April 25th, 2016

20 Practice Hacks for the Busy Musician

Written by Forrest

20 practice hacks for the jazz musician

Time is the only thing we really have in life and there never seems to be enough of it…

But whether your goals are to just play for fun or to become a professional musician, there are techniques you can start using today to make use of your time more effectively to become the musician you want to be, despite your limited time.

And if you have all the time in the world, you should still apply these strategies because things won’t always be that way.

As life goes on, you tend to accumulate more and more responsibility, so it’s best to form the habits to deal with limited time right now…

Invest in the right tools

Hack 1 for jazz musicians

The right tools matter more than ever when you’re trying to save time. The right tools could mean anything from the right software to the best instrument you can afford. The point is, use your money to save you time.

We recommend a bunch of things, not just because they help support Jazzadvice and keep it alive, but because they can help anybody get to where they want to go, faster.

It took me a long time to realize that spending a little money on the right tool could improve my listening experience, my transcribing process, and my skill as an improvisor much more rapidly than if I didn’t have these tools.

The right tools give you a huge advantage.

Spend some time thinking about what would make it easier for you … Read More

April 21st, 2016

10 Surprisingly Effective Warm-Ups for Jazz Improvisation

Written by Eric

warm-ups for jazz improvisation

You’ve been thinking about it all day…

As you ate breakfast. On your commute to work. And while you were sitting at your desk watching the seconds tick by.

You need to practice.

You need to start making progress and achieving your musical goals. And you need to do it right now!

But before you jump right into an hour long practice session there is something that you should know.

Something that can make your practice much more effective…

Time to stretch your musical muscles

We’re talking about warming up.

Sure, we all practice certain exercises to polish our technique and improve our sound – a few minutes spent running through scales, etudes and long tones…

But what about a warm-up for the art of jazz improvisation?

A way to get the creative juices flowing. A process for getting your mind and body limbered up for the demands of an improvised solo.

Think about it. Wouldn’t it be great to jump into a solo at your creative peak….without the struggle of not having any ideas.

Below we’ve collected some of the best warm-up exercises we know that’ll make a difference in the way you approach improvisation. The best part? For many of them you don’t even have to be inside the practice room.

Here are 10 effective warm-ups for jazz improvisation that will benefit every improviser…

#1)  The scale workout that works

Chances are you’re practicing scales in your warm-up.

But to improvise effectively these scales need to … Read More

April 12th, 2016

How To Create the Perfect Solo: A Lesson With Herbie Hancock

Written by Eric


Herbie Hancock is one of the greatest living improvisers…

From his work with the great Miles Davis Quintet to his own musical explorations, he has spent decades evolving and pushing musical boundaries.

But the thing that stands out most is his ability to craft a musical moment for the listener. To transport them out of their daily routine and expectations and into the music itself.

This is the mark of a master musician in any style of music. The ability to create magic with the simplest of tools – rhythm, harmony and melodic statements.

Transcending the details of notes and scales to create a musical message on the spot. And this is a skill that you should start thinking about in your own playing.

For the best players, every solo is an opportunity to create a new musical idea. To make a statement, to interact with other musicians, and to see where the music will go in that split-second…

Remember, not every solo has to be full of double time lines, memorized licks, and theory devices. The secret of a great solo lies creating music in the moment.

Herbie Hancock’s solo on Ceora:

A masterful example of this concept is Herbie Hancock’s solo on Ceora from the Lee Morgan album Cornbread.

Take a listen below (the solo starts at 4:05):


The chord progression to the tune is relatively simple – 32 bars in the key of Ab

You’ll find ii-V’s to the I … Read More

April 8th, 2016

10 Diminished Patterns That Will Transform Your Next Jazz Solo…

Written by Eric


What comes to mind when you hear the word diminished?

A chord? A scale?

“Wait, is it whole-steps and half-steps…or the other way around?”

If you’re like most players, the diminished sound often creates more questions than answers…

But it’s a sound that the greatest players – from John Coltrane to Michael Brecker and beyond – have used to add harmonic complexity and melodic interest to their solos.

And it’s one that you can use in your solos as well…if you have the know-how.

You see, the premise of a diminished chord or pattern is simple, but when you start applying this sound to your solos, the details can get complex very quickly.

