Tag Archives: exercise

Rhythm exercise on a Jazz Blues

Most students learning jazz are working on the harmony and the scales and trying to hit the right notes. This is of course very important but often you find yourself realizing that you need to develop your rhythms so that you don’t only play endless streams of 8th note lines.

In this lesson I am going to go over one exercise that you can do to help develop more rhythms and quickly get them into your playing.


The exercise

If you are trying to learn a new arpeggio or a scale you are not immediately going to try to play it all over the neck in the middle of a tune. You are more likely making smaller goals so that you first learn the arpeggio in one position, maybe only one octave and then later more positions while trying to make lines with it and using it over easy progressions.

The same approach can also be applied to a rhythm. To make it easy to learn we take one rhythm at a time. Learn the rhythm, practice making lines with it over one chord and then try to play with that rhythm through a simple F blues.

The 1st rhythm

The first rhythm, shown in exampe 1 is a really simple 3 note pattern. The first thing you want to try is to just play the rhythm on the guitar. Once that feels comfortable you can expand it so that you start working on making melodies with the rhythm. Start with one chord and take it from there. If you need to slow down or even to stop between phrases that is ok, it is part of the process.

Rhythm exercise on a Jazz Blues ex 1

Once you have the rhythm under control and can easily play it and can make lines over a chord in time with this rhythm you can take it through a progression that you are familiar with.

In example 2 I have written out an improvised chorus over an F blues that I played using the rhythm. You can hear the solo in the video.

Rhythm exercise on a Jazz Blues ex 2

Of course the next step after being able to play through the F blues with this rhythm is to try to open up so that you don’t use the rhythm all the time but still try to use it and get it to sit well in the rest of your melodic ideas.

The 2nd Rhythm

The same of course goes for this second rhythm, so first get comfortable with playing the rhythm and working on making lines over one chord at a time.

Rhythm exercise on a Jazz Blues ex 3

When first taking it through the blues it can be a good idea to play one bar and then take a break to hear the melody that you play in the next bar so that they are somehow related. This is of course not only useful for playing with this exercise but is soemthing you might want to work on in general to get better at playing solos that have a larger context and is not only a bunch of notes strung together over some chords.

In example 4 I have written out the chorus I improvised with this rhythm.

Rhythm exercise on a Jazz Blues ex 4

To demonstrate how you could take the two rhythms and try to use them more loosely in a blues I improvised a chorus where I am using the rhythms but not so strictly, so that they are allowed to melt into the rest of the solo in a natural way.

Rhythm exercise on a Jazz Blues ex 5

In my experience this a very direct and easy way to work on rhythms and also to not only work on an aspect of your playing but also still work on making music at the same time which is why I use this approach with a lot of different topics when I practice and when I teach.

I hope you can use this exercise to develop your rhythms and rhythmical ideas.

If you want to study the examples away from the video or article you can download a pdf here:

Rhythm exercise on a Jazz Blues

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Practicing Scales Through Chord Changes

This lesson is about a very simple exercise that should make you better at improvising freely over changing chords.

If you improvise you probably practice scales, and I have already made a few lesson on how you can practice your scales: Diatonic Arpeggios – how to use and practice and Diatonic Arpeggios – Superimposing and altered dominants. But probably you deal with them one at a time as I do for the most part in these lessons, and not like you do when improvising over for example a jazz standard where the chords changes once or twice per bar.

Melodies rules the harmonies!

When you improvise you need to make melodies on several scales and it should still sound like one melody, not like you and not get stuck in a chord change. The goal is to let the melodies you improvise rule what happens more than the changing harmony. For that reason it’s useful to practice connecting scales because since we want to be as free as possible melodically when we improvise.

The Exercise

The Idea is quite simple: For each chord in a progression you have a scale, play the scale for the duration of the chord. In this lesson I’ve chosen one bar per chord and I am playing the scales in 8th notes.

This approach works the best if the chords are changing in a way that the scales a very different, so it I chose to use a turnaround, a I IV II V with altered dominants as an example. It also works really well with f.ex Coltrane Changes.

Here’s the turnaround.
Scales Through Changes - ex 1

For Bbmaj7 and Cm7 I am using this scale:
Scales Through Changes - ex 2
For G7alt I am using this position of the Abm Melodic Minor scale:
Scales Through Changes - ex 3

And for F7alt I am using this scale:
Scales Through Changes - ex 4


Here is a transcription of how I play twice through the turnaround using this exercise in the video:Scales Through Changes - ex 5

As I explain and demonstrate in the video you can use this approach not only while playing scales but also doing other exercises like diatonic 3rds, arpeggios, triads etc.

Here’s a short transcription of a part of what I play at the end of the video:

Scales Through Changes - ex 6


You can download a pdf of the examples here:

Practicing Scales Through Changes

I hope that you liked the lesson. If you have any questions or comments then feel free to leave them here or on the video. Please subscribe to my YouTube channel and feel free to connect with me via Facebook, Google+ or Twitter to keep up to date with new lessons, concerts and releases.