Performance Class – Playing with Confidence

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Performance Class – Playing with Confidence

Practical and effective approaches to performing and improvising over selected tunes and progressions. Melodic approaches to soloing, change playing, creating and developing ideas, use of space, use of familiar formula and patterns, introductions, endings and more.

Live, interactive classes where students submit recordings for comments.

Instructor: Mike Tracy

Type of Class:

  • Live Zoom meetings with comments and discussion.
  • All classes will be recorded and archived for those who could not participate live and for those wishing to review.

Target audience:

  • Open to all musicians. Any instrument. Any skill level (except absolute instrument beginner). Students should be able to read music and have basic command of the instrument.
  • Limited to 15 to 20 participants.


  • While intended for Intermediate to Advanced and Experienced musicians, anyone interested in jazz would benefit.
  • Class can be adapted to individual level.

Course length and frequency:

  • 8 sessions on Tuesdays at 8:30 – October 18 and 25, November 8, 22 and 29, December 6, 13 and 27
  • Session length will be between 60 to 75 minutes depending on activity and discussion.
  • All classes will be live and those live sessions will be recorded and archived on

Course description:
Performance Class will help one to develop and create interesting solos applying strategies used by master jazz performers and composers. The course will help you to:

  • Improvise confidently and in a musical, jazz-like manner.
  • Experience different styles and approaches to improvisation.
  • Strengthen your knowledge of melodic, harmonic and rhythmic formula.
  • Recognize the ‘Jazz Language’ – the musical language use by master jazz improvisers, composers and arrangers.
  • Sharpen your listening skills, helping you listen to others and yourself better, hearing the overall product while being able to focus on details.
  • Expand your knowledge of tunes/repertoire.
  • Develop effective personal practice habits that work for you.
  • Be able to realistically assess your progress.


  • The session will focus on one/two tunes for two consecutive sessions.
  • Strategies for how to practice and apply various approaches will be demonstrated.
  • Recorded examples, transcriptions and handouts will be used.
  • Each participant will be encouraged to share their work with the class either live or recorded.
  • I will select a blues and four/five tunes that the class will focus on.
  • Tentative tunes for study include:
    • So What – Miles Davis
    • Groovin’ High – Dizzy Gillespie
    • Footprints – Wayne Shorter
    • Unshower – Kenny Barron
    • A ballad of your choice
    • The class will universally work on a selected tune for two weeks.
    • Class is encouraged to record their work and send to me for review weekly.
    • I will comment, offer suggestions and return.

    In class we will:

    • Discuss professional and student recordings.
    • Discuss ways to approach, develop and apply proven materials in practice and performance.
    • Listen and review recordings by others to gain insight into a variety of approaches.
    • Practice and perform in each session.

    Outside of class:

    • You will record yourself playing selected tunes and progressions. Typically the melody and two to four choruses, more if you feel the spirit.
    • I will record my observations and suggestions as I listen to you play and send you my remarks.
    • Students will be selected to perform either live or I can play the recording you sent (without my remarks) for the class where we can all reflect upon your playing. All will be done in a constructive, respectful manner.
    • You then have the following week to work on material that would enhance your playing, hopefully applying my suggestions and others from the class and make another recording for me to review and return.
    • Class is limited to 15 to 20 so that as many as possible can play for each other each session for comments – mine and from other students.
    • You will use play-along or backing tracts that are available on YouTube or ones you already have, like Jamey’s many excellent ones. I can help you find ones on YouTube if needed.
    • I will be providing PDFs with practice material and suggestions. I will also offer recorded examples that are available on YouTube.
    • I will be giving you ‘quizzes’ from time to time to challenge your skills. Trust me, the quizzes will not hurt but be quite helpful.
    • Ideally you will attend class or view the recordings every week so that you can progress consistently. I understand that you might not be able to make each class or that you were not part of the 20 to sign up in time. That’s OK, I will record and each class will be available – and I encourage you to send your recorded material for comments.
    • No guarantee but it has been my experience that you will grow musically and as an improviser and jazz musician.

    You can anticipate:

    • A more secure knowledge of jazz language – scale/chord application, harmonic progressions and rhythmic variety.
    • How to successfully learn a tune and improvise in a musical manner.
    • How to improvise in a jazz-like manner appropriate to the tune and style.
    • How to memorize efficiently.
    • How to establish an effective practice routine.