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



Bill Falkowski's son Edek has used my materials since he attended Strings Without Boundaries in Pittsburgh a couple of years ago. This is a quote from an email from Bill dated 1/11/11 (used by permission). See video of Edek here :

So thanks so much for all your long distance help. Your books and email responses have really pulled a lot together for Edek.


The following was sent to me on August 5th, 2010 by a student after an audition for the Berklee College of Music (used by permission):

Hey Dr. Norgaard,

So I just want to say thank you so much for the help you gave me before the audition. It went soooo well! I don't think I've ever had an audition like that one and I'm still in shock from it. All in all, it was awesome and I owe a lot of it to you and I thank you for that.


Randy Sabien is using Jazz Fiddle Wizard with his college students at McNally Smith College of Music. He sent me this in an email on 1/27/2010 (used by permission):

"We are working through the book and it's just great. Perfect for my college students."


I was the featured clinician and artist at the Jazz String Fest, 2009 at Kaukauna High school in Wisconsin. The director send me this quote:

“ Martin Norgaard is not only an astonishing jazz violinist but a top notch educator. In five hours he moved a high school orchestra group through improv exercises on major scales, blues scales and on to “I Got Rhythm” changes- and everyone took a solo in each format! I would highly recommend him to any school string director as a clinician.”

Lori Lacey
Kaukauna, WI Schools Orchestra Director
Host- Kaukauna Jazz Strings Festival


The following is an excerpt from an email I received from Lisa Lindvall on November 11, 2007 concerning her 7 year old daughter Hannah (used by permission):

She [Hannah] absolutely loves your music and improvising. She is working her way through the 2 books - pretty much on her own. She performed La Luna in October and wrote her own solo, which she turned into a short composition. I'm still planning on recording that one as soon as I can get someone to play the piano for her. On Saturday, she performed Lazy Note Blues. She learned the first solo in the book and then improvised for the next 12 bars. I'm attaching a shortcut to the video of the performance in case you would like to see it [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xD4OTbPjCqk]. The solo she played isn't one that she prepared, it was completely spontaneous, but it worked. I think she is planning on learning Northern Lights next. She was playing along to it in the car last week. It is amazing to see/hear how her ears work.

Anyway, thank you again. I don't know if I would ever have realized that she [has] such an ear or a gift for improvisation if she hadn't had your class.
The down side of it is that she often turns all of her Suzuki material into a minor key or transposes it where ever she pleases just to annoy me. I
don't think that is too high a price to pay - it actually is rather amusing.


I received this email from Georgina Ellul in Australia on May 14, 2007 (used by permission):

I am writing to you from Australia and I teach Violin and Viola. Your Fiddle Wizard Books have been a source of great enjoyment in my teaching
studio. I have one viola student in particular who has been inspired to compose his own music.


Dr. Jennifer Morgo of Sayville Schools, New York, attended my workshops at the IAJE Teacher Training Institute in Park City Utah, June 2006. Click the link to read her report. Make sure you scroll down to the bottom of the page to see the pictures: http://www.liviolinshop.com/IAJE.htm


The following is an excerpt from an email I received from Renee Sutin on January 5th, 2007 (used by permission):

My son's teacher introduced him to your Jazz Fiddle Wizard series a couple of years ago when he seemed to be losing interest in violin and it really sparked a passion for him. He is currently studying jazz with John Blake, Jr. in Phil. in a very serious way. So, thank you for your excellent publication.


Here are a sample of comments from participants at the 2006 Pittsburgh Jazz and Fiddling Camp collected in anonymous feedback forms.

§         He not only presents the exact information novice jazzers need, but has excellent verbal skills to deliver his message and has done a tremendous job of breaking this down to make sense.

§         I have the highest respect for Martin and his teaching; he’s a master teachers.

§         I wish I had more time to pick his brains.

§         Keep this; it has helped me to have a clearer understanding of the “mechanics of jazz.”

§         Very encouraging! I am excited now and I used to be petrified.

§         I liked the way he taught.

§         I improved my jazz skills dramatically with communications with other players during jazz pieces. He has great understanding of pedagogy for jazz.

§         I loved that we learned about jazz theory some to help us with improvising, but I’m not good at theory, so I felt lost a bit.

§         Made a comfortable atmosphere for new/inexperienced jazz musicians.

§         Really fun, I learned a lot.

§         Fabulous teaching style, clear creative and inspires as he teachers – most of all he makes you feel at ease and wants you to know “you too can play jazz!”

