Archive for the ‘Ear’ Category

How to Learn Chord Changes Straight Off a Recording: A Handbook [Free Download]

Friday, June 17th, 2016

Learn chord changes from a recording

Learning a tune straight from a recording is THE way to learn it. But the most difficult part is always deciphering the chord changes…

And it’s certainly not an easy task compared to the alternative of simply grabbing a fake book and looking up the chord changes.

But there are huge benefits to learning the chord changes with your ear straight from the recording rather than just looking them up.

Many times, the chord changes you find in fake books are incomplete or just plain wrong, but the main thing is that you’re missing out on a HUGE growth opportunity every time you just look up the chords, instead of at least trying to figure out the chords for yourself.

The process of figuring out the chord changes to a tune with YOUR ear and mind will help you grow as a musician, greatly improve your ear, and help you to permanently learn the changes on a deep level that you won’t forget.

So if it’s so great to learn the changes straight from the recording, how come people avoid it? Well, simply put: it’s hard.

Or, at least people think it is…

They tried it once, it was difficult, and that was it.

But with the right process guiding you through each step and a little kick in the right direction, you CAN do it.

Download the FREE Handbook on Learning Chord Changes Straight From a Recording

Download the handbook

Download it now and enjoy … Read More

The Jazz Musician’s Most Important Tool: How To Strengthen Your Musical Memory

Monday, February 1st, 2016

A jazz musician's most important tool

What is a jazz musician’s most important tool?

Is it their ear? Their technique? The concepts at their disposal?

All of these are extremely important, but without this one specific tool, they’re all useless…

The jazz musician’s most important tool is their memory.

Harold Mabern used to drive this point home to us all the time.

Think about it.

You can have the best ear in the world, name any sound you hear, transcribe a progression with ease…

But if you can’t retain the information you’re learning in your mind and recall it for instantaneous use later, it’s not going to help you be a better improviser.

You can’t go on stage with a book of the things you know, the lines, the tunes, the concepts…everything has to be in your mind.

And really, that’s the only stuff you actually know.

Joe Henderson took this to the extreme in his teaching style.

Joe Henderson teaching style

In general, Joe didn’t allow the student to record the lesson or write down anything on staff paper. Everything had to be memorized right away.

So what exactly does a having a great memory in terms of playing jazz music mean?

And, how can we best develop this talent?

How to use your memory in jazz

In terms of jazz improvisation, memory means two things

  1. memorizing things with your ear
  2. memorizing things with your mind

Yes, technically memorizing something with your ear still is in your mind, but nevertheless, we’ll refer to this as the “ear part”…

There’s … Read More

Can Your Ears Pass This Simple Test? The Answer Might Surprise You…

Thursday, October 8th, 2015

pass_test_post

You’re waiting by the stage…

In a few moments it’ll be your turn to walk into the spotlight to take a solo.

And your heart is beating a mile a minute…

But there’s just one problem – you don’t know the key of the song and you don’t know the chords.

All you know is that you need to start your solo as soon as the melody ends…

You keep thinking “Can I pull this off?” Well it all depends on one question: How good are your ears?

It’s one thing to talk about ear training and connecting your ears to your instrument.

…but it’s another thing entirely to get on stage with the confidence that you can hear anything that comes your way.

Sure, you might have an ear training class under your belt and you may be able to identify each interval on a quiz, but are you ready to start improvising with your ear alone?

Most players have never asked themselves this question and they get the answer at the worst possible time: on stage in front of an audience.

So think about your own ears – would they pass the test in live performance?

Don’t wait until it’s too late to find out…

Let’s start with a test

Take the tune Trane’s Blues from the Miles Davis album Workin’.

Here’s your test:

  1. Press play on the video below
  2. Listen to the melody until Miles solo starts (:20 sec)
  3. Now sing the root of
Read More

10 Brilliant Jazz Solos And What You Can Learn From Them

Monday, August 31st, 2015

brilliant_post

There is a secret that all great musicians have in common…

You won’t hear it on their recordings or even in their live performances. And some may even deny it that it ever happened at all.

But look back even further you’ll find it…

The truth is that every great musician started out as a musical apprentice. And the history of this music is full of countless examples.

