Q. How many books are there in the Linear Jazz Improvisation method?
A. There are currently 15 different LJI books, from basic to very advanced, in addition to a comprehensive essay book. Visit the Store for details.
Q. Can I use LJI on any instrument?
A. Yes, this method applies to any instrument: brass, wind, string, or keyboard--and all voices.
Q. What pitches is LJI available in?
A. You can choose from four pitches: concert, concert bass clef, B-flat, and E-flat.
Q. What format do these books come in?
A. All books are available in both PDF format and as spiral-bound hard copies. Each book (except Book 1) comes with free Finale playback files.
Q. How do I order?
A. Use your credit card to pay through PayPal. It’s safe, convenient, and doesn’t cost you anything.
Q. When do I receive my order?
A. If you've ordered e-books, your purchase, with accompanying Finale playback files (except Book I), is emailed to you shortly after your payment is made. When you order hard copies, you have a choice of shipping options that will determine how quickly you receive your books.
Q. What is Finale NotePad?
A. Finale NotePad is free music notation software that lets you create, play, print, save, and download simple scores.
Q. Can I use Finale NotePad on any computer?
A. Yes. It works on both Windows and Macintosh operating systems.
Q. How does it work?
A. It’s simple.
- Download a free copy of Finale NotePad: http://www.finalemusic.com/products/finale-notepad/resources/
- Open the mus sound file in Finale NotePad. Print the PDF file in Microsoft Word.
- To play back document, click on Playback Arrow; other playback tools are also standard. The document will run at quarter note = 60, with an acoustic grand piano sound, but you can adjust the tempo.
Each linear exercise is programmed to repeat once (play twice)—in the proper basic rhythmic feel (swing, funk, bossa nova). If you want to stop and go back to any place in the document for more re-plays, you must press the Stop square icon, and then type the measure #s (found in your book’s Finale document files) into the measure box. Then press Enter, and the example will start again at that measure #.
If you don’t stop and go back, NotePad will play through the entire document with repeats to the end of the book. When re-started, it will always go back to the beginning of the book, since NotePad is not as sophisticated as the registered Finale program.
About Linear Jazz Improvisation
Q. What is your Linear Jazz Improvisation method about, and what is so different about it?
A. The current pedagogy, Chord Scale Theory, teaches the student to derive (Greek) scales, or “modes,” from the chords which accompany a tune. This procedure, however expedient and easy to teach, does not often lead to meaningful improvisation on the essential elements of the piece, but merely supplies generic conjunct (stepwise) seven-note scales in which players all tend to sound the same.
While the prevailing pedagogy entails the translation of a tune’s accompanying chords into chord scales with Greek names and complex theories—without regard to the song’s melody—LJI addresses such topics as how to learn and memorize a composition, how to paraphrase a melody, and how to create lines based on it and its rhythms. You first reduce the melody, learn the composition’s guide tone lines, root progression, and rhythmic motives. Then you systematically develop these essential elements by applying and combining the 10 Chromatic Targeting Groups identified in Book 1. This approach will focus your efforts towards developing the skills you need to gain a mature personal improvisational style—in a minimum of time.
Q. What is it about your Linear Jazz Improvisation method that enables a student to learn more quickly than other methods?
A. With this method no time is spent on non-essential skills. Since one could spend an entire lifetime on playing drum rudiments, for example, a method that focuses on the most essential techniques of the language and material at hand will serve the student the best—with the most dramatically rapid results.
Q. What is wrong with a totally generic approach to improvisation, relying on scales?
A. While licks, idioms (figures of speech), and formulas all serve useful functions in any language, I believe that the most meaningful statements one makes in performance are those which develop the ideas found in the exposition of the composition at hand. Total reliance on formulas and scales leads in many cases to meaningless rambling in scales.
Q. Will your method work for me if I want to play blues, pop, rock, and other forms of American music?
A. Absolutely. LJI will work for any style. Any music from which you can derive essential melodies and rhythms can be developed for meaningful improvisation with these methods.
Q. I’ve been practicing chord scales for years, and when I hear myself improvise it still all sounds like a bunch of meaningless notes. Will your method get me out of this hole I’m in?
A. A major frustration for many students trying to learn improvisation is that progress can be slow and boring, particularly if too much emphasis is placed on learning scales and doesn’t focus on meaningful playing (on the subject matter). By working on the song, and by providing a systematic method of discovering and then using the essential elements of a given tune to generate improvisations, LJI allows students to make demonstrable progress, generally within a short period of time.
