Do You Have These Symptoms of A Chord Scale Noodler?

From: Chris Cooke  Greetings Fellow Jazzer!

I want to talk to you today about something that a great many aspiring jazz musicians struggle with.

The weird part is that NONE of the greats or the masters struggled with this. The problem is that jazz has become heavy on the 'academic' and 'theoretical' and light on the 'common sense' and 'old school'.

Ever since jazz education left the band stand and headed for the classroom there have been problems.

Jazz piano and education legend Hal Galper calls some of it ‘Cookie Cutter’ Teaching.

And he’s dead on with pretty much every single thing he says about learning jazz.

Now in this article, I’m gonna show you how you can get around this modern jazz education mess.

What is this mess, this problem I’m talking about?

Chord Scale Noodling. If this is you, no worries. I’m gonna show you how to fix it.

The symptoms typically looking something like this:

  • Boring Solos - no oohs and ahhs from the audience let alone the other cats in the band.
  • Never really knowing what to play - instead you just wiggle your fingers over a group of notes hoping that some hip, slick line will just 'happen'.
  • Not clearly playing the changes - sure, if you happened to be playing the right scale and the right key you may not play any wrong notes per se. But you sure aren’t playing any right ones.
  • Lines and melodies that aren’t very, well, melodic. Instead your lines are ambiguous groups of notes.
  • Short phrases pinned in by the bar lines. Kinda like living paycheck to paycheck you’re living chord symbol to chord symbol. There’s no voice leading happening, no forward motion. That’s sort of the opposite of swinging. Bad news for a jazzer.
  • Too much thinking, not enough hearing. That’s a biggy. I assure you - Bird, Diz, Monk, Sonny, Trane, Miles, Wes, Bud - none of them were thinking much while they were playing - and if they were they sure as hell weren’t thinking about what chord scale they should play on the next chord.

If you see your own playing in any of what I just described then take a few minutes and read this whole page. I tried to keep it pretty short. But, it will only be posted for the next few days or so. And I think it might just shed some light on a few major jazz problems.

Listen. Learning to play jazz at a high level is not luck or magic.

It’s the result of taking the right actions in the right way. By actions of course, I mean practicing, listening, performing, creating, etc. It does take hard work. It does take time. It does take some effort. But it’s doable. By anyone that loves the music enough to take those actions.

Let me be clear. No one knows what makes a Mozart or a Charlie Parker. Although there’s no refuting the fact that they both took the right actions and lots of ‘em.

Who knows what really makes a musical genius.

But there is ample evidence to support the fact that anyone can become a serious high level improviser, again, if they take those actions.

But that’s where the trouble lies. Trying to navigate the path to becoming a legit jazzer is no small feat. There are a thousand different opinions out there about how to do it. Many of these opinions come from teachers who haven’t actually made the journey yet themselves. Some come from badass players who made the journey so young they don’t remember how they did it.

Fact: Learning to play jazz is an extremely complex endeavor. The masters who have come before us have taken the music to an incredibly high level.

If you can find the right path to your musical goals, and you have the tenacity to stay the course, you’ll get there.

But that entails wading through boat loads of misinformation and cookie cutter teaching.

Now, just so I don’t get lots of angry letters from jazz educators, let me say this:

I have the utmost respect for teachers.

I’ve had many great teachers myself who impacted my life - musically and otherwise - profoundly, more then they probably know.

Whether in private lessons, master classes, the traditional classroom or at the gig these cats changed me. And I’m forever grateful.

Cats like Hal Crook, Jeff Galindo, Joel Yennior, Mitch Haupers, Ran Blake, Jamey Haadad, Kenney Werner, Ian Froman, Danillo Perez, Pat Martino, Jeff Watts, Joe Lovano, etc. All masters and master teachers in their own way. I am full of gratitude for the lessons I picked up from these cats.

But teaching ain’t easy. A great teacher’s got to know how the process works, what the student needs and how to persuade the student to do the work.

And that’s the problem - many teachers fall short in these areas.