Miles Davis moving to New York to seek out the new music of Charlie Parker, a young Frank Sinatra absorbing the performances of Billie Holiday and Ethel Waters, Lee Morgan learning the musical language of Clifford Brown…

In each and every case, imitation was the key that unlocked the door to creativity. And if you want to improve as a musician, the same must be true for you.

As a musician today, this apprenticeship is done by imitating the style and sound of your favorite musicians – transcribing solos.

If you haven’t transcribed a solo before or found the entire process frustratingly difficult, not to worry – it’s time to start fresh! Here are 10 Brilliant Jazz solos and what you’ll learn from them…

1) Miles Davis, Blues by Five

When you begin improvising it’s easy to become obsessed with each and every chord…

You want to play the right notes and you want to sound good in front of your fellow musicians. So you start focusing on individual chords, scales and individual notes . And this will put your creativity … Read More

How to Train Your Ears Like a Jazz Musician

Thursday, August 27th, 2015

Jazz Ear Training

A reader wants to know “What makes jazz ear training different from just general ear training?”

That’s a great question and I definitely had to think to arrive at an answer. They both focus on intervals, chords, root movement and have other common ground, but how are they actually different?

Over the years, I’ve taken quite a few general ear training classes and had both positive and negative experiences. I will say though, no formal ear training class gave me the ear training tools and techniques I truly needed to develop as an improviser.

And really, it’s not their fault. First off, the specific aspects that make jazz ear training different than general ear training are rarely talked about, or even given thought to, so most people teaching ear training typically teach ear training in one general way.

And secondly, ear training isn’t really meant for the classroom.  It’s something you do everyday on your own: a daily practice, pushing your ear forward, building upon your current aural knowledge while continually strengthening your fundamentals.

It’s not difficult or magical. It’s simple and repetitive, taking the sounds you want to get familiar with and ingraining them on a deeper and deeper level until they click.

A deeper level than general ear training

In many general ear training choruses, the goal is simply identification. If you can guess the correct interval or chord, then…ding ding ding! We have a winner! That is correct says Chris Farley.

Chris Farley - That is correct

Nothing in ear training should … Read More

The 5 Skills You Won’t Learn in School, Skill Five: Ear Training for Jazz Improvisation

Monday, July 6th, 2015

Ear Training for Jazz Improvisation

What exactly is ear training?

You’ve heard musicians talk about it. Your teachers have recommended it. And if you’re a regular to Jazzadvice you’ve seen it pop up in more than a few posts…

But I’m guessing the thing that’s made the biggest impression on you was being in the presence of a musician with truly amazing ears.

That gifted player that can pick out the melody to any tune in a matter of seconds. That can simply grab their instrument and solo in any key without a second thought. That can improvise over an unfamiliar chord progression in the blink of an eye.

Somehow these players have trained their ears to become finely tuned sound processing machines.

But what does the term “ear training” mean for the rest of us and how exactly are you going get your ears to that level?

Is it a class that you take?

Is it learning that an interval like the perfect 4th sound like “Here Comes the Bride?”

Or is it something more…

The truth about ear training

Ear Training and Jazz Improvisation

If you look at how most schools approach the subject of ear training you’ll find the same few topics:

Interval recognition, sight singing, rhythmic dictation, solfege…

All good information to know and useful for the musician that is going to be reading or even sight reading music.

But is this practical for an improviser?

Is this enough training for someone that wants to get onstage and perform music on the spot? To create solos … Read More

5 Skills You Won’t Learn in School, Skill One: How to Connect Your Ear to Your Instrument

Friday, March 20th, 2015

Skill one: how to connect your ear to your instrument

You’re a trumpet player.

You play the piano or the guitar. Maybe you’ve taken up the saxophone.

Out of a dozen different instruments, this is the one that you’ve chosen to amplify your musical voice.

You identify with it, you wield it with pride, and you strive to follow in the tradition of the fine players that paved the way before you.

You’ve collected etudes, method books, and instructional videos. You have hundreds of recordings by the masters of your instrument and each week you take lessons and faithfully practice.

Before you know it this instrument becomes the center of your musical and creative output. Your life as a musician starts when you pick it up and stops when you put it down.

But what would happen if you took away that instrument? What if I stormed into your practice room and snatched that instrument out of your hand?

Suddenly you’re standing there all alone in an empty room – are you still a musician?

