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


Workshop Descriptions:

I did these as part of NAfME's Music Education Week, summer 2012:

Yes, improvisation can be taught and learned!

How do you teach improvisation to yourself and your students? A clear sequence for the development of improvisational skills is outlined using participatory exercises from the clinician’s Jazz Wizard Jr. series.  Techniques such as call and response, improvisational sketch plans and chord tracking are covered in addition to procedures for the evaluation of students’ improvisations.


Fiddlin’ fun

Though fiddle tunes can be learned from notation, a more authentic experience is aural transmission. Teaching by ear, timing, phrasing, and bowing in traditional style is easy. We will experience how fiddle tunes have been taught and learned for centuries and how this model of aural transmission can be successfully used in the classroom.


"How was my solo?" - Methods for evaluating improvisation

We will learn how to adapt advanced "story-telling" devices as evaluation criteria for the middle and high school improvising soloist. Participants will analyze a classic Miles Davis solo then incorporate observed "story-telling" devices into their own solo. These include range, speed, length of phrases, diatonic to non-diatonic, call and response and more. Finally these parameters are applied as evaluation criteria applicable to the beginning improviser.

Music theory fun: How to turn “Lightly Row” into a fiddle tune

Using improvisation and composition as the main teaching and assessment tools, this clinic demonstrates how to teach standard musical concepts in a fun, meaningful and functional way. Participants will improvise and compose fiddle tunes using selections from the traditional beginning repertoire.


Using amplification musically!

Pluggin’ in is easy. Making music with amplified instruments is hard. Here we cover basic technical issues including setup and effects for electric strings. We will create an authentic rock string sound using both electric and acoustic instruments in a perfect blend. This way all students in the orchestra will be engaged, not just the ones playing the electric instruments.


The essence of jazz - Improvising on chord changes

A clear sequence is outlined that will allow you and your students to develop the ability to improvise on chord changes. By using “inner melodies” to play on regular jazz standards, the upper middle school and high school student can learn to maneuver through real jazz progressions.

Integrating eclectic styles into the string program: Practical issues and concerns

Practical issues concerning integration of eclectic styles into a traditional school string program will be covered including using eclectic styles pieces for contest and solo and ensemble events. We will read through eclectic styles string arrangements on levels ranging from very easy middle school to advanced high school. The session will end with a summary and Q & A from all previous sessions.


The sessions below are some of my sessions from IAJE's Teacher Training Institute:

Title: "Essential solo techniques for high school students"

In high school you can introduce very easy chord theory that will teach the students how to find the inner melodies and basic scales in a jazz chart. The session will also cover how to memorize tunes by singing the melody of the root movement.

  Title: "Stealing from the greats"

One can learn a lot about soloing by transcribing, playing and analyzing jazz solos. The clinician will demonstrate how one can learn everything from simple rhythm figures to advanced jazz solo techniques directly from actual jazz recordings. By organizing the solos chronologically one can organize the theory derived from it sequentially.

Title: "Jazz string reading session"

  Finally publishers are starting to pay attention to jazz strings. We will read through jazz string arrangements on levels ranging from very easy middle school to advanced high school and college.

Title: "Beginning Improvisation: Rhythm, Articulation, Bowing and Easy Scale Improvising"

String players typically lag behind beginning horn improvisers in the area of rhythm, articulation, and jazz theory. This session will quickly bring the string player up to par by converting classical bowing techniques such as martelé into jazz accents, by practicing jazz rhythms to a recorded rhythm section, and by filling in the missing link between scales and improvising. Techniques such as changing direction, skipping pitches, and adding rhythms to scales will be demonstrated. Participants will form a jazz string ensemble to play exercises and pieces from the clinician’s middle school Jazz Fiddle/Viola/Cello Wizard Jr. series.

Title: "Intermediate Improvisation: Bebop Scales, Major and Minor ii-V-I Progressions, and More"

To the surprise of many string players, classical theory concepts easily transfers to jazz. For example, Bach composed with chord notes on the beat; jazz musicians improvise with chord notes on the beat. The ii-V-I progression is simply the jazz version of the classical cadence, and guide tone lines are derived from voice-leading techniques. Lessons from the clinician’s book Jazz Fiddle Wizard will be used to teach jazz improvising relevant to the advanced high school or freshman college student. Participants will analyze and improvise on “Pent-Up House” plus listen to the classic duet by Stephane Grappelli and Jean-Luc Ponty from Violin Summit.

Title: "Advanced Improvisation: Arpeggios Shapes, Altering the Dominant, and Playing Tunes"

Regular arpeggios are expanded to shapes that force the player to view the chord with all its possible extensions. Non-diatonic notes are introduced using dominant alterations demonstrated chordally and melodically. The principle of tension and release is related to all concepts used in this and previous sessions. Participants will analyze and improvise on tunes from the jazz repertoire applicable to freshman and sophomore college students.

Title: "How to Tailor a Jazz String Ensemble to Your Program"

There are two type of jazz string ensembles: the jazz combo in which amplified strings play to a rhythm section, and the self-contained jazz string quartet as exemplified by the Turtle Island String Quartet. All participants will play transposed horn charts on electric instruments with a live rhythm section. Afterward, they will learn from the rhythm section how to imitate piano accompaniment, play bass lines, and use the “chop” technique to imitate drums. The clinician will discuss the development of the Belmont Jazz String Ensembles, which have won jazz competitions and have been featured at IAJE and MENC conferences.

Title: "Integrating String Jazz History into the Orchestra Classroom"

Solo transcriptions and originals by the giants of jazz strings such as Eddie South, Joe Venuti, Svend Asmussen, Stephane Grappelli, Stuff Smith, Jean-Luc Ponty and Zbigniew Seifert are played and analyzed. Participants will recognize elements introduced in previous sessions in the solo and styles analyses and will learn to use licks in their practicing in creative ways.

Title: "Jazz Resources for the String Educator"

Books, arrangements, websites, and organizations devoted to jazz strings will be discussed. In addition the clinician will demonstrate how selected resources used in traditional jazz pedagogy can easily be used with strings.


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