFace recently interviewed vocalist Katie Bull on her methods and thoughts surrounding singing, and more specifically, that of being a jazz singer. The upcoming seminar, Jazz voice, features Bull’s thoughts on the African proverb “If you can talk, you can sing” and how you can use this philosophy as a pathway to develop your own vocal abilities.

    We read the recent interview and think there are several interesting things to take away from it, so we wanted to share them with you.

    Sometimes the things holding us back aren’t pure inability, they’re just bad habits

    It’s often thought that we are born with our voices the way they are, they can’t be changed. While there is some truth to this, there are things about how we use our voices that can be changed. When we first start singing, there can be certain aspects of it that are more difficult than others (like bridges) and when we’re not sure how to work through them, it can seem impossible to improve in those areas. Thankfully these things are often developed through habits and the tendencies we may have when using our voices. This means that with direction and some work, singing through them and working them out is possible.

    A good singer doesn’t mean that someone just has a “good” voice

    Good singing is so much more than having a pleasant sounding voice. It’s about the way we use our voices. Maybe you don’t have the largest range, but it’s what you do with the range you have. It’s about how expressive, emotional, and authentic you are when you sing.

    All the technical training in the world is useless unless you can connect on an emotional level with your craft

    It may be impressive to have extensive technical abilities as either of vocalist or an instrumentalist, but in the long run, it’s the emotion and meaning behind your performances that will offer you the opportunity to succeed as a performer.

    Finding the right mentor is incredibly important

    A good mentor makes the learning experience all about you – they give you the tools you need to reflect and look inward to find what works for you and who you are as an artist. Finding someone who can give you the tools to succeed on your own is important and is so much more effective than working with someone who tells you to do things without ever giving you the opportunity to ever understand why.

    Maintain a good awareness of your health

    Pushing yourself too hard and the resulting illnesses can end your career if you aren’t careful. Maintain a good awareness of your health, your fatigue (both mentally and vocally), and understand your limits. Learn to take a break and step back when you need to; it will also help you avoid burnout.

    There you have it! If you’d like to read the interview, you can check it out here.

    Don’t forget to check out the upcoming masterclass with Katie Bull and Jay Clayton over at Lessonface on Wednesdays, July 23 to Aug 27, 2014 from 5-7pm EST. The classes are recorded, so if you can’t make the scheduled time, you can always watch them later. There’s still time to sign up, so don’t miss out!

    You can learn more here: https://www.lessonface.com/

    Katie Bull, critically acclaimed NYC-based jazz vocalist and vocal educator/mentor, took some time over the holiday weekend to answer some questions about her experience teaching vocal exploration and her approach to jazz mentorship, as a way of introducing and promoting her upcoming online jazz voice master class, that she’s teaching in conjunction with her own mentor, Jay Clayton.

    July 15, 2014 • Lessons • Views: 2247

  • The Blues Scale | A Mini Jazz Lesson

    The Blues scale is, I feel, one of my most important scales to learn as it can be used to improvise in many styles of contemporary music such as: Pop, Rock, Blues, Jazz, Funk, R&B, Latin, Gospel, New Age, Reggae, Calypso.

    The Blues Scale

    Learning the blues scale is a great way to start your exploration into improvisation and can be applied to pretty much any style of music.

    C Blues Scale | Teen Jazz

    Download the PDF Exercise Sheet and Playalong Tracks (Free)

    The example above shows the C blues scale (seven note scale) and consists of the following notes based on the major scale of C : root note C, the flat third Eb, fourth F, sharp fourth or flat fifth F# or Gb, fifth G, flat seventh Bb, octave C. The interval between the first and second notes of the scale C to Eb is 11/2 steps, the interval between the second and third notes is 1 step, the interval between the third and fourth notes is ½ step, the interval between the fourth and fifth notes is ½ step, the interval between the fifth and sixth notes is 11/2 steps and the interval between the sixth and seventh notes is one step.

    It is of primary importance to memorize the scale practicing going up and down the scale as well as learning the intervals between the notes. The same intervals apply to the blues scale in the other eleven keys so practice these blues scales as well. This scale can be used over both major and minor keys. The blues scale gives color or dissonance when played over a major chord, the Eb of the C blues scale against the E natural of the C major chord giving that bluesy sound.