  • Some teachers are still struggling musicians themselves. They’re still trying to figure it out. They were taught a lot of the same cookie cutter techniques. They don’t know how to practice themselves. And they end up just passing these half baked concepts on to their students and perpetuating the problem.
  • Other teachers are just too nice. They might understand the process. They might be amazing players in their own right. But they give the student what he/she wants instead of what he/she needs.They’re afraid push the student out of the comfort zone or hold them on topic for as long as it takes to get it. Eventually, playing jazz is just a hard, uncomfortable and doubt ridden process.
  • Some cats are just regurgitating knowledge. Here’s this scale. Here’s that chord. Play this on that. That on this. Analyze harmony like this. Blah, Blah, Blah.Now, don’t for one second believe that I don’t think harmony, theory, chord scales, etc is important stuff. It’s absolutely part of the package. But it’s useless if you can’t take that information and turn it into artful inspired music. It’s your teacher’s job, whether one on one, in classroom or from a book to help you put those pieces together and take that knowledge and make music with it. But it rarely works out that way.I guess because it’s easier to just keep giving more knowledge instead of actually teaching someone.
  • And finally, like I said, some cats became great players so long ago that they just don’t remember how it happen. So they certainly can’t explain it. It’s not their fault. They’re just not wired to teach. But given certain economic realities they have to just to pay the bills. So they end up perpetuating the jazz education status quo.

So where does that leave you?

  • It leaves you with a mountain of information to sort through. It leaves you overwhelmed with piles of books to practice through.
  • It leaves you with a cookie cutter method of improvising.
  • It leaves you a bunch of abstract theoretical concepts that don’t seem to sound like real jazz for some reason.
  • It leaves you wiggling your fingers over some set of notes called a chord scale or a blues scale.
  •  It leaves you playing unmelodious and uninspired solos that have no deep connection to the changes, to the tune or to the very language of jazz. And have no forward motion.
  •  You’re probably not getting the gigs you want and not experiencing that transcendent feeling of playing some heavy music on the bandstand, connecting with the other cats and making the audience soar to another level.

Does any of that speak to you?

Do you have any of these same struggles and frustrations?

Well, that makes two us!

If you’ve been following my stuff for any length of time you know that I’m obsessed with practicing. I’m obsessed with figuring out the process of becoming a legit jazzer.

The problems I just outlined, the teachers I described, the struggle and the self-doubt and the fear of musical failure are all things I know first-hand.

I think I was probably the most neurotic, overwhelmed practice-aholic at Berklee when I was there. But I got tired of living under the mountain of stuff to practice. I got tired of not making the progress I wanted. I got tired of struggling and getting my ass kicked on the bandstand. So I set out to solve the jazz puzzle and achieve my goals. I became a man, obsessed.

And, 12 years later, I’m still at. Only difference is that now I love to play and practice. No more stress. Sure there’s still plenty for me to practice and work on. But if I want to learn something I know exactly what to do in the practice room.

And now it’s become a sort of life mission to help other jazz musician’s achieve their musical goals and become the kind of improviser that they really want so bad.

"This is awesome!! I have been hovering as an “okay” player for many years. I now have a glimpse of the way forward to being the player I want to be. Thanks for this.”
~Greg Lassalle, United States

I have been playing for over 45 years, and have studied with some of the world’s best teachers. But as a teacher I see students become overwhelmed with the amount of available information and what to do with it in the limited hours of a day. Your systems allow for individualized pinpoint focus.  This is something that I have never found taught in the field of music before, and I swear by your material."
~Chuck Decker, South Jersey

Now, over the last week or two I’ve sent you a bunch of emails and jazz practice maps.

Most of that stuff came directly from my good friend Joel Yennior. He’s a killing teacher.

Unlike the other cats I describe- Joel knows exactly how he developed his high-level improvisation chops. He digs the process and the theory. And he’s especially talented at teaching it. He knows exactly how to break it down into pieces that his students at The New England Conservatory can understand and work with.