§         I really enjoy the pieces in his book.

§         I learned the most about improv/jazz in Mr. Norgaard’s classes; he was always thorough and made difficult concepts clear.


I received this email from Zach Silver on Jan 22nd, 2006 (used by permission):

Hi Martin,
    I finally feel like I'm getting the knack of how to follow chord progressions! I don't have to think about it anymore, my fingers are starting to fly into the right places all by themselves! I bought your book about 3 years ago, and have been jamming with a guitarist on some Django tunes and also I have been listening to your live 365 station and listening to other jazz music for many years, but I feel like it was due to your book in particular that I have been able to progress as much as I have. I am enjoying  practicing more than ever now. So, I just wanted to thank you for your effort in passing down the knowledge. I have been playing since I was 7, and I am now 37, so I'm no beginner, but you and other guys like Darol Anger, who are so dedicated to teaching, have really helped. I hope to meet you someday at one of the workshops you do. Until then, keep up the excellent work.

Zach Silver


Here is part of an email I received from string teacher Muriel Orcutt who participated in the Pittsburgh Jazz and Fiddling Camp August 2005 (used by permission):

It has been a very busy September. My students are enjoying playing "Swing on the String" very much and we are progressing slowing on improvising. I have introduced my sixth graders to your book series and we are ordering books because they just love doing it. We have worked with the CD  to #12. They want to play with the CD at home!

I just started with 5th graders so they have not been exposed to this yet but I  have the feeling that they will want the book too. Thank 
you for giving us teachers a chance to teach students about Jazz and improvisation because it really will help students acquire stronger 
listening skills, a better sense of rhythm  and groove and expand their knowledge of different styles of music.


String teacher Jan Farrar-Royce posted the following to the Fiddle-L list after the first Pittsburgh Jazz and Fiddling camp August 2005:

Hey,  fellow-fiddlers!

I just got back from the NEW String Jazz & Fiddle Camp held on the Duquesne University campus in Pittsburgh. I have NEVER been to ANYthing like this! For this first time ever camp 42 players from ages 12 -70+ took classes from 9 AM to 9:30 PM in theory, and every kind and level of jazz there is ... all aimed at strings! We laughed a lot but worked hard and were very serious about wanting to learn about how to play this genre of music on our string instruments.

Julie Lyonn Lieberman and Martin Norgaard were the featured clinicians. Julie covered free improve and World String Music, of course. Each AM she taught us a tune, with background, ornaments and the SOUND of a different culture's string music. It was a wonderful way to begin the day and you could almost SEE the minds opening up! Other times she had us engage in mind opening improve "games" with, and sometimes without our instruments.

Martin has done some outstanding work ~ now published in his "Jazz Wizard Junior" series (the Junior means short of collegian or pro) how figuring out where to start and how to teach improvisation to string players who have never been involved in this medium. After two attempts to teach some elemental jazz to my students at school, I think this thoughtful, articulate, intelligent, sensitive and talented man has "got it!" when it comes to clearing up the mystery of jazz and improvising for string players. I spent this week watching his method WORK.

Every day we also had ensemble and theory class and lots and lots and lots of opportunity to improvise. By the third day pro combos were brought in to back us up and teach us how to relate to them! I was privileged to be able to run a North American fiddling jam and one of the Teacher Training sessions. On Wed night the Dr. Root opened up the Stephen Foster Memorial Museum, of which he is curator, and gave us an hour and a half "tour" and related Stephen Foster's music to fiddling! We also had pro jazz improve musicians among the "students" and come in to work with us. I have been going to workshops, clinics and camps for 30 years and I never, ever, EVER went to anything like this!

A big hand goes to Dr. Stephen Benham, Asst Prof of  Mus Ed professor for making this happen at Mary Pappet Music School a STANDING OVATION for Roy Sonne, violinist in the Super-pro Pittsburgh Symphony for his loving dedication and FANTASTIC amount of vision, courage and hard work to make this camp happen! The need for this kind of camp has been growing and this first attempt was done SO WELL! There is NO doubt in my mind that we have turned a corner in our quest to help classical string players and string teachers learn how to play and even teach jazz and that this year's camp will be remembered many years from now as "the first" really successful attempt in this movement!

Whether you already play jazz on your fiddle, want to try to, or just want to understand what it's all about ~ you can start planning now to attend next August's session.

I'll keep you posted when the registration forms come out and ...
I'll see you there!


