Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Playing the Blues

I've always taken it for granted that my students would learn the blues scales, but what I'm learning is that they don't really KNOW them. Actually, they don't really KNOW most of their scales in general. They can figure them out, but they can't move up and down and around and through them with very much ease. I've been teaching my students out of Greenblatt's book on the blues and he makes it so easy to blow over the blues, using the major and minor blues scales. If only the students could master these scales, they could really start to blow! The other issue is that, while they may know a one octave scale, knowing these scales over the entire range of your horn is quite another thing, especially if they're not starting on the root. If you're looking for a great beginning to intermediate improv. book, this is great... it comes with a couple play a long CDs and is available in Eb, Bb and C versions. I highly reccomend it.

Thursday, October 16, 2008


Last one: The old Uniform Room (MAXXED OUT!)

The old PAC (400 seats, the symphonic band couldn't fit on the stage with 70 members, can you imagine 100!)

Our two lovely practice rooms!

This one has the piano that I redesigned and auctioned off as a piece of furniture...
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Some more old LZHS:
The music hallway (now it's like Business or something!)

The choir/orchestra room-oh soooo roomy!

The band room: (actually it was a lot closer to the football field for marching practice, and windows?!, what a concept!) The column in the middle of the room was convenient too, especially for sleepy percussionists..

If you look in the back of the room, the door in the middle is the MIDI LAB!!
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The old Days!

Here's a quick trip down memory lane for you (if you were here prior to 2003).
The old midi lab....

The Music library

The Music office (it used to be just for 2 people)
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Friday, October 3, 2008

Jazz Improv solutions

So today I found a bunch of great stuff for jazz improvisation practice. If you really want to get serious.... First of all, Band in a Box is the standard for learning to play over the changes of any tune. I use it to create playalong tracks for my bands for any solos that they have. There is no substitute when it comes to developing your ear, you just have to hear the changes over and over.
It's normally $129 at pgmusic but you can get it a lot cheaper at Kelly's Music. Academic price is only $89!! You just need the basics... It's a little pricey, but it's all you'll need-yes, Aebersolds and Hal Leonards are good for play-a-longs, but you can do all that and a lot more with this program. You can then fine massive amounts of standard tunes and extra styles on line, from other users like This Site and This Site

So it's great to have tunes to play over and a way you can plug in your own changes to work on (ii-V7-Is) or other groups of chords, but did you know that you don't have to play a new scale for each chord change? Most turn arounds and chord progressions actually have one scale in common (ex. ii-V7-I) and others (blues). I just found this great program for $20 that lets you plug in Band-in-a-Box files and analyzes the whole tune so that you have fewer scales to think about. You can check out the demo before you buy it. While at first it seems a little confusing, it really does a great analysis and makes the process simpler. This is one of those things that the pros and people with good ears do automatically, but it's really cool to figure this out sooner rather than later. Check out this site!!! It has a ton of other stuff too.....

Jazz Scale Suggester System (JSSS)

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Working ii-V7-I

Unfortunately, I didn't get the kind of jazz education I needed in high school. College got me going, but since jazz wasn't my major, I missed some of the nuts and bolts. Now that I'm teaching it everyday, I've been working my way through a number of different elements of jazz that I could hear, but not understand. One of those is the ii-V7-I progression, found everywhere in jazz. There are plenty of ways of working through the changes, and it happens in bars 9-11, and 11-12 in a blues progression (not the most basic blues, though). I've put on my site a couple play-a-longs over ii-V7-I that you could practice over. Find them at

Just start by playing the scales over them (concert G dorian, C Mixolydian, F Mixolydian) and then get creative, working from a chord tone of one to a chord tone of the next.... Post if you have a question or thought....


Getting Started

I just hope to let you in on what I'm learning and finding online and off. Hopefully, you'll find some of what I find interesting! No promises.....

College and Music-Win/Win!

Worried that you can't get EVERY class you think you need to get into college? Worried that if you don't get those 6 AP classes your...