Berklee has been known for teaching the world’s best jazz improvisation curriculum for decades. The list of Berklee-influenced improvisers is long, and includes Roy Hargrove, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Brad Mehldau, Gary Burton, Pat Metheny, and many others.
Berkleemusic’s Improvisation Specialist Certificate provides much of the same material that the great Berklee-trained improvisors have studied at the physical school in Boston. This three-course program provide all musicians with a set of skills specifically tailored to the art of improvisation, all intended to make it possible for you to make the necessary musical decisions required for improvising in real time. Regardless of your primary instrument, this program will help you master the art of spontaneous expression and become a more confident and creative soloist.
The first step is to refine how you hear music. In Basic Ear Training 1, you will use exercises and contemporary songs by artists like Dave Matthews, Jimi Hendrix, and Miles Davis to understand the harmonies, rhythms, and pulses that drive and measure music. You will learn to identify and transcribe rhythms and time signatures, conduct basic rhythms, identify the difference between major and minor, understand and sing the relationships between pitches using the solfege (do-re-mi) method, and recognize the basic elements of song structure.
The second course in this program is Basic Improvisation. This course is designed to get you to develop your solos, and organize your thoughts and playing with the sounds around you through a step-by-step approach that applies to all styles and any instrument. You'll transcribe, record, and submit for instructor review excerpts of solos from legendary players from many different genres (BB King, Stevie Wonder, James Brown, Charlie Parker, Lester Young, Jimmy Page, Louis Armstrong and others). With their solos as a guide, you’ll learn to recreate and perform the sounds you hear in your head—using chord tones, pentatonic scales, chord scales, and all the notes in between. You’ll look closely at phrasing, the balance of sound and silence, contrast and repetition, and other characteristics of a good solo.
You’ll finish up your studies in Gary Burton: Jazz Improvisation. Authored and taught by Gary Burton, one of the best improvisers and a living legend in the jazz world, this course explores different types and styles of compositions from the perspective of the improviser, and takes an in-depth look at how music learning experiences contribute to the instinctive skills that the improviser puts to use when taking a solo. The course features compositions from the standard repertoire by established composers such as Duke Ellington and Thelonious Monk, along with more contemporary composers such as Chick Corea, Michael Gibbs, Carla Bley, and Steve Swallow. You’ll learn how to shape solos, use dynamics effectively, and employ reharmonization techniques, in addition to how to analyze and interpret songs, make effective performance decisions, and work successfully with an ensemble.
After completing the Specialist Certificate in Improvisation, you’ll have developed your ears and transcribing skills, learned the solo riffs, licks, mental process, and practice methods of the masters, and established a solid path towards becoming an accomplished improviser yourself!
Edward Tomassi, Matt Marvuglio, Jim Odgren (12 weeks, 3 credits)
Learn a step-by-step approach to improvisation that applies to all styles and any instrument. Develop your solos by studying the riffs and licks of legendary players, and learn to incorporate the inflexions, feel, and nuances of the masters into your own playing!
Learn the art of Jazz improvisation from Gary Burton, one of the most renowned improvisers in the jazz world. Learn different types and styles of compositions from the perspective of the improviser, and take an in-depth look at how mental, harmonic, and melodic processes contribute to the instinctive skills that an improviser puts to use when taking a solo.
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