How to practice jazz vocabulary - beginners & intermediate students!

You have probably heard or been told that the best way to improve your jazz improvisation skills is through practicing jazz vocabulary!

A great way to do this is through listening to and absorbing the music of the masters of this wonderful music.

The problem however can be that there level of playing is simply beyond the intermediate player!

What can intermediate players do to develop jazz vocabulary?

I remember (many years ago) wanting nothing more than to stand up with a rhythm section and play beautiful melodic, flowing solos like my jazz heroes, Dizzy Gillespie, Clark Terry, Wynton Marsalis, Chet Baker....

It wasn't until I started to practice what they played and try to incorporate it into my own playing did I start to improve with my own jazz improvisation!

It is hard to get to a place where you can hear something in your head and simply play it straight away on your instrument! This is what we all strive to do! First of all, how do we hear things in our head? We have all, at some point been In a playing situation and had to improvise and nothing pops into our heads.

It's at time like this that we need to have practiced and internalised lots of jazz vocabulary! Like I said, for intermediate players, it can be really hard to practice material that is at our current level of ability!

Jazz etudes has created many jazz etude books aimed at the intermediate player with demo recordings of many of the etudes along with free backing tracks for every book and etude!

The etudes come in 4 genres (at the moment) including dixieland, jazz standards, bebop & latin. All the etudes are melodic, follow the changes, have great rhythm variation, are fun to play and if practiced enough can be easily committed to memory!

When we commit solos to memory and know what chords we are playing over, we have started to develop jazz vocabulary. If you then practice what you can already play into other keys (through our ears and not writing it down) we really can take our playing and improvisation to a whole different level!

I'm not going to pretend that this happens in a few days, weeks or even months but what I can say is that it is one of the best ways to get good at jazz!

The great Clark Terry used to say

Imitate, Assimilate, Innovate!

Simply, this means - copy solos (or remember parts of jazz etudes, it can be tricky to first to copy only using our ears) take what you know really well and practice it in others more tricky keys! After a while, you will have done this so much that you will start to hear phrases and cool things to play ourself. By practicing vocabulary you will sound authentic in your solos.

So, if you want to start improvising and develop your jazz vocabulary and sound more authentic in your solos -

Subscribe to our YouTube channel, we post lots of free lessons on developing different aspects of jazz vocabulary.

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By doing so you will be joining thousands of other musicians who, like you, want to develop there jazz skills! You will also receive a free copy of our most popular jazz etude book called 'Dixieland delights'.

Read this, from Chris, who is a subscriber to the jazz etudes newsletter

'Thank you for your time and efforts Darren (jazz etudes). I've been trying to learn how to improvise for the last 5 years on and off, even taking lessons with Freddy Hubbard's former student. I found that he was too complex at my level to gain anything much that I couldn't gain for free off the net, but your Improvs have helped me to actually get going again and produce results that encourage me to continue rather than give up which had previously been the case.'

This was so great to read and encourages me to continue trying to help the beginner and intermediate jazz student!

Warm regards, Darren. Jazz Etudes