SmartMusic Feature Friday: Practice Tools for Jazz


Practice Tools for Jazz

In today’s SmartMusic Feature Friday, you will learn how to find and use the practice tools for jazz in SmartMusic. Whether you are just starting out with the basics or if you are an advanced jazz player, SmartMusic helps you practice jazz patterns, progressions and songs. Jazz exercises can be played at any tempo and transposed to any key as you play with great jazz musicians on piano, bass and drums. When it is time for rehearsal or the “gig”, you will be ready to go!

To get started, go to the FIND MUSIC page and open the Exercises category.


Jazz Exercises Patterns

If your students are going to improvise, they need to know the “language” of scales and patterns that work for chord progressions. Until patterns under your fingers, it can be a frustrating experience to be called on to take a “ride” (solo) in public.

To practice jazz scales and patterns, click on the Exercises button and then the Jazz Exercises icon. SmartMusic opens up with music on screen and practice patterns for:

  • Blues
  • ii-V-I Scales
  • ii-V-I Arpeggios
  • iii-VI- ii-V-I Scales
  • iii-VI- ii-V-I Arpeggios

You will hear the rhythm section playing the chord progressions as you practice these patterns. Start at a comfortable tempo and gradually bring your skills up to speed.

Select Jazz

 Jazz Exercises 1

Blues Licks

One of the great challenges for students as they learn to improvise is the ability to hear chord changes and be able to play appropriate jazz patterns.

SmartMusic provides Blues Licks to develop help students develop their “jazz ears”. Blues licks are call and response patterns that can be practiced with any melodic instrument or voice. SmartMusic plays a short melodic pattern and then students play or sing it back. SmartMusic scores the performance and displays green and red notes.

Imagine students working on blues licks from home and developing the skills and confidence to get on stage and enjoy taking “rides” with the jazz band. There are 25 different Blues Licks and they can be transposed to any key.

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Jazz Improvisation

Jazz Improvisation lead sheets include the “Head” of the chart (melody) followed by several choruses of chord changes for improvisation and then the return to the Head and out. Jazz Improvisation titles include several standards , Alfred and Wynton Marsalis songs. Students put their part on screen and can practice at any tempo and in any key.

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Jazz Patterns & Learning Chords

In addition to practicing the lead sheet melody, you can click on the Patterns button and choose one of 13 scale practice patterns to display on screen. After you have learned a pattern, click on the Learn Chords menu and choose Omit One Note. SmartMusic will hide the view of the last note of the pattern. As students play patterns through the progression without looking at all the notes, they are developing the skills and confidence to improvise.

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Rhythm Section Transcriptions

SmartMusic Jazz Improvisation songs include piano, bass and drum transcriptions. The jazz songs were recorded by the Wynton Marsalis rhythm section and other top West coast jazz musicians and put into SmartMusic. Students can isolate the piano, bass or drum part and listen to what a professional played, or they mute their part and perform with some of the greatest jazz players in the world. If the chart is a little fast, just slow it down.

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Other SmartMusic Jazz Practice Options

In a future blog, I will introduce SmartMusic Jazz Method Books, Big Band Charts, MP3 import options and the ability to import Finale created files.

For more information about SmartMusic, go to

One more thing: Have Fun!

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