book reviews

  • Review of This is Your Brain on Music by Daniel J Levitin

    Author: Daniel J. Levitin
    Publisher: Plume
    Publication Date: August 28th 2007
    Price: $18.00
    Edition: Paperback, 226 Pages

    According to the author, This Is Your Brain on Music: The Science of a Human Obsession, is “about the science of music, from the perspective of cognitive neuroscience.” (p. 11) It provides an extensive two chapter introduction to the concepts of music followed by an interesting study on what happens to the brain when we listen to music.

    My first impression of this book was quite good. I was expecting something different as far as the tone of the writer and the content of the book, but I was pleasantly surprised. His writing style could at times be a little advanced, but he made a decent effort at providing examples of music that are within reach for most readers. For example, following the introduction, there are two chapters on music theory, and while most musicians could skip them or merely gloss over them, they still may be difficult for non-musicians to really grasp.

    The first chapter of the book was captivating, the second was just too long. It really took until about halfway through the book for it to start to get interesting, so for those of you not willing to push through, I might suggest skipping the second and third chapters (particularly if you already have a decent background in music).

    There were several interesting points Levitin made in the book that really grabbed my intention. Some of these were:

    • “Practice is the cause of a achievement, not merely something correlated with it.” p. 196
    • Talent is retrospective, It is a term applied AFTER achievements have been made. You cannot tell whether someone is “talented” or not before those achievements have been made.
    • Chapter 7 discusses why some people excel in music while others quit lessons because they didn’t feel music was for them.
    • Chapter 5 has a really interesting analysis on how we definite music and categorize genres.
    • “In several studies, the very best conservatory students were found to have practiced the most, sometimes twice as much as those who weren’t judged as good.” p. 196
    • “We also know that, on average, successful people have more failures than unsuccessful people” p, 207 Successful people learn from their failures and keep going, unsuccessful people are discouraged by failure so they move on to something else.
    • “So much of the research on musical expertise has looked for accomplishment in the wrong place, in the facility of the fingers rather than the expressiveness of emotion.” p. 209

    The book takes a few chapters to really become interesting (and yes, as many readers have complained, the author does a bit of namedropping), but I think it’s definitely a good read. Recommended.

    Get This Is Your Brain on Music: The Science of a Human Obsession on Amazon.

    February 10, 2014 • Reviews • Views: 1754

  • The Album Checklist Audiobook Bundle

    Record, Plan, Launch and Sell your next album and keep it all organized with The Album Checklist Bundle. We’ll walk you through it, step-by-step, and make the process simple.

    There’s a lot to worry about when you’re planning an album – the writing, arranging, recording, marketing, and release – and there’s a ton of information to keep track of as you move through the process.

    Recording and releasing and album is a challenge, but it doesn’t have to be.

    That’s why we’ve created “The Album Checklist: A Guide and Workbook to Help with the Planning and Preparation of Your Next Album.”

    And now we’re making it even easier! We’re releasing an Audiobook version of the guide as part of the bundle so that you can get ready for your next album while on the go.

    For a limited time we’re going to offer the book version of the “Album Checklist” free with the order of the Audiobook.

    For $4.99 you’ll get:

    • The PDF Version of our 54 pg. Guide
    • A Sample Chapter of “Advice for Up and Coming Musicians”
    • Totally customizable templates to help you budget, track and plan your album
    • The audio version of the guide when it’s available
    • Free updates – the next time we update the book, we’ll send you the new version free!

    This offer is only available for a short time, so don’t miss out.

    Order the Audiobook Version of the Album Checklist Bundle for $4.99

    “The Album Checklist” is a guide and workbook assembled to help simplify the album creation process, provide you with the tools and information to help you make sense of the album planning and recording process with our album guide and workbook. Regardless of whether its your first album, second or third, the templates in this book can help you manage your project.

    The eBook only is also available on Amazon.

    January 20, 2014 • Music and Career Advice • Views: 3720

  • Review of Ultra Smooth Jazz Grooves Method Book & Playalong

    Author(s): Frank Villafranca and Andrew D. Gordon
    Publisher: ADG Productions
    Publication Date: 2009
    Price: $21.95 (for book/cd) $16.95 (for PDF/mp3 files)

    Ultra Smooth Jazz Grooves is available on Amazon.