And this is exactly what we’re going to look at today…

Stacking minor thirds…

Before we start digging in to these diminished patterns, you need to start with an understanding the structure of the diminished chord.

And luckily it’s pretty straightforward, a fully diminished chord is simply a stack of minor 3rds…

Diminished structure

Because the construction of these chords is symmetrical, there are only 3 diminished options: a stack of minor 3rds from C, from C#, and from D. That’s it – the pattern just repeats itself.

The most common way you’ll use this sound in your solos is over dominant chords. Applying this diminished structure over a V7 sound is an easy way to access the altered notes of a dominant chord in a logical way.

And again, since the construction of the structure is symmetrical … Read More

April 1st, 2016

5 Steps to Becoming A Lyrical Master With Altered Dominants: A Lesson With Stan Getz

Written by Forrest

Playing Lyrically Over ALtered Dominant Chords

Alterations are at the heart of jazz…

In no other genre of music can you freely alter chords in a such a fluid and flexible manner. As chords whiz by, the soloist has the freedom to add all sorts of chord alterations to their melodic lines.

But it requires a sense of how these altered chord tones behave and a certain kind of know-how to use them effectively.

The best place to start experimenting with alterations is over the dominant chord because that’s where you have the most options. But, if you’ve ever tried to alter a dominant chord before, you know that it’s not that easy.

Here’s the situation…

You’re about to play over a dominant chord. You see this on a lead sheet, or you know a tune by heart…


… and your thought process might go something like this…

Which scale should I play

Your initial reaction? Scales. You think to yourself…

“What scale am I going to play if I want to alter the dominant chord?” Clearly not the boring old Mixolydian and after a moment of thought, you now believe you have several options to approach dominant alterations, and then even more scales come to mind…

More scale options

So now that you have your scale choices, you think you’re all good. But then when you go to play, why do things not sound right? Why does it sound mechanical? Why does it sound forced?

What are professionals doing that makes their use of alterations sound so good and how can I do Read More

March 29th, 2016

The Reason You Need to Start Thinking About Jazz Language Right Now…

Written by Eric


Michael Brecker talked about it…

Mulgrew Miller mentioned it time and again in masterclasses…

And if you’ve spent any time on Jazzadvice, you’ve seen multiple articles about the importance of learning it.

But why should you start thinking about jazz language?

You’re already practicing technique, running scales, and listening to a ton of your favorite players…and you’ve even noticed some progress in your ability to create solos.

So why should you add one more item to your already packed practice list?

It’s a good question…and one that many players shrug off.

But not so fast! Language is the key that can take you from the player that’s frustrated with scales and chords to a soloist with unlimited creative ideas.

You just have to approach it the right way in the practice room.

Let me explain…

The 3 stages of learning jazz improvisation

Musicians of all levels are drawn to jazz improvisation.

Because we all want a chance to step into the spotlight to take a solo…

But no matter what your skill level is, every player encounters the same struggles when it comes to finding their voice on an instrument.

Mulgrew Miller

You see, we don’t get a guide book for learning how to improvise. And finding an effective practice routine can sometimes be a big mystery.

Just because you’re spending time practicing doesn’t mean that you’re automatically going to get to the next level. To improve as a soloist, you’ve got to practice the right things.

And this is where … Read More

March 21st, 2016

5 Simple Ways to Escape the ‘Diatonic Trap’ in Your Jazz Solos

Written by Eric


You want to play exciting solos…

Ones that will make the audience sit on the edge of their seats, that’ll make you stand out from every other musician in the room.

…except when you improvise everything ends up sounding exactly the same.

Many musicians share this frustration and for many it goes right back to the standard approach to improvisation that you find in most books. The mentality that each chord has a designated scale:

  • Major scales for major chords
  • Dorian for minor chords
  • Mixolydian for V7 chords

This is a fine place to start, but if you limit your harmonic and melodic approach to these 3 scales you’ll end up feeling trapped inside of a musical box.

However, listen to some of your favorite solos and you’ll notice that the best players aren’t always following these “rules.” In fact, everyone from Charlie Parker to Brad Mehldau has used non-diatonic notes in their solos.

Notes that don’t belong in the chord, notes that don’t fit into any particular scale, yet they still sound good…

And the same can be true for you, if you know the right way to use them.

