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CHORD STUDIES

Module 37


LESSON 1: Rollins & Coltrane Ornaments

In this video lesson, I demonstrate two of my favorite approaches to bebop ornamentation, based on my observations of Rollins and Coltrane and the way that they dress up their lines with ornaments. Intermediate & Advanced level. Includes detailed PDF practice notes for Bb, Eb and C instruments.


LESSON 2: The Jackpot 7-7-7 – Hearing a major scale over a II V I

In this video lesson, I show my technique for harmonically aligning a major scale over a ii V I. This strategic approach provides great clarity and voice leading, giving you all 3’s, 5’s, 7’s or 9’s over a ii V I while simply playing a diatonic scale.

A key factor is setting up your ear to hear the roots of the chords in relation to the starting note of the line. I demonstrate the process throughout the video lesson. Intermediate & Advanced level. Includes detailed PDF practice notes for Bb, Eb, and C instruments.


LESSON 3: Speed Bag – Cool Minor Lick

In this video lesson, I share one of my favorite minor patterns that I used for working up my technique.

This is a short but very effective lick for improving your precision on the keys, as well as improving alignment between your articulation and fingers. ALL LEVELS. Includes detailed PDF practice notes for Bb, Eb and C instruments.


LESSON 4: Greg’s Philosophy of Music: Playing by Theory vs Playing by Ear

In this video lesson, I discuss the difference between playing by theory and playing by ear. I share many examples from my years as a student and later observations from the perspective of a pro player and teacher.

If you’ve been trying to figure out music theory to make up for the possibility that your ear isn’t all that developed, this video will really shed some light on the reason that the theory (as much as I enjoy it) is no substitute for a highly trained ear. I’m not saying that theory isn’t important, but when it comes to playing jazz and improvising, the ear must be first, not the intellect.


LESSON 5: Listening Recommendation: Frank Sinatra: Point of No Return

For me, Frank Sinatra was the greatest singer, ever. He had it all…perfect intonation, diction, dynamics…the way he could tell the story of the lyrics in a way that felt like he was speaking directly to the listener. And, his phrasing…the breath control…astounding.

This album isn’t one of the most popular, like Live at the Sands, or Come Fly With Me (both equally good, but different). This is a mellow, introspective Sinatra, not the ring-a-ding Sinatra. Axel Stordahl’s arrangements are great examples of beautiful, clear, uncluttered orchestration. Like all of Sinatra’s Capital album’s, the engineering is top notch, sounding like it was recorded today.


aprox 27 min

Module 35


LESSON 1: Exploring Hip Lick #9

In this video lesson, I explore Hip Lick #9, extending the lick with the same ii / V chords, as well as making the lick resolve to a I maj7 chord. I also demonstrate the effect of starting the lick in four different locations; beats 1,2,3 & 4. In addition, I also demonstrate the lick in 12 keys. Includes detailed PDF practice notes for Bb, Eb & C instruments. INTERMEDIATE LEVEL.


LESSON 2: Major II V I vs. minor II V I – Apples to Apples Comparison

In this video lesson, I’ll give you an “apples-to-apples” comparison of a line played over a major ii / V / I and then that same line, harmonically adapted to fit a minor ii / V / i. If you’ve ever felt unsure about the sound of the minor ii / V / I, this video will put things clearly into focus. Includes detailed PDF practice notes for Bb, Eb and C instruments. INTERMEDIATE LEVEL.


LESSON 3: Bebop line over the bridge of “I Got Rhythm” from Two Voice-leading Lines

In this video lesson, I show you how I constructed a Bebop eighth-note line over the bridge of “I Got Rhythm,” using two voice-leading lines to nail the changes. Next time you’re playing “Oleo,” play this line on the bridge, and you’ll hear how clearly this approach outlines the changes. In the lesson, first I’ll play the eight-measure line for you and then I’ll deconstruct it, going step-by-step through the process I used to construct the line. Some very good and practical information about using the Bebop scale in this lesson, as well. Includes detailed PDF practice notes for Bb, Eb and C instruments. INTERMEDIATE LEVEL.


