Listening and transcribing is very important for jazz students, particularly if you are coming from a classical background.
Make sure you are listening to jazz regularly. You need to completely immerse yourself in the idiom. If you commute to work, listen to jazz all the way there and back, any time in the day that you have the opportunity to listen to jazz, do it.
From listening to your records, make note of anything you like, in mm:ss format, and then attempt to transcribe it in your practice time. Start off transcribing single note melody lines like the examples covered in this course.
Transcription is hands down the most time effective way to improve at jazz. It’s very difficult to begin with (hence the forum thread… it’s a big area I’m trying to push) but it gets easier and easier until it becomes second nature to hear a line and find the notes almost instantly.
We recommend that my students spend at least 15 minutes a day transcribing lines and solos from their favourite jazz musicians – and not just piano players. The more you transcribe, the richer your improvisation pallate will become.
Whilst the basic concepts behind improvisation can be taught, the only way to truly absorb the phrasing, articulation and feel of jazz improv is through transcription.
The lesson on the “Bill Evans Major 251 Line” & the “Chet Baker Minor 251 Line” demonstrates the level of analysis you must apply to your transcribed lines.
Figure out exactly why the line sounds good using your knowledge of modal theory and then you can apply it to all keys, alter it, add to it and ultimately, make it your own.
PianoGroove has an ongoing series of transcription exercises that encourages students to get started with the joy of transcription. It’s very difficult to begin with and progress is often slow and frustrating.
Stick with it and you will see immense benefits in your playing.