Jazz Improvisation Crash Course: 3 Steps To Master Jazz Improvisation

GOOD FOR

Learn Jazz Standards Instuments
The B.A.D Jazz Solo Strategy

Mastering jazz improvisation is the holy grail for many aspiring jazz musicians.

We all want to become better jazz improvisers and take our jazz improvisation skills to the next level, but many musicians aren’t sure how to improve their jazz chops.

You may relate to one or more of the following problems:

  1. You don’t know where to start to improve your jazz improvisation skills.
  2. You spend hours playing music and practicing things you are already good at.
  3. You’re not exactly sure what stuff you should be practicing to improve.
  4. You have some experience already, but you feel that your improv skills have plateaued, and you aren’t sure what to do next.

Listen, I get it. I’ve been there more than once.

When I first started studying jazz, it was my senior year of high school. Some would call that starting late, and others wish they had started that young.

Either way, I was struggling to keep up.

I wanted so badly to sound like jazz music’s finest improvisers. Then, after some time, I discovered a secret—I learned how to practice in a goal-oriented, focused way, working on the right things with an action plan.

Skip ahead a few years, and now I am a professional jazz musician who has published books on jazz education and plays jazz music in New York City.

The point is that you can vastly improve your jazz improvisation vocabulary, improvisation techniques, and musical creativity by following a practice method designed to help you focus on the important stuff and not waste hours in the practice room.

And that’s exactly what we’re going to explore in this article—we’re going to discuss practice strategies and mindset so that you can grow into the player you want to be.

This Jazz Improvisation Crash Course will cover all the basics about practicing jazz improvisation vocabulary, but if you are ready to accelerate your jazz improvisation skills and get serious about jazz improvisation, then you need to see what the Learn Jazz Standards Inner Circle has to offer.

Unlock the Jazz Musician Inside You. See What The Inner Circle Is All About.

Common Myths About Playing Jazz and Improvised Music

First things first—let’s debunk some myths about playing jazz. I’ve heard them all, and if we want to become great jazz musicians, we need to get rid of the beliefs that do us no good.

Myth #1: Jazz is only for the exceptionally talented.

Wrong.

I understand that musicians coming from other genre backgrounds sometimes look at jazz music and feel overwhelmed for a few reasons:

  • Jazz history is full of incredible jazz giants—legends like Miles Davis, Charlie Parker, Louis Armstrong, and John Coltrane—whose incredible musicianship skills are world-renowned.
  • Jazz compositions contain intricate and complex harmonies consisting of rich seventh chords that provide an opportunity for jazz musicians to utilize many different jazz scales.
  • Because jazz is no longer “popular music,” it doesn’t seem as ubiquitous as hip-hop, rock, or rap. You have to search for it to find it.

Despite these characteristics, this intricate form of improvised music is more accessible than the average musician might think.

Yes, jazz may be a more complex art form than some other styles of music. But that doesn’t mean that someone with less experience can’t learn how to play it and gain more experience in the process.

I don’t consider myself “exceptionally talented,” but I’ve been able to reach a higher level of playing by doing the things I will be talking about in this post.

Myth #2: You need to learn a bunch of fancy scales.

False.

Don’t get me wrong, scales have their place in jazz education, especially when it comes to knowing your instrument. A little bit of chord/scale theory doesn’t hurt, either.

But jazz improvisation is not about major scales, minor scales, or note sequences per se. Jazz is about learning a language (more on that soon). Some of jazz music’s finest improvisers learned aurally (from hearing) rather than from a theory book or college class.

Don’t worry so much about which scale to play over this chord or that chord.

Myth #3: You need to know a lot about music theory.

I think this one is way over-exaggerated. Sure, knowing music theory helps. Indeed, you should know some theory basics, like how to build chords or how chord progressions work.

But you don’t need to know a lot. You don’t need to know every melodic minor application and every fancy term. The basics will often go a long way. For example, learning jazz piano chord voicings can help horn players visualize major and minor chords.

By doing the things I talk about in this post, you can learn as you go along.

Myth #4: If you just listen and keep playing music, you’ll eventually get it.

Don’t you just hate it when people say that? That’s just frustrating.

Of course, you need to listen. Of course, you need to practice, and of course, you need to play music.

But if you don’t have guidance, if you aren’t practicing the right things, and if you don’t have an action plan, well-crafted improvised solos will feel out of reach.

Myth #5: The more hours you practice, the better you will get.

False.

I’ve wasted hundreds of hours of my precious time practicing. Playing random notes for hours does not help you create strong musical ideas or aid you in creating spontaneous art.

I’ve wasted time learning stuff that had nothing to do with what I practiced the day before. I’ve wasted time just noodling and not actually practicing anything. I’ve wasted time not having an action plan.

It is true that the more you practice, the more opportunity you have to improve.

But under the right circumstances, it is quite possible to get more out of a 30-minute practice session than a 5-hour one.

If you’re more of a visual learner, here’s a video where I sum up all of these myths:

Step #1: Setting Up Your Jazz Practice Sessions for Success

After all of those myths, here’s a piece of solid truth:

Becoming a better jazz improviser and learning jazz vocabulary comes down to how and what you practice. Not learning fancy tricks.

But I don’t think I have to convince you of this. I mean, if you want to become a great chef, what do you have to do? Cook a lot. There aren’t any magic potions to drink or special prayers to recite.

It’s the same with jazz. The more you listen to it, practice it, and spend time playing music with others, the better you will become.

Now, it goes without saying that you need to be listening to jazz. If you aren’t listening to the music, you’ll never understand it. But I don’t need to tell you that.

So where do we start?

Set goals for your jazz playing

There are those who laugh off this first step. That’s their mistake. Luckily, you and I understand this is important.

When setting off to improve as a jazz musician and master jazz improvisation, you need to first set Master Goals.

What’s a Master Goal?

A Master Goal is your big-picture vision of where you want to be in your jazz performance. This big-picture vision has everything to do with why you wanted to study jazz in the first place.

So why is this important?

Because if you don’t know what you are working towards, it’s going to be easy to lose your focus, discard your action plan, and lose your motivation. It’s like anything else in life.

