Do You Have These Symptoms of a Chord Scale Noodler?

From: Chris Cooke  Greetings Fellow Jazzer!

I want to talk to you today about something that many aspiring jazz musicians struggle with.

The weird part is that NONE of the greats or the masters struggled with this. The problem is that jazz has become heavy on the 'academic' and 'theoretical' and light on the 'common sense' and 'old school'.

Jazz piano and education legend Hal Galper calls some of it ‘Cookie Cutter’ Teaching.

Now in this article, I’m gonna show you how you can get around this modern jazz education mess.

What is this mess, this problem I’m talking about?

Chord Scale Noodling. If this is you, no worries. I’m gonna show you how to fix it.

The Symptoms Look like This:

  • Boring Solos - no oohs and ahhs from the audience let alone the other cats in the band.
  • Never knowing what to play - instead you just wiggle your fingers over a group of notes hoping that some hip line will just 'happen'.
  • Not clearly playing the changes - sure, if you happened to be playing the right scale and the right key you may not play any 'wrong' notes per se. But you sure aren’t playing any *right* ones.
  • Lines and melodies that aren’t melodic. Instead your lines are ambiguous groups of notes.
  • Short phrases pinned in by the bar lines. Kinda like living paycheck to paycheck you’re living chord symbol to chord symbol. There’s no voice leading, no forward motion, and no swinging.
  • Too much thinking, not enough hearing. I assure you - Bird, Diz, Monk, Sonny, Trane, Miles, Wes, Bud were not thinking about what chord scale they should play on the next chord.

If you see your own playing in any of what I just described then take a few minutes and read this whole page. I tried to keep it pretty short and I think it might just shed some light on a few major jazz problems.

Learning to Play Jazz at a High Level Is Not Luck or Magic.

It’s the result of taking the right actions in the right way. By actions of course, I mean practicing, listening, performing, creating, etc. It does take hard work. It does take time and effort.  Yet, anyone that loves the music enough to take those actions can do it.

Let me be clear. I don't claim to know what makes a Mozart or a Charlie Parker. (Although there’s no refuting the fact that they both took the right actions and lots of ‘em.)

But there is ample evidence that anyone can become a high level improviser if they practice the right stuff, the right way.

But that’s the trouble. Trying to navigate the path to legit jazzer is no small feat. There are a thousand different opinions about how to do it. Many of these opinions come from teachers who haven’t actually made the journey yet themselves. Some come from badass players who made the journey so young they don’t remember how they did it.

Fact: Learning to play jazz is an complex endeavor. The masters took the music to an incredibly high level.

Yet, if you take the right path to your goals, and you stay the course, you’ll get there. But that entails wading through boat loads of misinformation and cookie cutter teaching.

Now, just so I don’t get lots of angry letters from jazz educators, let me say this:

I have the utmost respect for teachers. I’ve had many great teachers myself who impacted my life more than they probably know.

Whether in private lessons, in the classroom, or at the gig, these cats changed me. And I’m forever grateful.

Cats like Hal Crook, Joel Yennior, Mitch Haupers, Ran Blake, Jamey Haadad, Kenney Werner, Ian Froman, Danillo Perez, Pat Martino, Jeff Watts, Joe Lovano, etc. I am full of nothing but gratitude for the lessons I picked up from these cats.

But teaching ain’t easy. A great teacher’s got to know how the process works, what the student needs, and how to persuade the student to do the work.

And that’s the problem - many teachers fall short in these areas.

  • Some teachers are still struggling musicians themselves. They were taught the same cookie cutter techniques and they don’t know how to practice themselves. So they end up passing these half baked concepts on to their students and perpetuating the problem.
  • Other teachers are just too nice. They might be amazing players in their own right. But they give the student what they want instead of what they need. For the student playing jazz just becomes confusing and  overwhelming.
  • Some cats are just regurgitating knowledge. Here’s this scale. Here’s that chord. Play this on that. That on this. Don't get me wrong, knowledge is important. But it’s useless if you can’t take that information and turn it into music. But it rarely works out that way.
  • And some cats became great players so long ago that they just don’t remember how it happen. So they certainly can’t explain it. It’s not their fault. They’re just not wired to teach. But given certain economic realities they have to just to pay the bills. So they end up perpetuating the jazz education status quo.

