LESSON 1: Creating a Melody from Four Voice Leading Lines – Part 1 of 2
In this video lesson, I present a visual system, using common chord shapes as upper extensions, to create beautiful melodies using four voice leading lines.
A unique feature of this video lesson is the way in which I demonstrate the concept with written notes, explaining the theory behind the concept as I create the written notes. Be sure to have blank paper and a pencil handy so you can follow along and create your own notes as you watch the video. Copy everything that I write onto your own page of notes.
I have included my note page as a PDF, but I recommend that you take your own notes…it will stay fresher in your own memory if you write out the notes as you watch me explaining the concepts.
LESSON 2: Creating a Melody from Four Voice Leading Lines – Part 2 of 2
In this video lesson, I play my tenor to demonstrate a wide variety of melodic lines derived from the written notes created in part 1 of this lesson.
It is really exciting to hear the written notes come to musical life as I play the chord structures and relate them to the underlying bass notes of the ii V I chord progression.
I explain my melodic choices and share some key strategies that I use to ensure smooth transitions from one chord to the next.
LESSON 3: The 4-3-2-1 System for Technical Fluency
In this video lesson, I share my practice system to gain technical fluency over any musical material that you want to play in all twelve keys.
The system improves your technique through repetition of the musical phrase, but it will also improve your ability to focus your concentration, keeping track of how many times you’ve played each phrase before you move on to the new key.
I use Hip Lick #1 for the playing example in the lesson, but you can apply this concept to any musical phrase.
LESSON 4: Slowing Down Recorded Performances
In this video lesson, I share my thoughts about aspiring players slowing down recorded performances.
I got the idea for the video when a student contacted me to ask if I could create my next iPad app so that it would slow my performance down to just 30% of full speed (the current version of the app slows to 60% of speed).
Although I am a fan of practicing slowly with a metronome and working things up to tempo, I’m not really a huge fan of slowing down recorded performances.
In this video, I explain why I think that it can actually have a negative effect on your development if you’re always listening to “slowed-down” recordings.
LESSON 1: Creating a melody from Three Voice Leading Lines
In this video lesson, I demonstrate how to construct a melody from three voice leading lines. This is a great way to make your playing sound both melodic and harmonically accurate.
Harmonically, this approach covers you because you’re using voice leading from three locations in each chord, leading to three new locations in the upcoming chord. Melodically, you’re covered because this approach has built-in sequencing when you switch between the three voices.
Includes PDF practice notes for Eb, Bb and C instruments.
LESSON 2: Exploring Hip Lick #3
In this video lesson, I explore Hip Lick #3 from Hip Licks for Saxophone, Volume 1. The lick highlights a iimi7 V7 chord progression, starting on the 9th of the iimi7 chord.
The video explores strategies for hearing the root movement, 7-3 voice leading and hearing how to easily locate the first note of the lick, which is the 9th of the iimi7 chord. For advanced players, I demonstrate some ways of extending the lick into a two measure
phrase. Includes PDF practice notes for Bb, Eb and C instruments.
LESSON 3: The High Tide Approach to Scale Practice
In this video lesson, I share my concept called “High Tide” for scale practice. This approach will improve your technical facility on the saxophone while also improving your musical memory.
This approach adds one new note each time you ascend the scale from the root. If you’ve been playing your scales the same-old-way for many years, this new approach will add extra freshness for your ears and your fingers.
LESSON 4: The Surfer Analogy & Thinking in Reverse
In This video lesson I share two key concepts that will help to give you smooth technique through efficiency of motion, minimizing any wasted finger movement while
playing the saxophone. In the surfer analogy, your fingers are the surfers, the keys are the surfboards and the keys moving up and down on the horn are the waves of water.
The “thinking in reverse” concept is something that i developed in my 30’s when exploring ways to improve my technical accuracy on the horn. I found that instead of thinking about the finger pressing the note being played, my technique improved if I focused on the keys not being pressed. Implementing these two concepts will greatly improve your technique on the saxophone.
LESSON 5: Road Tips – Location of Notes within Dominant 7th Chords
In this lesson, I show you how to think of one note in four different locations within a Dominant 7th chord. For example, C = Root of C7, but C = the 3rd of Ab7, C = the 5th of F7, and C = the 7th of D7. The importance of enharmonic notes is also discussed in the video. The first part of the video is at an easy pace.
At the end of the video I do a “speed round” for advanced players. This is a fun way to review and sharpen up your chord spelling skills.
LESSON 1: Steak & Parsley aka: Evolution of a Lick
In this video lesson, I show you a concept that I call “The Steak and the Parsley.” I explain the difference between the main notes of a lick (the steak) and the ornamental notes of the lick (the parsley). I
present the lick in a step-by-step manner that shows the evolution of the phrase.
