Jazz Repertoire & Improvisation

How to Prepare for a Class

When approaching a new piece on the music stand, please consider the following list of questions.

  • What is the title and who is the composer and/or lyricist? 

  • Do you know the meaning of this tune name? 

  • What different versions are you aware of that exist in the canon of jazz repertoire?

  • Is there a vocal version of the piece and do you know the lyrics?

  • What is the form of the piece (i.e. AABA, etc.)?

  • How many measures is the chorus? 

  • Are there are any sections that are different length?

  • What is the meter, key, preferred tempo? 

  • Do you know other versions that were played at other tempos?

  • What is the style of the piece? 

  • Is it swung or straight-8ths? 

  • Is there any part of the tune that is done in a different style (i.e. Latin groove on the A sections, bridge is swung, etc.)? 

  • Is there an intro section? If not, how can the melody be introduced? 

  • How can melody be harmonized, split, or otherwise adjusted?

  • How can the soloist be best suited with the accompaniment? 

  • Who is filling the harmonic role (i.e. piano vs. guitar)? 

  • Can we alternate textures per soloist to provide most interesting musical experience?

  • Is there a coda? How do we end this tune? What is the general road map (DS al Fine, DS al Coda, etc.)