Improvisation courses overview

The prerequisites to Jazz Improvisation are MUJS 1360, 1361, 1370 and 1371.

Placement in an improvisation class is determined by an audition.

MUJS 2360, Jazz Improvisation
The first semester of improvisation.

MUJS 2370, Jazz Improvisation
The second semester of improvisation.

MUJS 3360, Advanced Jazz Improvisation
The third semester of improvisation.

MUJS 3370, Advanced Jazz Improvisation
The fourth semester of improvisation.

MUJS 5480, Pedagogy of Jazz
Graduate course with emphasis on the teaching of improvisation

MUJS 5490, Advanced Jazz Improvisation
Graduate improvisation

MUJS 2360, Jazz Improvisation I

Download the syllabus in PDF.

MUJS 2370, Jazz Improvisation II

Download the syllabus in PDF.

MUJS 3360, Jazz Improvisation III

Download the syllabus in PDF.

MUJS 3370, Jazz Improvisation IV

MUJS 3370
Advanced Improvisation

Professor: Stefan Karlsson
Office: MU #272
Phone: (940) 565-2229

Class Time: M/W 10:00-10:50AM in room 263 (spring) and T/TH 11:00-11:50AM in room 262 (fall)
Office Hours: TBA

Prerequisite: Successful completion (“B” or better) of MUJS 3360

Course Goal:
Learning tunes! I approach this class as if you were part of my own performing group. I expect that everyone will come well-prepared and ready to explore beyond what you typically do. In addition to paying respect to the true “aura” of each song, taking musical chances is an important part of the learning process (there are no wrong notes as long as we have developed enough skills to solve musical road blocks). Attention to the melody, rhythm, time feel, space, interaction with rhythm section, patience throughout the solo, poly-tonality and non-harmonic notes, will be encouraged (…it is ok to play an “A”-natural on an F minor chord as long as one learn to resolve it musically!)

Improvisor check-list:
Harmonic depth/”tweaking”
Intervalic devices within the melody
Rhythmic devices within the melody
Time feel
Interaction with rhythm section
Motivic development
Rhythmic development/variety/sub-divisions
Repetition of ideas
Pacing throughout the solo (how many choruses should I take?, should I take another chorus?, did I reach my goal?, etc.)
Taking chances

• Final Playing Evaluation A= 25%, B=20%, C=15%, D=10%, F=0%
• Weekly Attendance/Preparation 0-5% for each class meeting (15x5%=75%)
• Final Grade: A=100-90%, B=89-80%, C=79-70%, D=69-60%, F=59% or below
(“B” or above is necessary in order to successfully pass this class. The class needs to be re-taken in case of a “C”)

Attendance Policy:
No unexcused absences are permitted.

Semester Outline and Schedule

Spring 2014 Tune List:
Inner Urge
Just In Time
Easy To Love
How Deep Is The Ocean
UMMG (Upper Manhattan Medical Group)
Yes and No
Moment’s Notice
Soul Eyes
I Fall In Love Too Easily
Falling Grace
Alone Together
The Song Is You

Each group must learn eight tunes by memory for a final performance at the end of the semester (see schedule below). For the final performance, each group will perform a 50-minute set where I will call five of the selected eight tunes . Styles must include a ballad, medium swing, up-tempo, “latin” feel, and odd-meter. Each group will get weekly feed-back on their selected tunes.

Monday or Tuesday Class:
Group A
Group B

Wednesday or Thursday Class:
Group C
Group D

Week 1: Lecture on tune preparation
Week 2: Lecture on harmony, rhythm, and leading tone melody
Week 3: Tune #1
Week 4: Tune #2
Week 5: Tune #3
Week 6: Tune #4
Week 7: Tune #5
Week 8: Tune #6
Week 9: Tune #7
Week 10: Tune #8
Week 11: Revisit selected tunes
Week 12: Revisit selected tunes
Week 13: Revisit selected tunes
Week 14: Group Performances
Week 15: Group performances
Week 16: FIPE Exams