Joel makes it so easy for his students to practice at the edge of their ability. Which as you should know by now, that edge is where all progress happens.

Now, I personally know that Joel is a badass. I’ve been gigging with him and making records with him for almost 10 years now. But I guess I wasn't really expecting the response I got to the stuff I sent out over the past week.

Back in April Joel and I did a Master Class called Playing the Changes: A Whole Brained Approach.

Well I took a few of Joel’s exact methods, or practice plans if you will, and laid them out in  my fancy jazz practice maps. And people went nuts over them. Apparently it was the most clear cut path through jazz anyone had ever laid out for them.

One cat even wrote in and said this about Joel’s stuff: "Chris, I have a bachelors in Music. This series has been more helpful than any Jazz course I've taken in college."

Who knew!

Well, that makes me even more grateful to know Joel.

So, long story short.

Until now the only cats that have had access to this Master Class are the cats that paid about 200 bones to go through my course The total Jazz Practice Road Map - which is currently unavailable until further notice.

Today that Changes.

If you’re ready for a clearly explained, easy to follow, step by step path to playing the changes, to improvising and playing jazz, then you’re in luck.

Introducing…

playing-the-changesPlaying the Changes: A Whole Brained Approach

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The Facts:

  • Playing the Changes is an online master class.
  • The lessons are all served up in bite sized chunks so their easy to digest.
  • The lessons are all presented in short videos. Each improvisation lesson video lesson is around 8-10 minutes long.
  • The entire master class comes in at around 5 and a half hours. Yes, it's a lot of great content to go through. But again, all in bite sized videos so it's really easy to go through. And honestly, I've never seen this kind of material laid out so logically and so easy to follow. I went to Berklee College of Music. And I never had a class that made this material so clear and easy to follow. Joel rocks!
  • It's multi media so many of the lessons also come with PDF worksheets, examples etc. And there are also audio examples performed by Joel himself for many of the lessons.
  • The videos will play on ANY computer OR Device - that means your PC, your MAC, your iPhone, your Droid, Your iPad, etc.
  • Also, everything is downloadable should you want to pull it all down onto your own machine. But it'll be up online and available to you indefinitely.
“I’ve been a fan of hal crook’s books and method. Chris’ videos are the next step to reinforce how to practice improvisation that compliment these books. ….a great addition to a jazzer’s library of learning …but more practical than most books that try to help you to play jazz..”
~JOHN KOZINSKI, BECKET,MA

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Okay, now let me show you what's covered in each unit:

Playing the Changes: A Whole Brained Approach

Unit 1: Jazz Theory Review

In this Unit Joel and I will go back over some of the basics. You'll fill in any holes or gaps in your theory before we get to the actual jazz improvisation nuts and bolts.

You'll get a review of cycle 4 and key signatures, how they relate to each other and how to master this stuff once and for all.

You'll learn simple memorization techniques to help assimilate this material more quickly and you'll go over fundamental chord progressions you must know to play jazz.

You'll learn about the 'cornerstone' of jazz harmony as well as the 'source' from which MUCH of western music.

Joel will cover major scale and chord scale construction in all 12 keys and how to use the circle of 4ths as a powerful tool to quickly build and recall major keys and scales.

You'll learn the seven modes of major and you'll learn how to match them with their corresponding chords.

You'll discover how each mode is built and how to use that information to construct these scales in any key.

You'll get thorough explanation of the most common chord progression and how to easily  interpret the chord symbols that go with each chord.

You'll get detailed explanations of the two most widely used chord scales, you'll know how to build them and how to build your foundation.

Joel will show you how to create a chord progress cheat sheet and how to begin working on a chord progression.

Joel will also teach a cool trick to playing over changes even when the chord movement is very fast.

You'll discover the principles of voice leading so your lines will be smooth and clearly outline the sound of the changes.

Discover how powerful guide tones can be and how they can be used to to outline changes clearly and how you can create tension and forward motion in your solos.

The pros all KNOW this stuff cold. As you begin to tighten up your musical chops you'll be taking steps towards becoming like one of them.

