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

Jazz Violin Radio:



The following is the syllabus for the course I teach at Vanderbilt. It showcases how Jazz Fiddle Wizard can be used to teach introduction to string improvisation in a class setting:

Blair School of Music, Vanderbilt University
Course Syllabus


MUSO 132 "Introduction to Jazz Improvising for Strings"
1 Hrs Credit
Spring 2001
Martin Norgaard, Instructor; Room 2175;
Time Wed. 7PM

1)Course Description

Intro to Jazz Improvising for Strings is planned as an elective. The course is designed to provide the student with an essential understanding of the basic rules of jazz improvising and an appreciation for the history of stringed instruments in jazz. The course includes a short historical overview and a hands-on introduction to the essential tools needed for improvising. These tools include the concept of associating scales with chords, improvising with the chord notes as target notes, incorporating space and rhythms and simple tune analysis. The students will start improvising within a very strict framework of rules. The more advanced the students get the more freedom is allowed. This structured approach appears to be less intimidating to most classically educated players and is therefore more effective.

2) Prerequisites

Intro to Jazz Improvising for Strings will be open to all violin, viola and cello students at Vanderbilt with no or little experience in improvising within the jazz idiom.

3) Schedule

Intro to Jazz Improvising for Strings will meet for one hour per week. Performances by individual students will be part of the regular course of study and of midterm and final exams. Individual students may also participate in the year-end concert by the department of fiddling. The specific course of study is as follows:


week 1

Introduction to the history of strings in jazz.

week 2

Introduction to jazz rhythm and phrasing through the study of a transcribed solo by Stuff Smith. (Lesson 1)

week 3

The Dominant Bebop Scale I: Theory and simple exercises on G7. Improvising on G7 following the strict bebop scale rules. (Lesson 2 & 3)

week 4

The Dominant Bebop Scale II: Exercises on D7, G7, C7and F7. (Lesson 4 & 5)

Tune Analysis: Basic rules of chord analysis in jazz. Comparison between jazz and classical analytic methods. Analysis of the chord structure of Tune 1. (Lesson 6)

week 5

The Dominant Bebop Scale III: Exercises on Bb7, Eb7, Ab7 and Db7. (Lesson 10)

Tune : Improvising on Tune 1 using bebop scales and rhythms from the Stuff Smith solo. (Lesson 7 & 8)

week 6

Theory: Inner melodies are used to connect the bebop scales. (Lesson 11)

Solo: The Stuff Smith solo is reviewed.

Tune: Tune 1 is reviewed.

week 7

MIDTERM: Bebop scales in eight keys, Stuff Smith solo and Tune 1. All material is memorized.

week 8

Theory: The major 2-5-1. Comparison between the 2-5-1 and the classical cadence. Exercises using arpeggios on 2-5-1's in G, C, F and Bb major. (Lesson 12, 14 & 18)

Tune: Tune 2 is analyzed. (Lesson 9)

week 9

Theory: The major 2-5-1. Improvising using rhythms, bebop scales and arpeggios. Exercises in G, C, F, Bb, Eb, Ab, Db, and Gb major.

Tune: Improvise on Tune 2 using rhythms, bebop scales and arpeggios.

week 10

The Dominant Bebop Scale IV: Exercises on Gb7, B7, E7 and A7. (Lesson 16)

Tune: Tune 3 is analyzed and played. (Lesson 15)

week 11

Exercises: Bebop scale in all keys. 2-5-1's in all keys. Advanced students may incorporate arpeggio shapes (Lesson 13) and altered dominants (Lesson 20 & 21) into the 2-5-1 exercise.

Tune: Tune 3. Advanced students may pick additional tunes.

week 12


week 13


week 14

Final Exam: Bebop scales in all keys. Improvising on 2-5-1's in all keys. Smiths solo and all tunes.

week 15

Final Exam.


4) Evaluation Criteria

Grades are determined by general musicianship, participation, preparation for class and individual progress. The midterm and final exams will be conducted as informal performances by each individual student with the rest of the class as audience. The accompaniment will be provided by the instructor.

5) Texts

Norgaard, Martin. Jazz Fiddle Wizard. Pacific, MO: Mel Bay Publications, Inc., 2000. (The references to individual lessons in the course schedule above refers to this book)

References Related to Course:

Aebersold, Jamey. The II/V7/I Progression. Vol. 3. New Albany, IN: Jamey Aebersold Jazz, Inc. 1974.

Barnett, Anthony. Desert Sands, The Recordings and Performances of Stuff Smith. Vol. 1. East Sussex, Eng.: Allardyce, Barnett, Publishers, 1995. Up Jumped the Devil. Vol. 2. 1998.


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