Welcome to episode 152 of the LJS Podcast where today we are covering my music theory checklist for understanding jazz improvisation. If you are wondering what step-by-step building blocks you need in place for understanding jazz harmony and improv, this is a solid list. Take notes on which ones you need to work on. Listen in!
Listen to episode 152As a music educator and content creator, I spend a lot of my time trying to get into my student’s heads. I want to know their struggles, what they’re thinking, and what barriers they are hitting so I can help them better.
Years ago I noticed that there will some students in my jazz practicing course that were getting left behind. There were some fundamentals that were missing.
So I started thinking, “If I were starting from scratch, what things would I need to understand about jazz improvisation?”
That ultimately lead to me writing my eBook and companion course Zero to Improv, which is a music theory-based approach to understanding jazz improvisation from the ground up.
Today’s episode is a deep dive into my music theory checklist. These are things I discuss in my book, and I want you to take a look at this list to see where you fit in.
Here’s what I talk about in today’s episode:
1. Scales- 3 elements of knowing and putting them to use.
2. Chords- The basic qualities, extensions, and alterations.
3. Scales and their relationships to chords- understanding how they connect.
4. Chord progressions- how to build them in major and minor keys, and which ones are important in jazz music.
5. Jazz standards- which ones to know and important song forms in jazz.
6. Conceptualizing jazz language- music theory approaches to understand what you are hearing.
I want you to think critically about this list. Which areas do you need to work on? Are there any topics or concepts that you have no clue about?
That’s okay. What’s important is that you take action. Learning how to play jazz, in my opinion, is a combination of aural learning and filling in the gaps with the theoretical. Make sure you understand the basics of jazz theory, and that element will surely set you up for success.