jazz scales

Time Saving Technique Practice Idea

Are you stuck between studying for tests and logging in much needed time on practicing technique? Try this idea that came up during one of my lessons last week.

Practicing Piano Technique by the Root

This is more for the advanced students, music teachers and anyone who wants to learn jazz chords and scales. Instead of practicing your technical exercises by key, practice them by their shared root. For example, play through:

  • C major Scale
  • C major Modes
  • C minor Scales (natural, harmonic, melodic, jazz minor)
  • C minor Modes
  • C Penatonic Scale
  • C Blues Scale
  • C Whole Tone Scale
  • C Octatonic Scale
  • C major tonic chord/triad
  • C minor tonic chord/triad
  • C7 (dominant 7th of F major)
  • Cm7 (ii7 of B-flat major)
  • Cm7(♭5) (viiø7 of D-flat major)
  • Cdim7, A.K.A. B#dim (viio7 of D-flat/c# minor)
  • and so on.

This was one of the first things I learned when I took jazz piano lessons with jazz pianist, clinician, adjudicator and examiner Derek Stoll.

Another Way to Practice Technique

This is more for the advanced students, music teachers and anyone who wants to learn jazz chords and scales. The bottom line is that instead of practicing your technical exercises by key, you are practicing them by their shared root: Getting Started on Jazz Technique - Musespeak Studio

Scales Help at Scaleindex.com

[February 5, 2013 update: Scaleindex.com is no more. Instead, check out this article on Freejazzlessons.com on the "10 Jazz Scales You Should Know"] I stumbled upon this site while trying to makes heads or tails out of the Lydian Dominant mode (jazz musicians are probably shaking their heads at this as they know very well what Lydian Dominant is). Scaleindex.com is a very thorough site, containing scale formulas, chord analyses, note names and audio clips of everything from our standard major and minor scales to the Bebop Dominant and Hindu scales.

My student R, who likes to compose, is excited about writing in some of these different keys while my student A is currently on a modal kick with her repertoire, so she is pumped about learning how to play modes. The funny thing is, neither student is in Conservatory Canada's Contemporary Idioms syllabus. Both girls are in the traditional stream of ConCan and RCM respectively.

As for my students who need to learn the Lydian Dominant mode for their Contemporary Idioms exam, they're just relieved to have the scale formula in an easy to understand format (as am I).

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