Unit 2: The Right Way to Practice Chords and Scales

In unit 2 we move into practicing chords and scales the right way. Joel has very unique and 10 part step by step method for working through chords and chord scales.

You'll learn how to practice modes in parallel fashion so you get real feel for the sound and vibe of each.

Joel will give you tons of ideas for practicing chords and scales so you will never again wonder where to start or how to practice them.

You'll learn how the scale fits over the chord so you'll still be in control of the harmony and the sound of the chord.

Discover Joel's step by step method to methodically practice over a tune, gain mastery and get the flexibility you need to play jazz at a high level.

Learn a simple way to begin working improvisation into your practicing right away, regardless of your level.

Learn how to use a simple first step that will make sure you have a deep understanding of the chord relationships both intervallically and harmonically.

Discover a very effective practice strategy - stretching the changes - that will allow you to really dig in and explore the changes without the pressure of the chords going by too fast.

Learn how to use digital patterns and all the possible variations so you can start to improvise quickly and so you can start to play 8th note lines.

Joel will show you how to play hip bass lines using digital patterns so you can start using this powerful way to master the changes even if (especially if!) you're not a bass player.

Joel will also show you all the different possibilities with digital patterns to mix it up and bring more and more creativity to your soloing.

Chord tone solos and triad solos are a necessary part of shedding over the changes. In fact cats that have got a handle on chord tones will have much more control over there lines and the changes. And they will sound much better using chord scales - it will also be easier to avoid the chord scale noodling trap.

You'll learn a hip way to practice chord scales up and down with various targets and starting notes to bring even more control to your playing.

Joel will cover chord tone pairs, where to get great licks and how to plug them into your vocabulary and you'll learn all about target practice.

And really a ton more...too much to list!

Unit 3: Six Ways to Play the Blues (And Most Other Tunes!)

This unit of course, will deal with applying what you've already covered to blowing over the blues. Which is perhaps the most logical harmonic context to start working on this stuff.

You'll learn 6 ways to blow over the blues. Joel will give you a detailed explanation of the often misused and abused Blues Scale. He'll show you what it really it and how it really works. Most educators teach this the wrong way and mislead their students with cookie cutter teaching. Joel will show you the right way so you can avoid the pitfalls.

You'll learn how to apply chord scales to blues changes and how to practice them systematically so you continue to get more and more control of the music and of course sound better as you do.

The exercises in this Unit will give you the control to start and stop your phrases on various chord tones and tensions

You'll go step by step through chord tone mastery and chord tone soloing. Having the control that this will bring your playing will make blowing over the changes infinitely easier and more fun.

You'll discover the ins and outs of guide tones, how to use them, practice them and how to clearly define chord quality and color.

Joel will teach you how to begin adding rhythm to your practice, how to use the last note/first note guide tone exercise  and show you how to master this stuff step by easy step.

Remember: learning jazz is not magic. It's a result of taking the right actions in the right way. Joel will show you exactly how to go down the jazz path the right way.

Unit 4: Working with Rhythm

In unit 4 we'll dig into rhythm.

Learn how rhythm is the essence of jazz.

Discover the key characteristics of good time so you can start developing those areas and swinging harder.

You'll learn the rhythmic scale exercise so you can become fluent moving around many different rhythms. This will make your playing much more fun to listen to!

You'll learn how to tighten up your feel and find your own eighth note feel.

You'll also learn how to bring more and more forward motion to your playing. Forward motion = swinging. Swinging = hip.

Learn how to internalize jazz feel and how to develop a great swinging pulse.

You'll also get Joel's 20 must know jazz rhythms so you can begin expanding your own rhythmic vocabulary.

You'll learn how to use these rhythms to practice the changes and how to use them as motives to improvise over.

Joel will teach you the coveted Joe Henderson exercise.

You'll discover resolution points, what they are and why they are so important to your playing

You'll learn how to practice and master resolution points.

Unit 5: Developing Creativity with Improvisation

This section is comprised of 5 videos that will teach you essentials strategies and activities to becoming a monster jazz musician.

