I have recently started to create a brand new scheme of jazz improvisation lessons on the jazz tune 'Bernie's tune' in my Patreon.
Each week I focus on a different approach to learning jazz vocabulary and learning to hear the changes!
In the first lesson we focused on learning the melody!
How do we learn a melody?
What do you think is the best way to learn a jazz tune?
I see many guys (even on gigs) reading from real books or a lead sheet!
Absolutely nothing wrong in this but you will always be a slave to those musical dots!
The way that I taught it in lesson 1 was to sing along with the melody!
The listening example I provided was of the classic recording by Gerry Mulligan and Chet Baker.
Check it out below -
This is a very cool and laid back version!
Anyway, back to listening!
I remember as a very young trumpet student (probably around 12 years old) being bought a record called '22 trumpet greats'. For me it was a fantastic introduction to the world of amazing trumpet playing.
All of the trumpet players were British along with the session musician sidemen! As well as trumpet classics like 'Buglers holiday', Post horn gallop' & 'Cherry Pink and Apple blossom white', there was also some amazing jazz playing by the late great Kenny Baker.
There was two tunes on there 'Cabaret' & 'Sugar blues' that I learnt from heart. I listened to them over and over again until I could sing along with them perfectly!
Once I could do this, I simply worked them out on my trumpet!
As a result I can still play them some 40 years later as they were properly internalised!
This was the lesson for learning 'Bernie's tune'.
Listen, listen and listen over and over until you know it really well!
When you can sing along with it perfectly, try to work it out on your instrument!
At first this may be a little tricky especially if this type of activity is new to you, but it was also new to me all those years ago. I firmly believe that if you know the melody well enough, you can do it. Just remember to start simple, don't go straight in with something like 'Donna Lee'!!!
The added bonus of listening to a recording to learn a melody as opposed to just reading it down every time is all of the extra bonuses you gain through doing it!
Here is a short list (I bet there are many more reasons for learning a melody this way)
Straight away you are developing the ear/finger relationship. You're developing the ability to play what you hear. The more you do this type of listening, the better your inner ear becomes. In fact, the next step is to transcribe the solos, which is fantastic (again) for developing many. many jazz improvisation related skills!
You are subconsciously learning the articulation and phrasing of the player you are listening to. This is a masterclass in itself!
You are learning the form of the tune so much better. This will aid you in not getting lost when you are soloing.
Even in jazz melodies, there is great jazz vocabulary to be learnt, especially the bebop heads and tunes like 'Bernie's tune'.
These are just some skills that might improve through listening and copying to the greats play jazz melodies.
Amazing offer - 4 free jazz etudes with backing tracks & demos
YouTube - Jazz Etudes Channel
Patreon - Darren Lloyd Jazz
Warm regards, Darren.