So where does that leave you?

  • It leaves you with a MOUNTAIN of information to sort through.
  • It leaves you with a cookie cutter method of improvising.
  • It leaves you with a bunch of abstract theoretical concepts that don’t sound like jazz.
  • It leaves you wiggling your fingers over scales.
  •  It leaves you playing un-melodious and uninspired solos that have no deep connection to the changes, to the tune, or to the very language of jazz.
  •  It leaves you without the gigs and playing experiences that you desire.

Don't Worry!

A while back I teamed up with New England Conservatory jazz musician and educator Joel Yennior to solve those problems for you! We created a master class where we did a deep dive into the foundations of jazz improvisation.

One student wrote this about the lessons:

"Chris, I have a bachelors in Music. This series has been more helpful than any Jazz course I've taken in college."

If you’re ready for a clearly explained, easy to follow, step by step path to playing the changes, to improvising and playing jazz, then you’re in luck. Introducing...

"I’ve been a fan of hal crook’s books and method. Chris’ videos are the next step to reinforce how to practice improvisation that compliment these books. ….a great addition to a jazzer’s library of learning …but more practical than most books that try to help you to play jazz."

John Kozinski, Guitarist
Becket, MA

The Facts:

  • Playing the Changes is an online master class.
  • The lessons are all served up in bite sized chunks so their easy to digest.
  • The lessons are all presented in short videos. Each improvisation lesson video lesson is around 8-10 minutes long.
  • The entire master class comes in at around 5 and a half hours. Yes, it's a LOT of great content, but it's organized logically in bite sized lessons so it's easy to go through. 
  • It's multi media so many of the lessons also come with PDF worksheets, examples etc. And there are also audio examples performed by Joel himself for many of the lessons.
  • The videos will play on ANY computer OR Device - that means your PC, your MAC, your iPhone, your Droid, Your iPad, etc.
  • Everything is downloadable should you want to download it and go through it offline.

Playing the Changes: A Whole Brained Approach

Okay, now let me show you what's covered in each unit:

Unit 1: Jazz Theory 101

In this Unit Joel and I will go back over some of the basics. You'll fill in any holes or gaps in your theory before we get to the actual jazz improvisation nuts and bolts.

Get Started
  • You'll review cycle 4 and key signatures, how they relate to each other, and how to master them once and for all.
  • You'll learn simple memorization techniques to assimilate this material quickly as you review fundamental must-know jazz chord progressions.
  • Discover the 'cornerstone' of jazz harmony as well as the 'source' from which MUCH of western music comes.
  • You'll cover major scale and chord scale construction in all 12 keys and how to use the circle of 4ths to quickly build and recall them.
  • You'll learn the seven modes of major and how to match them with their corresponding chords.
  • Discover how each mode is built and how to construct them in any key.
  • Explore the most common chord progression and how to easily  interpret chord symbols for each chord.
  • Joel will show you how to create a chord progression cheat sheet and how to practice a chord progression.
  • Discover one cool trick to easily play over changes when the chord movement is fast.
  • Explore the principles of voice leading so your lines will be smooth and clearly outline the chord changes.
  • Discover how to create clarity and forward motion in your solos using guide tones.

The pros all KNOW this stuff cold. And soon you will too!

Unit 2: Chord Scale Workshop

In unit 2 you'll move into practicing chords and scales the right way. Discover Joel's 10-part, step by step method for working through chords and chord scales.

