Jazz Improvisation

Improvisation has never been my strongest suit. I stuck to playing lead in jazz bands because I was insecure about my solo chops. This is where I usually say “If only I’d had SmartMusic back then!”

If only I’d had SmartMusic back then!

Check out some of the resources I could have used: From SmartMusic’s Find Music screen, click on “Jazz Improvisation” to view jazz collections from Jamey Aebersold, Alfred Master Tracks, and Wynton Marsalis. Open Aebersold Volume 25 (All-time Standards) and select “Have You Met Miss Jones.”

Unfortunately, we can’t show the melody line from these tunes due to copyright concerns (support the publishers and buy your copies!), but check out what we can show you. At the top of the screen look for “Slash Notation,” which I’ve circled in red below:

Clicking on “Slash Notation” produces a menu that lets you choose from a variety of Jerry Coker-style jazz patterns, each named for the chord tones they outline. For example, select 13577531 and see the arpeggiated notation appear:

This is an excellent way for your students to get the chord tones under their fingers. Once they’re comfortable with this, try a different pattern or transpose to different keys to really put ’em through their paces.

Look for this feature in all the jazz repertoire and experiment — and satisfy those National Standards!

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