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New lesson modules are continually added 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 56


LESSON 1: How to Hear Melodies in Harmonic Context

One of the biggest challenges facing the aspiring saxophonist is learning how to hear a melody as it relates to the underlying chord progression. In particular, the relationship of the melody notes to the underlying root movement (bass notes) is essential for successfully hearing whether a melody note is a 3rd, 5th, 7th, etc.

For example, if the melody is playing a “B” natural, and no chord is heard underneath the note, that “B” is undefined, harmonically speaking. However, if you hear an E in the bass, that “B” now has a clear identity as the 5th of the chord.

In this video lesson, I share a technique for adding the bass notes to the melody and combining these two elements to help players hear this important relationship. I also share some additional strategies for memorizing chord progressions, though singing the bass notes while singing the chord names.

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


LESSON 2: Coltrane & Stitt Highlight Major 2nds over V7b9 Chords Category: Elements of Style / Interval Studies

In this video lesson, I explore the way that both Coltrane and Stitt highlight major second intervals in the diminished scale when playing over a V7b9 chord.

In addition to Coltrane and Stitt, many of the old-school jazz players preferred to highlight this particular interval when playing over a V7b9 chord, because this interval is pleasing to the ear, highlighting a sort of musical “sweet and sour sauce,” with the following note combinations: 13 & 5 / #11 & 3 / #9 & b9 / and Root & b7. This approach will help you to dial in very specific color combinations as you solo over the V7b9 chord.

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


LESSON 3: Exploring Hip Lick #59

In this video lesson, I’ll explore Hip Lick #59 from my book, “Hip Licks for Saxophone, Volume 1.” This is a Dmi7 lick (tenor key) that combines three common elements to form the two-measure phrase. I break the lick down into each of these component parts and conclude the video lesson with the “Echo Game” (by ear) in 12 keys.


LESSON 4: The Car Analogy – Sounds vs Theory 

In this video lesson, I share a new analogy that has been resonating with many of my Skype students. Although I’ve so often mentioned the importance of playing by ear and not just relying on music theory, this analogy, describing theory as license plates and sounds as cars will really help you to get the big picture on the differences between the ear approach and the theoretical approach to music.


approx 26 min

Module 55


LESSON 1: Moving 5ths

In this video lesson, I share a concept that I call “Moving 5ths.” This is a great way to add some voice-leading to a static chord.

For example. with a tune like “I’ll Remember April,” a soloist has four measures of a major seventh chord, followed four measures of a minor seventh chord. With the “Moving 5ths” strategy, it’s very easy to create a melodic change of color by highlighting the moving 5ths in the chords.

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


LESSON 2: Joe Henderson High D and Eb False Fingerings

Back in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, I was so fortunate to have studied with Joe Henderson. I’ve always been a fan of his music and his approach. I used to hear him play every time he’d visit Chicago.

In this video lesson, I share two fingerings that I learned from intensive listening and study. While much of Joe’s technique is technically challenging, these two fingerings are very manageable, and they provide a very cool change of texture for these two palm key notes. Be sure to have your horn out to follow along with me in this lesson!


LESSON 3: Exploring Hip Lick #51

In this video lesson, I’ll explore Hip Lick #51 from my book, “Hip Licks for Saxophone, Volume 1.”

This is a Bbmi7 lick (tenor key) that is primarily based an an arpeggio that utilizes what I call “Direction 3,” which is a descending arpeggio followed by an ascending arpeggio. The lick highlights one of my favorite harmonic choices for a minor chord — the 11th.

Includes the “Echo Game” (by ear) for the lick in 12 keys, as well as twelve new endings for the lick — a new ending for the lick in each new key.


LESSON 4: 3D Dynamics – Decoupling Finger Pressure from Dynamics

In this video lesson, I share a technique that I developed to improve my technique by decoupling finger pressure from the dynamics being played on the horn. In my 20’s, I was playing a quiet background gig and I noticed that I had nice, smooth technique on that gig. Lots of effortless facility on the horn.

