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New lesson modules are added each month and pertain to every aspect of jazz studies.

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Some of the lessons and course modules featured at Greg Fishman Jazz Studios

PRACTICE STRATEGIES FUNDAMENTALS

Hearing the Metronome on 2 & 4
Interactive Metronome Practice
Lifting Weights – The Importance of Daily Practice
Four Directions – Thinking Locally and Globally

SCALES [FUNDAMENTALS]

Bebop Scale Highway – Part 1 of 3
Bebop Scale Highway – Part 2 of 3
Bebop Scale Highway – Part 3 of 3

TRANSCRIPTION [FUNDAMENTALS]

How to Transcribe Solos 1 of 4
How to Transcribe Solos – Part 2 of 4
How to Transcribe Solos – Part 3 of 4
How to Transcribe Solos – Part 4 of 4

ELEMENTS OF STYLE [FUNDAMENTALS]

6 Essential Elements – The Six of Diamonds
Melodic Embellishment
Cake, Frosting & Sprinkles – Part 1 of 3 – Lower & Upper Neighboring Tones on Triads
Cake, Frosting & Sprinkles – Part 2 of 3 – Lower & Upper Neighboring Tones on Triads
Cake, Frosting & Sprinkles – Part 3 of 3 – Lower & Upper Neighboring Tones on Triads

SAXOPHONE TRAINING [FUNDAMENTALS]

Breathing – Video Lesson
How to get a full tone on the Palm Keys
How to Play What You Hear in Your Head

ARTICULATION [FUNDAMENTALS]

Getting more impact from your short notes
The “Dooden” Tongue

VOICE LEADING [FUNDAMENTALS]

Basic Voiceleading for a ii – V – I – PART 1 of 2
Basic Voiceleading for a ii – V – I – PART 2 of 2
Voice Leading 101 – Part 1 of 2
Voice Leading 101 – Part 2 of 2

CHORDS [FUNDAMENTALS]

Diatonic Triads
The Coltrane Triplets
Sonny Stitt Triplets
Finding the hidden Diminished & Augmented Chords in the Chromatic Scale

VOICE LEADING [FUNDAMENTALS]

Basic Voiceleading for a ii – V – I – PART 1 of 2
Basic Voiceleading for a ii – V – I – PART 2 of 2
Voice Leading 101 – Part 1 of 2
Voice Leading 101 – Part 2 of 2

Module 45


LESSON 1: Tools of the Composer – Jerome Kern’s “I’m Old Fashioned”

In this video lesson, I share my interpretation of a very powerful editing device used by Jerome Kern on the bridge of his famous standard, "I'm Old Fashioned."

Kern takes something that would have been a very ordinary scale two-note pattern in thirds and transforms it into a memorable melody by editing out one of the notes in the pattern. T

his lesson explores this editing technique and shows you how to apply the concept in your own playing. Includes PDF practice notes for C, Bb and Eb instruments.


LESSON 2: Tools of the Composer – Antonio Carlos Jobim’s “One Note Samba”

In this video lesson, I share my interpretation of Jobim's use of common tones in the melody over the first four measures of his hit song, "One Note Samba."

Jobim uses what I call "dual citizen notes" (common tones) to bring out four different flavors from the same repeated note. He achieves this effect by maintaining a repeated pitch in the melody while the chords move downward in half-steps.

I explore this sound and share my approach to transfer this very cool sound to the saxophone. Includes PDF practice notes for Bb, Eb and C instruments.


LESSON 3: Maj7#5 Chords w/Echo Game

In this video lesson, I share my strategy to help a student to the first two chords on the bridge of the popular Brazilian tune, The Girl From Ipanema. I use two upper structures to bring out the sound of the progression.

The first is the very familiar mi7 chord. I use the mi7 chord over the maj7, acting as a 3-5-7-9. Then, I simply lower the root of the mi7 chord to achieve a maj7#5 chord shape. I use the maj7#5 chord shape as 7-9-#11-13 over a dominant chord.

While this may sound complex, it's very easy for your ear to hear the musical logic of this approach. Includes PDF practice notes for C, Bb and Eb instruments. Echo Game starts at 7:48 into the video lesson.


LESSON 4: If You Can Hear It You Can Have It

In this video lesson, I share a story about a new Skype student who has a music degree and great reading skills, but his ability to play what he hears is not yet fully developed.

After speaking with him about his training, he revealed to me that his former teacher told him to never listen to the sounds in his head and instead, to play by memorizing numbers for the notes. This is contrary to what I learned from Joe Henderson, James Moody, Mark Colby, and all of the many incredible teachers who shared their knowledge with me.

I explain in the video that it's not just about hearing the sounds, but developing your musical memory and improving your ability to focus on the music.


approx 30 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 43


LESSON 1: The Donkey

In this video lesson, I share my system to develop a strong, consistent tone when changing from the upper register to the lower register. The video lesson focuses, especially on slurred descending octaves.

I explain a common problem of aspiring saxophonists dropping their jaw to get to the low register, which causes a pitch drop to the upper note, as well as a weak sounding lower register. I call this problem, "the donkey" because the sound reminds me of a braying donkey.

