5 Tunes To Know & Why You Should Know Them

Learning tunes is a key part of every jazz musician’s practice plan, but one thing that can really help motivate you to learn a specific tune is to understand why that particular tune is so important.

You see, each jazz standard contains vital pieces of information…

Some have a lot of ii V7, while others hit on some unusual time signature, or an essential chord progression that comes up in standards over and over.

Today we’re going to share with you 5 key tunes and tell you exactly WHY they are so important to know…

1.) Cherokee

Why you should know it
It contains over half of the possible twelve ii-Vs. Play it in two keys and you’re working on all of your ii-Vs. When ii-Vs make up more than 80% of the chord changes you’ll encounter in jazz, I’d say this is worth your time.

2.) Stella By Starlight

Why you should know it
Because minor two fives (especially half diminished chords) are a pain to play over for most people. The last A section of Stella will give you a great workout on these.

3.) Confirmation

Why you should know it
Through your study of the jazz repertoire, you’ll constantly run in to one-measure ii-Vs descending by whole steps. Learning to navigate this progression without thinking is a must.

4.) All The Things You Are

Why you should know it
The cycle movement of the ‘A’ sections reoccurs in many tunes and coming up with a creative melodic line over the progression is not so easy.

5.) Someday My Prince Will Come

Why you should know it
As one of my teachers Rich Chiaraluce used to tell me, this tune is very revealing. Playing in three is something that we often put aside and consequently, our ability lags in comparison to our playing in four. This is a great tune to start freeing yourself up in three.

These 5 tunes are serious.

Many people may dismiss them as easy, but to sound truly great on them takes a lot of time, practice, and patience.

And when there is so much value in each of them and you’re aware of what that value is, the why-you-should-learn-it, you’re learning a whole lot more than a single tune.

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