    I recently stumbled upon a series of books originally published in 2009 entitled “Ultra Smooth Jazz Grooves” from ADG Productions. If the name sounds familiar, it might be because we offered a few of their books as part of our 12 Deals of Christmas on Teen Jazz, but it also might be because the name of the book is a variation of the name of the duo that assembled and wrote it – The Super Groovers (their album “Supergroovin’” did notably well on radio after its release).

    The composers/authors, Saxophonist Frank Villafranca and Keyboardist Andrew D. Gordon, created the “Ultra Smooth Jazz Grooves” series to offer performers instruction in the smooth jazz genre – a style that is often overlooked by music method book publishers. And with their 46-page guide, the pair certainly do an excellent job to provide performers with the tools they need to learn the style and techniques essential to the genre. It’s available for Bb instruments (tenor sax and trumpet), Eb instruments (alto sax or bari sax), Piano, Flute, Guitar and Violin.

    As I mentioned, there isn’t a very wide assortment of materials available for learning smooth jazz, and so, I was quite naturally interested in checking out the books.

    The various tracks and exercises each cover the different styles of music that have influenced the smooth jazz genre including R&B, Jazz, Funk, Rock, Gospel, Latin, Top 40, and even Hip Hop. And although it is designed to suit beginning, intermediate and advanced students, I personally believed it is geared more more towards intermediate and advanced players. Some of the rhythms and exercises are challenging and they might seem daunting to a beginner.

    The concept behind the book is to offer smooth jazz learners three melodic ideas over twenty tracks varying in style so that the player is equipped with the tools and vocabulary frequently utilized in the genre. Each exercise also includes a collection of relevant scales or patterns for further study. As the student progresses through the book, the exercises continue to increase in difficulty, offering a challenging yet fulfilling experience.

    One of the things I found extremely helpful as I navigated my way through the material was the way in which the audio tracks were laid out. Each exercise was first performed by Frank Villafranca and then space was left for me to repeat what I had heard over the backing music. It was really helpful to first here how the exercise should be performed and then have the opportunity to recreate it myself.

    On the other hand, one of the things I found a bit unfortunate was the fact that the extended playalong tracks (so that you can experiment with developing your own improvisation) are not included with the book. I understand that this was done to keep the overall cost down, but I’d rather pay a slightly higher price to get the entire package rather than paying for the book and then find out that I have to get a second set of tracks separately, but that’s just my personal preference.

    Overall, I’d like to say that the exercises and recordings are put together nicely and I learned quite a bit playing through them. Definitely recommended if you’re interested in delving into smooth jazz.

    Get Ultra Smooth Jazz Grooves on Amazon.

    For more information about the “Ultra Smooth Jazz Grooves Series” and the numerous other books available in various styles and for different levels, visit

    In the meantime, check out this video of a young keyboardist in Tbilisi, Georgia who studied Andrew Gordon’s books:

    January 15, 2014 • Reviews • Views: 2257

  • 15 Holiday Gift Ideas for Musicians 2013

    Earlier this week I wrote about my Christmas wish list for my language learning habit over at Eurolinguiste, but I don’t just love learning new languages and so my wish list includes a few music related items too.

    Note: Some of these links are affiliate links, and AT NO ADDITIONAL COST TO YOU, Teen Jazz will make a small commission from a number of the products on this page. It’s an easy way to support our site and help keep us up and running.

    External Storage Device (or a Dropbox Subscription)

    Most musicians are constantly writing or recording music and so having backups of all of their handwork is an absolute must! Get them a USB key or a hard drive or even get them a subscription to Dropbox. Many musicians may also need a place to back up their music collection since most of us are “collecting” digitally now. Musicians using their talents to work commercially or record labels with clients around the world may be in need of a system that allows them to share certain files and documents quickly and securely with the intended people – something like a Filecenter client portal may be of use for this purpose.