Discover the ultimate aim of jazz and how vocabulary is paramount to achieving those aims. Understanding these core principles will allow you to align your musical efforts in the most effective and important way you can.

Learn the right way to use transcriptions so you can avoid the pitfalls that hold many young players - wrong notes, changes, limited access, etc.

Learn how to use a simple process to assimilate vocabulary using focused repetitive listening, singing, playing, etc so you can absorb vocabulary at will and expand your ability to be expressive and creative.

You'll learn how to use the very powerful tool - the amazing slow-downer - so you can assimilate vocabulary more quickly, speed up your progress, strengthen your ears and start sounding better, faster.

You'll discover the right way to learn from the masters so you’re listening for the right things, and learning the right qualities.

Learn how to connect the disconnect between your ears and your hands so your playing will become more flowing, effortless and expressive.

You'll learn how to feed your inner ear - your aural imagination - so you can fire up that creativity and have musical ideas flow out of you all day long.

Learn a very powerful method that combines play-alongs and your aural imagination that will strengthen your musical instincts and start to build a trust in your ear.

Learn how to use free playing to explore elements of your musicality outside of the chains of the changes - this way you can be developing the more ‘mature’ elements of music even while you’re still learning to accurately play the changes

Learn one of the greatest jazz learning tips of all time - let the melody be your guide - you’ll learn why the melody is paramount, how it will set you apart.

Learn how to study and learn melodies and heads the right way so you bring authentic to your playing, logic, feeling and so you connect with the audience instead of being one of those scale running theory slobs that are boring and obnoxious to listen to.

“I’ve gone through a few of chris’ courses. The concepts in here are essential to mastering your instrument. I struggle with knowing what to practice from the wealth of information that there is. I’ve made more progress in the last couple months than at any other time. I’ve also gained confidence in playing which feels great! I’m glad i’ve learned this stuff now as a 2nd year jazz student, thanks chris!”
Troy H., B.C. Canada

Important - If you buy Playing the Changes: A Whole Brained Approach today you'll also get this awesome bonus:

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Product-ImageMastering Minor Jazz Harmony: Harmonic and Melodic Minor, Locrian, Altered Scales and the Minor II/V/I

This video course PERFECTLY compliments "Playing the Changes". In fact it's really the next step. Both of the these programs together will give you very well rounded look at blowing over tunes, jazz improvisation and playing jazz.

And of course exact methods, practice plans and exercises will be covered including the following.

Min7 b5 chords, altered 7 chords (7 with b9, #9, #11, b13), min6, min(maj7) chords

Surefire methods for constructing Locrian, Altered and Melodic Minor Modes

Minor ii/V/i Patterns and licks, practice suggestions [/features_box_yellow][testimonial1_arial author="Liam Fonescu, London, England"]It Is Satisfying To Have a Kind Of Jazz-Practice Guardian-Angel! “You have a direct and genuine approach to the development and sharing of knowledge which makes the medicine go down with great ease. It is satisfying to have a kind of jazz-practice guardian-angel!”[/testimonial1_arial]

So if you’re ready to stop spinning your wheels and start making the progress you want. If you want someone to show you a step by step method to play over the changes. If you want an easy to use system that is actually enjoyable to go through and actually get you the results you want then Playing the Changes is probably for you.

And you can get the entire 5+ hour Multi Media Master Class plus the minor two five class for $97 FREE with your purchase of 'Playing The Changes' today.

Joel will show you exactly how playing the changes works, and exactly how to practice so you can start blowing over tunes the way you want to.

Yes! I'm ready to get instant access to Joel's Jazz Improvisation Master Class - Playing the Changes: A Whole Brained Approach.

  • I understand that I will get Playing the Changes today for just $97 On Sale for $47
  • I understand that I'll also get access to Mastering Minor Jazz Harmony -  Free of Charge! (Regular Price $97)
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Jazz can be overwhelming and sometimes you just need someone to shine a light on what your missing.

That’s exactly what Joel’s Master Class will do for you.

