Last fall I shared a Practice Tools for Jazz blog post that served as an introduction to the jazz patterns and improvisation exercises included in SmartMusic. Today I’ll follow-up with some tips on how to find and use SmartMusic’s jazz-themed method books, jazz band charts, and imported MP3 files.
To get started, go to the SmartMusic “FIND MUSIC” page and open the “Method Books” category.
In the Methods window, click on the “Jazz Ensemble” tab to see the following Jazz Ensemble method books:
Each of these books offers great tools to develop jazz improvisation and jazz ensemble playing skills:
- “Developing the Language of Jazz” features several ear training exercises, call and response and basic riffs.
- “Essential Elements for Jazz Ensemble” has several “workouts” for Swing, Blues, Latin, scales and more.
- “First Place for Jazz” features several ear training and call and response exercises as well as lead sheets.
- “Standard of Excellence Jazz Ensemble” features warm ups as well as rhythm studies and improvisation studies based on jazz band charts.
Full Jazz Ensemble Charts with Audio Accompaniment
Today SmartMusic includes more than 400 jazz band charts that include MP3 audio accompaniment and pre-defined assignments. To find them, click on FIND MUSIC, select “Concert and Jazz Band…” and specify “Jazz Ensemble.” The degree of difficulty indicated for these arrangements is based on the JW Pepper® skill levels.
For an example of what this repertoire looks like, the following is an alto sax part for “Hunting Wabbits” as recorded by Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band.
This piece includes the following features:
- Performers can slow down the tempo of the MP3 accompaniment and practice at a slower tempo.
- The blue hyperlink at the top of the chart links to a video of Gordon Goodwin and Wayne Bergeron talking about how the band puts their own musical “stamp” on this performance.
- And of course, each part has “red & green” assessment features.
Importing MP3 Files
Another powerful feature in SmartMusic is the ability to import any MP3 audio file for practice or to be shared as an assignment. To import an MP3:
- Click “MP3 Audio Files” on the left side of your screen
- Click the IMPORT button, then select your MP3 and click OPEN
Here’s what the result looks like in SmartMusic:
With imported MP3 files you can:
- Change the key of the recording by half steps
- Change the tempo of the recording with hihg-quality time stretching
- Loop any portion of your recording
- Send out the recording with your parameters as assignments for students.
In addition to importing MP3s, any content created in Finale can easily be exported as a SmartMusic file. SmartMusic files created in Finale have all of the same characteristics as files that come pre-loaded in SmartMusic.
SmartMusic has many great features for the developing or advanced jazz student. I urge you to explore them. Have any questions? Please let us know by clicking on “Comments” below.