    USB Keyboard

    The M-Audio Keyboard is the standard go-to midi keyboard, but if you want to get fancy, the ARTURIAmidi keyboard is beautiful. If they already have a midi keyboard, you can always go for the travel size option (M-Audio Travel Size Midi Keyboard), plus it’s more affordable.

    USB Microphone

    For the musician who is just starting to record, this is great option if they’re using software like Garageband. It gives them an easy way to record and get started. You can get a pretty affordable option here with the Audio-Technica ATR2500-USB Microphone, but you can take it a step up with this one (Audio-Technica AT2020 USB Microphone) from Audio Technica. Blue USB Microphones also have some pretty great reviews on Amazon.

    You can never have enough of these

    Korg CA1 Chromatic Tuner For some reason I seem to either misplace or wear out my tuners so I think it’s time to invest in a new one (or two or three). I’m a fan of the basic Korg tuners and I dig the white color of this one. It will stand out more in my black sax case than the dark gray tuners I’ve had in the past.

    For the Musician Who Cooks

    Fender Tele Cutting Board I’m sorry, but this is the coolest cutting board ever. In addition to music, one of my hobbies is cooking and I kind of love this.


    Music Lessons

    For musicians still in the early stages of musical development, lessons can help a great deal. You can check out music tutors for various instruments and music skills at places like Wyzant, but we’ve also recommended a few more places here.

    Music Success in 9 Weeks by Ariel Hyatt

    Music Success In 9 Weeks by Ariel Hyatt I enjoy reading Ariel Hyatt’s blog on music marketing so it’s quite natural that I’d be interested in her book. Plus, it’s one of Amazon’s top selling music books!

    Introduction to the Music Industry: An Entrepreneurial Approach

    Introduction to the Music Industry: An Entrepreneurial Approach This book appeals to me in so many ways. Since I definitely consider myself a music entrepreneur, the title of this book caught my attention.

    Get More Fans

    Get More Fans: The DIY Guide to the New Music Business At the time of writing, this book is only $3 on Amazon (Kindle version) and it has outstanding reviews (38 five-star reviews and 2 four-star reviews). It looks like an incredibly interesting read.

    First Learn to Practice

    First, Learn to Practice This book has amazing reviews and I’m really interested in what the author has to say about the right ways to practice. I think there’s much to gain from this read. Just make sure your friend knows that you don’t mean anything by it… Or maybe you do?

    This Cool Guitar Pick Necklace

    This solves both the problem of carrying around picks in your pocket and you get a pretty stylish jewelry option that works for either gender. I only came upon this shop owner on Etsy by chance, but I’m now a fan.


    Music Education Stamps (for the beginning student or your music educator friends)

    I wish I had one of these a long time ago! This is an ingenious idea and a fantastic tool for guitar or bass players who read tabs, music teachers, and beginning music students. These stamps are a really fun gift idea.


    Shameless Plug #1: The Album Checklist

    Our book, The Album Checklist, is a great guide and workbook to help you or your musician friends help plan and budget your next (or first) album. It takes you step-by-step through the planning process all the way to post-release marketing and promotion. It has a nice collection of worksheets to help you keep organized too. Details here.

    Shameless Plug #2: Kenkase Reedcases and Guitar Pick Cases

    My dad has a pretty cool business where he handcrafts wood reed and guitar pick cases with tons of customizable options. You can get different sizes (like 5 reeds or 10 reeds), stone inlays, initials, wood combinations, felt colors, wood inlays, etc. It’s a great option for your musician friends and it’s totally personalized. Details here.

    Shameless Plug #3: Holiday Music

    Okay, I know, I’m pushing it with 3 plugs, but I promise this is the last one! I’ve released a holiday album and you can pick up a copy of it here (Signed) or get it digitally on iTunes, Amazon, Bandcamp or CDBaby. We also recommend this album.