    This blues scale provides the beginner improviser with an easy way of playing the same scale over the chord progressions and sounding “bluesy”, however, improvising using the notes of this blues scale can become somewhat tiresome when overused and the blues scale of the relative minor of the key can also be used when playing in a major key adding the 2nd, 3rd and 6th notes of the major scale, creating variation in the improvisation. In the example below the 2nd, 3rd and 6th notes of the major scale “C” are the notes of D, E and A respectively.

    A blues scale | Teen Jazz

    The A blues scale, (relative minor of C) as described in the previous paragraph, uses the same series of notes in the scale and intervals as the C blues scale.

    Going further, we can combine both the major and relative minor blues scales together producing a scale that has a chromatic run from the second to the fifth giving a more jazzier sound to your improvisation.

    Combination blues scale | Teen Jazz

    Learning, memorizing and playing these scales and patterns so that they make sense musically can take some time so please be patient with yourself as you develop these skills, it is similar to learning a new language whereby you first learn words, then phrases, sentences etc.

    Notes and Tips:

    When playing a 12 Bar Blues progression whether in a major or minor key, you can play the blues scale of that key through the whole progression even though the chords are changing. As mentioned previously, when playing in a minor key the blues scale of that minor key is generally the only blues scale used.

    Download the PDF Exercise Sheet and Playalong Tracks (Free)

    Want more great advice and music lessons like this?

    Andrew D Gordon has over 100 books available through his publishing company ADG Productions for a variety of instruments and in a large collection of styles.

    Check it out!

    andrew-d-gordonWritten by – Andrew D Gordon, Teen Jazz Contributor

    Andrew D Gordon is a pianist, educator and founding member of the Smooth Jazz group The Super Groovers. He was born in London, England and moved to Los Angeles in 1979 where he has since had the opportunity to perform with several notable musicians. He owns ADG Music Production, a music education company with over 100 publications in a variety of music genres for most instruments. He is currently a professor at Shepherd University and CSCM.

    January 22, 2014 • Lessons • Views: 4165

  • Diatonic 7th chords | Ascending & Descending Blocked and Broken chords in Root Position


    Diatonic chords are chords that naturally occur within a key. They contain only the notes found in the scale or key that you’re working in. There are seven diatonic chords in every key with each chord built from one of the 7 notes in the scale.

    Download the PDF Exercise Sheet in C Major (Free)

    Root Position

    The chords in this exercise are all in root position, or built on the root of each scale tone of the given Major Scale. The first 3 tones of each chord is the basic triad, which is 3 – note chord stacked in 3rds when in root position. A student should become familiar with the diatonic triads first before embarking on studying the diatonic 7th chords in this hand out. 7th chords have four tones stacked in 3rds when in root position.

    Block Chords

    Block chords are when all of the chord tones are played simultaneously. This can only happen on chordal instruments such as guitar, piano, harp and vibraphone. Melodic instruments can play one part of the chord tone at a time and can divide up the block chords with other melodic instruments to hear the whole chord harmonically.

    Broken Chords

    Broken chords are when you play each individual notes of the chord melodically.

    Ear Training

    It is highly recommended that a student learn to sing the chord tones individually along with learning to play them on your instrument to develop and train the ear to hear the intervals and harmonies. Intervals are the distance between two notes.


    The next step to learning these chords is to learn the inversions of each chord. A chord inversion simply means rearranging the notes in a given chord. To invert a chord you move the lowest note or the bottom note up an octave.


    It is important for a student to learn these diatonic chord progressions and arpeggios in all 12 major keys so they can be applied to various chord progressions in different keys.


    The chords and patterns in this exercise can be used as tool for developing melodies for improvisation and for learning chord progressions and how they relate to the key signature. One great way to start is to play these exercises with a metronome to get fluidity and then experiment with developing some melodies using the chord tones and passing tones over diatonic chord progressions in the given key such as: I – IV – V7;
    ii7 – V7 – IMaj7 or IMaj7 – vi7 – ii7 – V7. It is preferable to practice these with a live rhythm section or some sort of play along or accompaniment track.

    Enjoy the process and have fun experimenting with new ideas!