Jan Farrar-Royce
ASTA/w NSOA National Alternative Styles Committee Member
MENC On-line Orchestra MENTOR
co-author of White Mountain Reel Companions, New England
Fiddle Tunes for Violin, Viola & Cello/with bassline

Here are two letters from students I had this summer at the South Carolina Suzuki Institute 2004.

This is from a string teacher that took my classes at the IAJE Teacher Training Institute 2004:

I just had to tell you how much fun I had yesterday teaching my
students their first lesson in Jazz with the help of your Jazz Fiddle
Wizard Jr.  All the students were focused and having a good time even
though it was a Friday!  I can't wait to plan the second lesson.
Eleanor Bennett
Tapp MS Orchestra
Powder Springs, Georgia"


I had the pleasure of teaching the International Association for Jazz Education's Teacher Training Institute in Kansas City in June, 2002. Here is an email I got from one of the string participants, ASTA with NSOA president David Littrell. Used by permission.

"Thank you again for such a lively and educational jazz strings workshop in
Kansas City last weekend. I thoroughly enjoyed the sessions you presented,
and I learned so much in such a short time, even though I couldn't always
physically play what I was understanding intellectually.

The jazz professor here at Kansas State University, Dr. Wayne Goins, was
impressed that I went. He wishes more of the music faculty (probably
everywhere) could get first-hand knowledge of what is involved in jazz.
Playing jazz on a string instrument will not harm your classically-trained
technique, and it enhances your aural and theory skills in a new and
exciting way.

I look forward to working with you in the future.

David Littrell
Distinguished Professor of Music
Kansas State University
President, American String Teachers Assoc. with NSOA http://www.astaweb.com


Nina Trott teaches students ages 7 to 55 in Bath in the southwest of England. I am hard at work on book 2 and 3 in the Junior series to bridge the gap between Junior and the original Jazz Fiddle Wizard mentioned in her email. Used by permission.

"I've been using your "Jazz Fiddle Wizard Junior" book with pretty much all my pupils with huge success.  However, it's quite a jump from "Junior" to the definitive Fiddle Wizard book, and as you say, Junior is for players of one-three years' experience and Adult is for college level. 

So, is there any chance of you producing one (or more!) books for the intermediate experience/age group?!

I'm about to start using Adult Wizard with one of my intermediate pupils and will let you know how she gets on.  It may well be that the theory side becomes too much for her, which is where books for the intermediate stage would be very handy.

Anyway, aside from all of that, the books are fantastic and I can't tell you how much the pupils are getting out of Junior.  One of them has almost finished the book and was almost tearful at the thought.  She is becoming a really fantastic player, I mean really fantastic.

All the best

Nina Trott"

David Mills teaches improvisation to string players at The Neighborhood Music School in New Haven, Connecticut. Used by permission.

"I, myself, am having great success with a six-year-old who is using Fiddle Junior. You would love to hear her playing blues riffs on her 1/8-size violin."

David Mills


Got this from a Classical violin student in Australia on January 20th, 2002. Thanks Luke for the nice feed back. Used by permission.

"Hi there, my name is Luke Moller. I'm from Brisbane Australia and recently purchased your book. I ordered the book online a few months back and was very lucky to receive it just as my summer holidays began in November.  I have spent the last 2 months going through the book and was really surprised at how good it actually was.  I'm currently starting my second year bachelor of music on violin at the Brisbane Conservatorium, so I am advanced in classical studies but had no clue when it came to jazz.  The book has really given me a great start into jazz, because I did not know how to start.  A lot of jazz students were saying "Scales learn your scales"  I have found that after going through your book I can play more by ear then worrying about scales all the time.  The cd is also a fantastic idea, I find myself playing along with it all the time, and my improvisation has REALLY improved by playing with it, although I have a long way to go until I'm really doing it properly.
Thanks again
Luke Moller
Brisbane Australia"

October 2002:

Dear Martin,

I had so much fun this past Friday at the FOA Fall Workshop.  You're
approach to jazz and improvisation in general made it seem a lot more
accessible.  Being a classically trained musician myself for over 19
years, it is extremely difficult to trust yourself enough to perform without
music. Your 1-2-3 step approach to improve gave me the confidence and belief that
even I could eventually do it as well.

This week I have been using your book 1 in some of my elementary, middle,
and even high school classes and the response has been overwhelming!  I am
currently in the process of purchasing classroom sets for my schools and I
am eagerly awaiting their arrival.