    December 14, 2013 • Reviews • Views: 1719

  • Review of DC Music School’s Gypsy Jazz Playalongs

    Series: Playalongs

    Publisher: DC Music School

    Publication Date: 2012

    Price: Free (21 tracks recorded at 100 bpm and 150 bpm with PDF chord charts) -or-
    $24.99 (60 tracks recorded at 100 bpm and 150 bpm with an improvisation guide, PDF chord charts, and 8 studies with transcriptions and tabs on popular tunes)

    Skill Level: Beginner, Intermediate

    DC Music School is an online music learning platform geared towards the gypsy jazz style (although they have a few resources in other genres). I fairly recently interviewed the school’s founder, Denis Chang, and I’ve also had the opportunity to check out quite a few of their resources. I’m a huge fan of the Hono Winterstein Rhythm Guitar Series, and a great supplement to that course (or as a stand-alone product) are his Gypsy Jazz Playalongs.

    There are two versions of the playalong series, a free version that includes around 20 tracks, and a paid version that includes 60 tracks along with a wealth of bonus material. The recordings are good quality, you can definitely use them at a track gig and they are fun to play along to. My only complaint is that sometimes they feel too short! When I really get into it, I am sometimes surprised when the tune comes to an end.

    The tracks (in addition to the Hono Winterstein course) make a wonderful supplement to the other courses available at DC Music School. The violin etudes (which can be played or transcribed for most any instrument) make a wonderful pairing.

    The free playalongs are a great place to start if you’re interested in gypsy jazz. You can access several of the tracks for free at DC Music School or on Youtube, but if you’re really interested in digging in, it’s worth paying $24.99 to get all 60 tracks.


    The creator of DC Music School is Denis Chang. You can read our interview with Denis and his thoughts on music entrepreneurship here.

    November 18, 2013 • Reviews • Views: 1746

  • Second Edition of the Album Checklist Available Now

    The Album Checklist | Teen JazzThe second edition of “The Album Checklist: A Guide and Workbook to Help You Plan Your Album” is now available!

    We’re really excited about the book’s first update. It has a ton of new content with information on everything from brainstorming your project to recording and even marketing it.

    Get the new edition of the Album Checklist Bundle for just $2.99

    “The Album Checklist” is a guide and workbook assembled to help simplify the album creation process, provide you with the tools and information to help you make sense of the album planning and recording process with our album guide and workbook. Regardless of whether its your first album, second or third, the templates in this book can help you manage your project.

    Features Edition 1 Edition 2
    Pages 27 pgs 54 pgs
    Chapters 5 7


    Some of the new features include:

    • Includes a sample chapter from our Advice for Up and Coming Musicians book
    • A Case Study
    • Updated design and layout
    • New sections on Mastering, Copyright Information, Marketing Ideas, Overcoming Obstacles, and more
    • Updated worksheets

    “The Album Checklist” is available for just $2.99. Plus, you’ll get free copies of any later editions of the book.

    Get the new edition of the Album Checklist Bundle

    The Album Checklist is also available on Amazon.

    October 11, 2013 • Music and Career Advice • Views: 2781

  • A Review of The Art of Daily Practice by Nicholas Tozier

    To start out with this review, I just wanted to let you all know that I received access to Nick Tozier’s course on Songwritten without charge in exchange for an honest review of “The Art of Daily Practice.”

    About the Course

    “The Art of Daily Practice” is (at the time of writing) a five part course that offers encouraging and constructive advice on how to pursue regular and rewarding practice as a musician and songwriter. It has no set expiration, so you can work at your own pace and there is an audio and transcript version of each section.

    To summarize the course, “The Art of Daily Practice” is a guide to help songwriters and musicians discover the courage and tools necessary to develop strong practice habits. Nick’s course really focuses on developing a system for practice that includes improving focus, finding a dedicated space, utilizing a practice journal, and establishing attainable goals.

    The first thing I would like to point out is that I think Nick’s course is a really great resource for those of you looking to find time to practice more regularly, to set aside better structured practice time, or to overcome any number of obstacles that may prevent you from practicing or getting ahead with your practice.

    And although it gives a few suggestions in passing, I should note that this course does not cover what to practice. Figuring out what to practice depends on your goals as a musician, the genre of music you play and what level you’re at with your playing. There are a few other online courses that discuss what to practice more specifically (i.e. Bob Reynold’s Video Sax Lessons), whereas “The Art of Daily Practice” helps you figure out how. It provides you with the tools to break down practice goals into smaller steps that give you plenty to work out on your own.