LESSON 4: Palm Key Hand Position Exercise

In this video lesson, I share my system for fixing years of poor palm key finger positioning. Most intermediate players, or even advanced players with poor left-hand palm key technique, tend to play with flat, straight fingers when it comes to playing the palm keys.

This causes a lack of fluency when switching between the palm keys and the lower range of the horn. In order to achieve fluency of technique, you will need to keep the fingers as curved as possible while pressing the palm keys. This lesson presents a three-step approach to gaining control over the palm keys.

There are no PDF notes with this lesson, as it’s best that you watch the video and imitate the moves on your horn. INTERMEDIATE & ADVANCED LEVEL.


LESSON 5: Listening Recommendation: Stan Getz – Focus

This Stan Getz masterpiece from 1961 is simply like no other record. This was Stan’s own favorite album of all of his many wonderful recordings. It’s a suite of seven pieces with a string orchestra, composed and arranged by the great Eddie Sauter.

Stan’s part is completely improvised, and the freshness and searching quality of his improvisations make this a truly unique classic. It’s not “straight-ahead,” though. Sort of a hybrid between jazz and classical. Highly recommended.


aprox 35 min

Module 02


LESSON 1: Interval Study – Major 7th intervals
Intervals are one of the most overlooked practice items. However, I consider them just as important as practicing scales and chords. In this video, I demonstrate my approach to practicing major 7th intervals by playing them in the cycle, both ascending and descending.
This approach is great for the ear, and it will help you to recognize the interval when you hear it in melodies. Once you get this approach under your fingers and in your ears, we’ll take the next step with intervals and apply them to many different harmonic situations. (more videos on this subject are coming in the future).
After working with this video, review many of the melodies you like to play, and look for the presence of this interval used both ascending and descending. When you do this, your ear will start to pick up on the interval, and you’ll be hearing at a deeper level.

LESSON 2: Hearing the Location of the Root, 3rd, 5th, and 7th in Chords
This lesson demonstrates my system for hearing the location of a specific note in a chord. If you can already play your chords from the 1-3-5-7 ascending and 7-5-3-1 descending, this video will take you to the next level. This system has helped many of students reach a deeper level of hearing harmony, to the point where they can play a “C” and hear that note clearly in their mind’s ear as the Root, 3rd, 5th or 7th of any chord type.

LESSON 3: Transforming a Maj7 Chord into a Diminished (maj7) Chord
This is a common trick among pro players, temporarily transforming a maj7 chord into a dimMaj7 chord for added harmonic flavor.

LESSON 4: Six Melodic Variations on a Descending Minor 7th Chord
In this lesson, I discuss and demonstrate Six Melodic Variations on a Descending Minor 7th Chord, and the theory behind them.

LESSON 5: Sunrise/Sunset Neck Exercise
This lesson features a technique I call “Sunrise/Sunset” for improving your breath support and dynamics. I use the neck alone to produce a concert E, demonstrating some of the techniques I use to improve tone, dynamics, and breath control.

LESSON 6: The Butterfly Tongue
This lesson features a technique I call the “Butterfly Tongue.” The is a technique for slightly muting the note and changing the timbre while the tongue rests on the reed. Getz, Prez, and many of the old-school masters use this technique to achieve both ghosted 8th notes, as well as quickly repeated notes, similar in sound to double-tonguing, but much smoother. This is a challenging one, but well worth the effort!
LESSON 7: Road Tips – Location of Notes within Maj7 Chords – Part 2 of 3
In this lesson, I show you how to think of one note in four different locations within a major 7th chord. For example, C = Root of Cmaj7, but C = the 3rd of Abmaj7, C = the 5th of Fmaj7, and C = the 7th of Db maj7. The importance of enharmonic notes is also discussed in the video.

approx 40 min

Module 04


LESSON 1: Hearing Intervals from the Roots of the “Big 5” Chords
Demonstration of a system for training the ear to hear the intervals from the root to the 3rd, 5th, and 7th of what I call the “Big 5” chords; Maj7, dom7, mi7, mi7b5, and dim7 chords. Also includes instruction on hearing from the 7th of the chords down to the root. BEGINNING & INTERMEDIATE LEVEL.

