How to improve your musical instrument playing much quicker

I think I have a somewhat unorthodox method of teaching trombone and improvisation. Instead of telling students what they sound like and commenting on the things I’m hearing them do wrong, I ask them what they hear. I’m of the belief that if I tell you what something sounds like, it relieves you of the…

Read More

Eyes or ears for jazz improvisation?

A trombone player recently wrote me describing his struggle with improvisation. He’s recently acquired my books and is working on the ear strengthening exercises. After watching one of my videos on playing melodies by ear, he wrote, “I’ve been playing Happy Birthday in all 12 keys and trying to speed up a bit so I…

Read More

My improvisation method in Jazz Ear Savvy

I was recently asked to write out my methodology for improving one’s improvisation. I have certain assumptions and beliefs on the tools and exercises that will improve the improvisational skill of a musician. They’ve worked for me and for others with whom this has been shared. Premise: The major difference between struggling amateur improvisors and…

Read More

Jazz reharmonization of Happy Birthday

What lead me to reharmonize the I-IV-V chords of Happy Birthday? Teaching improvisation, of course! I just published a video on my Youtube channel that demonstrates how the simple tune Happy Birthday can help you become a much better improvisor. One of the exercises on the video is playing Happy birthday in D to some…

Read More

The secret ingredient to mastering improvisation

I’m almost ready to publish my new book called Jazz Ear Savvy. The book is a deep dive into what I believe is the most fundamental skill of any really good improvisor: the connection between the musical mind, or “ear” AND the instrument. I bet that your mind can and frequently does conjure up musical ideas…

Read More

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing

It’s Christmas Time and time again for a new carol featuring alto trombone. The year, I created an arrangement of Hark! The Herald Angels Sing. You can listen to it here:       If you sign up to receive my free monthly music feed, you’ll hear musical ideas like this. Go to the home…

Read More

The critical link between improvisation and the circle of fifths

I’m writing a book on improvisation called Jazz Ear Savvy. I consider it an extension of the ear training concepts and exercises introduced in my book Trombone Improvisation Savvy. By the way, I prefer the term ear building since ear training sounds like too much work. The listening exercises in Improvisation Savvy are limited to…

Read More

The Fratres CD

Several months in the making, the CD known as Fratres is due to be released within the week. I’ll update the links on the CD page as soon as the disk becomes available. Funded by Kickstarter and recorded in my Arizona studio toward the end of the 2017 summer, this collection of bass trombone-focused music…

Read More

As the robots come for the musicians…

Shortly after releasing this season’s Christmas Carol, Hark the Herald Angels Sing, I got a comment about the great times we now live in. The point was that with a computer and a bit of external hardware, grand music can be created. The writer went on to lament that it’s putting a lot of musicians…

Read More

Improvising more deliberately on your instrument?

I met a bunch of great students today at Glendale Community College. Enthusiastic, hungry to learn, open to new thoughts… Dave Schmidt, The director of the school’s jazz program, invited me to talk to his improvisation class. One hour seems like ten seconds when you are unraveling the mysteries of playing jazz. So naturally I…

Read More