The Classes


Open by audition, classes meet each week for 2 hours. The focus of the instrumental classes is on solo development, based on studying the rudiments of bebop and jazz improvisation, and application of this theory to jazz song forms and standards.  As each class has a rhythm section, a secondary focus is on developing group performance skills.


The Beginning Level Workshop is designed for students who have a good basic knowledge of their instrument and can play major and dominant 7th scales proficiently in 12 keys.  As well you will have some knowledge of reading a chord chart.  You may be either new to the jazz idiom or haven’t had much experience in group playing. At this level we take a thorough look at rhythm, and rhythmic aspects of playing. Various group activities such as sight reading, learning to hear a song form, learning to hear your way through a bass/drum solo, accompaniment as it applies to each instrument, stop time and ‘trading’ solos are also dealt with in depth. In addition, ear training through studying the cycle of 4ths and how it applies to chord progressions, scale and chord relationships and creating melodic ideas through the scales are also examined. This level starts with a complete study of the blues form.  Course Materials: The Barry Harris Workshop Video, Part 1.


The Intermediate Level Workshop will be of interest to people possessing a very good technical command of their instrument.  In addition a solid command of the 12 bar song form with an ability to improvise using scales over the blues form must be demonstrated.  In addition you should have a working knowledge of such elements as adding ‘extra notes’ to the dominant, major and minor scales, the related diminished chord and it’s 4 related dominant 7ths.   Here, more time is spent on specific solo development ideas, understanding more challenging harmonic movements and learning to play tunes in all 12 keys. We will explore the 32 bar song form, major and minor sixth diminished scales and challenge our abilities to play in 12 keys and at challenging tempos. Ballad, latin and up-tempo tunes are also presented. Course Materials: The Barry Harris Workshop Video, Part 2.


The Advanced Level Workshop is for people who have a strong grasp on such topics as ‘rules are more important than scales’, iim7 = IVmajor, using related diminished notes of major and minor keys. More challenging song forms are presented here and ensemble members are expected to have the ability to make a strong musical statement through their improvisation, develop arrangements, and clearly communicate their ideas within the group.   Course Materials: The Barry Harris Workshop Video, Part 2.


The Vocal Workshop is open to vocalists at all levels.  There is no audition for this class.  The classes are accompanied by a piano or guitar trio and we focus on the vocalist as a ‘rhythm instrument’.  This involves a great deal of work on phrasing and rhythmic devices such as feeling 6 against 4 and the use of upbeats.  As well, the vocalist learns to lead the rhythm section – instead of being tied rhythmically to it.   In addition, time is spent developing intros, endings and using scales and the diminished chord to compliment or in some cases redefine the melody.  An ability to read music is very useful.  In some cases, an exceptional ear (or 2) suffices.  Course Materials:  The Barry Harris Vocal Workshop Video.