And once you know exactly how to get the kind of mastery over the changes that the greats had, you’re not far from stepping up onto the bandstand, kicking ass, taking names and getting the kind of respect you really want - from the audience and the band.

I mean, let’s not pretend, here. Kicking ass on the bandstand feels pretty frickin' amazing, I must say.

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Now, you may thinking “Okay, sounds pretty damn good, I certainly want to kick ass on the bandstand” but who is this Joel character and why should I listen to him. Fair enough.

Joel is an old friend of mine, a band mate, and a bad ass teacher. Honestly, he’s one of the sweetest cats I’ve ever met.

He’s one of those teachers who actually really cares about his students. Whether it’s giving them an opportunity to sit in on a gig, playing on their music school audition recordings or coaching them on the whole music school admission process (including getting them ready for the live audition).

And he also happens to have a pretty impressive resume. I’ll give you the abridged version real quick so you can see what he’s been up to.

  • Joel is a long time member of the Grammy Nominated and internationally renowned band, The Either Orchestra.
  • He’s performed and/or recorded with a ton of world class cats including George Garzone, Jerry Bergonzi, Medeski, Martin & Wood, Antonio Sanchez, Charlie Kohlhase, Jeff Galindo, Ran Blake, etc.
  • He’s on the faculty at the prestigious New England Conservatory where he teaches jazz improvisation, jazz theory and private instruction.
  • He’s a bandleader, an accomplished composer and Newsletter Editor & Website Administrator for the Massachusetts Assosiation of Jazz Educators (MAJE)

He walks, talks, lives and breathes jazz everyday all day.

I’m honored to have him as a friend, fortunate to have him as a band mate, and beyond grateful to learn from him every time we get together.

When Joel agreed to do the Master Class with me about a year ago, I was beyond thrilled. The Master Class was, like I mentioned part of The Total Jazz Practice Road Map. It was a great experience and we had an opportunity to really change some musical lives.

In fact we got a ton of great feedback about it.

“After millions of methods about what to study, finally a method that let you understand how to study to reach your real musical goals! Thank you chris!”
~Maurizio Iosa, Rome, Italy

“Great stuff, teaches you how to teach yourself, teaches you how to be better, a better musician, a better person. One step at a time, and you will achieve your goals in no time.”
~Vuk Bradic

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Now should you decide to get Playing the Changes: A Whole Brained Approach, I want to make sure you dig it and that it’s right for you. Because you know what, it’s not for everybody:

  • If you are an absolute beginner on your instrument, like you’ve been playing for 2 weeks, it’s not for you.
  • If you’re looking for tricks, or shortcuts - in other words if you’re not willing to put in a little work in the practice room (like EVERY single one of greats did) than it’s not for you.
  • If you do want someone who understands how improvising works and how the process of learning to do it works. And you want them to break it down into bite size pieces that you can take to the practice room and actually get better each day then this might be just what you’re looking for.
  • If you understand, theoretically, how it all works but you need focus and direction this is probably for you.

Our 30 Day 100% Money Back Guarantee

Plain and simple: get the Master Class, check it out for 30 days. If you love it (Which you will) keep it.

If for some reason it’s not exactly what you want and need, email us and you get ALL of your money back. No questions. No B.S.

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P.S. So you’ve got an opportunity in front of you now to change your music. To meet a profoundly clear and articulate jazz teacher who will show you the improv nuts and bolts that are missing from your playing. Who will show you how to practice at the edge of your ability so you get better each day and move swiftly toward your goals of being a legit jazz musician.

You’ve got the opportunity to learn from an internationally acclaimed jazz musician with a special knack for breaking jazz improvisation into easy to learn step by step pieces. And you can get the master class with no risk. Nothing to lose. Everything to gain. Click the big orange button below and take advantage of this unique opportunity to put your improvisation chops on the right track.

So if you’re ready to take your improvisation chops to a whole new level, Joel will show you exactly how. Just click on the big orange button below and take the plunge today. I'll see ya on the other side.

~Chris