When coming up with your Master Goal, try to think of a transformation.

Here’s an example of a bad Master Goal:

“I want to learn 50 jazz standards.”

What’s missing in this goal is a transformation. Why do you want to learn 50 jazz standards? What would that accomplish? Simply doing tasks will not be enough.

Here’s an example of a good Master Goal:

“I want to feel comfortable playing at my local jazz jam session.”

Now that’s a transformation. Perhaps someone setting this goal is a beginner and wants to go from watching in the back to playing on stage. Now they know why they want to put in the work of learning a few jazz standards.

Here’s another one:

“I want other musicians to start calling me for gigs.”

This is the next level up compared to the last example. Maybe this musician feels comfortable playing at her local jazz jam and even has some gigs of her own.

But she wants to be good enough that others are calling HER for the gigs. That’s a transformation. From being the one calling to being called. That’s something with real value to work towards.

So here’s what I want you to do right now:

Grab a piece of paper (I prefer Post-it notes), think hard about it, and write down your Master Goal.

No, I mean it! Don’t be self-conscious. Just do it. Then put it up where you practice so you can be reminded of it.

Did you do it? Good. Let’s move on to the next step.

Step #2: “The Big 3” Things You Need to Practice to Improve as a Jazz Improviser

Once you have your Master Goal established, how do you go about accomplishing it? Great question.

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, a common struggle people have is being overwhelmed by the sheer amount of material floating around on the internet.

I mean, there are YouTube, podcasts, books, courses, and blogs like this one, all telling you a million different things to work on in no particular order.

It’s all well and good, but it also can be a rabbit hole to going nowhere.

“The Big 3” helps you focus on the things that matter and block out all the noise.

What a jazz musician should practice 1

I’m going to help you get rid of all of the clutter and make things simple for you. If you want to improve as a jazz improviser and master jazz improvisation, you need to be working on these three categories.

It’s not just me who thinks so. I’ve had the opportunity to study with some pretty big-deal jazz musicians, and I’ve gotten these from them. I’ve just packaged them nicely.

I can almost guarantee if you practice these things consistently, you will accomplish your jazz performance goals.

1. Technique.

Have you ever seen a sushi chef slicing up tuna or carving out cucumber garnishes? Their knife skills are absolutely amazing. Clearly, they’ve spent a good amount of time honing their craft.

I’m more of a fan of French cooking, so here’s a quote from a great French chef:

jaques e1533145264337

“I certainly don’t cook the same way I did 40 years ago, but the technique remains. And that’s what the student needs to learn: the technique.”

-Jacques Pepin

In other words, you need to know your instrument and be able to navigate it. You can’t just start improvising without a foundation underneath you.

Here’s a quote from a guy more up our alley:

Charlie Parker on Jazz Improvisation

“You’ve got to learn your instrument. Then, you practice, practice, practice. And then, when you finally get up there on the bandstand, forget all of that and just wail.”

-Charlie Parker

I like the part about forgetting it all and just wailing. But notice the first thing he said:

“You’ve got to learn your instrument.”

If we want to be proficient improvisers, we can’t have things holding us back. We want to strive for spontaneous creativity on the bandstand, but we need a solid foundation of technique and knowledge to help us sound good when we let go and wail.

Technique doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with jazz, but improvised music requires flexibility.

So what should you be working on when it comes to technique?

Instrument Specific Stuff

Each instrument has its own set of challenges.

I’m not a trumpet player, but I know from some of my friends that working on long tones is important.

As a guitar player, I don’t need to work on long tones. I need to be working on playing things in different positions on the fretboard.

If you don’t know what instrument-specific technical exercises you should work on, be sure to ask a teacher of your instrument.

The Basics (scales, arpeggios)

Make sure you know your basic scales. If you already know them, there is no harm in warming up with them from time to time and playing scales in different keys.

I don’t necessarily think you need to know every scale ever invented, but at least know the basics. Here are a few:

Major Scale
Major scale
Natural Minor Scale
Natural minor scale
Harmonic Minor Scale
The Harmonic minor Scale
Melodic Minor Scale
Melodic minor scale

For more on the melodic minor scale, check out our article on the modes of melodic minor.

I also think that it’s important to know the Modes of the Major Scale. These can really help you start to understand scales more as “pitch collections” rather than things to play verbatim.

Here’s just one example:

Mixolydian Mode of the Major Scale
G Mixolydian Mode
Knowing Basic Chord Theory

Also, make sure you know the arpeggios of basic triads and 7th chord qualities. I prefer calling them chord tones. These chord tones are made up of the root, 3rd, 5th, and 7th (plus the odd chord extension here and there).

Make sure you know their formulas, and then try making fun exercises out of them like this one:

Ex 12

In this exercise, I’m using two random major and minor triads and simply connecting them together by the nearest chord tone.

Making Your Own Pattern Exercises

Patterns are great for all kinds of instrumentalists to practice.

They help you develop flexibility on your instrument so that your fingers can move in ways they may not be used to.

Here’s an example of one to try:

1235 Pattern

Now, you might be thinking, “Brent, this is actually a lot of stuff!”

Don’t worry, don’t get overwhelmed. You don’t need to do everything at once. Just pick one small thing to do in your practice session.

That’s it.

This is also where having an action plan comes in, which we’ll talk about later.

The technique is really important. Make sure you are working on it at least a little bit when you practice.

Let’s move on to #2 of the Big 3.

2. Jazz Repertoire.

I’m going to stick with cooking as an example. I recently got a Julia Child book called “Mastering the Art of French Cooking.”

Around my house, I do a lot of the cooking for me and my wife since I work mostly from home. Over time, I’ve developed a repertoire of dishes I’m good at making.

Julia Child and learning jazz standards

I use books like this one to help me learn new recipes. Think about it: how can I be a home chef if I don’t know any recipes? I need to have a repertoire of dishes I can make.

I’ve studied a bit with one of my favorite jazz guitarists, the great Peter Bernstein.

I once asked him what kinds of things he used to do to develop as a jazz musician when he was younger.