MUJS 5480, Pedagogy of Jazz

"Teaching Jazz" by Jerry Coker, Rottenburg N., West Germany: Advance Music (available at Pender's Music).
"Selected Articles - MUJS 5480" by Mike Steinel
Course Objectives: At the completion of this course students will demonstrate an understanding of the basic materials, systems, and philosophies related to the teaching of jazz improvisation.
Course Content: The activities will include:
1. A review of materials (books, records, articles, dissertatia etc.) available for use in the teaching of jazz improvisation.
2. Teaching projects where each student will have the opportunity to instruct a small "lab" group.
3. Final Project:
a. Jazz Improvisation Syllabus (College Level - 2 Semesters)
b. Letter of application
c. Resume
d. Statement of teaching philosophy
1. General educational philosophy
2. Philosophy of Music Education
3. Philosophy of Jazz Education (Improvisation)
Assignments: All work is due at the beginning of class on the due date. Late work will be graded down one letter grade. Work that is more than a week late will not be accepted.
Supplemental Reading List: The following books will be used as supplemental readings. They will be placed on reserve in the library.
Aebersold, Jamey, A New Approach to Jazz Improvisation Vols 1 - 58, New Albany, Indiana, Jamey Aebersold.
Baker, David, Jazz Pedagogy, Alfred Music
Baker, David, A New Approach To Ear Training, Hialeah, FL, Columbia Pictures Publications.
Baker, David, How To Play Bebop (Three Volumes), Van Nuys, CA, Alfred Publishing Corporation.
Baker, David, Jazz Improvisation, Chicago, IL, Maher Publications.
Benward, Bruce, Jazz Improvisation, Dubuque, IA, Wm. C. Brown Publishers.
Berg, Shelton, Jazz Improvisation: The Goal Note Method, Denver, CO: Lou Fisher Music, 1989.
Berliner, Paul, Thinking In Jazz, Chicago, IL, University of Chicago Press, 1994.
Coker, Jerry, Elements of the Jazz Language, Miami, FL, CPP/Belwin.
Coker, Jerry, How To Practice Jazz, New Albany, Indiana, Jamey Aebersold.
Coker, Jerry, Improvising Jazz, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, Prentice Hall.
Coker, Jerry, Listening To Jazz, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, Prentice Hall.
Coker, Jerry, The Jazz Idiom , Englewood Cliffs, NJ, Prentice Hall.
Crook, Hal, How To Improvise
Deutch, Maury, Improvisation Concepts and Jazz Patterns, New York, NY, Charles Colin Publications.
DeGreg, Phil, Jazz Keyboard Voicings and Harmony, New Albany, Indiana, Jamey Aebersold.
Evans, Lee, Improvising by Learning How To Compose, Milwaukee, WI, Hal Leonard Publishing.
Greene, Barry , The Inner Game of Music, West Germany: Advance Music.
Haerle, Dan, Jazz Improvisation For Keyboard Players, Hialeah, FL, Columbia Pictures.
Haerle, Dan, Jazz/Rock Voicings for the Contemporary Keyboard Player, Hialeah, FL, Columbia Pictures.
Haerle, Dan, Scales for Improvisation, Hialeah, FL, Columbia Pictures.
Haerle, Dan, The Jazz Language, Hialeah, FL, Columbia Pictures.
Haerle, Dan, The Jazz Sound, Milwaukee, WI, Hal Leonard Publishing.
Haerle, Dan; Jack Peterson, and Rich Matteson, Jazz Tunes for Improvisation, Hialeah, FL, Columbia Pictures.
Harbison, Pat, Technical Studies for the Modern Trumpet, New Albany, Indiana, Jamey Aebersold.
Jaffe, Andrew, Jazz Theory, Dubuque, IA, Wm C. Brown and Company.
Helmer, Jeff and Richard Lawn, Jazz, Theory and Practice Belmont, CA, Wadsworth Publishing Company.
Hunt, Joe, 52nd Street Beat, New Albany, Indiana, Jamey Aebersold.
LaPorta, John, A Guide To Improvisation, Boston, MA, Berklee Press
Liebman, Dave, Lookout Farm, Hollywood, CA, Almo Publications.
Liebman, Dave, A Chromatic Approach to Jazz Harmony, Rottenburg N., West Germany: Advance Music.
Mehegan, John, Contemporary Piano Styles (Vols. 1-4), New York, NY, Watson Guptill Publishing.
Nachmanovitch, David, Free Play, New York, NY: GP Putnam's Sons, 1990.
Reeves, Scott D., Creative Jazz Improvisation, Englewod Cliffs, NJ, Prentice Hall.
Steinel, Mike, Building A Jazz Vocabulary, Milwaukee WI, Hal Leonard Pub., 1994.
Stravinsky, Igor, The Poetics of Music, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1947.
Weiskopf, Walt and Ramon Ricker, Coltrane, A Player's Guide To His Harmony, New Albany, Indiana, Jamey Aebersold.
Wollner, Gertrude, Improvising In Music, Garden City, NY, Doubleday and Co.
Zinn, David, The Structure and Analysis of the Modern Improvised Solo, New York, NY, Excelsior Music Publications.

MUJS 5490, Advanced Jazz Improvisation

MUJS 5490 Course Syllabus
Fred Hamilton
Office #277

This is a graduate performance seminar with emphasis upon concepts to help each student in the performance and teaching of jazz. The focus will be on the essential parameters of the music: Time, Melody, Phrasing and Harmony. I expect every student to have melodies, changes and forms memorized prior to the first class scheduled for the particular composition. All compositions are available by numerous artists on the I Tunes store. If you download, get major artists and go to other sites and find the personnel on the recording.

The goals of the class are:
1) Find the mental or emotional "roadblocks" in students' creative improvisation and work toward minimizing them.
2) Work on developing students’ rhythmic vitality and sense of time.
3) Develop the student’s view of melody as an improvisational focus.
4) Improve harmonic skills through focus upon triads and paired triads.

I expect every student to have melodies and forms memorized prior to the first class scheduled for the particular composition. In the case of the standards, figure out a personal phrasing of the melody for the meter listed. All compositions are available from the iTunes store. There may not be recordings of the standards in the designated meter. If you download, go to other sites and try to find out the personnel on the recording. Smatter, More than Ever and a Little Blues for You are published in the European Real Book and are available as sheet music downloads for $1.95 at

Repertoire to be studied:
Stella by Starlight
Milestones (bebop, not modal)
Have You Met Miss Jones (6/4 and 5/4)
Giant Steps
How Deep is the Ocean? (7/4)
Someday My Prince Will Come (5/4)
Eternal Triangle
Ballads to be chosen from the following:
What’s New, My Foolish Heart, You Don’t Know What Love Is, Peace, I Can’t Get Started, Polka Dots and Moonbeams, Darn that Dream, I Fall in Love Too Easily, Blame it on My Youth

Reference Materials (not required texts): Intervallic Improvisation, Walt Weiskopf; Coltrane: a Player’s Guide to His Harmony, Walt Weskopf & Ramon Ricker; Expansions, Gary Campbell

Grades: Students are required to write performance evaluations for their midterm and final. Attendance is a priority for this class. One absence will lower the semester grade to a B, two absences to a C and three absences is a fail. If accrued before the drop deadline, it is the student’s responsibility to drop the class. Two times being tardy (10- 15 minutes late) will count for an absence. Over 15 minutes late is an absence. The GIPE will count as a final jury for this class. If the GIPE is failed, the semester grade will be a C. If it is passed, then the attendance policy will determine the grade.