Q. Do I need to know a lot of theory to be able to use the Linear Jazz Improvisation method?
A. Not at all. LJI is easy to understand, while not easy to do. All you need is to apply the concepts and do the exercises in the right way. Your progress will be direct and dramatic.
Q. How much will I need to practice in order to learn to improvise well?
A. It is best to practice every day; there is a direct correlation between how much you practice and how rapidly you develop.
Q. Do you have any advice in advance on how to practice your LJI books?
A. Yes. This is how I practice this material. It is the most effective way to learn this method:
- Play and sing each exercise as written (separately and simultaneously).
- Play and sing it without looking (by rote).
- Improvise on it; experiment with vibratos, articulations, inflections, rhythmic styles, and tempos.
- While the book is programmed to play back at q.n.=60, you can set the document for specifically what tempo you’d like for each exercise by selecting the tempo menu and typing in your desired tempo #s.
- Play back one exercise type in Notepad, such as the reduced melody, while practicing another (guide tone line or root progression).
- Keyboard players should do all of these exercises in 8vs—with two hands, while not looking at the keyboard or your fingers.
I have found that practicing with these playback files is a great aid in learning the Linear Jazz Improvisation method. I use it myself daily.
Q. How long does it take to play like Pat Methany, Mike Brecker, John Scofield, or someone else?
A. Throughout an artist’s lifetime one always needs to continue to develop. You need to work hard and have a good teacher/mentor—as well as possess talent.
Q. If I just want to play lead, why do I need to learn guide tone lines and root progressions?
A. Learning the guide tone line impresses upon the musician the essence of the harmonic progression underlining a composition, but it does so in the form of a line. Regardless of what role you are playing at any given time during a performance of a composition, linear knowledge of the composition’s harmonic movement—and root progression—in the form of lines will have a great impact on the manner in which you perform the piece.
Q. Why do I need to play exercises in all keys?
A. Even if you never perform a piece whose primary key is B or F#, for example, secondary key areas and chords from these keys can and do appear in compositions regularly.
Q. What value does your suggestion to practice the blues in all keys have for me if I just want to play rock music that never goes to those keys?
A. As Charlie Parker asserted, “everything is the blues.” Any tune, regardless of what keys and harmonies it employs, can be “blued,” and most artists within the various styles of Afro-American music incorporate it into whatever material they are playing.
Q. Why do I need to play exercises in two or more octaves?
A. Practicing in all twelve keys is a basic praxis for all advanced improvisers—and throughout the entire range of his or her instrument (or voice).
Q. How much should I practice every day?
A. As much as you can without losing your concentration. In an extemporaneous art form such as jazz, how one thinks is everything; it has a direct and profound impact on the quality of the resulting performance. Thus, for the player, it requires having the right teaching method, the right planning strategies and insights, and a great deal of unrelenting practice—and dogged determination. For the most part, I try to practice at the same time of day on a daily basis. I practice anywhere from three to five hours a day. For a brass player, the limits to the duration of practice sessions are based largely on what your lips will take without tearing down the muscles of the embouchure causing strain and fatigue.
Q. What kinds of things do you practice?
A. I practice the exercises from Books II and III, in all twelve keys, the entire range of the trombone. Then I take compositions in my repertoire—or tunes I am learning—and target them in all ten ways contained in Book I.
Q. When improvising, do you base all of the rhythms you play on only those found in the composition?
A. Not exclusively, but most of the rhythms I use in performance are based directly on the rhythms found in the piece—with variation and permutation, and in combination with chromatic targeting of the reduced melody.
Q. How do I sign up for online lessons?
A. Go to the Lessons page on this site. Once you’ve sent payment via PayPal, email me with 3 possible times that you’re available for lessons. I will choose a time and then get right back to you.
Q. How much do lessons cost?
A. One-on-one lessons cost $100 US per one-hour lesson, payable in advance, non-refundable.
Q. What kind of equipment do I need if I’m taking online lessons?
A. You will need a computer, speakers (or headphones), microphone, and a high-speed Internet connection (cable is best). You will also need a way to make phone calls over the Internet. I recommend Skype which is free, easy to download—and incurs no phone charges.