The next night, I had a very different type of gig. Jazz gig in a noisy club with a loud drummer and no microphone. I found that my technical facility on the horn seemed to have dropped overnight! I was struggling with technical passages that were easy the night before.

There was tension in my hands and arms. After the gig, I thought about it and made a startling realization. When I was playing softly, I was relaxed, pressing the keys lightly. On the loud gig, I was tense and pounding the keys down very hard as I was struggling to hear myself.

I realized that I needed to be able to separate my finger pressure from my dynamics. For the benefit of a visual reminder — this is the 3D part — I hold my mouthpiece cap close and far away from the camera as I demonstrate the concept.

This lesson will improve both your technique and your attention to dynamics!


approx 21 min

Module 54


LESSON 1: The Pivot

In this video lesson, I use Hip Lick #1 to demonstrate an essential device for creating many variations from a very small amount of musical material.

This device is commonly known as “The Pivot.” The pivot involves the use of octave displacement applied to one or more notes in a phrase. I call this concept “high mileage,” because you get so much more from each musical idea when you apply the pivot.

Sometimes the pivot is used to simply modify a phrase in order to make it fit within the range of an instrument. Other times, the pivot is used simply to the benefit of musical variety with the same group of notes in a phrase. Includes detailed PDF practice notes for Bb, Eb and C instruments.


LESSON 2: Neighboring Diatonic Seventh Chord/Scale System (Parts 1, 2, 3 and 4)

In this series of four video lessons, I share a new system that I have developed for the creation of scales. The system uses two neighboring diatonic seventh chords to create any mode of any scale.

In the first three videos, I demonstrate the system using the vibraphone, for both the visual presentation of the instrument, as well as the fact that I can let the notes ring into each other, providing a combined sound of all notes from both chords.

In part 4, I demonstrate the system on tenor saxophone.
This is a completely different approach to scale construction, and it’s fantastic for ear training, as it gives your ear an overview of the sound of the scale with the chord arpeggios.

In addition, I break down the system to groupings of four notes, six notes, and eight notes, which provides not only a graduated system for your ear to absorb the sounds but also gives you incredible fluency of technique.

Part 1: Overview and explanation of the system.
Part 2: How to practice with the system to create the major scale.
Part 3: Chord combination formulas for all modes of the major scale system.
Part 4: Demonstration of the system on tenor saxophone.

Includes detailed PDF practice notes for Bb, Eb and C instruments. Also includes PDF with chord formulas for both major and melodic minor modes.


LESSON 3: Continuous Tone – Keeping the Air Moving


In this video lesson, I share a strategy that has helped so many aspiring students struggling with playing their chords in a smooth way. Many students tend to stop blowing whenever they are unsure of the next note in a chord to play. When working with one of my skype students, this approach immediately made him sound smoother and more expressive.


approx 35 min

Module 53


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.


approx 30 min

Module 52


LESSON 1: Finding the Money Note (b13) on a Diminished Seventh Chord

In this video lesson, I explore what I call a “money note” over a diminished seventh chord. I call it this because I consider it to be a high harmonic value note.

I have always loved the sound that the major composers utilize in their great melodies. Jobim, Porter, Jerome Kern, Johnny Green…they all have this one note choice in common when it comes to their melodic choice over a diminished chord.

This video lesson is given from the piano to provide you with the full harmonic context of the sound. Includes an echo game working with the sound.


LESSON 2: Using Maj7#5 Chord Structures Over Minor ii v i Progressions

n this video lesson, I share my system for applying the Maj7#5 chord structure over a ii mi7b5 / V+7+9 / i mi(maj7) progression.

This approach uses sounds that highlight the extensions of each chord, resulting in a very rich harmonic flavor. Since the chord structures are all the same (maj7#5) and applied to three different chord types, there’s also a beautiful symmetry to the sound.

I demonstrate the concept using the four directions. Includes PDF practice notes for Bb, Eb and C instruments.