LESSON 2: Major 7th Chords in Four Directions
This lesson demonstrates ways of practicing Major 7th chords in the cycle, in four directions. Essential for ALL LEVELS.

LESSON 3: Mainstream Articulation
Greg demonstrates his system for learning mainstream jazz articulation. INTERMEDIATE LEVEL with some tips at the end of the video for ADVANCED LEVEL, as well.

LESSON 4: Adding Lower Neighboring Tones to the Descending Major Scale
This lesson demonstrates a system for adding Lower Neighboring Tones to the Major Scales. INTERMEDIATE & ADVANCED LEVELS.

LESSON 5: Road Tips – The C = ?
Greg shows how to keep your mind focused and sharp even when you’re away from the horn. This music theory game involves thinking of the note “C” as different degrees of major scales.

approx 30 min

Module 06


LESSON 1: Exploring the V7sus Chord
The V7sus chord is a mystery for many aspiring players. Greg breaks the chord down into simple, understandable terms, demonstrating a very clear approach to spelling the chord while providing exercises to train the ear to differentiate between a V7 and a V7sus chord. Next, Greg shares two different systems for hearing and practicing the chord with a more sophisticated sound and approach. INTERMEDIATE & ADVANCED LEVEL.

LESSON 2: Use of the bis Key on the Saxophone
This is one of my most requested video lesson topics. The use of the bis key is a controversial subject among saxophonists. Some teachers have very strict rules regarding the usage of the bis key. In this video, I share my personal approach to using the bis key. Includes exercises for practicing with the bis key, do’s and don’ts about hand position, and brief discussion of proper horn setup to ensure ease of use. ALL LEVELS

LESSON 3: North Avenue – 1st Sax Part
Greg Fishman plays the 1st sax part for the duet “North Avenue” from his book, “Jazz Saxophone Duets Volume 1.” Play along with great on the first part to match pitch and style, or play the 2nd sax part to complete the duet, with Greg playing lead. Looking forward to members posting videos playing this fun duet with Greg!.

LESSSON 4: North Avenue – 2nd Sax Part
Greg Fishman plays the 2nd sax part for the duet North Avenue from his book “Jazz Saxophone Duets Volume 1.” Play this part along with Greg to match his phrasing and style, or play lead while Greg plays this second part. Looking forward to video posts of lots of members playing this fun duet!

LESSON 5: North Avenue – Saxes 1 & 2
Greg Fishman plays both parts for the duet North Avenue from his book, “Jazz Saxophone Duets Volume 1.” Listen to this video to hear how the 1st and 2nd sax parts interact with each other, sometimes trading off the lead line.

aprox 25 min

Module 08


LESSON 1: Dressing up a Dominant 7th Arpeggio with enclosure around the 3rd
In this lesson, I’ll show you how to go beyond a basic chord arpeggio by changing the order of the notes, switching from 1-3-5-7 to 1-5-3-7 and then adding an enclosure to the 3rd. Also includes some very cool idiomatic fingerings to fatten up the sound of some notes. PDF includes transription of the exercise in 12 keys. INTERMEDIATE LEVEL.

LESSON 2: Diatonic 7th Chords
In this video, I show you how to practice diatonic seventh chords on the piano. This lesson is very important for all musicians, whether they play saxophone or trumpet…the piano is the most complete instrument, harmonically speaking, and practicing chords on the piano really took my hearing (and sax playing) to a new level. This material in this video is essnential for all levels. BEGINNING / INTERMEDIATE LEVEL.

LESSON 3: Chromatic Bebop Scales with alternating starting points
In this video lesson, I show you how to practice the bebop scale from two different starting points–the root from the top, descending, and also from the 3rd, ascending. This pattern has a very smooth sound and it will give you great control of the scale. The transition between the two scales includes an enclosure that sets up the new scale. I’ve also included special tips on sneaking in a breath during a long-phrase, as well as some optional rhythms which can be used for the ascending scale. If you have your basic bebop scale under control (starting from the root and ending on the root), you’re ready for this next step. INTERMEDIATE & ADVANCED LEVEL.

LESSSON 4: Locrian Mode – A new system for learning the scale
In this video, I show you a different approach to learning the Locrian scale. First, I review the traditional way the scale is taught. Next, I show you a different system that has worked well for me. The system involves combining two chords to form the scale. In the second half of the video, I show you a nice iimi7/V7b9/i mi line which nails the changes. Also includes a discussion of the application of the descending Harmonic Minor scale. INTERMEDIATE & ADVANCED LEVEL.

LESSON 5: Walking and Thinking in Regulated Time – Scales & Fitness
In this video lesson, I share one of my personal practice techniques of walking and practicing my scales in time, coordinated with my footsteps. This is a great way to get your scales and chords together while getting out of the practice room for some exercise and fresh air. When you come back to the horn after this type of work, you’ll be amazed at how easy it feels to play through your scales and chords. I’ve been doing this for many years, and it really works! Have fun with it.

aprox 35 min

Module 09


LESSON 1: Cry Me A River Lick (Rosetta Stone of Licks) Sax Version
In this video lesson, I teach eight applications of the famous CMAR lick (Based on the first few notes of “Cry Me A River”). I call this the “Rosetta Stone” of licks, because it can fit in 96 different places. I apply the lick to: mi7, altered dominant, mi7b5, maj7#11, straight dominant, mi13, maj7 and sus7b9 chords. Be sure to also watch the companion video in which I demonstrate this same material at the piano. In that video, I have additional commentary about the changing “mood” of the lick as it is applied to the various settings. INTERMEDIATE & ADVANCED LEVEL.

LESSON 2: Cry Me A River Lick (Rosetta Stone of Licks) – Piano Version
In this video, I demonstrate eight different harmonic settings for the “Cry Me A River” (CMAR) lick. I call this the “Rosetta Stone” of licks, because it works over so many different types of chords. This video is different than the saxophone version–In this video. Toward the end of the lesson, I mention my interpretation of the “moods” implied by each of the different harmonic settings. Also, this version lets you hear the lick against a chord voicing,, with all of the notes sounding together, while the sax version features a chord arpeggio, followed by the lick. Both videos are fun and packed with essential materials. INTERMEDIATE & ADVANCED LEVEL.

LESSON 3: Dominant 7th Chords – Piano Accompaniment
In this video lesson, I play the piano to accompany your practicing the dominant 7th chords in all four directions: 1. UP 2. DOWN 3. UP/DOWN ALTERNATING and 4. DOWN/UP ALTERNATING. Play your saxophone along with this piano accompaniment and match the pitch and time of the piano. This is excellent training for the chords, and it will drastically improve your tone, pitch and time. Everything is played at a comfortable eighty-eight beats per quarter note, so it will not present a technical challenge. I have included full notation of the entire exercise for Concert, Eb Alto and Bb Tenor. To ensure your success as an improvising musician, it is absolutely essential that you learn these chords by memory and practice them daily. INTERMEDIATE LEVEL.

LESSSON 4: Major 7th Chords – Piano Accompaniment
In this video lesson, I play the piano to accompany your practicing the major 7th chords in all four directions: 1. UP 2. DOWN 3. UP/DOWN ALTERNATING and 4. DOWN/UP ALTERNATING. Play your saxophone along with this piano accompaniment and match the pitch and time of the piano. This is excellent training for the chords, and it will drastically improve your tone, pitch and time. Everything is played at a comfortable eighty-eight beats per quarter note, so it will not present a technical challenge. I have included full notation of the entire exercise for Concert, Eb Alto and Bb Tenor. To ensure your success as an improvising musician, it is absolutely essential that you learn these chords by memory and practice them daily. INTERMEDIATE LEVEL.

LESSON 5: Minor 7th Chords – Piano Accompaniment
In this video lesson, I play the piano to accompany your practicing the minor 7th chords in all four directions: 1. UP 2. DOWN 3. UP/DOWN ALTERNATING and 4. DOWN/UP ALTERNATING. Play your saxophone along with this piano accompaniment and match the pitch and time of the piano. This is excellent training for the chords, and it will drastically improve your tone, pitch and time. Everything is played at a comfortable eighty-eight beats per quarter note, so it will not present a technical challenge. I have included full notation of the entire exercise for Concert, Eb Alto and Bb Tenor. To ensure your success as an improvising musician, it is absolutely essential that you learn these chords by memory and practice them daily. INTERMEDIATE LEVEL.
LESSON 6: Road Tips – The Ab = ?
Greg shows how to keep your mind focused and sharp even when you’re away from the horn. This music theory game involves thinking of the note “Ab” as different degrees of major scales.

aprox 35 min

Module 10


LESSON 1: Hip Lick #1 Video Lesson
In this video, we’ll explore a simple technique for creating variations on Hip Lick #1. This is part of a concept that I call “High Mileage.” High Mileage means that you have the ability to create many variations on any lick or pattern. This is a very important skill for any improvisor, and one of the major differences between the aspiring player and the professional…the pro can easily create variations on a theme, while the aspiring player just keeps repeating the same exact lick. INTERMEDIATE & ADVANCED LEVEL.

LESSON 2: The “Speed Bag” for Fast Technique
In this video, I demonstrate a technique with I developed in my own practice sessions. I call it the “Speed Bag,” named for the small punching bag that boxers use to train for speed. I found that a continuous motion of notes gave me improved fluency of technique and increased speed ability. In this video, I use Hip Lick #1 to demonstrate the concept, but you can use this technique with any lick, prase or pattern. Watch this video to see one of the ways that I work on my high-speed chops. ADVANCED LEVEL.

LESSON 3: Minor 7b5 Chords – Piano Accompaniment Video
In this video lesson, I play the piano to accompany your practicing the minor 7b5 chords in all four directions: 1. UP 2. DOWN 3. UP/DOWN ALTERNATING and 4. DOWN/UP ALTERNATING. Play your saxophone along with this piano accompaniment and match the pitch and time of the piano. This is excellent training for the chords, and it will drastically improve your tone, pitch and time. Everything is played at a comfortable eighty-eight beats per quarter note, so it will not present a technical challenge. I have included full notation of the entire exercise for Concert, Eb Alto and Bb Tenor. To ensure your success as an improvising musician, it is absolutely essential that you learn these chords by memory and practice them daily. INTERMEDIATE LEVEL.

LESSSON 4: Diminished 7th Chords – Piano Accompaniment Video
In this video lesson, I play the piano to accompany your practicing the diminished 7th chords in all four directions: 1. UP 2. DOWN 3. UP/DOWN ALTERNATING and 4. DOWN/UP ALTERNATING. Play your saxophone along with this piano accompaniment and match the pitch and time of the piano. This is excellent training for the chords, and it will drastically improve your tone, pitch and time. Everything is played at a comfortable eighty-eight beats per quarter note, so it will not present a technical challenge. I have included full notation of the entire exercise for Concert, Eb Alto and Bb Tenor. To ensure your success as an improvising musician, it is absolutely essential that you learn these chords by memory and practice them daily. INTERMEDIATE LEVEL.

LESSON 5: Road Tips – The Db = ?
Greg shows how to keep your mind focused and sharp even when you’re away from the horn. This music theory game involves thinking of the note “Db” as different degrees of major scales. This note is a bit of a challenge, because it will sometimes be necessary to respell the scale to fit the note. For example, The key of Bb has “D” for the third note. So, that means that Bbb would have a “Db” for the third note. The problem is, that’s a “hypothetical” scale…it doesn’t really exist, because we can’t have double flats in the major scale system. So, it becomes necessary to respell the “Db” as a “C#,” which would give you that pitch acting as the third note in an A major scale. This can be confusing at first, but if you familiarize yourself with enharmonic spellings, it will get easier and easier for you to hear and place the Db (C#) as any degree of a major scale.

aprox 25 min