Includes detailed PDF practice notes for Bb, Eb, and C instruments.
LESSON 2: Hearing Like a Piano Player – Cycle with 7-3
In this video lesson, I share my strategy for hearing like a piano player.
A jazz pianist is always at a harmonic advantage over a horn player because they can use their left hand to play the bass notes (or full chords) to provide harmonic context for anything they play in their right hand.
I developed my own way to approximate this pianistic approach to hearing in context by playing a bass note in the low register of the horn and then jumping into the high register of the horn with the voice-leading notes.
This is a fun way to train your ear and also gain incredible flexibility on the horn with large register skips.
Includes PDF practice notes for Bb, Eb and C instruments.
LESSON 3: The Cat Water Fountain – Ear Training Echo Game
In this video lesson, I use one of my teaching analogies that I call the “cat water fountain.”
Think about a d versus a cat. A dog is happy with water that has been sitting in the same bowl all day.
A cat wants freshwater, which lead to the popularity of cat water fountains which recirculate the water, making the water mo appealing to the cat.
The ear is like the cat. It can get tired of hearing the chords played in the same way t many times.
This lesson shows you how I keep things fresh for my ear with some unusual variations to my usual chord practice routine.
LESSON 4: The Rabbit Hole of Misinformation
In this video, I share my thoughts about what I call the “rabbit hole of misinformation.”
When I started teaching in the 1980’s, people studied with a teacher and took their advice about what to practice and how to practice. There was no internet and no YouTube.
In a way, this was a good thing, because the students would stay on-track with a good teacher’s guidance. However, in today’s society, there’s YouTube, and anyone can create their own channel with their own teaching videos.
Some of the videos are excellent, made by fine teachers and players, but many are made by unqualified people who are simply sharing their uninformed opinions.
The trick is to be able to tell the difference between the useful videos and the videos that will lead you down the rabbit hole of misinformation.
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.
LESSON 1: Voice Leading 101 – Part 1 of 2
In this two-part video lesson, I take you through the essentials of voice leading, introducing you to the concept from the keyboard, making it very easy for your ear to follow along.
I cover four essential voice-leading moves over a ii / V / I. Incorporating these moves into your playing will make your playing sound smooth and connected. Every pro player uses these moves. I use a special vocal sound patch on the keyboard, which really makes it easy to hear the voice leading lines in the demonstration.
I break the lesson down to that even non-pianists will be able to get the essence of the concept and put it on their horns. Includes PDF practice notes for Bb, Eb and C instruments. Intermediate Level.
LESSON 2: Voice Leading 101 – Part 2 of 2
This video lesson continues where part 1 left off, showing you how to take the individual voice leading lines and combine them to form melodies.
I include strategies to create two-part, three-part and four-part melodies based on the voice leading lines. PDF practice materials include very detailed notes for Bb, Eb and C instruments. Intermediate & Advanced Level.
LESSON 3: Chicago Ave (Satin Doll) – Melodic Embellishment
In this video lesson, I demonstrate the concept of melodic embellishment, using my composition “Chicago Avenue” from “Jazz Phrasing for Saxophone, Volume 1.” This is a medium tempo swing piece based on chords similar to “Satin Doll.” In the lesson, I’ll show you how I embellish the original melody of Chicago Avenue by connecting new notes to the original melody.
I demonstrate approaches using arpeggios, fills and melodic variations as I take you through the piece. This is an essential skill for all improvisers. INTERMEDIATE LEVEL, Includes PDF practice notes for Bb, Eb and C instruments.
LESSON 4: Listening Recommendation: The Hi Lo’s: And All That Jazz
Recorded in 1958, this masterpiece by the Hi-Lo’s is one of my favorite vocal jazz albums. The Hi-Lo’s, comprised of four male vocalists: Clark Burroughs, Gene Puerling, Bob Strasen and Bob Morse.
They were one of the first (and best IMHO) jazz vocal groups to incorporate modern jazz harmony, complete with chord clusters including b9/#9, #11, etc. They had impeccable timing and intonation. This album teams them up with one of my favorite arrangers, the great Mary Paich, with an all-star cast of jazz players including: Jack Sheldon, Mel Lewis, Herb Geller and Bud Shank. Listening to their beautiful harmonizations is a lesson in voice leading and great for ear training. Also, they just have so much fun when they sing, it’s always a pleasant listening experience. Some of their stuff can range from ultra sophisticated to a bit tongue-in-cheek corny, but with a sort of wink….they’re just having fun with all of it. You’ll hear that on the tune “Lady in Red.” This is a long time favorite album for me. I hope that you enjoy it.