This is an essential lesson for tone development. Key elements in this lesson include a discussion of jaw positioning, throat tension, and air support. ESSENTIAL FOR ALL LEVELS.


LESSON 2: TUNES

In this video lesson, I share with you the basic bebop style blues changes that my famous Chicago teacher, Joe Daley showed be when I was studying with him in the 1980s. These are what I consider to be essential blues changes for bebop era blues heads, like Billie's Bounce, Tenor Madness, Now's the Time, etc.

There are many advanced options for the blues, but this video will provide you with the essentials to get started. I play the progression slowly, with the chords in all four directions. I also take you through singing the roots of the chords while playing the changes on the keyboard. Includes PDF with these changes for C, Bb, and Eb instruments. Intermediate level.

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


LESSON 3: Mi(maj7) Chords with Echo Game in Four Directions

In this video lesson, I explain how to play minor(maj7) chords. This is one of my favorites. it has a kind of "film-noir" quality to the sound of the chord, with a dark minor third, a neutral perfect fifth, and a very bright major seventh. I often refer to this chord as the "Vertigo" chord because this sound was featured so prominently in Alfred Hitchcock's classic film "Vertigo," starring Jimmy Stewart.

This chord is also featured in songs such as: Harlem Nocturne, Nica's Dream, Chelsea Bridge, Solar, and many more. I take you through the "echo game" in all four directions, with Direction 1 at 2:16, Direction 2 at 4:00, Direction 3 at 5:36, and Direction 4 at 7:10. Starting at 8:08 I have a high-speed echo game for advanced players. At 10:48 I give suggestions for practicing with this chord.

Includes PDF for C, Bb, and Eb instruments.


LESSON 4: Addition by Subtraction

In this video lesson, I share my thoughts on transforming your playing not by adding more and more layers to what you're doing, but by subtracting things that are holding you back. This is a very powerful concept. Who would have thought you could sound so much better by simply subtracting a few things from your playing?


approx 36 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 41


The Echo Game with Lick #1 Variations

In this video lesson, we’ll play the echo game, in which you will imitate or “echo” whatever I play. I have the metronome at 160BPM and play many variations on Hip Lick #1. Each of my demonstration phrases is one measure in length. You’ll have one measure to play the echo, by ear.

The video is divided into two parts. The first part of the video is intermediate level, with all variations on the lick remaining in the same key. The second half of the video takes all of the variations for the echo and puts the lick into the cycle, playing different variations in each of the twelve keys. This is an ear-training video designed to improve your musical memory. So, by intent, there are no PDF notes for this lesson. INTERMEDIATE & ADVANCED LEVEL.


LESSON 2: Stop Scooping Your Notes!

I think of this video lesson like a public service announcement for all intermediate level aspiring player. In my earliest playing days, I was a guilty of this as anyone. I thought it sounded “jazzy” so scoop into my notes. Wrong! Thanks to my old teacher Joe Daley, who told me in quite harsh terms, but really cured me of doing this, I found a better way, through Sonny Stitt, to get the effect of sliding into a note while maintaining the pitch center of the note.

This video demonstrates how it sounds when scooping and then how it sounds when applying the Sonny Stitt way of using a grace note from a 1/2 step below, to slide into a note. Totally hip. This is designed to be an ear-training lesson, as well, so there are no PDF notes with this one. INTERMEDIATE LEVEL.
No PDF materials for this lesson


LESSON 3: The Bad Toupee Theory - How to Blend Licks into a Solo

In this video lesson, I share what I call my “Bad Toupee Theory.” The basic idea is this: Nobody points to a guy and says, “what a great looking toupee!” They only say “look at that bad toupee on that guy!” If it’s a great looking toupee, you can’t even tell that the guy is wearing a toupee. It’s similar with licks.

You don’t want to make it obvious that you’re using licks. They need to blend into the musical surroundings. In this video, I demonstrate an obvious usage of a lick (bad toupee) and I also demonstrate a subtle way to use a lick, blending it into the development of the solo. Includes PDF lesson notes for Bb, Eb and C instruments. INTERMEDIATE & ADVANCED LEVEL.


LESSON 4: Dealing with Practice Anxiety - How to Have Fun While You Practice

Recently, I’ve been hearing more and more from students of all levels who tell me that they’re constantly stressed out about practicing. They feel overwhelmed and anxious about the amount of musical material they need to master in order to move forward. I used to have these feelings, and it took me a long time to change my attitude and approach turn my practice sessions into really fun experiences. I

n this video lesson, I share my personal journey with you and give you some suggestions that, to this day really help me have fun in every practice session. BEGINNING, INTERMEDIATE & ADVANCED LEVELS.


 

approx 32 min

Module 40


The Echo Game - 60 Chords - Direction 1

In this video lesson, we’ll play what I call, “the echo game.” In this game, I arpeggiate each chord and then leave space for you to “echo” exactly what you heard. For this particular video, I play the chords in what I call “Direction 1,” which means 1-3-5-7, ascending.