This is what he told me:

Peter Bernstein on learning jazz standards

“I let the tunes teach me how to play.”

-Peter Bernstein

So simple. If you want to become a great jazz improviser, just learn jazz standards.

Jazz standards are the vehicles in which jazz musicians use to improvise and communicate with each other. They contain all the common chord progressions and language you need to be able to communicate.

Literally, all of the important lessons about harmony and navigating chord changes can be found in these tunes.

Plus, there is a strong connection between improvisation and composition.

If you like composing your own music, learning jazz standards is essential for understanding the language, history, and tradition of jazz music. Jazz composition skills improve when a composer integrates improvisation into their composed music.

One way to do this is to create improvised variations of jazz standards, where you play an improvised melody over existing changes.

In summary, a big part of learning how to improvise involves learning jazz tunes and composing your own. There is more to improvisation than just improvisation, so to speak.

So which jazz standards should you be learning?

There are hundreds upon hundreds of them, and quite frankly, it can be overwhelming and hard to know where to start.

BEFORE YOU CONTINUE...

If you struggle to play amazing jazz solos and want to learn the secret strategies the pros are using to improvise, our free guide will get you on the right track.

Jazz Improv Made Easy Fast Track Guide Ebook Cover

I always like to suggest what I call my “Master Jazz Standards.” 

It’s a simple list of 10 jazz standards that not only are commonly called upon to play but have some valuable lessons to teach us. Here they are:

1. Autumn Leaves: Very common and is an excellent study of major and minor ii-V-I chord progressions.

2. Blue Bossa: Common starter tune. Great for an introduction to minor harmony.

3. All of Me: Classic jazz standard. Can’t get away with not knowing it.

4. It Could Happen to You: Great study of diatonic harmony in general.

5. Sweet Georgia Brown: Excellent study of cycling dominant 7th chords.

6. So What: The most basic introduction to modal harmony.

7. On Green Dolphin Street: Classic. Study of changing key centers up a minor 3rd.

8. Have You Met Miss Jones: The bridge is a great study of key center changes.

9. All the Things You Are: Excellent study of chords cycling in 4ths (common).

10. Stella By Starlight: A fairly difficult song, but super commonly called upon.

If you learn all of these jazz standards, I can almost guarantee that just about every other jazz standard you will learn after will be 10 times easier. I even wrote an entire book on studying and understanding these 10 jazz standards.

I would also suggest learning how to play over a jazz blues and learn multiple heads. Tenor Madness is a good example. In fact, if you are a complete beginner, this is a great place to start.

Rhythm changes is an important song form to know as well, especially when it comes to playing in the bebop style. Oleo is a good example.

So you know you should be learning jazz standards, but how do you learn them?

Great question, but bear with me just a little bit longer. I’m going to go over that right after we finish with the 3rd and final category of The Big 3.

3. Jazz language.

I can’t resist. I have to go with another cooking example.

I mentioned that I have developed a repertoire of dishes I can cook. Well, the truth is, most of them I don’t really have to read a recipe for anymore.

You see, I’ve made them enough times, and I’ve copied enough different versions of the same dish that I’ve developed my own way of making them.

But to do that, I’ve had to steal culinary ideas and techniques from other chefs. In the same way, I’ve stolen musical ideas from other musicians.

learning jazz improvisation from recordings

I know this sounds bad. But trust me, I don’t mean stealing in a bad way.

In fact, stealing probably isn’t the right word for it. Because at the end of the day, learning jazz (or any style of music) is like learning a language.

In order to learn a language, we need to mimic native speakers.

Think about it. When you were a little kid, that’s exactly how you learned to speak your native language. By mimicking your parents.

We have to do the same when learning to become jazz improvisers. We need to learn phrases and ideas from great jazz musicians so that later those ideas can evolve. Through this learning process, we can then develop our own way of playing.

So what kinds of jazz language should we learn?

I like to break it down into two different categories: micro language and macro language.

Micro language: Licks

Licks are small musical phrases, usually over a particular chord change or chord progression.

Licks are great to learn because they can help you understand more detailed elements of jazz harmony, such as chord progressions.

Here’s an example of a lick I “stole” from Jim Hall:

2-5-1 Jazz Improv Lick using the C major scale

It’s over a ii-V-I chord progression, which is the most common chord progression in jazz harmony.

By learning Jim Hall’s lick, I’ve been given insight into how he approached this progression and can analyze it further.

Macro language: Solos

Learning entire jazz solos is a great way to get inside a macro approach of how an artist approached a jazz standard.

Every time I’ve done this, it has been totally worth the time investment.

I suggest learning jazz solos that you really love and ones that are accessible to you. What I mean are ones that are inside your skill level and won’t be overly difficult.

So how should you learn jazz licks and solos?

By ear.

Preferably not with sheet music. I know there are some people who disagree with me, but there is a multitude of reasons why, when it comes to learning jazz language, you should do it by ear.

Here are a few quick reasons:

1. You will internalize it better. Repetition builds memory.

2. You will build your ear. Your ear is your most powerful asset in jazz improv.

3. Trains you for reaction. Reading music is a different mindset.

All in all, I highly encourage you to go through the work of learning jazz language (and jazz standards) by ear. It will pay dividends.

I know what you’re thinking now.

It begs the question: How do I learn jazz language by ear?

I’ve got you covered.

My LIST Process for Learning Jazz Language by Ear

Whether it be jazz standards, licks, or solos, learning them by ear can be challenging if not done correctly.

In comes my LIST process for learning jazz language. It’s an acronym, and I’ll go over it in just one second.

Listen.

The first step in the process is fairly simple: listen to the jazz standard, solo, or lick.

That may seem like an obvious first move, but you would be surprised how many students rush into learning a piece of music after having barely listened to it.

The most important thing you can do when learning jazz language is to put your instrument away and just listen.

Find as many recordings as possible of the jazz standard you want to learn and go through all of them. If it’s a jazz solo or other improvised line you are studying, have that thing looping on repeat.

You need to become acquainted with the material, and without becoming acquainted with it first, you will have started off on the wrong foot.

