Archive for the ‘Jazz Music’ Category

Jul 4

Approaches & Enclosures

by Anton Schwartz

These melodic devices have been a mainstay of jazz lines ever since bebop. This article presents them, discusses how & why they work and why we need to single them out for practice, and gives a sequence of exercises for integrating them into our ears and fingers to use for improvisation. [read more]

Apr 10

Better Than Practicing in 12 Keys

by Anton Schwartz

Practicing music in all 12 keys is a time-tested way to integrate musical ideas into your vocabulary. Here’s a variant on the approach that not only ensures that you learn the material at a deeper level that’s more useful for improvisation, but actually speeds up the learning process too. [read more]

Jan 23

“Take The A Train” Chord Changes

by Anton Schwartz

A look at the chord changes of Duke Ellington’s signature tune and all the ways they show up elsewhere… including some surprises… [read more]

— 2018 — Oct 8

The “Neutral” Scale

by Anton Schwartz

A journey into quarter tone harmony lets us see the modes of the major scale from a new perspective. [read more]

— 2018 — Aug 30

Music on Hold

by Anton Schwartz

Musings about the music that drives us crazy (with a couple examples). [read more]

— 2018 — Jan 1

Minor Fourths, Major Fifths

by Anton Schwartz

We’ve all been taught that most intervals are either major or minor… but that unisons, fourths and fifths are special intervals, considered “perfect.” Let’s question that for a minute. Here’s an alternative way of thinking about it that I think makes more sense… [read more]

— 2017 — Oct 22

Music and an Accident of Mathematics

by Anton Schwartz

Did you know that virtually all of the music we listen to hinges on a big mathematical coincidence? Namely, that two to the 7/12 power is approximately equal to 1.5. Seriously. Let me show you what I mean… [read more]

— 2017 — Feb 3

Practicing Slow II: What Video Games Teach Us

by Anton Schwartz

Here’s another compelling reason why musicians ought to practice slowly. To understand it best, consider an analogy to video games. Not playing them… designing them. [read more]

— 2017 — Jan 5

Unlikely Inspiration from Coltrane

by Anton Schwartz

An early recording from John Coltrane is inspiring because it so compellingly debunks any notion that he was born to be a musical genius. His brilliance was hard won through intense practice. [read more]

— 2016 — Aug 1

Remembering the Modes

by Anton Schwartz

A different, very useful way of ordering the modes of the major scale in your mind… and a trick for remembering the modes in that sequence… [read more]

— 2016 — Jul 26

Practicing Slow

by Anton Schwartz

Here’s a tip for when you’re trying to improve your improvisation but you’re stuck: Learn to play so it sounds like you’re moving through molasses. Let me explain how & why it works… [read more]

— 2016 — Jan 8

Pentatonic Scales: A Deeper Look

by Anton Schwartz

Pentatonic (five-note) scales are the basis for simple folk melodies and nursery rhymes all around the world. So how is it that they can be used in jazz so powerfully, to create so many colors and degrees of tension and dissonance? Let’s take a look. [read more]

— 2015 — Aug 12


by Anton Schwartz

An extremely useful word for something we’re all familiar with. [read more]

— 2015 — Jul 28

Sus Chords part II: Their Uses

by Anton Schwartz

In a previous post called “Understanding Sus Chords” I discussed suspended chords—what they are and how to think of them. In this one we look at their uses in songs. [read more]

— 2015 — Jul 21

Pronouncing “Repertoire”

by Anton Schwartz

A simple post about a common word in music that seems to trip up a lot of people: REPERTOIRE. [read more]

— 2015 — Jul 14

Dynamic and Static Chords

by Anton Schwartz

Consider these two statements: “When you see a G7 chord you can use the G blues scale.” “When you see a G7 chord you can play a G altered lick.” Are they true? The simple answer to each is an unsatisfying “sometimes.” For a more satisfying answer, we need to understand an important distinction… [read more]

— 2014 — Nov 6

Celebrating Adolphe Sax

by Anton Schwartz

A few amazing things you might not know about the man who gave us the saxophone, on his 200th birthday. [read more]

— 2014 — Jun 20

Back-to-Front Learning

by Anton Schwartz

A host of compelling reasons why it’s more efficient and effective to practice sequences of new material in reverse order. [read more]

— 2013 — Jul 25

How we make money from music

by Anton Schwartz

Did you know that a recording artist gets paid when his/her performance is played on satellite radio, but not when it’s played on FM radio? Take a quiz to test your knowledge of how money flows in the music world… or just read it as a wonderful tutorial. [read more]

— 2013 — Jun 23

Random Roots

by Anton Schwartz

It is vital to practice in every key. But, for many purposes, the convenient ways of going through the twelve keys—chromatically or in the circle of fifths—have significant disadvantages. Here is an alternate method. [read more]

Random Roots App


I'm proud to announce that the Random Roots app is now available on the App Store for iPhone/iPad. It's the culmination of a year's work, and it's a game changer for players looking to deepen their musicianship and increase the efficiency and effectiveness of their practice.

To learn more and download it for free, visit