Useful Jazz Exercises

I'm going to start putting little helpful, semi-helpful, and, to some, probably obvious, bits up here for my students and for anyone else interested. I intend to put things up that have been helpful to me, if only just to get them off my desk here.

Elsewhere this site, less organized than I'd want, are some other little helpful exercises, but I'll migrate them to one of The Official Exercise Pages at some point.

I've done a few of these before, and, a few times, I've then seen them cut and pasted into Real Harmonica Forums, without being credited for the work that went into them.

While this doesn't annoy me much, the guys from whom I stole the ideas weren't as happy as you'd expect.

Finding Fun Notes

This seems to be a helpful exercise to open a door into slightly extended areas where the notes gradually get more grating on the non-jazz fans' ears.

The pattern above, is a helpful first step into having a certain number of your listeners leave the room.

NOTE: Here's two files, a pdf, mostly the same as above, but in F, and an mp3 demonstrating loosely and simply what this exercise does. It will either clear things up or muddy the waters. BE SURE TO START THE MP3 AT REDUCED VOLUME, as it may be way too loud.

For those overly-educated people who might see this, don't worry if a note is 'correctly' notated.... #11, b5, raised 4th, whatever. If you worry about the semantics of it all, you're making a point while missing The Point. However, do let me know if any notes above are just plain wrong. I checked it, but I've been known to make misstakes.

Try not to write these out in all keys, use your ears and envision the piano keyboard.

So all those notes fit, in this case, on C7, and can lead to the expected F chord.

The pattern is a useful one to learn, and there are several ways to look at the notes.

Give it some thought and pick one of those ways. As you get into it, you'll change your mind about how to best look at the notes, and then you'll just find that you're playing them without much thought.

There are some situations where being thoughtless is a Good Thing.

I suggest learning them on a piano keyboard of some sort, and then transferring them to the chromatic harmonica, while continuing to envision the piano keyboard, unless you're practicing while driving, in which case that much multitasking might be daunting for your fellow highway travelers, but, on the Bright Side, a boon to the local car body shops.

Full disclosure: I own a chain of body shops in Los Angeles and have stock in several Hospitals, so , if you MUST practice in your car, I suppose, for me, this could represent one of the "silver linings" that are said to accompany each cloud.

Knowing the names of each note as you play them is helpful. Gradually, you'll forget that the notes have names, and you'll just play, skipping most of the Thinking parts.

I also suggest that you do NOT write them out in all keys, but let your ears and other non-eye body parts learn them, perhaps as you envision them on whatever's passing for your piano keyboard. Envisioning them as buttons on your iPad, or iPhone is probably not all that effective.

Some fun licks can be derived from this, and I'll put one here, and then you're on your own.

I think that jazz method books, in general, do students a disservice by printing a lick, scale, or whatever, out in all keys...It helps to meet the Page Number requirement of the publishers, but substitutes eyes where ears are the best body part to use when learning this kind of stuff.