Bobbe Jo Butler
Eau Gallie High School Orchestra Director
Melbourne, Florida


Dear Martin,

        Thanks so much for the great sessions you presented to Indiana string educators in January at the IMEA Convention in Indianapolis. Your sessions were filled with valuable information and materials which served to stimulate new approaches to string education and an understandable means of exploring the skills of improvisation. It was an exciting session and attendees were very interested in your materials. I look forward to seeing your upcoming publications and your continued impact in this evolving area of Jazz Education.

        I have received much positive feedback from the convention and I wish to express my personal appreciation for your contributions to the total program. I hope that other states will utilize your expertise and should you need a referral for other conferences, let me know. We are most appreciative of Mel Bay's support in making your appearance in Indiana possible. Thanks again and I look forward to seeing you again in the future.


Susan Ellington
President, Indiana Chapter


On August 14th, 2001, I conducted the In-service for Nashville Metro Strings Teachers in collaboration with bassist Andy Evans. A couple of days later I got this letter from participant Sara Johnson who also helped me correlate the workshop with their newly developed curriculum. The letter is reprinted by permission.

"Dear Martin:

Your Workshop yesterday at our Metro Strings Teacher Inservice was wonderful - timely, informative, and interesting. Your matter-of-fact manner in presenting the material from your Jazz Fiddle Wizard book, and your insistence that we "knew more than we thought we did", helped us feel at ease for our first try at improvising.

It seems that the National Standards and our new Strings Curriculum are going to force us all to new areas in our teaching, such as improvisation, Blues, and Jazz. The Jazz Fiddle Wizard book is a great resource for teachers because it begins with very strict and narrow guidelines to ensure success. In just this short session, I picked up enough to make a start with my students. I think I can work through this book and keep at least one step ahead of them!

It was especially gratifying to see how well your presentation agreed with our new curriculum. You really made a strong effort to accomplish that, and I appreciate it. All of my colleagues were very pleased with the Workshop, and felt that, for once, an Inservice actually had meaningful content.

Thank you for all your efforts in our behalf. Best wishes for a good year at Belmont.

Sincerely yours,
Sara N. Johnson, Director
McGavock High School Orchestra"


Got this email from jazz/rock violinist Cathy Morris who also organized the Indianapolis String Improv Conference 10/27-29, 2000:

"Hi Martin,
Hey got your book. WOW! The best I've ever ever ever seen. Congrats and thank you for speaking violin to violinists! What a treasure."


Below is an email I got from Gene Lowinger. Gene played for Bill Monroe in the 60ies and is the author of Jazz Violin-Roots and Branches and Bluegrass Fiddle. His band AVALANCHE WITH GENE LOWINGER plays a mix of swing, bluegrass and progressive acoustic music. For more information about his band and lessons in the New York tri-state area contact Gene at  fiddlergene@yahoo.com. The email is reprinted by permission. 


Just as a way of introduction, I played fiddle with Bill Monroe in the '60's and have been playing bluegrass for a loooooooong time.  I got your book and have been working with it.  It's a wonderful methodology.  I have learned so much from the techniques you talk about just in the first few lessons about how I can help my students learn to improvise.  I do it so automatically that it's difficult to put into words for students to understand. 

It's slow going at first, but i am an extremely tenacious, patient musician (learned that from Big Mon) so I'm looking forward to working with your book for a long time.

Gene Lowinger"


Here is the first part of an email I received from Melissa Allen, a string teacher in Knoxville, TN (used by permission):

"Dear Mr. Norgaard,

First of all, thank you, thank you for writing JFW!  Nathan and I have been working out of it for the past several weeks and it has made a HUGE difference in both of our improvisation skills.

From my own perspective...I spent an entire semester in utter confusion in improvisation class at University trying to cram as many scales, chords and substitutions, etc. into my brain as quickly as possible and being too busy sorting to feel confident actually using any of them.  Your approach of focusing primarily on the bebop scale to start allows the player to "jump right in" and sound as if he can do something in fairly short order.  The idea of extending the V7 bebop scale backward to the ii7 also encourages the player to think past the bar lines and come up with longer, more cohesive ideas.  I am thrilled with the way this approach is freeing up my improvisational mind!"


I got this from Ben Lively in Boulder, CO (used by permission):

"Hi Martin,
Thanks so much for this site! It's a great source for jazz violin information. I heard of it through IAJEStrings this morning. A jazz violin radio station!? I love it--I've been listening all morning. I always love learning about new jazz violinists. I've been researching Harry Lookofsky and Zbigniew Seifert."


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