You’re too creative to settle for the same old scales in every solo! Here are 5 ways to escape the diatonic trap and start thinking outside of the box when it comes to jazz improvisation…

1) Learn to alter V7 sounds

The most common place you’ll find non-diatonic notes in the solos of great players is on the V7 Read More

March 7th, 2016

What’s the Difference Between an Amateur and a Pro??

Written by Eric


Mastering jazz improvisation seems simple in theory…

At least every great player makes it sound that way.

And on paper it all looks pretty straight forward.

Memorize the chords, learn a few scales, and listen to the masters. With a little practice and transcription you’re good to go – you can almost hear the dazzling solos you’re destined to play!

But when you actually try improvise…it’s not that simple.

And the truth is, it’s not simple for anybody.

But as time goes by certain players start to sound remarkably different, almost as if they’ve found a secret that makes the entire process easy. While everyone else is left struggling in the practice room with the same old exercises.

So what are these great players doing differently from everybody else?

What exactly is it that makes the difference between a polished pro and another amateur hacking away at a tune?

Today we’ll look at the 5 ways you can start approaching improvisation like a pro…

I) It all starts in the practice room

Practice like a pro

I know what you’re thinking – every musician practices.

Big deal.

But the best musicians approach the idea of ‘practicing‘ and the process of learning in a unique way. And this subtle shift can make a world of difference in your playing.

You see, most players get pushed into the practice room by external forces. Parents, teachers, peers, or even a nagging sense of duty and obligation as a musician. After all, you’re supposed to practice … Read More

February 24th, 2016

4 Steps To Attaining Freedom With Jazz Language

Written by Forrest

4 Steps to Freedom with Jazz Language

Becoming fluent with jazz language is the key to unlocking your musical freedom when you improvise.

It’s the missing piece of the puzzle. The lost ship. The thing everyone ignores…

And it’s totally counter-intuitive…

  • You copy, to sound original.
  • You practice the same line over and over, to be creative.
  • You use limitation, to find freedom.

If you’re already confused, that’s okay. We’ll get there…

The 4 steps to jazz language fluency

Jazz is a language and acquiring useful jazz language is essential.

The whole process of learning the jazz language can seem overwhelming and ambiguous as there’s so much to focus on.

But, just by becoming fluent with one piece of jazz language you can begin seeing results today.

When you’re fluent with a piece of language, say a dominant 7 piece of language, you now have a line and a concept of how to approach a dominant 7 chord.

You have more than a lick, you have an understanding, a visceral intuitive knowledge that allows you to play musically over a sound, instead of having a purely intellectual concept of how to go about things rooted in music theory.

With fluency in jazz language, music theory supplements and supports your knowledge, ear training practice becomes more applicable, and jazz improvisation starts to make sense.

Here are the four steps of becoming fluent with a particular piece of jazz language:

4 steps to jazz language fluency

And what do each of these steps entail? What information do they hold?

Jazz language details

The line you’re transcribing and … Read More

February 22nd, 2016

7 KIller Turnarounds for Your Next Jazz Solo

Written by Eric


If you’ve spent any time practicing jazz improvisation, chances are you’ve heard of the turnaround…

Those little two bar chord progressions that pop up at the ends of tunes or in the middle of your solo, leading you back to the top of the form.

But what you might not realize is that these turnarounds can become one of the most important tools in your musical arsenal.

You just need to practice them in the right way…

“[Turnarounds] were a series of chord changes that progressed eloquently back to the main theme of a song. They were important because they let you extend a song without making it sound like you were repeating it. From a listeners’ standpoint, they created anticipation and made you want to hear the main part again.” ~Yusef Lateef

There are places in any chord progression that have the potential to create harmonic motion and melodic interest to your lines. And this is a technique that many great players have spent time developing in the practice room.

Tadd Dameron

The beautiful thing about improvisation is that you don’t have to feel chained to the written chord progression. You don’t have to play the same scale over every chord or the same chord changes in every chorus.

And one way to do this is by implying chords or melodic substitutions within an existing progression – turn backs and turnarounds.

Below we’ll show you 7 killer turnarounds that you can use in your next solo…

1) The standard “jazz”

Read More
Subscribe and get free stuff!