This course provides three songs for you to practice your improvisation skills, complete with:
- backing tracks
- scores for the tunes in C (concert pitch), B flat, and E flat
- the jazz scale or mode for each piece
- inspiration from the masters – listen and steal ideas!
Who this course is for
This course is suited for players of about grade 2 or higher for:
- melodic instruments,
- any instrument that can play chords (e.g., piano or guitar).
For melodic instruments, you will need to be able to play in a range of about an octave and a half, and be familiar with playing in a few different keys (the notes for the modes and blues scales are given in the scores):
- C instruments: G minor, C minor and A minor
- B flat instruments: A minor, D minor, and B minor
- E flat instruments: E minor, A minor, and F# minor
There’s a piece suited to beginners – “Break Time”. And for intermediate players, try out “Sonny Moon for Two” and “Pentatonix”.
If you’re completely new to improvising, don’t fear, we’ve got you covered! The best place to get you started is the Jazz Bites course. This will take you through how to improvise using between one and five notes. However it is best to learn with a teacher, so this Jazz Repertoire course isn’t a “how to improvise” course, but more of a “put what you’ve learned into practice” course.
Piano and Keys
For piano/keys players, you can just use one hand to improvise melodies. The two more advanced pieces – “Pentatonix” and “Sonny Moon for Two” – have piano parts for both hands. But you can expand your skills with the Basic Jazz Piano course, and find out more about different jazz chords and voicings.
For guitarists there’s also the Jazz Guitar Chords course to get you started – you can use what you learn there about voicings, rhythms and comping styles.
About your teacher
Andy Bilham is a hugely experienced musician, and co-leads Cornwall Music Service Trust and MusicEL’s jazz programme. Alongside work in theatre and the music industry, he also has a wealth of teaching experience.
He has been percussion and keyboard instrumental lead for music services in Hertfordshire and Cornwall. He also runs Cornwall’s youth jazz orchestra, and samba groups for people of all ages.
You can get to know Andy a bit better, and find out about his musical pathway in the podcast below – which somehow managed to include a spell as a dancing gorilla!