LESSON 1: Basic Voice leading for a ii – V – I – PART 1 of 2
In this video lesson, I share some essential voice-leading strategies which will transform your chord arpeggios, making them sound smooth and professional.
f you’re used to just arpeggiating your ii – V – I chords as 1-3-5-7, one after another, this video (in two parts) will take you to the next level! Part one of the lesson deals with major ii V I progressions. INTERMEDIATE LEVEL. Includes detailed PDF practice notes for Bb, Eb and C instruments.
LESSON 2: Basic Voice leading for a ii – V – I – PART 2 of 2
In this video lesson, I share some essential voice-leading strategies which will transform your chord arpeggios, making them sound smooth and professional.
If you’re used to just arpeggiating your ii – V – I chords as 1-3-5-7, one after another, this video (in two parts) will take you to the next level! Part two of the lesson deals with minor ii V I progressions. INTERMEDIATE LEVEL. Includes detailed PDF practice notes for Bb, Eb and C instruments.
LESSON 3: Hip Lick #49
Hip Lick #49 is based on Cmi7. It’s a two-measure lick that outlines the primary notes of the chord (7-5-3-1) while also including some popular bebop elements, such as the opening triplet rhythm on the first beat.
I demonstrate how to use dynamics to liven up the lick and I also play it in 12 keys, descending chromatically. INTERMEDIATE LEVEL. Includes PDF practice notes for Bb, Eb and C instruments.
LESSSON 4: Why Does My Playing Sound so Choppy (and how do I make it Smoother)?
Many students come to me with the same issue…they want to have a smooth sound when playing eighth-note lines, but no matter how slowly they practice, they still have a “choppy” sound. This is a tricky problem to correct because it has several causes.
I explore the three main reasons for the “choppy” sound issue and provide effective solutions for this frustrating issue. When I show these techniques to my students, it immediately raises their playing level, and many years of frustration go away very quickly.
While it will take some time and effort to fix the problem, with the tips from this video lesson, you’ll be sounding smoother than you ever thought possible. INTERMEDIATE LEVEL. Includes PDF practice notes for Bb, Eb and C instruments.
LESSON 5: Listening Recommendation: Marcos Valle – Samba 68
In this video, I discuss one of my all-time favorite albums, Marcos Valle’s “Samba ’68.” It’s deceptive because it sounds so light and fluffy and simple. Actually, it’s incredibly deep, sophisticated writing with some of the catchiest melodies I’ve ever heard.
Each tune is a masterpiece of melodic construction, performed in a charming, relaxed manner, by the composer himself, singing and playing guitar.
The lush orchestrations are by Deodato. Recorded in 1967 and released in 1968, at the tail-end of the bossa nova craze, this is a rare gem of a record.
LESSON 1: How to Play What You Hear in Your Head
In this video lesson, I share some of my techniques for getting the sounds in your head to come out on your horn.
This is an all “by ear” lesson. Includes a detailed description of the process involved in practicing to develop this unique skill. This lesson is a must for all playing levels, from beginner to advanced level
LESSON 2: Stan Getz Minor 2nd Interval placement – as the 3rd and 9th over a mi7 chord
In this video lesson, we’ll explore one of my favorite harmonic settings a minor second interval, acting as the 3rd / 9th / 3rd of a minor seventh chord. This has a very Getzian kind of sound…smooth and melodic. Includes page 22 from “Intervals in Action,” plus detailed PDF practice guide for C, Bb and Eb instruments. INTERMEDIATE LEVEL
LESSON 3: Phil Woods Turnaround Lick
In this video lesson, I explore what I call the “Phil Woods” turnaround lick. It uses two voice-leading notes to create a beautifully balanced, melodic line of eighth-notes.
We’ll work with a progression of: Emi7 A7b9 / Dmi7 G7b9 / Cmaj7 in the video, but the included PDFs have transposed parts for Eb, Bb and C instruments. Intermediate Level with some additional tips at the end of the video lesson for advanced players.
LESSSON 4: Bebop Tradition: How to Mix a Minor Triad with a Diminished 7th Chord
Part of the bebop tradition involves the usage of both upper extensions and implied harmony. The mixing of the minor triad with a diminished seventh chord adds a strong harmonic boost to any minor passage.
When you mix the diminished seventh chord in with the minor triad, the implied harmony is a temporary V7b9 chord that switches back to the i minor chord.
If this description sounds really complicated, let me just say that it’s a really cool sound, and it’s really easy to add this to your playing. You’ll definitely recognize it when you hear it. INTERMEDIATE and ADVANCED level. Includes detailed PDF practice notes for Bb, Eb, and C instruments.
LESSON 5: Listening Recommendation: Charlie Parker with Strings
In this video, I discuss one of my all-time favorite albums, Charlie Parker’s masterpiece album, “Charlie Parker with Strings.” The album features popular standards from the Great American Songbook, arranged for the strings-plus-rhythm section. Parker at his most eloquent. One of my all-time favorites.