Free Jazz Lessons

We all know that the best way to learn a musical discipline is to have a tutor.  You learn at your own pace, the lessons are tailored to you and having to play in front of a tutor each week is a fantastic practice incentive.  Unfortunately though, tutors cost money and we don’t always have it to spare.


I have searched for a long time for a website that will offer free lessons in music theory.  Usually what I find is basic (Wikipedia for example) and often difficult to apply to the real world.  Today, however, I found one that I just had to share.


It looks dry and uninviting and like you have to pay to download it.  But be patient, scroll down and you will find some of the best free advice on jazz theory (including implementation) that I have ever come across.  There is everything here from a history of jazz to an explanation of scales and chords (which you can find anywhere but not usually this well done) though to applying theory to practice in improvisation and problem solving whilst accompanying other musicians.


Other good resource I found was

I like the idea of this website; you write an article and post it here for free.  So the idea is you enjoy all the free advice and contribute as well.  Unfortunately there aren’t many contributors but that doesn’t mean some of the links aren’t fab.


For instance if you follow the menu to Jazz Theory then Miscellaneous you will be able to download a PDF by Bert Lion which is a great read if you are a theory nerd (like me.)  It also has a link to his website where you can download – for free – a whole range of transcriptions. Some even come with annotations to give you a batter idea of what is going on.


Staying with the jazz database website if you click on Transcriptions then Saxophone you will be also to follow a link to the website.  Music here is not free to download but you can stream backtracks. You can then download the relevant PDF from the jazz database.


Now you have a great practice aid for free and a fantastic website explaining what you need to be working on.


Is there a way for us poor teachers to get pupils to practice?

Is there a way for us poor teachers to get pupils to practice? I have tried reminding the pupils that they have paid a lot of money for the lessons and here are some of the responses I’ve received.

• “It’s okay, mum pays for it.”

• “But it’s so boring.”

• “I just didn’t have the time this week.”(Which I then hear every week.)

And my favourite.

• “Can’t we just use lesson time as practice time?”

I’ve also had one pupils tell me that it was too much trouble to get the sax out of the case and if only it was easier to set up she might practice more.

I’ve also tried the show-off method. This one can be fun all you have to do is play something that sounds flashy and then tell your pupils that that could sound like that too if they practiced every day. However, it can backfire spectacularly when your pupils tries to copy you, realised they can’t and then get disheartened.

Now, I’m not a teacher that likes to berate or degrade my pupils. If they don’t practice I tell them that the only thing wasted is their own time and now we will have to do much of the last lesson again. If they do practice then I like to encourage. When things are right I get (probably over) excited. It works well with all my students except those who don’t practice in the first place, because they never see the reward.

One thing I haven’t tried is empathising. After all, every muso in the world has been there. I’d put money that even Mr. Mozart has. I was talking to guitar legend and fellow teacher Jessie Jordan and he told me that when he was learning he had such trouble with the D chord that he seriously considered ignoring it all together. I felt that way about long notes on the sax but it has never occurred to me to tell my pupils that.

I think that’s what I shall try this week.