    My Thoughts on The Art of Daily Practice

    Overall, I found the course helpful and I came out of it with a few ideas as to how I could improve the time I spend practicing. I found his concentration tips extremely beneficial as well as his suggestions on how to better utilize your practice journal.

    One of my favorite tips from the course actually had me laughing out loud, not so much because I thought it was funny, but because it was actually something I initially did when I started my Project 365 at the beginning of the year. His tip was to “bribe yourself to practice.” It’s a lot easier to find the motivation to practice when there’s an immediate reward at the end (something that isn’t always apparent in your playing, things take time to make their appearance).

    As far as room for improvement, I think that there’s a few small things that Nick could do. I think it would be beneficial to be able to keep track of your progress in the course. The visited links currently do not show as a different color than those you have yet to check out, so perhaps he could change their color or each completed section gets a checkmark after you’ve read through the article or listened to the audio.

    I also think that the action items might be better placed at the end of each article (smaller tasks to take on after each bit of information) rather than having one or two larger project to work out. I also think that the worksheets could be more like worksheets than pages with a list of things to do.

    Additionally, I feel that the sections for songwriting should be more clearly separated from the rest of the articles only because I feel that this is a very particular section that not everyone taking the course may be particularly interested in. Perhaps adding titles to each of the five sections would resolve this so that those who are more interested in how practice applies to their instrument can skip or gloss over those articles.

    As a side note, I should mention that it seems that some of the material is also available through Nick’s blog if you’re willing to take the time to look. The advantage of the course, however, is that it offers the information in one easily accessible and reference-able space so that you don’t have to do much digging. For example, this article “How do I know if I have what it takes?” is on his blog here, and it’s also in the first section of the course.

    “The Art of Daily Practice” students can also look forward to a few upcoming changes including updates on the course material as Nick continues his research and a forum where we can discuss “the ups and downs of learning the craft.”

    $45.00 USD (30 day money back guarantee) gets you unlimited access to the course and any updates that may be added in the future.

    You can learn more about The Art of Daily Practice or signup here.

    Here’s a breakdown of what the course includes:

    Week 1

    • Find out why talent matters a lot less than you think it does (and maybe doesn’t matter at all).
    • Finally lay to rest that troublesome question: “How do I know if I have what it takes?”
    • Learn to spot the seductive practice trap of “overplaying”, which is fun and satisfying but ultimately stunts your long-term growth.
    • Set clear goals for the level of ability you want and then rough out realistic plans for getting there.
    • Identify the right level of difficulty, the “sweet spot” of practice where you’re challenged but not overwhelmed.
    • Tackle even the toughest challenges head-on with the Crawl, Walk, Run technique.
    • Pinpoint exactly why showing up daily is hard for you, and hold yourself accountable for progress.

    Week 2

    • Discover why you have more time to practice than you think you do.
    • Resist distractions and focus deeply to get the most out of your limited practice time.
    • Learn to spot—and fill—the gaps in your knowledge of the craft.
    • Create and maintain a practice space that really works for you.

    Week 3

    • Learn how to take apart the songs of your favorite songwriters and figure out how they’re constructed.
    • Identify and avoid the most common ruts and pitfalls of self-teaching (like convincing yourself you’ve mastered something that you haven’t).
    • Find out why those guitar and music theory books have just been sitting on your shelf collecting dust. Hint: it’s not necessarily your fault…

    Week 4

    • Discover the deep satisfaction of working at your art, and the positive ripple effect it can have on the rest of your life.
    • Find out how to work hard without exhausting yourself.
    • Leverage what you know about deliberate practice to map uncharted musical territory and dominate areas where most players don’t have effective practice routines.
    • How to get back on track when you fall out of the practice habit.

    Week 5

    • Discover the deep satisfaction of working at your art, and the positive ripple effect it can have on the rest of your life.

    September 17, 2013 • Reviews • Views: 1657

  • A Review of Randy Hunter’s New eBook Lesson Series

    I am one of a generation that arguably should be ecstatic about or even quick in the adoption of ebooks and other electronic material, but for nostalgic reasons I’ve often fought it tooth and nail (despite the fact that they still need to go through the same processes as a physical book, including things like working with Freelance Book Editors to ensure it’s fit for publication). It was only during this past year and my first full move that I began to realize the convenience and value of ebooks (they don’t take up space and you don’t have to carry them country to country or apartment to apartment).