    Download the PDF Exercise Sheet in C Major (Free)

    If you’ve enjoyed these exercises, you can download the remaining keys for $0.99. Get the Diatonic 7th Chord Exercises in all 12 keys here:


    December 6, 2013 • Lessons • Views: 4108

  • Practice and Practical Application

    This article is a guest post from Sean Winter

    This article is to discuss learning to play what you’ve practiced for the beginning improviser. In the 12 years I’ve played and numerous teachers or clinicians I’ve encountered I always get a different answer to the question “Do you think while you play?” I want to talk about a few different ways to think about this and to try and offer my own perspective as a player.


    This is the one that gets said the most. You should not being thinking about what you are going to play because if you are thinking too much it distracts from your ability to connect to the music and perform with spontaneity. You wouldn’t think about how to spell the words you are speaking so why would you try and deconstruct what you’re about to play before you play it? Furthermore; you should not try and play the things you’ve practiced on the gig. That you should just do practicing in the practice room and when you are at the gig you just play, free and uninhibited by anything.

    This answer has always made a great deal of sense to me. Ultimately our goal is the music and creation. Improvisers compose solos on the spot as apart of the interaction with the band in an effort to make the value of the band greater than the sum of its parts.

    But then what do you play? What is the point of practicing all your scales and modes and ii-V licks and anything else if you aren’t allowed to use them? We hear the greats of today playing pre-rehearsed patterns all the time. Are we supposed to think that they didn’t intend to play those amazing solos before they played them? I’d be quite shocked if they weren’t thinking about how to approach the song as it was playing before they took their solo.

    Many great players have recognizable licks and tricks that make them unique. It would be smart to assume that someone as proficient at saxophone altissimo as Lenny Pickett practiced it to death before going out and performing it.

    I think it’s important to realize that when someone tells you that you shouldn’t be thinking while playing it’s meant as more of a conceptual answer. You shouldn’t have to think in order to play well. If you practice something enough you won’t have to think about it in order to play it. You are free to play anything you want and if it’s a ii-V lick you’ve played a million times, that’s O.K.


    You should think about how you’re playing while you’re playing. Have a plan. What are you going to do to make your solo unique? Perhaps you’ll start out ripping and just play a shredding solo all the way through. Your solo could be a slow cooker and build to a long awaited climax. It could just be an extended funky repetition of notes running through the changes of the song. All of these ideas are valid and have a place.

    As improvisers it’s basically our job to make solos interesting. The only way to increase our musical vocabulary is to listen and practice. Great soloists are able to play with our minds. They are able to make us feel the emotions they’re conveying through their music. After hours upon hours of dedicated practice they have learned different devices to help aid them in conveying these emotions.

    To say that these improvisers don’t or never think while they play is in my opinion not entirely accurate.

    The greatest solos are constructed out of a deep knowledge and understanding of the music being played whether it is funk or bebop. In order to accurately play what we hear we need to know what sounds we are trying to play before we play them. If we want to play a diminished substitution over a dominant chord we need to quickly determine which chord it is we are playing over and which diminished scale we are going to use. If we didn’t think about these things and then play them then we would be playing anything at all!

    Ultimately we practice in order to cut down the amount of time it takes our brain to transmit the signals to out hands or feet or vocal chords in order to make the music happen. You may not have to think about how to play a major scale but your brain is constantly thinking in order to help you play the things that you’ve practiced. You are thinking all the time whether you know it or not.

    I’m a thinker. Sometimes it’s because I don’t know the material. Other times it’s because I’m trying to construct something that requires some foresight on my part. Mostly I do it because I’m always trying to improve on my playing and feel I owe it to my audience to at least think about what I’m doing while I do it.

    Having a plan is one of the best tools for soloing in my opinion. That does not mean that you can’t think of ways to play differently and creatively while you are performing. In fact it is your duty as a performer to do so. You should have practiced enough that you make as few mistakes as possible and that you don’t need to think about what you are playing. But in order to progress as players and performers we should constantly by thinking about the music and ways to make our playing more exciting. If that means playing that lick you practiced for hours at home then by all means play it.

    Want more advice like this? Check out our popular FREE eBook – Advice for Young Musicians: From Established Music Professionals.


    Sean WinterWritten by – Sean Winter, Saxophonist

    Sean Winter is a tenor saxophonist from Victoria, British Columbia. He is currently studying to better himself as a musician as well as playing gigs around town with Blues bands, Soul and Reggae bands. He also leads his own Fusion trio called Weapons of Mass Groove. Read his bio.

    February 17, 2013 • Lessons • Views: 2066