Internalize.

This step involves more listening, but a different kind: active listening.

What do I mean by that?

Imagine you are sitting in your living room watching a movie. As long as it’s engaging enough for your tastes, it’s likely you will sit still, eyes trained on the screen for two hours or more.

What if you treated music in the same way you did the movie?

In general, it’s a great practice to listen to music and give it your full attention with no distractions. But this is especially important to spend time doing when you are trying to learn new jazz improvisation language.

If you give that jazz composition, solo, lick, or crazy dominant chord your full attention, you will begin to internalize it, and it will start to sink into your subconscious and improve your jazz improvisation skills.

Sing.

This next step is really important. Singing is a powerful way to prove that you have actually internalized the information you are hearing.

No, you don’t have to be a great singer, and sure, if you want, you can whistle or hum.

When it comes to jazz standards, the primary application of singing involves the melody. Be sure that you can sing the melody of the standard, both along with the recording and on your own, before you learn it on your instrument.

If you’re learning a solo, this is especially important.

What singing does is it takes away 50% of the learning process. It proves you have internalized it, and all that is left is transferring that musical information to your instrument.

Transfer.

Now it’s time to actually pick up your instrument (you shouldn’t have been touching it until now).

You should be quite familiar with the song or solo and have at least a grasp on the chord changes depending on where you are at in your musical abilities.

If you’re learning a jazz standard:

1. Transfer the melody. Start learning the melody on your instrument. Again, this should only be a matter of you taking what you can already sing and finding the notes on your instrument.

2. Learn the jazz chords. This is the most challenging part of learning songs by ear, but I encourage you to do your best! It is incredibly helpful to have a good understanding of how jazz harmony works.

Check out our Ultimate Guide to 7th Chords to learn more about jazz chord basics.

Now, if learning chord progressions by ear is brand new to you, and you get stumped, that’s okay. Check out my masterclass on how to hear jazz chords.

This would then be a good time to take a look at the sheet music. But when you do, go through it while listening to a recording, starting and stopping when appropriate to see if you can decipher what’s going on by ear.

You may be thinking: “Brent, that’s too much work!”

Not really. A lot of this stuff you can do on your commutes, on runs, or while you’re at the gym. 50% of it is just listening.

Also, wouldn’t it be worth following the LIST process if it helped you learn jazz improvisation language really well the first time? Of course, it would.

If you’d like to review what I talked about with this process, here’s a great video summary as it pertains to jazz standards:

Step #3: Creating an Action Plan for Quicker Jazz Improvement

Okay, before we move on, let’s recap what we’ve learned so far:

  • Set Master Goals.
  • Practice “The Big 3.”
  • How to learn jazz language by ear (how to do The Big 3).

But let me be very clear:

None of this matters unless we create an action plan.

Action plan to become a better jazz improviser

This is where many people fail, and I’ll admit that I’ve been one of them.

You may know your big-picture vision of where you want to be as a jazz improviser, and you may understand what you need to practice to get there.

But without a focused, goal-oriented action plan, you could be wasting tons of your time and even money.

So with our Master Goals and The Big 3 in mind, how do we create an action plan for jazz success?

First, we need to understand three other kinds of goals:

1. Project Goals for Jazz Improvisation.

Project goals are exactly what they sound like. You establish a project you want to accomplish.

We’ll pick a category from The Big 3: jazz language.

Let’s say our project goal is to learn one jazz solo. Sounds like a good project, right?

Let’s also say that this solo is 4 choruses long and has a 32-bar form.

Awesome, but that’s way too much to bite off all at once. Even just the idea of learning a 4 chorus jazz solo is overwhelming.

We have to break it down even further.

2. Short-Term Goals for Jazz Improvisation.

A Short-Term Goal breaks down your Project Goal into smaller pieces.

It’s like a pizza. When it comes out of the oven, it’s this massive, beautiful, piping-hot circle of cheesy goodness. You want to eat it, but it’s just too big to pick up and eat like that. You need to make it smaller.

So let’s pretend our jazz solo is a pizza (bear with me).

It’s four choruses long, so why don’t we cut it up into four pieces?

Now we’ve broken it down into 4 short-term goals of 32 bars. It’s now easier to see how we can accomplish our Project Goal when we do this.

But still, 32 bars is a lot to chew on! We need to break it down even further.

3. Micro Goals.

If you’re trying to eat one-quarter of a pizza all at once, it’s a little ridiculous. I mean, you can do it, but you shouldn’t. It’s not practical.

How do you fix the problem? Slice it up into smaller pieces.

So if you want to make your 32 bars easier to digest. Learn smaller bits.

I think of Micro Goals on a practice session basis. It is the amount of new material you will learn in one practice session.

When it comes to learning solos, I usually suggest 4-8 bars. That’s not a hard and fast rule. That’s just normally what a phrase in a jazz solo is. Start with just the first phrase (a place with a good stopping point) and just learn that.

This is commonly called “batching.”

There is no need to learn more. In fact, I encourage students in my jazz practicing course 30 Steps to Better Jazz Playing, to only learn that much in one sitting.

It’s the less is more approach, and it’s a good approach for internalization.

So your Micro Goals are informed by your Short-Term Goals, and your Short-Term Goals are informed by your Project Goals.

action plan for better jazz playing

Create a Stair-Step Practice Plan.

To make this even more understandable, I’m going to show you my Stair-Step Practice Plan.

You can apply this exact framework to any of The Big 3 categories and the stuff I’ve suggested you practice within them.

Let’s keep going with the Project Goal of learning a jazz solo. This time we are going to hone in on how to use Micro-Goals to reach our Short-Term Goal of 32 bars.

Take a look at the illustration first, and then I’ll explain further.

Stair Step Action Plan

You’re looking at a set of stairs with a longer step (let’s pretend it’s the second floor of a building) and then more stairs going further up.

That second floor is our Short-Term Goal of learning 32 bars of our jazz solo. The stair steps are our Micro-Goals (our per-practice session accomplishments).