    Because I only just recently admitted to the practicality of reading an eBook, taking on music ebooks still seemed like a stretch to me. I have an entire bookshelf dedicated to my music library including hand-me-downs and repertoire I’ve purchased, and making the transition wasn’t at the top of my list. That was, of course, before I checked out Randy Hunter’s eBook.

    A few weeks back Randy Hunter announced his new eBook series on Saxontheweb (a great forum by the way if you aren’t already a member) and I knew I had to get a copy. I wrote a review of one of Mr. Hunter’s books a few years back, and I’m a fan. But even so, I was still a bit skeptical about the concept of eBook lessons.

    The eBook was “Relating the Pentatonics, Part 2” from his Jazz Saxophone Lessons series, which uses a variety of multimedia to create virtual lessons for beginning saxophonists. According to Hunter, “Through a combination of media including text, graphics, video, and audio, you have a virtual private jazz saxophone lesson at your fingertips. Even better, you can revisit the material as many times as necessary before shedding the practice routine outlined in the lesson.”

    The interactive version of the lessons mentioned above are available for iBooks, but the video and PDF versions for those who do not have an iPad, iPod, or Mac (iBooks will soon be available on Mac Computers) are also available.

    In “Relating the Pentatonics, Part 2,” Randy Hunter teaches students pentatonic patterns and gives them a few ways to use them for improvisation using a nice mix of media to help the student understand the material. In addition to videos with Hunter explaining the different sections of the lesson, there are sound clips of him playing the exercises, text guides, written versions of the patterns, play-alongs and even a “I play-you play” section of the lesson so that the student can emulate the ways Hunter uses the pentatonic scale over the changes.

    The exercises are available in C, Bb, and Eb so that tenor and alto saxophone players do not need to transpose (although they should try before checking out the transpositions). Working through the lesson can take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour depending on how much time you spend on each section, but because the material is an eBook, it’s available for reference even after you’ve “completed” the lesson.

    In summary, I love the idea of having lessons available in an interactive eBook form. With the videos, graphics and audio, it’s a great way to find practice inspiration and get expert advice without the high cost of a private tutor.* I think these eLessons are a fun and interesting way to tackle new material, and they’re also an affordable way to get informative lessons for the times a private teacher may be out of reach.

    I should also mention that it’s not only the idea of eLessons that I love, but Randy Hunter’s in particular are put together really well. The instructions are easy to follow and he includes the perfect amount of material for a lesson – not too little and not too much. The lessons also have the added benefit of being portable. With the lesson available on your laptop or iPad, you can access the lesson anywhere and at anytime.

    I definitely hope that Mr. Hunter continues his series, adds new material and even versions of his lessons for new instruments. They’re definitely a great resource for the up and coming saxophonist.

    * As a side note, I should mention that I do not feel eBook lessons should replace private teachers, but can instead supplement music lessons. The feedback you receive from a private teacher is highly valuable.

    If you’re interesting in learning more information about Randy Hunter, or you would like to check out his eBook series and other books, the material is available on his website. Visit Randy Hunter Jazz.

    July 10, 2013 • Reviews • Views: 1750

  • Complete Jazz Styles by Randy Hunter | Review


    “Complete Jazz Styles Book 2” has 12 different etudes in various styles – Latin, Swing, Funk, Ballad, Waltz, Rock, and Bop. “Nobody’s Fool” (ballad), “Streamline” (the rock tune), and “Same as Yesterday” (slow funk) are more advanced tunes for a more advanced player or tunes for when a student is looking for something more challenging and/or has already studied the other tunes.

    “Complete Jazz Styles Book 2” has two tracks for each tune – a demonstration track (where the student can hear how the track should sound, or so they can play along with Randy playing the melody) and an accompaniment track where the student can play the track alone.

    Randy Hunter plays woodwinds on the tracks, Guy Fenocchi plays guitar, John Hooper is on bass and Tim Nash is on drums.

