Intro to Jazz

This course looks at how to breathe new life into classic pop, folk, country, rock and blues tunes by turning them into lovely soft jazz pieces. Strumming (comping in Jazz vernacular) and soloing (blowing, ditto) over iconic songs as well as covering a couple of jazz standards in detail.


Rather than focus solely on jazz standards, this course also shows you how to transform existing rock, pop, or folk song into a jazz arrangement. In this way, the concepts will have more relevance, and you should gain a firmer understanding of the jazz language before you tackle more interesting chord changes.

You will also discover how to embellish the chord changes in simple jazz standards. We will explore ideas outside of the use of the major scale e.g. commonly used modes (Mixolydian and Dorian) and chord-scale approach/chord tones etc. You’ll learn the melody and how to improvise around it. Finally, by looking at the art of chord-melody arranging, you will be shown how to create your own colourful self-accompanied arrangements. ‘Light bulb moments’ will be flashing everywhere throughout this course.

A huge variety of classic jazz, and some unexpected, songs are used throughout to demonstrate and bring to life the theory covered.

  • Jazz terminology, Jazz guitar tone
  • Comping (strumming, accompaniment), swing rhythm, Latin groove
  • Chord extensions and substitutions, triad chords
  • Simple diatonic substitutions, tritone substitutions
  • Augmented and diminished chords
  • Blowing (soloing), arpeggios, scales and modes
  • The harmonic minor and chromatic scales
  • Chord-melody arrangements

We’ll cover some standards such as Autumn Leaves, Summertime, etc. but we’ll also take songs from the likes of The Beatles, Simon and Garfunkel, maybe even John Denver and use the rules and tools to transform them into tasteful jazz pieces.

Our weekend courses are guitar-fests. There are lots of subjects to cover but try to take things at a pace to suit the group, even allowing time to go off-piste when there’s something interesting the group would like to explore!


Course suitability?

Acoustic, electric and bass guitar players are welcome. If you’re fine with playing and changing, ideally using a plectrum,  between I, IV, V basic open chords and E shape barre (or half barre) chords for major, minor, m7 and dom7(7) then you’re good to go. It’s also a good idea if you have tried some A shape barre chords and maybe a bit of fingerpicking and know at least one position of the minor pentatonic and major scale patterns. You’ll likely know at least one tune start to finish (even with mistakes).



Hand-outs will be provided during the course. After the course, the following will be made available to you: photos of the group and flip chart pages, any audio and video recording made plus any supplementary PDFs.

Prep Sheets: Available on request.


And remember

  • Even though these are teaching events, they’re as much about having a fun, sociable weekend as they are about learning and playing.
  • Email us to set up a call if you’d like to discuss the course content and format as well as your playing experience and expectations of the course.


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