You’ll notice there are 7 stair steps. This doesn’t necessarily represent 7 days of consecutive practice. I hardly know anyone who actually has the time to do that.

It simply means 7 practice sessions before arriving at our Short-Term Goal. That’s just the framework we are using.

Here’s how it goes:

  • Session 1: Learn just 4-8 bars or the first phrase of the jazz solo.
  • Session 2: Learn just the next 4-8 bars or phrase of the jazz solo.
  • Session 3: Review what you’ve learned so far.
  • Session 4: Learn just the next 4-8 bars or phrase of the jazz solo.
  • Session 5: Review again (don’t learn anything new).
  • Session 6: Learn the next 4-8 bars or phrases needed to complete 32 total bars.
  • Session 7: Review all 32 bars (Short-Term Goal accomplished.)

Importance of Review

Notice how much review there is in the Stair-Step Practice Plan.

Often times we are tempted to constantly over-saturate ourselves with new musical information. It’s the more is more approach.

I’m all about the less is more approach. The more you review, and learn small batches of musical information, the more you will internalize it. That’s the end goal, isn’t it?

jazz improvisers performing

You can apply the Stair-Step Practice Plan to any of The Big 3.

Now, of course, motivation and guidance will play a big factor in your success in jazz improvisation. Motivation may be the single most important factor that distinguishes jazz music’s finest improvisers from everyone else.

But if you implement this plan and align it with your Master Goal, you will be blown away by what focused, goal-oriented practicing will accomplish for you.

Putting It All Together

If you’ve been following along from the beginning, you probably need some help summing all of this up.

Becoming a better jazz improviser doesn’t have to be so difficult. It’s not about learning fancy tricks and chord/scale theory.

It’s about practicing the right things with an action plan.

We can improve as jazz improvisers more quickly with three steps:

  • Step #1: Establish Master Goals. Knowing your big-picture vision will set you up for success.
  • Step #2: Practice “The Big 3.” Work out of these 3 categories, and you will accomplish your jazz improv goals.
  • Step #3: Create an Action Plan. With your Master Goals and The Big 3 in mind, create your Stair-Step Practice Plan.

In between all of this, we debunked some common myths about improvised music. We talked about how to learn jazz language by ear with the LIST process, and we talked about how to reach our jazz improv Master Goals.

Improvise Jazz Solos With Ease—Join The Inner Circle.

The Learn Jazz Standards Inner Circle takes all the points I made in this article and combines them with over 10 years of accumulated practice plans, various jazz courses, jazz vocabulary and improvisation tips, and in-depth jazz standards studies.

When you join the Inner Circle, you get the key to a treasure trove of college-level jazz education resources that many would pay tens of thousands of dollars for in a semester.

The Inner Circle helps you unlock the path that leads toward the master musician you know you can become.

Practice Smarter, Not Harder. Check Out The Inner Circle Today.

TAKE YOUR JAZZ PLAYING TO THE NEXT LEVEL.

We help musicians of all instruments start improvising confidently over jazz standards in just 30 days without mind-numbing hours of practice or the overwhelm.

TAKE YOUR JAZZ PLAYING TO THE NEXT LEVEL.

We help musicians of all instruments start improvising confidently over jazz standards in as little as 30 days without mind-numbing hours of practice or the overwhelm.

“Jazz music is the power of now. There is no script. It’s conversation. The emotion is given to you by musicians as they make split-second decisions to fulfill what they feel the moment requires.”
WYNTON MARSALIS

YOU MAY ALSO BE INTERESTED IN

Learn Jazz Standards The Smart Way Ebook Cover

OUR PROVEN PROCESS FOR LEARNING JAZZ STANDARDS LIKE A PRO

A step-by-step guide for how to effectively learn jazz standards so you’ll feel confident playing them, and won’t forget them.

TERMS AND CONDITIONS

Welcome to LearnJazzStandards.com! We’ve created this page so that you (and any visitor to LearnJazzStandards.com) will understand the terms and conditions that govern your use of this website. If you continue to browse and use this website you are agreeing to comply with and be bound by the following terms and conditions, which together with our privacy policy comprise our (LearnJazzStandards.com’s) entire relationship with you.

Exclusion of Liability

The content found on any page of this website is for your general information and use only, and it is subject to change without notice. Neither we nor any third parties provide any warranty or guarantee as to the accuracy, timeliness, performance, completeness or suitability of the information and materials found or offered on this website for any particular purpose. You acknowledge that such information and materials may contain inaccuracies or errors and we expressly exclude liability for any such inaccuracies or errors to the fullest extent permitted by law. Your use of any information or materials on this website is entirely at your own risk, for which we shall not be liable. It shall be your own responsibility to ensure that any products, services or information available through this website meet your specific requirements.

Indemnity

By accessing our website, you agree to indemnify and hold us harmless from all claims, actions, damages, costs and expenses including legal fees arising from or in connection with your use of our website.

Copyright Laws & Intellectual Property

This website contains some material which is owned by or licensed to us. This material includes, but is not limited to, the design, layout, look, appearance and graphics. Reproduction is prohibited other than in accordance with the copyright notice, which forms part of these terms and conditions. All logos, trademarks, and other intellectual property found on LearnJazzStandards.com are the property of their respective owners. They do not indicate ownership, affiliation, sponsorship, or any other relationship with LearnJazzStandards.com. In addition, this website may also include links to other websites. These links are provided for your convenience to provide further information. They do not signify that we endorse those websites, and we have no responsibility for the content of those linked websites.

Unauthorized Use

Your use of this website and any dispute arising out of such use of the website is subject to the laws of the United States of America. Any unauthorized use of this website may give rise to a claim for damages and/or be a criminal offense. Thanks, and enjoy LearnJazzStandards.com!

Return Policy for Products

Refund Policy

For play-alongs and eBooks:

Because these are digital downloads, and not returnable, we have a strict no refund policy. All purchases are final and cannot be reversed. Please be sure that you fully understand the product you are purchasing and what is and what is not included. Of course, if you ever have any questions about a product feel free to contact us or visit our FAQ page.

