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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am a sophomore in high school. Been playing since fifth grade and I practice very hard.

My problem is that I have trouble hearing how my playing fits in with chord changes. For example, I can't hear it when notes I play clash with the rhythm section (such as when I get lost).
For example, I have an all-state jazz audition tomorrow and we have to play Sweet Georgia Brown and improvise over it. I usually do great but today when I was running through the audition for my teacher I got lost and didn't even notice it.

However, when I play a song where the chords are very distinctive (for example "So What") I can hear it, but anything else I can't hear how my playing fits or clashes with the chords (even on blues tunes).

Any advice? I've just started sightsinging (solfege) and I can usually hear when I am sharp or flat when playing with another horn.

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144 Posts
Practice playing the chord tones over the form or with a playalong. This should help you get the sound of the song in your head for when you solo over it.

Another thing I've learned to do...set the metronome to a reasonable speed, maybe around 80bpm. Arpeggiate each chord as 16th note triplets, up and down. Start with the first chord in root position, and move a little as possible when changing chords.

If you're playing Sweet Georgia Brown (not sure if these are the changes you're using, these are from the real book 2 in concert) you'd play:

D-F#-A-C-A-F#-D-F#-A-C-A-F# (that's over 2 beats, do that for 4 measures then move to the G7):
D-F-G-B-G-F-D-F-G-B-G-F (continue to C7, then F)

If it's a triad, repeat a chord tone at the top, don't add the 6th of 7th.

If you need more after this, start with the first chord in 1st inversion, and do the same thing over the tune....or arpeggiate downwards, or do two or 3 octave arpeggios.

This is kind of what Michael Brecker was doing later in his career on some recordings. He did this on Naima off the Directions in Music album with Herbie and Roy Hargrove.

· Registered
1,518 Posts
I think guide tones can also be helpful. Play only the third or seventh of each chord and try to resolve them by common tones or steps.

For example if you are playing a concert Bb blues you can play:

chord - Bb7 | Eb7 | Bb7 | Bb7 |, etc.
guide tone - Ab G Ab Ab, etc.

when you get to the end of the form start on the third instead of seventh. I feel this is a nice way to hear how the chords move and resolve.

Good luck.
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