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  • How to practice modes in parallel fashion to get the feel and vibe of your modes.
  • You'll get loads of ideas for chords and scales and will never wonder where to start or how to practice them.
  • You'll learn how each scale fits over the chord so you'll be in control of the harmony and the sound of the chord.
  • Discover Joel's step by step method for learning tunes, gaining mastery, and getting the flexibility you need to play jazz at a high level.
  • Learn how to use a simple method to ensure you have a deep understanding of the chord relationships both intervallically and harmonically.
  • Discover a very effective practice strategy - stretching the changes - that will allow you to really dig in and explore the changes without the pressure of the chords going by too fast.
  • Learn how to use digital patterns and start improvising creatively with 8th note lines.
  • How to use chord tone and triad solos to get control over your lines and the changes so you can avoid the 'chord scale noodler' trap.
  • Discover how to use target practice to acquire chord scale mastery and control.
  • Plus, you'll explore chord tone pairs, where to get great licks, and how to plug them into your own vocabulary.
  • And much more.

Unit 3: Jazz Blues Workshop
Six Ways to Play the Blues
(And Most Other Tunes!)

In this unit you'll apply what you've already learned to the blues, one of the best harmonic contexts to work out your improv chops.

Get Started
  • Explore the often used and abused Blues Scale. Discover what it is and how it REALLY works.
  • Discover how to apply chord scales to blues changes and how to practice them systematically.
  • Gain chord tone mastery using chord tone soloing on the blues. This control will make blowing over the changes infinitely easier and more effortless.
  • Discover the ins and outs of guide tones, how to use them, practice them, and how to clearly define chord quality and color.
  • Joel will teach you how to add rhythm to your practice and how to develop your rhythmic vocabulary.
  • Discover how to use the last note/first note guide tone exercise..

Remember, learning jazz is not magic. It's the result of taking the right actions in the right way. Joel will show you exactly how to go down the jazz path the right way.

Unit 4: Jazz Rhythm Workshop

In this unit we'll dig into rhythm including: tightening up your time, developing your swing feel, creating forward motion, and expanding your rhythmic vocabulary.

Get Started
  • Discover the key characteristics of good time and how to develop a strong swing feel.

  • Learn the rhythmic scale exercise to become fluent navigating between subdivisions.

  • How to tighten up your time & feel and develop your own eighth note feel.

  • Discover how to create forward motion in your playing. Forward motion = swinging. Swinging = good;)

  • How to internalize jazz feel and how to develop a strong swinging pulse.

  • Discover 20 must-know jazz rhythms to expanding your own rhythmic vocabulary.

  • How to use rhythm phrases to practice over chord changes and how to use them as motives to improvise over.

  • Explore the coveted Joe Henderson rhythm exercise.

  • Discover resolution points, what they are, and why they are so important to your playing.

Unit 5: Developing Creativity with Improvisation

This section will teach you essentials strategies and activities to becoming a creative and proficient jazz musician.

Get Started
  • Explore your vocabulary and discover why it is paramount to achieving skill as an improviser.

  • Learn the right way to use transcriptions so you can avoid the pitfalls that hold many young players - wrong notes, changes, limited access, etc.

  • Discover a simple process to assimilate new vocabulary so you can absorb new ideas at will and expand your expressive creativity.

  • Learn how to use the amazing slow-downer - so you can assimilate vocabulary even more quickly, speed up your progress, and strengthen your ears.

  • Discover the right way to learn from the masters so you’re listening for the right things, and learning the right qualities.

  • Learn how to connect the disconnect between your ears and your hands so your playing will become more flowing, effortless, and expressive.

  • You'll learn how to feed your inner ear, imagination, and creativity so musical ideas easily flow.

  • Discover a powerful method that combines play-alongs and your aural imagination that will strengthen your musical instincts and your ear.

  • Use free playing to explore elements of musicality outside of the chains of the changes - this way you can be developing the more ‘mature’ elements of music even while you’re still learning to accurately play the changes.

  • Learn how to let the melody be your guide, why the melody is paramount, and how it can set you apart.

  • Discover how to learn melodies and heads the right way .

"I’ve gone through a few of chris’ courses. The concepts in here are essential to mastering your instrument. I struggle with knowing what to practice from the wealth of information that there is. I’ve made more progress in the last couple months than at any other time. I’ve also gained confidence in playing which feels great! I’m glad i’ve learned this stuff now as a 2nd year jazz student, thanks chris! "

Troy H., Guitarist
B.C., Canada

Free Bonus!