For 30 Days to Better Jazz Playing eCourse

Please make sure you completely understand the product you are buying before purchasing. 14 Day 100% Money Back Guarantee
  • This guarantee lasts 14 days, which completely covers almost half of the course, enough for you to observe its’ effectiveness.
  • We can’t guarantee you will be Miles Davis, Charlie Parker, or John Coltrane in 2 weeks. We’d be suspicious of anyone who could promise that. Becoming a better jazz musician is a process and it requires work.
  • If you’re not happy with the quality of this program…send us an email and showing you did the work. We’ll refund 100% of your money (We’ll even eat the credit-card processing fees) and we’ll part as friends. We believe in the power of this course and so we’ll take responsibility for it.

For Inner Circle Membership

Please make sure you completely understand the product you are buying before purchasing. 30 Day 100% Money Back Guarantee
  • This guarantee lasts 30 days, which is enough for you to observe the membership’s effectiveness.
  • We can’t guarantee you will be Miles Davis, Charlie Parker, or John Coltrane in 30 days. We’d be suspicious of anyone who could promise that. Becoming a better jazz musician is a process and it requires work.
  • If you’re not happy with the quality of this program…send us an email and showing you did the work. We’ll refund 100% of your money (We’ll even eat the credit-card processing fees) and we’ll part as friends. We believe in the power of this course and so we’ll take responsibility for it.

Rights of use

All digital products are for the use of the individual customer only. Redistribution or reselling of our digital products is strictly prohibited and a violation of United States and New York State law.

PRIVACY POLICY

At Learn Jazz Standards LLC, we recognize that privacy of your personal information is important.

Here are the types of personal information we may collect when you use and visit LearnJazzStandards.com, and how we safeguard your information. We never sell your personal information to third parties.

Log Files

As with most other websites, we collect and use the data contained in log files. The information in the log files include your IP (internet protocol) address, your ISP (internet service provider, such as AOL or Shaw Cable), the browser you used to visit our site (such as Internet Explorer or Firefox), the time you visited our site and which pages you visited throughout our site.

Cookies and Web Beacons

We may use cookies to store information, such as your personal preferences when you visit our site. This could include only showing you a popup once in your visit, or the ability to log in to some of our features, such as forums. We collect this information to help send you only pertinent content that we believe you are interested in and will benefit from.

We also use third party advertisements on LearnJazzStandards.com to support our site. Some of these advertisers may use technology such as cookies and web beacons when they advertise on our site, which will also send these advertisers (such as Google through the Google AdSense program) information including your IP address, your ISP, the browser you used to visit our site, and in some cases, whether you have Flash installed.

This is generally used for geotargeting purposes (showing New York real estate ads to someone in New York, for example) or showing certain ads based on specific sites visited (such as showing cooking ads to someone who frequents cooking sites).

DoubleClick DART cookies

We also may use DART cookies for ad serving through Google’s DoubleClick service, which places a cookie on your computer when you are browsing the web and visit a site using DoubleClick advertising (including some Google AdSense advertisements).

This cookie is used to serve ads specific to you and your interests (“interest based targeting”). The ads served will be targeted based on your previous browsing history (For example, if you have been viewing sites about visiting Las Vegas, you may see Las Vegas hotel advertisements when viewing a non-related site, such as on a site about hockey).

DART uses “non personally identifiable information.” It does NOT track personal information about you, such as your name, email address, physical address, telephone number, social security numbers, bank account numbers or credit card numbers. You can opt-out of this ad serving on all sites using this advertising by visiting http://www.doubleclick.com/privacy/dart_adserving.aspx

You can chose to disable or selectively turn off our cookies or third-party cookies in your browser settings, or by managing preferences in programs such as Norton Internet Security. However, this can affect how you are able to interact with our site as well as other websites. This could include the inability to login to services or programs, such as logging into forums or accounts.

Deleting cookies does not mean you are permanently opted out of any advertising program. Unless you have settings that disallow cookies, the next time you visit a site running the advertisements, a new cookie will be added.

Email Addresses

If you share your email address with LearnJazzStandards.com via the contact page, we will only use it to contact you, and will NOT add you to any lists or newsletters without your consent.

In addition, if you sign up for the free newsletter, your email address will only be used to send special offers and updates from LearnJazzStandards.com. Addresses are recorded and kept secure through MailChimp, which we use to distribute information to our subscribers. Neither MailChimp nor LearnJazzStandards.com will give or sell your address to any third party, nor will you be added to any additional lists.

Right to Be Forgotten

If at any point you wish to be completely deleted from our databases, whether it be as a newsletter subscriber or an account holder on learnjazzstandards.com, you have the complete right to do so.

Contact us, and we will ensure your data is cleared from our system.

Data Control Contact

If you ever wish to reach out to us regarding the use of your data, we are reachable at [email protected]. Additionally, you can use our contact page, to reach out any time.

In short, your information is safe with us, and we greatly value your trust.

Thanks for using Learn Jazz Standards!

Terms of Use

Welcome to LearnJazzStandards.com!

We’ve created this page so that you (and any visitor to LearnJazzStandards.com) will understand the terms and conditions that govern your use of this website.

If you continue to browse and use this website you are agreeing to comply with and be bound by the following terms and conditions, which together with our privacy policy comprise our (LearnJazzStandards.com’s) entire relationship with you.

Exclusion of Liability

The content found on any page of this website is for your general information and use only, and it is subject to change without notice.

Neither we nor any third parties provide any warranty or guarantee as to the accuracy, timeliness, performance, completeness or suitability of the information and materials found or offered on this website for any particular purpose.

You acknowledge that such information and materials may contain inaccuracies or errors and we expressly exclude liability for any such inaccuracies or errors to the fullest extent permitted by law.

Your use of any information or materials on this website is entirely at your own risk, for which we shall not be liable. It shall be your own responsibility to ensure that any products, services or information available through this website meet your specific requirements.

Indemnity

By accessing our website, you agree to indemnify and hold us harmless from all claims, actions, damages, costs and expenses including legal fees arising from or in connection with your use of our website.

