Demystifying Jazz Improvisation Part 1

The IfCM is proud to release our newest web-based course, Alexa Tarantino's "Demystifying Jazz Improvisation." Learn more about the course below:

This online course, “Demystifying Jazz Improvisation” is an in-depth look at learning and improvising on a tune from the ground up. I created this course in hopes of breaking down the process of jazz improvisation for those who want to learn to improvise or dig deeper, but feel overwhelmed or don’t know where to start. This course would also suit someone who is curious about other approaches to jazz improvisation, or is looking for a concrete step-by-step process that they can implement into their own practice.

The truth is, anyone can improvise. However, the process is actually opposite of the stereotypical attitude that a jazz solo is just “waving one’s fingers” and “playing everything under the sun”. Creating an engaging and coherent improvised solo takes patience, thoughtfulness, listening, thinking ahead, restraint, confidence, and making choices.

“Demystifying Jazz Improvisation” is for the person who loves or is interested in jazz, has a good grasp on their primary instrument with a couple of years of study, and understands basic music theory such as some major scales, the chromatic scale, and some arpeggios.

This course takes you through my step-by-step process using a tune I wrote called “Summer Waves,” which is similar to the jazz standard “Autumn Leaves”. The student will learn the melody, the bass line, the harmonic foundation, and tools for developing improvisational skills in order to create their own solos.  

The main theme of this course is embellishment. First the student learns the melody, and then learns skills to embellish it to make it their own. As we continue learning the bass line, chords, and arpeggios, you’ll find that this is always the process: playing unornamented followed by ornamented or embellished. This gets us comfortable with departing from what we see on the page or are most familiar with. Through each exercise, we move steps closer to creating our own solos, which are essentially embellishments on the melody that we are playing. This process can be used on any tune, and I hope that you will transfer it over to the next song that you learn. And the next, and the next, and the next…. :)




Enroll in the course here.

Check back next week for more on some common mistakes students make when learning jazz and how they can transform their playing with this course.