Take a Jazz Piano Holiday!

publishedabout 1 month ago
3 min read

Today I'm excited to announce the launch of the new cohort-based course I've been teasing the last couple of weeks: Jazz Piano Holiday. Over the next six weeks, I'm going to teach you enough about jazz piano to create your own arrangement of a holiday (or other) song, so you'll be able to regale your friends and family with music, whether you actually play the piano or write it out in MuseScore. We'll progress quickly from the basics to some pretty advanced concepts, and you'll have ample opportunity to try out everything you learn, share your music, and receive and give fedback.

Holiday lights

Unlike my other courses, this one is not open-ended. It begins this Friday and runs through the week of December 13. New lessons will be released every week and you can complete them according to your own schedule, but you'll get the most out of it if you keep to the pace and complete each week's lessons before the next. It's an exciting, fast-paced way to learn a lot in a short time!

Again, this a special timed course, so be sure to enroll by Friday. I look forward to working with you over the next six weeks!

MuseScore Café

This week in the MuseScore Café with Marc Sabatella, it's time for our first-Wednesday "Ask Me Anything" series. If you've got a specific score you'd like to ask me a specific question about, go ahead and share in a comment to the post I created.

The MuseScore Café is live on Wednesday at 12:30 PM Eastern (17:30 GMT), and you can access past episodes in the archive.

Tip of the Week

In the Jazz Piano Holiday course, we'll be creating arrangements using a pretty specific process that's actually quiote useful for a new of different types of music, so let me show you how to set up a score in this format:

  1. Create a score with File / New and choose the Jazz Lead Sheet template
  2. After the score is created, go to Edit / Instruments, select the existing piano staff, and click Add Staff
  3. Also change the Ordering from Custom to Jazz Combo

To enter the music, I like to put the melody in voice 1 of the top staff, and the roots of the chords in voice 2 of the bottom staff. Then I can fill in the inner voices using voice 2 on the top staff, voice 1 on the bottom. Occasionally I might need fewer or more voices, but there is a lot of music to be made using this basic model.

Sheet music

Music Master Class

If you've got music you'd like me to look at this week, be sure to post it. Meanwhile, I'll also be giving a preview of Jazz Piano Holiday!

The Music Master Class is live on Thursday at 12:30 PM Eastern (17:30 GMT), and you can access past episodes in the archive.

In Theory

Jazz uses a lot of complex-looking chord symbols, but it's actually possible to summarize the system with just a few guidelines. You may heard me relate these before, but they bear repeating:

  • Most numbers in a chord symbols are relative to the major scale built on the root, regardless of whether the chord is major or minor, and regardless of the key of the piece. So, in Emi6, the "6" always means C#, not C, because the sixth of an E major scale is C#.
  • The exception is the seventh, which is normally flatted unless otherwise specified. So, in F7, the seventh is Eb, because the seventh in an F major scale is E, and E flatted yields Eb. In A7, the seventh is G, because the seventh in an A major scale is G#, and G# flatted yields G (not Gb!).
  • If you see an abbreviation for "major" in a chord symbol ("ma", "maj", "Δ"), it means don't flat the seventh. So, in Ama7, the seventh is G# - same as in the A major scale.
  • If you see an abbreviation for "minor" in a chord symbol ("m", "mi", "min", "-"), it means flat the third. So, in Bmi6, the third is D, since the third in a B major scale is D#, and D# flatted is D (not Db!).
  • If you see an abbreviation for "diminished" in a chord symbol ("dim", "o"), it means flat the third and fifth, and *double-flat* the seventh. So, Cdim7 is C, Eb, Gb, and Bbb.

We'll go over this and much, much more in Jazz Piano Holiday!

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