Copyright Laws & Intellectual Property

This website contains some material which is owned by or licensed to us. This material includes, but is not limited to, the design, layout, look, appearance and graphics. Reproduction is prohibited other than in accordance with the copyright notice, which forms part of these terms and conditions.

All logos, trademarks, and other intellectual property found on LearnJazzStandards.com are the property of their respective owners. They do not indicate ownership, affiliation, sponsorship, or any other relationship with LearnJazzStandards.com.

In addition, this website may also include links to other websites. These links are provided for your convenience to provide further information. They do not signify that we endorse those websites, and we have no responsibility for the content of those linked websites.

Unauthorized Use

Your use of this website and any dispute arising out of such use of the website is subject to the laws of the United States of America. Any unauthorized use of this website may give rise to a claim for damages and/or be a criminal offense.

Thanks, and enjoy LearnJazzStandards.com!

Return Policy for Products

Refund Policy

For play-alongs and eBooks:

Because these are digital downloads, and not returnable, we have a strict no refund policy. All purchases are final and cannot be reversed. Please be sure that you fully understand the product you are purchasing and what is and what is not included. Of course, if you ever have any questions about a product feel free to contact usor visit our FAQ page.

For 30 Days to Better Jazz Playing eCourse

Please make sure you completely understand the product you are buying before purchasing.

14 Day 100% Money Back Guarantee

  • This guarantee lasts 14 days, which completely covers almost half of the course, enough for you to observe its’ effectiveness.
  • We can’t guarantee you will be Miles Davis, Charlie Parker, or John Coltrane in 2 weeks. We’d be suspicious of anyone who could promise that. Becoming a better jazz musician is a process and it requires work.
  • If you’re not happy with the quality of this program…send us an email and showing you did the work. We’ll refund 100% of your money (We’ll even eat the credit-card processing fees) and we’ll part as friends. We believe in the power of this course and so we’ll take responsibility for it.

Rights of use

All digital products are for the use of the individual customer only. Redistribution or reselling of our digital products is strictly prohibited and a violation of United States and New York State law.

Learn Jazz Standards Messaging Terms & Conditions

Effective Date:

This SMS message program is a service of Learn Jazz Standards. By providing your cell phone number, you agree to receive recurring automated promotional and personalized marketing text messages (e.g., SMS/MMS cart reminders, sale notices, etc) from Learn Jazz Standards. These messages include text messages that may be sent using an automatic telephone dialing system, to the mobile telephone number you provided when signing up or any other number that you designate. You give Learn Jazz Standards permission to send text messages to the enrolled cell phone number through your wireless phone carrier, unless and until you end permission per these Terms & Conditions. Consent to receive automated marketing text messages is not a condition of any purchase. Message & data rates may apply.

Message frequency may vary. Learn Jazz Standards reserves the right to alter the frequency of messages sent at any time, so as to increase or decrease the total number of sent messages. Learn Jazz Standards also reserves the right to change the short code or phone number from which messages are sent and we will notify you if we do so.

Not all mobile devices or handsets may be supported and our messages may not be deliverable in all areas. Learn Jazz Standards, its service providers and the mobile carriers supported by the program are not liable for delayed or undelivered messages.

By enrolling in the Learn Jazz Standards messaging program, you also agree to these messaging terms & conditions (“Messaging Terms”), our Learn Jazz Standards Terms of Use and Learn Jazz Standards Privacy Policy.

Cancellation

Text the keyword STOP, STOPALL, END, CANCEL, UNSUBSCRIBE or QUIT to the telephone number, long code, or short code that sends you our initial confirmation message to cancel. After texting STOP, STOPALL, END, CANCEL, UNSUBSCRIBE or QUIT to the telephone number, long code, or short code that sends you our initial confirmation message you will receive one additional message confirming that your request has been processed. If you change your preferences, it may take up to 48 hours for it to take effect. You acknowledge that our text message platform may not recognize and respond to unsubscribe requests that do not include the STOP, STOPALL, END, CANCEL, UNSUBSCRIBE or QUIT keyword commands and agree that Learn Jazz Standards and its service providers will have no liability for failing to honor such requests. If you unsubscribe from one of our text message programs, you may continue to receive text messages from Learn Jazz Standards through any other programs you have joined until you separately unsubscribe from those programs.

Help or Support

Text the keyword HELP to the telephone number, long code, or short code that sends you our initial confirmation message to receive a text with information on how to unsubscribe.

No Warranty

TO THE MAXIMUM EXTENT ALLOWED BY APPLICABLE LAW, YOU ACKNOWLEDGE AND AGREE THAT THE MESSAGING PROGRAM IS PROVIDED ON AN “AS IS” AND “AS AVAILABLE” BASIS WITHOUT WARRANTIES OF ANY KIND, WHETHER EXPRESS OR IMPLIED.

Limitation of Liability

TO THE MAXIMUM EXTENT ALLOWED BY APPLICABLE LAW, YOU AGREE THAT IN NO EVENT SHALL EITHER OF Learn Jazz Standards OR ANY PARTY ACTING ON BEHALF OF Learn Jazz Standards BE LIABLE FOR: (A) ANY CLAIMS, PROCEEDINGS, LIABILITIES, OBLIGATIONS, DAMAGES, LOSSES OR COSTS IN AN AGGREGATE AMOUNT EXCEEDING THE GREATER OF THE AMOUNT YOU PAID TO Learn Jazz Standards HEREUNDER OR $100.00; OR (B) ANY DIRECT, INDIRECT, CONSEQUENTIAL, SPECIAL, INCIDENTAL, PUNITIVE OR ANY OTHER DAMAGES. YOU AGREE EVEN IF Learn Jazz Standards HAS BEEN TOLD OF POSSIBLE DAMAGE OR LOSS ARISING OR RESULTING FROM OR IN ANY WAY RELATING TO YOUR USE OF THE Learn Jazz Standards MESSAGING PROGRAM. Learn Jazz Standards AND ITS REPRESENTATIVES ARE NOT LIABLE FOR THE ACTS OR OMISSIONS OF THIRD PARTIES, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO DELAYS OR NON-DELIVERY IN THE TRANSMISSION OF MESSAGES.

