Jazz Composition, Arranging and Appreciation Classes

Posted by on Aug 23, 2017 in Education

Fall 2017 Courses

Jazz Composition

Jazz Arranging

Jazz Fan 101


 Saturdays, September 23 through November 11, 2017
Classes at :: Denver School of the Arts – 7111 Montview Blvd., Denver


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

 Dave Hanson is an arranger, composer, and pianist who has written for a diverse range of artists and ensembles, including the Boston Pops, National Repertory Orchestra, Pittsburg, St. Louis, Houston, New Jersey, San Antonio, Fort Worth, Indianapolis, Utah, Colorado, Atlanta, Minnesota, Ukrainian State Symphony, Akron, and Colorado Springs Symphony Orchestras. He has done special arrangements for the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City.

He is co-leader, with Al Hood, of the H2 Big Band whose 2011 release “You’re It” climbed to #10 on the Jazz Week radio chart, and was #1 on Bob Parlocha’s syndicated jazz radio show playlist.

That release was followed in 2015 by “It Could Happen” which was recorded in Los Angeles with an ‘A’list studio ensemble and the vocalist Rene Marie.  That release went to #13 on the Jazz Week radio chart.  All of the arrangements on both CD’s are by Dave Hanson.

Hanson teaches in the Jazz and Commercial Music Department at the Lamont School of Music, University of Denver. His music is published by Kendor Music, Really Good Music, and Denver Brass Publications.


Jazz Composition :: Saturdays 10:00am-11:15am
Students will learn the basic aspects of Jazz Composition as currently practiced, with an emphasis on the work of three great masters: Wayne Shorter, Thelonius Monk, and Kenny Wheeler.  At the end of the course, students will have the opportunity to hear an original song/tune of their own creation performed in a live concert by a professional jazz group.

The course will cover:

  • Basics of jazz theory, including chord construction and symbology, modes, scales, notation of rhythms, intervals.
  • Basics of melodic and rhythmic construction and alteration, variation and motivic techniques.
  • Using classic forms of jazz as a basis to work from including: Blues, I Got Rhythm changes, song forms
  • Write tunes “in the style of” as a way to learn valuable lessons. We will focus especially on the work of Shorter, Monk, and Wheeler.

Jazz Arranging :: Saturdays 11:30am-12:45pm

The importance of creating an interesting arrangement cannot be overstated. As it’s been famously said, “T’aint What You Do (It’s the Way That You Do It!)” The music of Horace Silver, Oliver Nelson (“Blues and the Abstract Truth”), the Count Basie Orchestra arrangers, Duke Ellington, Clare Fischer, and Bob Brookmeyer will serve as models and inspiration.

The course will cover:

  • Basics of notation (how to correctly notate swing rhythms, funk rhythms, the proper use of accidentals, etc.), chord construction and terminology, and how to write for the rhythm section.
  • Melodic paraphrase techniques: how to “enliven” and vary standard tunes to create interest and surprise.
  • Ranges and Transpositions: how to write successfully and idiomatically for instruments.
  • Unison and Octave writing for horns, using models such as Horace Silver and Art Blakey, Cannonball Adderley, Miles Davis
  • Voicing techniques, approach techniques.

The course will culminate with a live performance of student arrangements.


Enroll in both of the above classes and receive a discount!


Jazz Fan 101 :: Saturdays 1:00pm-2:15pm

This course is an introduction to jazz for non-musicians.  We will focus on the contributions of a few major artists (Miles Davis, for instance) whose works spanned more than one era and essayed more than one historical style as a window into a broader historical perspective.

We will learn how to listen-what to listen for, what makes a jazz improvisation compelling, jazz forms and jazz instruments-learning to recognize and take pleasure in the various elements of jazz.

The course will offer an overview of jazz history:  roots, New Orleans, Jelly Roll Morton, Louis Armstrong, Ellington, the Swing Era (Basie, Lunceford, Henderson), Be-Bop, Hard Bop, Monk, Mingus.  Modal jazz: Miles Davis, Gil Evans, Coltrane, the Avant Garde (Ornette, etc), Fusion, and the music of today.  The point of view will be understanding as a means to derive pleasure from listening, not learning dry facts and dates.

We will study important artistic issues in jazz such as the balance between Composition/Arranging and Improvisation: If a performance is primarily notated and arranged, is it still jazz?

We will test our knowledge by various listening techniques, including the “Blindfold Test”, You Tube videos, and form recognition (“is this tune based on I Got Rhythm changes or the Blues?”).

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

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