When you buy Playing the Changes: A Whole Brained Approach today you'll also get this awesome bonus:

Mastering Minor Jazz Harmony:
Harmonic and Melodic Minor, Locrian, Altered Scales and the Minor II/V/I

Mastering Minor Jazz Harmony is the next step to Playing the Changes. Together these programs will give you a well rounded foundation in jazz improvisation.

Get Started

And of course the exact methods, practice plans, and exercises will be covered:

  • Including a deep dive into minor jazz harmony like Min7 b5 chords, altered 7 chords (7 with b9, #9, #11, b13), min6, min(maj7) chords.

  • Surefire methods for constructing Locrian, Altered, and Melodic Minor Modes.

  • Understanding harmonic and melodic scales and the application of these scales.
  • Identification and derivation of Minor ii V progressions.
  • An in-depth study of altered chords and scales and how to use them in your improvisations.
  • How to practice playing over Minor ii/V/i with patterns, picks, and pro practice suggestions.

  • And much more.

100% Satisfaction Guaranteed

Your purchase today is also covered by our 30 day, No B.S., No Questions Asked Money Back Guarantee.

Take a full 30 days to go through the material. If you're not 100% psyched I’ll refund your full payment. No questions. No hard feelings. No B.S.

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"You have a direct and genuine approach to the development and sharing of knowledge which makes the medicine go down with great ease. It is satisfying to have a kind of jazz-practice guardian-angel!"

Liam Fonescu
London, England

Are you ready?

If you’re ready to stop spinning your wheels and start making the progress you want...

If you want someone to show you a step by step method to play over the changes...

If you want an easy to use system that is actually enjoyable to go through and will actually get you the results you want...

...Then Playing the Changes is for you.

You'll get the entire 5+ hour Multimedia Jazz Master Class Playing The Changes: A Whole Brained Approach to Jazz Improvisation for HALF OFF THE REGULAR PRICE!

PLUS you'll also receive Mastering Minor Jazz Harmony at no extra charge with your purchase of Playing The Changes today.

Playing The Changes provides you with a whole brained approach to developing your jazz improvisation chops. From working with chord scales the right way, to playing over the blues, developing strong rhythm, and creative improvisation strategies, you'll come away with a rock-solid foundation in jazz.

*Regular Price $97

Mastering Minor Jazz Harmony is the next step to Playing the Changes. We'll take a deep dive into the world of minor jazz harmony, including minor ii V's, constructing altered chords plus locrian, altered, and melodic minor modes. 

You'll get minor patterns, licks, and detailed practice suggestions.

*Regular Price $97

Joel and I will show you exactly how playing the changes works, and exactly how to practice so you can start blowing over tunes the way you want to.

Get instant access to BOTH courses for one low price of $47. Click the button below to get started today.

Get both courses today for:   $194   $97   $47

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Who is this for?

Now should you decide to get Playing the Changes: A Whole Brained Approach to Jazz Improvisation, I want to make sure you dig it and that it’s right for you. Because you know what, it’s not for everybody:

  • If you are an absolute beginner on your instrument, like you’ve been playing for 2 weeks, it’s not for you.
  • If you’re looking for tricks, or shortcuts - in other words if you’re not willing to put in a little work in the practice room (like EVERY single one of greats did) than it’s not for you.
  • If you do want someone who understands how improvising works and how the process of learning to do it works. And you want them to break it down into bite size pieces that you can take to the practice room and actually get better each day then this might be just what you’re looking for.
  • If you understand, theoretically, how it all works but you need focus and direction this is probably for you.

You’ve got an opportunity  to change your music. To meet a seasoned pro jazz teacher who will show you the improv nuts and bolts that are missing from your playing. Who will show you how to practice at the edge of your ability so you get better each day and so you move swiftly toward your musical goals.

Click the button below and take advantage of this unique opportunity to put your improvisation chops on the right track! I hope to see you on the inside...

Get both courses today for:   $194   $97   $47

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