Jazz Piano, Composition & Improvisation Classes for Everyone!

Posted by on Jan 3, 2017 in Education

Winter 2017

Jazz Piano


& Improvisation Classes

 Saturdays, January 28 through March 18, 2017
Classes at :: Denver School of the Arts – 7111 Montview Blvd., Denver


We are very pleased to announce that Jeff Jenkins will be leading our Saturday classes this semester.

Jeff Jenkins has released six CD’s in the last 2 decades. The most recent on Origin Records entitled “The Arrival”, is his first in the classic organ trio setting.  He has appeared with many jazz greats including: Freddie Hubbard, Eddie Harris, Clark Terry, Marlena Shaw, David Fathead Newman, Teddy Edwards, the Count Basie Orchestra, The New York Voices, Bobby Hutcherson, John Abercrombie, Richie Cole and others.

Jeff attended the University of North Texas, where he led his own groups. After college he moved to New York where he studied with the likes of Richie Beirach, Kenny Barron, and Fred Hersch, while working on Broadway, and in the clubs.  When not playing the piano, Jeff is busy as the jazz piano professor at CU Boulder, and composing documentary film scores for Havey Productions.


Jazz Composition/Arranging :: Saturdays 10:00am-11:15am
The goal of this class is to create a lead sheet of one new original piece of music. This piece will be performed after all classes are completed! We will spend time each week listening and analyzing music written by jazz masters. My goal for students is to become comfortable writing, sharing and discussing music from a composer’s point of view. Topics will include:

  • What do you want to say? How do you say it?
  • The poetry of composing. Trust and embrace your ideas!
  • We discuss form. We talk about shape.
  • Melodic development, repetition, contrast. Melodic accompaniment, counterpoint, counter lines.
  • Melodic tools: inversion, expansion, and fragmentation.
  • Rhythmic frameworks: grooves, and rhythmic treatments, odd meters, odd phrase lengths.
  • Harmony! The dreaded cycle of 5ths. Functional harmony versus non functional harmony.

Jazz Piano I :: Saturdays 11:30am-12:45pm
Class Closed – Full

With the completion of Jazz Piano I, students will have a stronger sense of jazz piano.
Many goals including: familiarity with standard jazz chord symbols, voicing concepts,
comping rhythms, basic jazz chord theory and introduction to soloing will be covered and
performed in this class. Classes will include in-depth lectures and demonstrations of all material
presented. Students will be assigned 5 standard jazz tunes to learn for the semester. These
tunes or portions of them will be used to practice the various jazz piano topics in class
and for homework. Topics to include:

  • Introduction to Basic Piano Technique/Methods to memorize a jazz standard 
  • Basic Chord Theory
  • How to practice voicings
  • Establish a repertoire list 
  • Playing styles
  • Basics of 2 handed comping voicings 
  • Comping Rhythms
  • Creating L.H. comping voicings (to use with soloing) 
  • Introduction to the basics of R.H. soloing
Jazz Improvisation/Theory :: Saturdays 1:00pm-2:15pm

This class deals with the skills, attitudes, and practice of improvisation within the realm of jazz music. We improvise in our daily conversations with those around us. We ask and answer questions and give our opinions about life all the time. We use  language to form improvisations, which helps us communicate with the world around us.

Improvising in jazz is not different. It’s just the LANGUAGE that is different. We must learn the language of jazz, so we can become conversant in our solos, just as we are conversant in our daily lives. This is our goal in this class. Topics will include:

  • The ingredients of the improvisation stew: Rhythm, Melodic language, Harmony.
  • The blues. Clarification of blues forms; defining the blues language and the blues scale.
  • Rhythmic approach to jazz. Following your inner drummer. Thinking rhythm first!
  • The standard. Tackling the basic standard. Discussing form. Discussing typical harmonies.
  • Modal jazz. We will define modal jazz. We will explain the modes, and explore their typical uses.
  • The bebop jazz tune. We will explore a common bebop jazz tune. We will define the bop style.
  • “We Play Requests” week. We will play tunes as requested by students.

Enroll in more than one class and receive a discount!

(tuition is non-refundable unless the class is not held)

Come be a part of an creative, educational experience with us!