    “Complete Jazz Styles Book 2” is available for saxes (Eb and Bb), trumpet, and trombone. Randy Hunter has several other books available including a duet book. “Complete Jazz Styles Book 2” is endorsed by people like Joe Lovano.


    Visually, “Complete Jazz Styles Book 2” is very appealing. The book is very colorful, very attractive to the eye – something a student would pick for themselves based on the look of the book. I think that this is a good thing for a book aimed at students to have because in addition to teacher recommendation, students will trip across it on their own as well since image plays a big part in making something appear attractive to younger people.

    Looking at the music, there is not “a lot of black” (or too many notes with too difficult rhythms), so it is not “scary” to look at as some etude books are, and is less likely to intimidate a student. The music is simple enough to give the student ideas of what to play over the given changes and with the CD, allows them to experiment with their own ideas as well.

    There are comments on what to do for each tune that help to explain and aid the style the etudes should be played with at the bottom of each tune. I feel that these side notes should be near the top so that it is the first thing that the student sees. I also think that the song/songs that the changes are based off of should be listed so that the student knows as reference.

    So, after reading the liner notes and text/information in the book, I threw the play-a-long CD into my boom box and played along with the CD. I found that listening to Randy Hunter play all the etudes first really helped as far as style and articulation. You heard his interpretation of the etude first, giving you an idea of how it is meant to be played, but also leaving it open to your own interpretation. I think this really helps students to emulate someone else, and Randy Hunter has a great sound to imitate.

    Also, the fact that the book has a play-a-long CD helps the student to practice playing with a group. It is a great alternative to an Aebersold which only gives you a melody and leaves it up to you to come up with a solo, “Complete Jazz Styles” gives you a brief melody and an example of an excellently shaped, example solo. This book has great lines that every student should make their own and will really help improve their jazz vocabulary and solo ideas.

    Get the Book for Tenor Sax Complete Jazz Styles Introductory Etudes in Jazz Comprehension, Book1: Tenor Sax

    Get the Book for Alto or Bari Sax Complete Jazz Styles Introductory Etudes in Jazz Comprehension, Book1: Alto/Bari Sax

    Get the Book for Trumpet Complete Jazz Styles Introductory Etudes in Jazz Comprehension, Book1: Trumpet

    Get the Book for Trombone Complete Jazz Styles Introductory Etudes in Jazz Comprehension, Book1: Trombone

    October 17, 2012 • Reviews • Views: 1774



    “Saxophone – Everything Sax Players Should Know” offers advice on everything from equipment (reeds, mouthpieces, necks, ligatures, etc.) to technique (embouchure, breathing, vibrato), how to practice, and even describes the anatomy of the saxophone and its function. The book also provides saxophone basics such as scales, blues, basic improvisation, suggested listening, and saxophone fingerings.


    “Saxophone – Everything Sax Players Should Know” was very cleverly designed in a Student to Teacher form, allowing notes and other important things to be added into the book by the student or the teacher to become an excellent and very personal resource to its owner.

    The Suggested Listening I personally felt was the best section of “Saxophone – Everything Sax Players Should Know”. It illustrated everything I’ve heard a thousand times – to steal ideas from everyone. It explained the importance of emulating what others do and making it your own. He also recommends a few artists, but leaves it mostly up to the listener to determine their tastes so they don’t get burnt out on any one style or person. He also lists non sax players which shows that you can learn from people who don’t play your instrument – which I feel is something often overlooked; and specifically by young musicians.

    The jazz section is very well introduced as opposed to more traditional (aka stiff) beginning jazz books. Aaron Santee provides in detail the significance and function of scales and sounds by describing the moods and effects they create in music.

    All in all, I feel that “Saxophone – Everything Sax Players Should Know” is best targeted to the beginning adult saxophonist. Because of the layout of this book, a more mature player with a teacher would find more use than a young player. Also, because “Saxophone – Everything Sax Players Should Know” points out things that beginners often overlook, it would be a great book for beginning teachers of where to start and what to teach their students.

    October 16, 2012 • Reviews • Views: 1555