Q. Do you only teach trombone, or do you teach other instruments also?
A. I teach the music—on all instruments and voices. I will address in depth all of the roles you will need to play, and how to practice directly towards those ends.
Q. Do you just teach your Linear Jazz Improvisation Method, or do you listen to me play and help in other aspects of my playing?
A. I will listen to you play, make suggestions, offer practice regimens, and discuss how to think in jazz. While much of the focus of your lessons at first will depend on your needs, my Linear Jazz Improvisation method will get you to a much higher level in as short a time as possible—with no wasted effort.
Q. Will I be able to send you musical examples that I’m working on?
A. We’ll both be able to exchange music examples immediately.
Q. How would you describe your lesson approach?
A. My approach is systematic and direct. It combines discipline, technique, creativity, and musical intuition. I will begin by ascertaining your aspirations and skill level. I will then devise a new and specific personal practice routine for you. Each topic is examined in detail, enhanced by numerous state of the art examples and exercises. It's the same as any other private lesson—only you don't have to leave your house.
Q. How will I fit time for practicing your lesson assignments in addition to my current routine?
A. Part of my job will be to design a new practice routine especially to focus on what you need to do in order to progress most effectively towards where you need to go. Since in an extemporaneous art form such as jazz what one thinks has a direct and powerful impact on performance, I will mentor you in all related thinking in jazz.
Ed Byrne is one of the finest jazz musicians I've ever worked with.
Ed's information is as good as it gets anywhere!
Vic Juris, guitarist
Ed Byrne taught me virtually everything I know about composition, and he encouraged and inspired me with his dedication and love of music.
Freddie Bryant, guitarist
Linear Improvisation is monumental in
Dr. Jonny Johansson, Guitarist
I have come to the conclusion that there are two types of jazz pros: those that are unable to explain what they do, and those that are able, but unwilling, to reveal trade secrets. Ed Byrne is in the unique category of a jazz pro who both knows what he is doing, and is willing to share.
Stu Hesley, guitarist
Put simply and without exaggeration, Ed Byrne is the best teacher of jazz I have ever met.
Ernest Urvater, pianist
I recommend Ed Byrne's writing. He filled in many of those same holes for me. I kind of knew what ought to fill them beforehand, but Ed expresses it all very clearly and concisely. . . . Ed has not paid me to say this, nor am I Ed in disguise.
Hey Ed, I think that you have the gift of being able to clearly explain jazz.
Scott Abene, jazz saxophonist, educator
The method you describe for deriving Pitch Collections is as simple and logical as the Theory of Evolution.
Jerry Englebach, pianist, arranger/composer
Linear Improvisation is the most valuable
jazz improvisation resource that I have
ever read or used. I am sure that It will be
used in classrooms across the globe for
many years to come.
Chris DeVito, Pianist
My question is always, how can I blow on this? So when I came across Ed Byrne's Blue Monk book, it's "Whoa, there's my Hindemith and Schenker, applied to Monk, and I'm a happy guy."
Good Improvisation Advice from Ed Byrne
The coffee houses of yesteryear have been replaced by the net as the place for fertile discussion and exchange of ideas. Thank you Ed Byrne for your seven free online improvisation lessons. All musicians should go to your website and check them out. I've got 30 years experience as a pro and still found your advice useful. It's good to revisit roots and rediscover points you may have forgotten or never even considered.
Mindless scales and learned exercises being thrust upon jazz listeners has always been a bug bear of mine and I personally have avoided the habit. I try to create a unique solo each time which relates to the sentiment /style of the original.
If I can add something to what you've been saying Ed I would recommend too that improvisers learn the lyrics, not necessarily to sing the song but to really get inside the composition.
Thank you Ed, you show great wisdom.
Who would have thought a man of Ed's experience would be such a good teacher? A wealth of information is upon us lucky fools around here. Keep pumping out books Ed. This fool is going to go learn me some music.
You always seem to have a sixth sense for knowing where someone is at, and saying exactly what's necessary to move them forward in the direction for which there already is tacit knowledge. Or maybe it's just that what you say is true. I've got to say this is some ingenious shit.
I recently signed up for the 7 free lessons from Ed's website, and I recommend them highly to everyone. Ed always seems to be an excellent source of information on this site.
Your method is more freeing and practically logical to me at thi point and time. While the Berklee Method is more simplistic [to my way of thinking anyway, because I went there and have its method ingrained into my head], your method makes more sense sound-wise.