I work as a teacher for Jazz-Guitar at these Colleges in Germany and the Netherlands. If you are interested in the study, in a lesson as a preparation for the entrance examination please contact me
Prins Claus Conservatorium Groningen – information here
with a special programm with teachers from New York – information here
Institut fuer Musik at the University of Applied Sciences Osnabrueck – information here
Here you can download some of worksheets and instructional material I frequently use in my lessons at the universities in Osnabrück and Groningen. They can be used and reproduced in any way you wish. For questions, ideas or feedback you can contact me.
With auditioning guitarists and jazz students in the lower semesters (and unfortunately also in the higher semesters) there are two main problems that occur all too often: timing and improvising over chord changes.
Timing: difficult to teach (which is probably why it often isn’t even attempted to teach), but absolutely essential in any music genre, especially jazz. Similarly to the authentic pronounciation of a foreign language, written instructional material can only teach it to a certain extent. One learns it primarily by listening to and imitating other players. Practising with a metronome is helpful; here it is about the connection between the awareness of the metronome pulse and the self-produced up and down-picking strokes of the right hand. Transcribing and learning solos is also useful. But above all, one should regularly record oneself and critique one’s own timing, jazz feel, phrasing and articulation.
Improvising over changes: guitarists in particular seem to like one thing: modal improvising. This means that they predominantly use the scale of the basic key and don’t emphasise the individual chord changes. That is why songs such as Autumn Leaves, Black Orpheus and the Blues are so popular; one can get quite far by only playing the scale of the basic key. This is probably related to the typical development of a guitar player: they learn the minor pentatonic/blues scale fairly early and improvise over blues progressions or rock riffs by ear. One is then often overchallenged when it comes to songs that modulate more.
My teaching experience has shown me that there is an antidote for this frustration: The Arpeggio Therapy. The student must first know all fingerings for the maj7, 7, m7, m7/b5 and 7° arpeggios in all positions. He must then improvise over II-V-I-progressions and standards exclusively with arpeggio notes. That way one avoids the correct but often harmful realisation, that the Dorian, Mixolydian and Ionian scales of a II-V-I-progression consist of the same notes. It’s about developing the ability to effortlessly play through the arpeggios first before beginning to improvise with scales.
One exercise that can help to ingrain the arpeggio fingerings into the student’s memory is the Chord Tone Drill, which you can download here.
chord tone drill
More advanced material:
I love parallel structures, i.e. continuous triads through a scale, but also interval structures without thirds, which create a more open and less of a chord related sound. Especially seconds and fourths are suitable for this. They can be used in single note soloing (sweeping) or as voicings for chordal improvisation.
Here is a list in notes and tabulatures (for the fingerings) for several parallel structures based on different intervals:
Dorian (applicable for all modes of the major scale)
Melodic Minor (also very usable for the altered scale, which is the 7th mode of the melodic minor scale)
This chord type has haunted jazz improvisers for years. If you ask a jazz musician what he would play over a diminished chord, you get the most bewildering answers! Here are some of them:
-„arpeggio“ (still makes sense)
-„diminished scale/octatonic scale“ (is suggested in many books, but unfortunately sounds horrible sometimes)
-„it depends“ (what it depends on is mostly not added)
-„play the root and then I’ll see“ (a bass player’s answer)
-„somehow chromatically“ (ouch…)
-„that’s much too complicated to answer right now“ (don’t worry, I have time)
-„multiphonics“ (finally an orginial answer from a free jazz saxophone player, who sweetened our day during a tour of Poland with my bandmates, in which we sang standards for hours and produced multiphonics whenever there was a diminished chord! Well, maybe the other people in the bus didn’t find it so funny…)
Here is my personal interpretation of which notes one can play over diminished chords. I know I haven’t re-invented the wheel, but I sadly just hadn’t found a sensible explanation for this subject yet. It is actually very simple. In jazz theory classes at the university Saarbrücken, this is taught under the name „Wingold Change“ – thank you Claas, I am honored!
overwiew diminished chords/scales
up & downstroke combinations
This is another little technical exercise for alternate picking à la Pat Martino. The main problem with alternate picking at a high tempo seems to be at the string changes. I have compiled a list of all up and down combinations with four notes on two strings. This should be practiced on all adjacent strings while slowly increasing speed. Real guitar heroes will not only practice adjacent strings, but also incorporate string skipping, in which one, two, three or four strings are skipped.
Motive Improvisation is an extremly powerful tool to develop melodic expression.
Thanks to Ian Griffiths for translation.