Introduction to Jazz and Improvisation

For those just starting out with jazz and improvisation please see an example of workshop structure below using four jazz standards, dissecting them piece by piece.

1. Freddie Freeloader
2. Blue Bossa
3. C-Jam Blues
4. Autumn Leaves

The Process

Firstly, we will listen to the tunes and discuss the various features, instrumentation, improvisation, tone, form and structure. Click on each standard above to have a listen now! After all, listening is the most important thing you can do when learning jazz.

Rather than looking at the music or delving into complicated jazz theory we’ll begin to pick apart the harmony and improvise over the piece using a blanket scale approach – this is where the ear really come into play. This means that one scale can be used over the entire form, but it can be challenging to create an interesting improvisation; so, we’ll do this using various approaches to help you to use your ear, begin playing off each other and create interesting improvised solos.

Next; learning the melody, root movement (bass line) and outline each 7th chord. This will begin to give you more ammunition when improvising over the tune. We will also look at how to utilise the melody, manipulating and adding notes to create improvisations. After this, we’ll start to add the colour tones related to each chord – this part will connect the dots and begin to give you an understanding of jazz theory using modes. Not sure what this means? Then get booking to find out more!

We have chosen the above tunes because they are a great starting point, and also a very good choice for the more intermediate musician wanting to revisit a simpler song form – you can always learn more by revisiting tunes. Two of these pieces are a jazz blues form (with simple melodies) which is really common in jazz. The other two feature minor harmony and slightly more complex melody.

Finally, we will put everything together and play the tunes through, arranging them so that the performance suites the instrumentation available.

By the end of the day workshop you will have internalised each of the standards and be able to play them through without using sheet music. You will have also learnt how to interact with other musicians, in itself a very important skill.

What we need from you?

An open mind and your instrument. That’s it! There’s nothing else to it. The workshops will take place at Chichester University in the recently built state of the art music block. There is a canteen/shop on site for breaks as well as vending machines in the music block itself. We hope to see you for the first session in October.

For more information please contact us at