LESSON 3: Articulation – Playing with a Fast Airstream

In this video lesson, I discuss one of the common reasons that many aspiring players have difficulty with high-speed articulation. They’re inadvertently slowing down their airstream whenever they move their tongue.

This causes the reed to vibrate at a slower speed and the tonguing feels slow and labored. I demonstrate several phrases with and without articulation and include suggestions for ways that you can practice with these concepts to improve your articulation with a fast airstream.


LESSON 4: Listening Recommendation: Gerry Mulligan – What is There to Say

In this video, I discuss one of my all-time favorite albums, Gerry Mulligan’s “What is There to Say.” This album is great on so many levels…the writing and arranging is superb. Incredible counterpoint and such creative use of the textures in the group.

The solos have a feeling of crackling energy and life to them. It almost feels like a live recording, rather than a studio date. In addition, the engineering is outstanding…it’s like you’re in the room with the group. I also discuss certain aspects of the time feel and how to achieve a relaxed effect at a fast tempo.


approx 30 min

Module 51


LESSON 1: Randomized Minor 3rds Echo Game with the Vibes

In this video lesson, we’ll play the echo game with minor 3rds in the four directions, but also, they’re randomized.

This was one of my main ear-training strategies in my early 20s as I was developing my teaching method. It’s challenging but fun, and it will yield great results.

Why the vibes? The vibes provide a clear, bell-like tone that rings for a long time. I have found this to be excellent for helping players internalize the sounds of the pitches….The notes will still be ringing while you try to match the pitch.

This will allow your ear to compare the ringing pitch of the vibes with the sounds coming out of your horn, and you’ll learn to adjust to match the vibes very quickly.


LESSON 2: Cannonball Adderley: ii mi7- V7 – Melodic Genius Phrase

In this video lesson, I explore the opening phrase of Cannonball Adderley’s classic solo on Autumn Leaves. It’s a iimi7 – V7 phrase – Ami7 to D7 in alto key.

This is a masterpiece of melodic efficiency and beauty. Follow the video by ear and play along with me to learn this essential phrase of classic jazz vocabulary from Cannonball.

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


LESSON 3: Escaping the Conscious Mind of Theory

In this video, I share my thoughts about escaping the conscious mind of theory and playing at the speed of sound. Many aspiring players seem to only play as fast as they can mentally calculate the correct notes for a scale, chord, or phrase.

I’ve even encountered pro players who have come to me for help, telling me that they just can’t stop thinking about theory as they play. I used to play that way, but it was very limiting and musically frustrating.

However, I discovered that if I played very fast, my conscious mind couldn’t keep up and didn’t even try. This freed me up to focus on the sound I was hearing, as opposed to the theory I had been thinking.

Once I felt what it was like to play by ear, with my fingers responding to the sound, it felt like I had an aural awareness of the chords as I played (at any tempo), without having to think mechanically through the spellings and theory.



This is not to say that you don’t need to know music theory. You do need to know your scales and chord spellings but think about this in terms of spoken language…You’re not spelling out words in your mind and diagramming sentences while you have a fast conversation with a close friend.

The music should be the same way…you need to break free of those chord and scale spellings and play by sound (ear). Since this involves high-speed playing, I also discuss some of my concepts of hand and finger relaxation so that you can learn to play at high speeds without injuring your hands, wrists, and arms.


LESSON 4: Major 6/9 Chord Voicing with 4ths

I’ve had many questions from students about major 6/9 chords, versus C maj7 chords. In this video, I discuss the differences between the two chords, as well as the similarities.

This chord voicing utilizing 1-3-6-9 is a piano voicing that I like. It has a fresh, open sound when played on the saxophone, and it’s a nice contrast to hearing the more common chord voicings in thirds used by most saxophonists. Includes two echo games — one with maj7 and major 6/9 chords for your ear to compare the two sounds, followed by an echo game with just the new voicing.


approx 43 min

Module 50


LESSON 1: (Part 1) Minor Tetrachord over Four Dominant Seventh Chords

Part 1 of 2 Category: Ear Training and also in the Chord and Scale Categories.
A tetrachord is a four note scale. You could look at a major scale as being made up of two tetrachords: CDEF as the first tetrachord and GABC as the second tetrachord.

