J a z z  F i d d l e  W i z a r d





The Author


Jazz  Wizard Junior book 1
(middle school)
Jazz  Wizard Junior book 2
(upper middle/high school)
Jazz Fiddle Wizard

Stringin' the Blues
(grade 3.5)
Swing on a String
(grade 3)
Swing There, Done That
(grade 2.5)

STRING QUARTET MUSIC: Jammin' Jazz Standards


Syllabus 1
Syllabus 2

Seifert Interview


Frequently Asked Questions:

Ask a question directly by emailing the author (see contact page) or check the FAQ list below:

  1. Can the 2 and 6 be considered chord tones?
  2. How do you learn to play fast?
  3. Why do you skip the 2m in the beginning of Jazz Fiddle Wizard?
  4. What string specific improvising issues does Jazz Fiddle Wizard cover?
  5. I'm wondering if "fretting" is something I ought to learn rather than learn all the scales in just first position?
  6. I am interested in learning about "Coltrane Changes". Where should I start?
  7. Can Jazz Fiddle Wizard be easily used by a cellist as well?
  8. Can Jazz Fiddle Wizard be used on Mandolin?
  9. In many tunes, the 2m-5-1 jazz cadences are disguised. How do you find the 2m-5-1's?


1) "You say to use the Dom. 7 be-bop scale to lead us to the scale tones (1-3-5-b7) on the beat; Can't the 2 and 6 be considered chord tones?"

Yes, the 2nd and the 6th can be considered chord notes BUT are part of the upper extensions (and are usually referred to as the 9th and 13th) and therefore create a sense of tension. It is my belief that one has to learn to play as "inside" the chords as possible before experimenting with tension. Therefore Jazz Fiddle Wizard teaches the reader to play with the basic chord notes (1-3-5-b7) on the beat first (in lessons 2 through 11). Upper extensions are introduced in lesson 12.


2) "I have trouble playing fast; when you play at a high tempo are you just "flailing" that is, are you just playing notes in the chord or is there a method to your madness."

Actually the entire book is designed to get the reader comfortable in all keys and tempos. Bebop scales work well in up tempo. So does the basic arpeggios from lesson 12. To play fast in jazz you have to be as comfortable with the scales as you would a fiddle tune. Try playing a fiddle tune you know real well and find out how fast you can play it and still sound clean. Then try some bebop scales and see if you can play them as easily. Lesson 25 has some specific exercises to help you get up in tempo. Feel free to try those even without having done the rest of the book.


3) "In the chord analysis of "Good Lady" during the II-V progression in the A section (measures 5-6), you suggest using the D7 bebop scale to play over the Am7-D7.  Do you think that if you solo using an Am7 scale for measure 5 and then solo using a D7 scale or D7 bebop scale for measure 6 there would be more melodic interest than to use the D7 bebop scale for both the II and the V chord?"

I begin the book by using the bebop scale on both the 2m and the 5 because it is easier for a beginner. In Lesson 14 I introduce a separate scale for the 2m: the Dorian minor. The truth is the 2m and 5 chords are
interchangeable meaning you can play over the 5 bebop scale over either chord and the 2 Dorian minor on either chord.


4) "What string specific improvising issues does Jazz Fiddle Wizard cover?"

It covers the use of finger patterns, fingerings and some bowing issues.


5) "I'm wondering if "fretting" is something I ought to learn rather than learn all the scales in just first position?"

I make all my students learn to improvise in all keys in first and half position. It is to easy to just play the hard keys like Gb in 2nd position. You will find in reality that many tunes (like the B-section in Miles' Seven Steps To Heaven) will use these keys for such a short duration that if you have to switch position it will break your line.


6) "I am interested in learning about "Coltrane Changes". Where should I start?"

I would probably study easier substitutions (like tritone substitutions) first but here is how to start Coltrane changes:
1) First learn Giant Steps and Countdown by memory and practice it in all tempos including very slow. You can use Aebersold's Coltrane MMO CD or a practice program like Band-In-The-Box.
2) Try thinking down in whole steps by substituting every 5 chord for it's related 2m:
B-D7-G-Bb7-Eb.... Think B-Am-G-Fm-Eb.
3) Take an easy tune like Tune Down  from Jazz Fiddle Wizard (which is really Miles' Tune Up simplified) and substitute each 2-5-1 with Coltrane changes like this:
Original Progression in JFW:

With Coltrane changes the first line is:
That is the basis for Countdown.

David Baker's book "Modern Concepts In Jazz Improvisation" has a great chapter on Coltrane changes


7) "The Jazz Fiddle Wizard book looks wonderful. Can it be easily used by a cellist as well?"

I use JFW with my cello students at Belmont. The main parts are the written explanations on the left pages (see sample on web site). The notated music (only in treble clef) is only examples of the principles covered on the opposite page. In other words just use the principles to create exercises and solos in your register.


8) "Can Jazz Fiddle Wizard be used on Mandolin?"

I just got this comment in an email from mandolin player Steve Scott (used by permission):
"I picked up your Fiddle Wizard book/CD kind of on a whim. I broke it out about a month ago and I want to tell you how much I enjoy it!  It is a terrific tool for mandolin players and I have been spreading the word."

9) "In many tunes, the 2m-5-1 jazz cadences are disguised. How do you find the 2m-5-1's?"

Often 2m-5-1s don't appear in their purest form. Check the analysis of the last couple of tunes in Jazz Fiddle Wizard for examples. Here are some general advice for tune analysis:

  • Tune books often list inappropriate or wrong changes. Listen to
    recordings with singers and you will find better chord progressions.
  • Often 2m-5 appears without resolving to the 1. E.g. as a 3m-6
  • disregard extensions. As long as you know which category a chord is in
    (see lesson 6 and lesson 15 in Jazz Fiddle Wizard) you can disregard extensions such as 9, 11 and
    13. E.g. G7, G9, G11, G13, G7b9, Gaug all function as a 5 chord.

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Copyright 2004 Martin Norgaard. All Rights Reserved.