Indemnity

To the maximum extent allowed by applicable law, you agree to indemnify, defend and hold harmless Learn Jazz Standards, its directors, officers, employees, servants, agents, representatives, independent contractors and affiliates from and against any and all claims, damages, liabilities, actions, causes of action, costs, expenses, including reasonable attorneys’ fees, judgments or penalties of any kind or nature arising from or in relation to the these Messaging Terms or your receipt of text messages from Learn Jazz Standards or its service providers.

Dispute Resolution

  1. General. Any dispute or claim arising out of or in any way related to these Messaging Terms or your receipt of text messages from Learn Jazz Standards or its service providers whether based in contract, tort, statute, fraud, misrepresentation, or any other legal theory, and regardless of when a dispute or claim arises will be resolved by binding arbitration. YOU UNDERSTAND AND AGREE THAT, BY AGREEING TO THESE MESSAGING TERMS, YOU AND Learn Jazz Standards ARE EACH WAIVING THE RIGHT TO A TRIAL BY JURY OR TO PARTICIPATE IN A CLASS ACTION AND THAT THESE MESSAGING TERMS SHALL BE SUBJECT TO AND GOVERNED BY ARBITRATION.
  2. Exceptions. Notwithstanding subsection (a) above, nothing in these Messaging Terms will be deemed to waive, preclude, or otherwise limit the right of you or Learn Jazz Standards to: (i) bring an individual action in small claims court; (ii) pursue an enforcement action through the applicable federal, state, or local agency if that action is available; (iii) seek injunctive relief in aid of arbitration from a court of competent jurisdiction; or (iv) file suit in a court of law to address an intellectual property infringement claim.
  3. Arbitrator. Any arbitration between you and Learn Jazz Standards will be governed by the JAMS, under the Optional Expedited Arbitration Procedures then in effect for JAMS, except as provided herein. JAMS may be contacted at www.jamsadr.com. The arbitrator has exclusive authority to resolve any dispute relating to the interpretation, applicability, or enforceability of this binding arbitration agreement.
  4. No Class Actions. YOU AND Learn Jazz Standards AGREE THAT EACH MAY BRING CLAIMS AGAINST THE OTHER ONLY IN AN INDIVIDUAL CAPACITY AND NOT AS A PLAINTIFF OR CLASS MEMBER IN ANY PURPORTED CLASS OR REPRESENTATIVE PROCEEDING. Further, unless both you and Learn Jazz Standards agree otherwise in a signed writing, the arbitrator may not consolidate more than one person’s claims, and may not otherwise preside over any form of a representative or class proceeding. You agree that, by agreeing to these Messaging Terms, you and Learn Jazz Standards are each waiving the right to a trial by jury or to participate in a class action, collective action, private attorney general action, or other representative proceeding of any kind.
  5. No Class Actions. YOU AND Learn Jazz Standards AGREE THAT EACH MAY BRING CLAIMS AGAINST THE OTHER ONLY IN AN INDIVIDUAL CAPACITY AND NOT AS A PLAINTIFF OR CLASS MEMBER IN ANY PURPORTED CLASS OR REPRESENTATIVE PROCEEDING. Further, unless both you and Learn Jazz Standards agree otherwise in a signed writing, the arbitrator may not consolidate more than one person’s claims, and may not otherwise preside over any form of a representative or class proceeding.
  6. Modifications to this Arbitration Provision. Notwithstanding anything to the contrary in these Messaging Terms, if Learn Jazz Standards makes any future change to this arbitration provision, you may reject the change by sending us written notice within 30 days of the change to Learn Jazz Standards’s contact information provided in the “Contact Us” section below, in which case this arbitration provision, as in effect immediately prior to the changes you rejected, will continue to govern any disputes between you and Learn Jazz Standards.
  7. Enforceability. If any provision of these Messaging Terms is found to be unenforceable, the applicable provision shall be deemed stricken and the remainder of these Messaging Terms shall remain in full force and effect.

Changes to the Messaging Terms

We reserve the right to change these Messaging Terms or cancel the messaging program at any time. By using and accepting messages from Learn Jazz Standards after we make changes to the Messaging Terms, you are accepting the Messaging Terms with those changes. Please check these Messaging Terms regularly.

Entire Agreement/Severability

These Messaging Terms, together with any amendments and any additional agreements you may enter into with us in connection herewith, will constitute the entire agreement between you and Learn Jazz Standards concerning the Messaging Program.

Contact

Please contact us with any inquiries or concerns at [email protected]

OUR PROVEN PROCESS FOR LEARNING JAZZ STANDARDS LIKE A PRO

Get our FREE eGuide “Learn Jazz Standards the Smart Way” and follow the 5 simple steps for crushing it with jazz standards.

Learn Jazz Standards The Smart Way Cover

OUR PROVEN PROCESS FOR IMPROVISING JAZZ SOLOS LIKE A PRO

Get our FREE “Jazz Improv Made Easy Fast Track Guide” and follow the 3 simple steps for improvising amazing jazz solos.

Jazz Improv Made Easy Fast Track Guide Ebook Cover

OUR PROVEN PROCESS FOR LEARNING JAZZ THEORY LIKE A PRO

Get our FREE “Jazz Theory Made Easy Fast Track Guide” and follow the 4 simple steps that make learning jazz theory easy.

Jazz Theory Made Easy Fast Track Guide Ebook Cover

DOWNLOAD THIS CHORD CHART

Get our FREE "Jazz Improvisation Crash Course: 3 Steps To Master Jazz Improvisation" chord chart and our entire library of 200+ jazz standards!

Chord Chart

DOWNLOAD THIS CHORD CHART

Get our FREE "Jazz Improvisation Crash Course: 3 Steps To Master Jazz Improvisation" chord chart and our entire library of 200+ jazz standards!

Chord Chart

DOWNLOAD THIS CHORD CHART

Get our FREE "Jazz Improvisation Crash Course: 3 Steps To Master Jazz Improvisation" chord chart and our entire library of 200+ jazz standards!

Chord Chart