These examples are major tetrachords. You could think of a Dorian scale to produce two minor tetrachords: CDEbF is the first minor tetrachord and GABbC is the second tetrachord.
In this video lesson, I explore the minor tetrachord over four dominant seventh chords.

This lesson provided an ear-training breakthrough for me when I first discovered this practice approach. The video shows you how to train your ear to recognize the harmonic differences of the notes of the tetrachord when placed over four dominant seventh chords.

It is important to note the the minor tetrachord fits many more than four chords, but for the purpose of this particular lesson, I wanted to narrow the focus for the sake of ear training and explore the sounds of two different minor tetrachords over four dominant chords.

This approach combines many different categories of study; it’s a scale study because of the tetrachord (a four note scale), It’s a chord study, and it’s also an interval study as well as an ear training system. Includes detailed PDF practice notes for Bb, Eb and C instruments.


LESSON 2: (Part 2) Minor Tetrachord over Four Dominant Seventh Chords

Part 2 of the lesson on minor tetrachords. This portion of the lesson focuses on using tritone intervals created by combining notes of two different minor tetrachords.

The notes are then placed over the four dominant seventh chords to produce a strong melodic and harmonic effect over each chord.


LESSON 3: Pinky Control – The Secret to Smooth Technique

In this video lesson, I share a concept that completely transformed my technique on the horn.

In 1995 I was on a four-month gig in Singapore. It was a wonderful gig, playing four hours a night, free all day to practice my horn. I decided to rebuild my technique. I wanted to improve my speed, fluidity and smoothness.

At that time I was transcribing a LOT of Stan Getz. Getz’s technique is so clean and smooth. When I was playing along with his recordings, I noticed something…a lot of his lines involved a lot of pressing of the pinky keys, in both the left and right hand. I noticed that my pinkies
were flying far off of the keys. I also noticed that the G# and D# keys are what I call “reverse action” keys. By reverse action, I mean that when you press the pinky down to activate the G# and D# keys, you’re opening the keys, and when you release the key, you’re actually closing the keys.

This is the reverse of how almost all of the other keys on the horn operate. Think about pressing the F key…You press it to close it and you release it to open it. This is the opposite of the pinky keys. Because of this reverse action, it is always harder to play evenly when the pinkies are involved. This means that in order to play a smooth line of eight notes involving the pinky keys, takes very precise control.

I also learned at that time, that I was applying too much pressure once the key was down. It took a lot of slow practice and patience, but my technique was completely transformed after I started to pay close attention to my pinky technique, in particular. Of course, there are more aspects to clean technique than just the pinkies, but I’ve found that if the pinkies are in good position and played with control, the rest of the hand is also in a comfortable, relaxed position, as well. If you’ve already worked on my “surfer analogy” to improve your technique, this additional lesson on pinky control will give a level of technical poise that would make Stan Getz proud!

Includes PDF lesson notes based on the fingerings for tenor, as demonstrated. Alto players should use the same fingerings as demonstrated in the video (included in the PDF).


LESSON 4: The Rotation – Practice Strategy for Improved Musical Memory

In this video lesson, I share a practice concept that was a total game-changer for my ability to memorize and keep track of lots of different musical ideas while also transposing into different keys.

The rotation will help to improve your musical focus and concentration. I’ve included detailed PDF practice notes for Bb, Eb and C instruments, but I recommend that you try to follow along by ear to really expand your musical memory.

You can use this device on any musical content you like, but for this video lesson, I’m referencing another lesson from the course, “six variations on a descending minor seventh chord.”

This lesson will take your musical focus and memory to a new level!


approx 40 min

Module 49


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.


approx 30 min

Module 48


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.


approx 29 min