This is an ear-training game and there is no written PDF for this lesson (by design). Take your time and do quality work. If you need to just focus on one group of chords, such as the major or dominant, just replay that portion of the video lesson. Use this lesson often to keep your ears sharp, keep up your concentration and review all sixty of your chords, all in a matter of a few minutes. INTERMEDIATE LEVEL.


LESSON 2: The Echo Game - 60 Chords - Direction 2

In this video lesson, we’ll play what I call, “the echo game.” In this game, I arpeggiate each chord and then leave space for you to “echo” exactly what you heard. In this video, I’m playing the chords in “Direction 2,” which means 7-5-3-1 for all 60 chords, starting with the major 7th chords, followed by dominant, minor, half-diminished and diminished seventh chords.

This is an ear-training game and there is no written PDF for this lesson (by design). Take your time and do quality work. If you need to just focus on one group of chords, such as the major or dominant, just replay that portion of the video lesson. Use this lesson often to keep your ears sharp, keep up your concentration and review all sixty of your chords, all in a matter of a few minutes. INTERMEDIATE LEVEL.


LESSON 3: The Echo Game - 60 Chords - Direction 3

In this video lesson, we’ll play what I call, “the echo game.” In this game, I arpeggiate each chord and then leave space for you to “echo” exactly what you heard. For this particular video, I play the chords in what I call “Direction 3,” which means 1-3-5-7, ascending and then 7-5-3-1 descending on the next chord in the cycle.

This is an ear-training game and there is no written PDF for this lesson (by design). Take your time and do quality work. If you need to just focus on one group of chords, such as the major or dominant, just replay that portion of the video lesson. Use this lesson often to keep your ears sharp, keep up your concentration and review all sixty of your chords, all in a matter of a few minutes. INTERMEDIATE LEVEL & ADVANCED LEVEL.


LESSON 4: The Echo Game - 60 Chords - Direction 4

In this video lesson, we’ll play what I call, “the echo game.” In this game, I arpeggiate each chord and then leave space for you to “echo” exactly what you heard. For this particular video, I play the chords in what I call “Direction 4,” which means 7-5-3-1, descending and then 1-3-5-7, ascending on the next chord in the cycle.

This is an ear-training game and there is no written PDF for this lesson (by design). Take your time and do quality work. If you need to just focus on one group of chords, such as the major or dominant, just replay that portion of the video lesson. Use this lesson often to keep your ears sharp, keep up your concentration and review all sixty of your chords, all in a matter of a few minutes. INTERMEDIATE LEVEL & ADVANCED LEVEL.


LESSON 4: Listening Recommendation: Brasil '66 - Equinox

One of my favorite pop/brazilian/jazzy groups of the 1960’s, Sergio Mendes and Brasil ’66. This is my favorite album of theirs, though they’re all great.

This one, to me, represents an incredible combination of sophisticated writing and orchestration, great studio production, catchy, interesting tunes and a fun, light character. The time feel is so fun with this group. Nothing dark or brooding, though they do have an emotional range, from introspective, longing ballads to fun, uptempo bossa novas and sambas. If you’re not hip to Brasil ’66, this is a great place to start.

If you like this one, be sure to also pick up their first album, Herb Alpert Presents Sergio Mendes & Brasil ’66. Great stuff!

approx 25 min

Module 39


LESSON 1: Locating the 9th of a Chord

The ninth is one of my favorite notes in a chord. To me, it always feels and sounds elegant and luxurious. 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 ninth of any chord.

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

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LESSON 2: Hearing a Hidden Melody within an Eighth-Note Line

In this video lesson, I will take phrase of all eighth-notes and reveal to you the hidden melody within that line. I use a short phrase from my etude, “Broadway Street” and deconstruct the line, revealing the melody that I had in mind. From there, I rebuild the phrase, adding an enclosure, approach notes to reconstruct the line.

This lesson provides insights into the compositional process involved in creating melodic eighth-note lines.

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


LESSON 3: High Speed Articulation with Halsted Street

In this video lesson, I share my strategies for increasing the speed and smoothness of your articulation when playing fast, consecutive eighth-notes. I use a short phrase from my etude, “Halsted Street” to demonstrate many different approaches to articulation.

The video also includes some discussion of extended articulation techniques, such as the “dooden” tongue and a demonstration of integrating the “dooden” tongue with the “ah-tah,” and staccato tonguing, all while keeping the phrase in tempo. INTERMEDIATE & ADVANCED level. Includes PDF practice notes for Bb, Eb and C instruments.


LESSON 4: Listening Recommendation: Oscar Peterson Trio: The Sound of the Trio

This is one of my all-time favorite recordings of the legendary Oscar Peterson trio, featuring Ray Brown and Ed Thigpen. This was recorded in the late 1950s in Chicago at the famous “London House,” a jazz supper club in downtown Chicago.

Artists would be “in residence” for their gig from one to three weeks at a time, playing between five and seven nights a week. This led to a wonderfully relaxed situation, where the artists could focus on the music, well-rested, without the fatigue of playing one-niters around the country.

I can hear the energy and communication present in every note of the album. You’ll even hear glasses clinking in the background. It’s like you’re right there in the room with the group. The record is also beautifully engineered by Val Valentin, for the Verve record label. A must-have for any serious collection.


approx 36 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.
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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 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