Think about it…

Right now, as you’re reading this, think of a melody in your mind. Can you create these sounds without your instrument?

This probably sounds ridiculous, why would you do that? Well, I used to think the same thing…

Not so long ago I was a college music major intent on becoming a great improviser. Through school I had learned all of my scales, I was on top of my music theory, and I dedicated the majority of each day to practicing technique.… Read More

Stop right there! Don’t Touch Your Instrument until You Do these 4 Simple Exercises

Wednesday, December 17th, 2014

All practice is not created equal.

There’s the practice that’s fun. You’re in a room with your instrument and maybe a few friends and you just start playing. The minutes fly by, but you’re not exactly working…

Then there’s the practice that feels like homework. You’ve got a lesson or a concert coming up so you force yourself to learn scales, to play etudes, and to review the music for your upcoming performance. You keep looking at the clock, waiting to escape…

And then there’s the kind of practice that’s different. The practice where you begin with a goal and a list of items to focus on. When it’s over you feel like you’ve improved, you’re motivated and even inspired

This type of practice has purpose and direction. It’s productive and fulfilling, and it’s connected with the reason you chose to play music in the first place.

Sounds pretty good, right?

The only problem is this type of practice seems to be elusive for so many players. So much of the time we find ourselves going between the “fun” practice and the practice that feels like homework, either jamming with our peers or forcing ourselves to slog through exercises.

But how do you consistently create this third type of practice, the practice that the best players seem to have down to a science?

Well I thought I’d share 4 things that have helped me grow as a musician, 4 exercises that have shaped the direction I want to take as … Read More

7 Reasons you’re not getting to the next level and what to do about it

Monday, October 13th, 2014
How to get to the next level in Jazz Improvisation

When you begin something new, there’s so much to learn. Improvement is quick and often, practice is exploratory and fun. But after doing anything for a while, you settle into a routine and your once explosive improvement tapers off. Wherever this may leave you, you can’t seem to get beyond this plateau.

Why are you stuck at this intermediate level and what can you do about it?

Fear not friend. The primary reasons people remain at the same level in jazz improvisation are generally the same across the board. Let’s dive into these roadblocks and detail exactly how to handle them so you can get to the next level asap!

1.) You’re using scales as a shortcut to understanding chords

A huge problem and possibly the reason most people get stuck at the same improvisational level for so long, is their constant reliance on scales to understand chordal structures.

When you want to play over an Eb-7 chord, do you have to think about what notes to play based upon scale relationships? If your thinking goes something like this…”hmmmm, Eb- is the ii chord of Db major, so I’ll play the notes in Db major, but starting on Eb,” then you’re in trouble.

Michael Jordan doesn't take shortcuts

"If you try to shortcut the game, then the game will shortcut you." ~Michael Jordan

This shortcut to chords through scales is a widely taught system for understanding chords in jazz improvisation; this system quickly gives you access to correct notes without knowing a lot about the harmonic structures. It's not a bad place to start and in the short-term, it helps you, but if you want to get to the next level, it’s time you ditch your shortcuts and start to understand what actually is going on around you... Read More

6 Practice Essentials for Every Improviser

Thursday, August 7th, 2014

6 Improvisation Essentials

You walk into your practice room.

You sit back in your favorite chair and mentally prepare to play your first note of the day.

You glance at your stack of etude books, the half transcribed solo sitting on your music stand, and your growing list of tunes to learn and you let out a heavy sigh.

What are you going to practice today?

Sound familiar? Thought so.

Every musician knows this feeling well. Each time you pick up your instrument you’ve got to make a decision: Which type of practice is actually going to make you a better improviser?

Sure, we’ve all heard about the basic stuff, but in the back of our minds we’re secretly hoping to find that one perfect exercise or method that’s going to solve all of our improvisational woes.

However, it’s not that simple. The more you study and perform this music, the more you’ll realize that there isn’t a magic method for learning improvisation. The truth is each player has a personal way of approaching their time in the practice room that allows them to reach their goals.

So how do you sort through all of these methods to find the one that works for you?

Well the good news is that you don’t have to! You see, it isn’t one single method or practice plan that makes a player succeed, it’s the actual content of what’s happening in the practice room.

Take a closer look and you’ll see that every great practice routine … Read More

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