A couple of years ago I began to shift away from using the word “solo” with many of my jazz students. This was especially the case for beginning improvisers or the ones who were preoccupied with the chord progressions or playing a barrage of disconnected patterns or licks. Many of them started to sound way better in a very short amount of time.
What to Look for in a Private Music Teacher A Guide for Parents Starting their Children in Music Lessons
When children begin music lessons there is always a lot more happening than just starting lessons. Parents bring their experience as former students or inexperience in music to the table. Experienced teachers bring well-formulated habits and routines that may or may not serve the new student. Inexperienced and young teachers may relate exceptionally well to a young student but not have the ability or experience necessary to efficiently move students from one goal to the next.
Here is part two of the Circle of 5ths series. This one talks about improvising our own melodies…
If you can’t see the video – click here.
Several years ago I had an adult student who was a great jazz player. She felt all of her issues in playing music came from not understanding the circle of fifths. She came in with the diagram and explained it to me perfectly. I said that it sounded like she knew the information really well. But she insisted that I help her use the information within the context of a performance/piece, rather than in a theoretical sense – and especially not restricting it to key signatures.
It took me a while to wrap my head around what she was looking for, but I’m glad she was so adamant about this. Because the series of exercises we worked through and I later refined has become a staple for all of my students from and intermediate level and up. It helps with learning and memorizing large volumes of repertoire (in any genre), improvisation, composing, ear training and reading… Just to scratch the surface.
Here is the first step:
Overview of Teacher Accompaniment Tracks How to Use the Teaching Scores and Accompaniment Tracks with My Method
One of the main concepts my favorite teachers hammered home when I was a student and hopefully I’ve continued the tradition; is an emphasis on playing in time, developing a strong time feel and learning how to make musical decisions on the fly. Hence the large library of accompaniment tracks with this method.
After years of accepting transfer students who wanted to learn classical, jazz, popular music and composing; I realized that much of the information they wanted to know was in the music they already knew how to play. Somehow the information they had accumulated paralyzed them when it came to “creating” their own sounds – even when playing written music. They were either overwhelmed by all the options or going through their mental checklists of everything they were supposed to do to play “correctly”.
This video lesson covers how I begin with every jazz piano student. Swing scales are great because they enable students to focus on their groove and time-feel from the start. Rather than load students up with harmony and theory information, prioritizing the groove should sustain itself through the whole process of learning to play jazz and modern music. Here’s how we start:
This gets pretty heavy into the circle of fifths. I imagine you can work on bits and pieces of this over quite a long time if this is new to you:
There is an old adage that musicians and teachers have said for a long time – “If you can’t sing it, you can’t play it.”
Beginning Improvisation Lesson: Adding Chords Part 1 Tips on adding extra chords to a standard melody
This lesson works through how to add chords to a melody using the circle of fifths or V-of concepts. This is useful for improvising. But it’s also great for performing classical, popular and jazz styles.
There is a lot of info here so take your time and allow it to find it’s place: