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Module 47

LESSON 1: Idiomatic Front F Lick

During a Skype lesson, one of my students was having trouble using his front F key on the saxophone. He couldn’t get comfortable with it. I created this lick to show him how I often access the key.

I refer to this as an “idiomatic” lick because it lays so well on the horn. This is not the only way to use the key, but it’s a good introduction to get comfortable with the unique hand position required for front F.

Includes PDF practice notes.

LESSON 2: Major Seventh Chord Inversions

In this video lesson, I play the major seventh chords in all inversions with what I call the “top margin” of my “C” on tenor, with all notes descending: C B G E (Cmaj7), C Ab G Eb (Abmaj7), C A F E (Fmaj7), and C Ab F Db (Dbmaj7).

Playing the inversions in this manner really highlights the interval structures of the chords and improves the accuracy of the ear. This is a great practice approach for ear training and improved control of your major seventh chords.

Advanced level. Includes PDF practice notes for Bb, Eb and C instruments.

LESSON 3: Getz Double Note Articulation Effect

In this video lesson, I demonstrate a specialized type of articulation that I call the “Getz Double Note Articulation Effect.”

This is a device that I first heard on an album called “Stan Getz Plays.” It gives the illusion of double-tonguing, but it’s single tonguing with very strategically placed slurs.

Learning to use this effect has really improved my control and speed for articulation. This is a great tool to have in your “special effects” bag of tricks to add something unique to your solos.

Includes PDF practice notes for Bb, Eb and C instruments.

LESSON 4: The Blues Scale – Part 1 of 2

In this video lesson, I explore the blues scale. This part one video teaches scale construction and application of the blues scale over a dominant and a minor chord.

I share my thoughts on using the scale over the full range of the horn and demonstrate some popular techniques used by the masters with this scale, including sequencing and repetition.

Includes PDF practice notes for Bb, Eb and C instruments.

LESSON 5: The Blues Scale – Part 2 of 2

This video lesson continues where part one ended, exploring options for adding extra chromatic notes to the scale.

Includes many examples in which I play some of my favorite phrases using the scale with the extra notes.

I also share my thoughts on the overuse of this scale by beginning players and explain why I look at this scale as a sort of musical spice, used to enhance the flavor of a chord progression.

Includes PDF practice notes for Bb, Eb and C instruments.

approx 44 min

Module 44

LESSON 1: Six Essential Items for Daily Practice 

In this video lesson, I discuss the importance of practicing each item on my practice planner. I developed this approach in my 20’s when I was practicing many hours each day. I experimented with many different approaches to practicing and found that these six items yielded the best results.

Many people get stuck practicing only scales or chords and never seem to get to other items like vocabulary, transcriptions, etudes, and tunes.

Includes PDF practice planner.

LESSON 2: Secret Applications for the Bebop Scale

In this video lesson, I share what I call the “secret” applications for the bebop scale. These are not the types of applications that you learn in school. In both my undergrad and graduate studies, there was no mention of these applications of the scale.

And yet, when I transcribed the masters, I found that they routinely applied the scale in this way when they wanted to get more harmonic flavor from the scale.

If you’ve ever been at a loss for how to use the bebop scale over a minor ii / V situation, this video will show you how to apply the scale like a seasoned professional.

Includes detailed PDF practice notes for Bb, Eb and C instruments.

LESSON 3: Creative Scale Practice

In this video lesson, I share a story about one of my Skype students who was very bored with his scale practice. He was in a rut, always playing his scales like a technical exercise, rather than finding the music hidden within the scales.

I showed him these creative practice strategies that I use in my own practice and he was instantly playing with more energy and creativity while also improving his musical memory and his instrumental technique.

Includes detailed PDF practice notes for Bb, Eb and C instruments.

LESSON 4: C.E.S.H. – What it is and How to Use it.

In this video lesson, I explore and explain C.E.S.H. The term was coined by one of my former teachers, the great Jerry Coker. It stands for “Contrapuntal Elaboration of Static Harmony.” Basically, it means that you apply voice leading to a chord within itself by moving the sevenths (and sometimes the fifths).

This is a common harmonic device used by all pro players. You’ll recognize it as soon as you hear it. I explain the device and break it down in a way that makes it easy for all levels of players to immediately use this in their solos. Includes detailed PDF practice notes for Bb, Eb and C instruments.

LESSON 4: Thumb Position for the Octave Key

In this video lesson, I discuss and demonstrate the importance of good thumb position on the saxophone. This topic is often overlooked. Over the years, I’ve taught many students who needed to correct bad habits with their thumb position. In some cases, students were experiencing pain from using the wrong position or from using too much pressure.

The left hand cannot operate with efficiency without an excellent thumb position, combined with a light touch. If you’ve ever had issues with left-hand technique problems or pain in your left hand or arm due to the octave key, this video will address all of those issues and provide a clear strategy to fix the problem.

approx 33 min

Module 38

LESSON 1: Scale Junction Navigation

In this video lesson, I share my method for connecting various types of scales through a ii V I progression. This is a critical skill for all improvisers, as it gives you the flexibility to switch smoothly from the scale of the current chord to the scale for a new chord Many players are limited in their approach with scales because they think that they need to start each new scale from the root.

This is how scales are often taught in academic settings, but my system shows you how to easily connect the scales through voice-leading, from any note, highlighting the strongest notes in every chord. INTERMEDIATE & ADVANCED LEVEL. Includes detailed PDF practice notes for Bb, Eb and C instruments.

LESSON 2: Charlie Parker – Use of Bebop Ornamentation

In this video lesson, I analyze Parker’s use and application of bebop ornamentation. Bebop is an ornate style of jazz, sharing some similarities to baroque classical music in its use of ornamentation. Ornamental notes are what I describe as “sudden sixteenths” which are placed within an eighth-note line to add extra detail and sophistication to the line. In this lesson, I take a Parker phrase and break it down, removing all of the ornaments and then showing you how to use these concepts in your own lines, demonstrating with a line that I composed and then enhanced with the application of bebop ornaments in the Parker style.

INTERMEDIATE & ADVANCED LEVEL. Includes detailed PDF practice notes for Bb, Eb, and C instruments.

LESSON 3: Locating the 13th of a Chord

The thirteenth is one of the most colorful notes in a chord, and yet, many aspiring players have a difficult time locating and hearing the note. In this video lesson, I show you my system for easily hearing and locating the thirteenth of any chord.

This lesson includes hearing thirteenths over: Maj7, dom7, mi7, mi7b5 and dim7 chords. Intermediate level. Includes detailed PDF practice notes for Bb, Eb and C instruments.

LESSON 4: Listening Recommendation: Mel Torme Swings Shubert Alley

One of my favorite albums! Mel Torme at the height of his powers with beautiful pitch, tone, phrasing, taste, and humor. Marty Paich, one of my favorite arrangers, has created an amazing collection of arrangements of popular standards.

I love his instrumentation and the inclusion of the tuba in this ensemble. The engineering is also incredible on this album. It’s like you’re right there in the studio with the guys. Paich is also quite humorous, having the band slyly quoting “Who’s Sorry Now” and “Easy Living” while Mel is singing the tune “Just in Time.”

The band is an all-star cast of top West Coast players at the time — Jack Sheldon on Trumpet, Frank Rosolino on trombone, Art Pepper on alto, Mel Lewis on drums…A must-have for any collection.

approx 38 min

Module 42

LESSON 1: The Echo Game – Major Seventh Chords with Lower Neighboring Tones

In this video lesson, I play the echo game with major seventh chords, adding lower neighboring tones to the root, third, fifth or seventh. Includes directions one, two and a bonus round of direction three for advanced players.

LESSON 2: The Diminished Scale over a Cº7 Chord – New System

In this video lesson, I share a completely new approach to learning the diminished scale for use with the diminished seventh chord. This is one of the more challenging topics, as aspiring players are often unsure about the notes in between the chord tones of 1-b3-b5-bb7 when playing this scale. This new system eliminates all doubt and will help you to hear the scale with clarity.

Includes detailed PDF practice notes for C, Bb and Eb instruments.

LESSON 3: Major Scales in 3rds Shifting by Half Steps

In this video lesson, I take the familiar practice routine of playing major scales in thirds and put a new twist on it. To improve technical fluency in difficult keys, I shift the exercise both a half-step up and down. This is a great way to get over any inhibitions about playing in tricky keys.

Includes detailed PDF practice notes for C, Bb and Eb instruments.

LESSON 4: Staccato Articulation Strategy – Aka: Duck, Duck, Goose

In this video lesson, I share my unique approach to creating extremely percussive short notes similar to the style used by Stan Getz on many of his famous Bossa Nova recordings. This simple, yet effective approach will definitely transform your short notes.

LESSON 5: The Art of Listening

In this video lesson, I share my thoughts about being aware of your musical surroundings at all times. The first story is about a student with no awareness that he’s playing in the wrong key with a play-along. The second story is about a pro player how he was ignoring his musical surroundings. In both cases, it was a failure to listen that hurt both performances. I discuss the importance of developing the ability to listen and play simultaneously.


approx 29 min

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 36

LESSON 1: Mirrored Intervals

In this video lesson, I share a concept that I call “mirrored intervals.” By this terminology, I’m referring to the sound of playing, let’s say, an E up to a G, and then playing the same E again, but dropping to the G below. The result is that you’ll go up a minor third and the “mirrored” interval produced when you drop down to the G below E will be a major sixth. One of my favorite players, Gene Ammons uses this device quite a bit in his solos. In this lesson, I’ll demonstrate several ways to practice this concept and get it into your playing. Intermediate & Advanced level. Includes detailed PDF practice notes for Bb, Eb and C instruments.

LESSON 2: Fixing the Break: How to play smoothly from C to D

One problem for many aspiring saxophonists is “the break,” which is the part of the horn that switches from the lower register, without the octave key, to the upper register, with the octave key. The break can be especially challenging when going from middle “C” to middle “D.” The thing that many aspiring players don’t realize is that while there’s just one key to press on the horn, there are actually two octave keys. One is located on the neck, and the other is located on the body of the horn. In this video lesson, I demonstrate both the problem and the solution. Includes close-up camera shots of my hands as I play the horn. If you’ve ever wanted to smooth out your transitions from the low register to the middle register of the horn, this video will immediately put you on the right path.
CLICK HERE to download PDF lesson materials

LESSON 3: The Harmonic Minor Scale

In this video lesson, I demonstrate the harmonic minor scale, first comparing it to the major scale, and then showing how to use it strategically over a minor ii / V / I. I also demonstrate the scale in 3rds in the four directions, followed by an improvisation on the scale. Includes detailed PDF practice notes for Bb, Eb & C instruments. INTERMEDIATE LEVEL.

LESSON 4: Greg’s Philosophy of Music: It’s Bigger than You and Me

In this video lesson, I discuss my thoughts about a student who came to me feeling down about his playing. He is a good student. He practices a lot. He always shows up prepared for the lessons. I’m proud of his progress. And yet, he had such negative feelings about his playing that he was considering quitting.

I shared my personal philosophy about music with him and told him about my own experience with feelings of frustration and self-doubt as a younger player. After I shared these thoughts with him, we proceeded to have a fantastic lesson and by the end of the lesson, he was feeling much better about things. I hope that you enjoy the video.

LESSON 5: Listening Recommendation: Cannonball Adderley – Somethin’ Else

An all-time classic 1958 Blue Note album. Miles Davis rarely appeared as a sideman after his time with Charlie Parker, but he made a rare exception and appeared on this Cannonball album. There’s great chemistry between all of the players on this album.

The vibe, the grooves…this is one of those albums that just sets a great mood and when it’s finished playing, you want to play it all over again. My favorite track, “One for Daddy-O” features one of my all-time favorite alto solo breaks. Also includes classic renditions of “Autumn Leaves” and “Love for Sale.” A must for all jazz collections.

aprox 27 min

Module 01

LESSON 1: System for Creating Diminished Scales on V7b9 Chords
This lesson demonstrates my system for creating diminished scales for the V7b9 chord. If you haven’t yet learned the diminished scale, or if you learned it via the traditional “half step/ whole step” approach, this system is a total game-changer! Check out this video to master your diminished scales over V7b9 chords.

LESSON 2: Theme & Variation – Singles, Doubles & Triples
This lesson demonstrates a technique I call “Singles, Doubles, and Triples.” This is a fun way to practice your chords or scales while creating lots of rhythmic variations by varying the number of times that you play each note. If you’ve ever been bored while practicing your chord arpeggios, give this new approach a try! BEGINNING & INTERMEDIATE LEVEL.

LESSON 3: Irving Park Road (Etude Studies) – ALTO
Ideas and exercises for practicing, and getting the most out of this original jazz Etude with your ALTO sax.

LESSON 4: Irving Park Road (Etude Studies) – TENOR
Ideas and exercises for practicing, and getting the most out of this original jazz Etude with your TENOR sax.

LESSON 5: Using Major Scales to Learn Intervals
With this lesson, we’re going to take the familiar C major scale and use it to train the ear to hear ascending and descending intervals. This approach lets you hear the intervals within the scale in much greater detail.

LESSON 6: 24 Permutations for the Fingers
This video features my method for sharpening independent control of each finger. This exercise will improve your technique and keep your fingers in shape even when you’re away from the horn.

LESSON 7: Road Tips – Location of Notes within Maj7 Chords – Part 1 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 30 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 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