This page is being developed to serve as a resource portal for teachers who don’t consider themselves “jazzers,” but who wish to further develop their jazz ensembles (big bands and combos), program and pedagogy.
Please feel free to submit additional questions or topical suggestions to Earl via e-mail. As with all his online articles, readers are encouraged to respond with comments, further insights or countering opinions. When submitting questions and comments to Earl, please indicate whether or not he may post your response, and if you would prefer to remain anonymous or have your name included.
Beginner Jazz Improvisation
- How do you suggest I approach teaching beginner improvisation?
⇒ Here are links for:
1. Earl’s introductory improvisation class schedule (with embedded content)
2. an ongoing blog series where Earl teaches his son to improvise on trumpet
3. a designated page for the Middle School Jazz Combo Earl is co-coaching (for his son and his friends)
- What is the most conventional big band seating arrangement? Are there right and wrong ways to set up a big band?
- What guidelines should be used when selecting jazz ensemble repertoire?
- Can you provide a long list of recommended big band charts appropriate for high school groups?
- What big band albums do you recommend we play for our high school students?
- What do you suggest I do with an instrumentation of trumpet, alto sax, bari sax and guitar? (In addition to this mismatched quartet, I have a drummer who can attend once per week and I am currently playing bass lines on the piano. We are currently playing Bob Turner arrangements, from Magnolia Music, but I question if practicing these charts in preparation for the concert should be our primary focus. We rehearse daily.)
Composition & Arranging
- What books would you suggest local piano teachers use to encourage authentic jazz playing?
- I’m an “ear player” with very little theoretical background. How can I get myself up-to-speed in music theory?
- What online resources do you recommend to teach chord voicings and other jazz piano techniques?
- If you could turn back the clock to when YOU were 15, what would you practice?
- What are the benefits of transcribing jazz solos?
- What tips do you have for getting better at transcribing?
Rhythm Section Techniques
- My band has a strong guitar player and a young, inexperienced piano player. What strategies should I employ in rehearsal to balance the sound?
- Are there criteria for deciding on acoustic or electric bass during a set?
- How do I prevent a rock guitar player from ruining my jazz band? (just kidding)