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Take Five

Student Notes"High Five my musical friend!" Welcome to Lesson Number 5. This lesson is an important last step before learning to improvise a solo in Jazz. That's right! You are getting closer to becoming knowledgeable in the arts of Jazz music.

Remember way back in earlier lessons I told you that the most important things to know about a song were:

  • How to start a song?
  • How to end a song?

In the use of "Endings" and "Codas," it is important for you to locate these things (if any) before you begin playing a song. Visually scan through a song before you play it. It helps you to understand the form (flow) of the song and keeps you from becoming hopelessly lost during performance. It is a very gnawing feeling to become lost in a song, not knowing where you are. Use the tools you've learned in these last 4 lessons to help you avoid this trauma. When you begin your solo studies these tips will be paramount in the performance of a solo.


- Practice counting songs to train yourself to intuitively know (feel) the passing of 8 bars phrases (12 bars in a blues).

- Scan a song to learn it's form and remember that every song has some kind of form. If you get lost in the "Head" or in the "Bridge," find the next group coming up in the song and rejoin the performance at that point.

- Sometimes your music is marked with "Horn Cues" or "Drum Cues." Listen to the horns or the drums and see if you can recognize any of these musical cues (shown on your music) being played. This will help you relocate your place in the music.

- Listen to the harmonies (chords) being played by other players. Are they playing "minor" sounding chords? Are they playing "major" sounding chords? Do these chords match with any of the chords you see in your music? This listening tip can assist you in finding your place by comparing what you hear with what you see written on your part (in your music).

- Are there any long rests? Some songs have long phrases of rest. The composer might use a group of rests to generate interest in a song. This group can be as long as the "Head" or the "Bridge."

12 Note Companion

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