Pedagogical Breakthrough: User-Friendly
By Dr. John Kuzmich, Jr.
Jazz Education Journal Vol. 36, #5 March 2004
Since the 1960's, an avalanche of improvisation
instructional materials has been published. Since 1975,
I have reviewed almost all of them in my "Survey of New
Teaching Materials" column in over 80 issues. Method textbooks,
etude, rhythm, ear training, and theory books and play-along
recordings have all been critiqued. Reviews of other valuable
tools such as videos, computer software and DVDs have also
appeared. I would now like to introduce to you a new, signifigantly
enhanced format for teaching jazz improvisation. It is very
creative, and can take intermediate and advanced improvisors
to new heights. And it may very well foreshadow the next
generation of jazz improvisation instructional methods.
You must examine Hal Galper's Forward Motion
From Bach to Bebop: A Corrective Approach to Jazz Phrasing.
It is available in two versions: book form and ebook Internet
version. Galper states: ..."many aspiring jazz musicians
are plagued by unconscious practice habits they developed
as children. They carry these unconscious habits into adult
musical behavior often hindering the way they "hear" the
beat in music. To be able to study music as a child the
first musical element a child learns is how to count beats,
the most important beat being the first beat of the measure.
Often termed the downbeat and counted as beat "one" the
tacit impression is given that this beat is where all phrasing
begins. By applying tension and release analysis to the
beats in the bar, Galper's demonstrates that the downbeat
is not where musical ideas begin but where they end. Thus,
grouping notes starting on the downbeat of the measure can
be a burden to the ear of an adult musician. With "Forward
Motion," musicians can retrain themselves to play "toward"
the downbeat as the last beat and note in a phrase, a practice
based in the physics of sound and rhythm, which propels
the music with a feeling of moving forward."
First illuminated by Johann Sebastion Bach
over 200 years ago, these laws apply to all music, regardless
of genre, geography, or temporal placement. The author demonstrates,
in clear and easy to understand terms, how music is not
static but in motion forward towards future rhythmic, melodic
and harmonic points. Although Forward Motion contains
theory and exercises, it is really a conceptual book. Musical
examples and exercises are geared to alter a student's basic
perception of rhythm, melody and harmony. Students are then
encouraged to use the book as a starting point for creating
their own exercises, thereby applying Forward Motion's
techniques to their musical individuality.
Forward Motion is divided into ten
important chapters: Melody and Embellishments,
Rhythmic Forward Motion, Scalar Forward Motion
Arpeggios and Forward Motion, Appoggiaturas
and Forward Motion, Intervals and Forward Motion,
Harmonic Forward Motion, Forward Motion
and Pentatonics and Cells, , Superimposition,
and How to Practice Forward Motion. Instead
of mechanical repetition , these chapters offer a unique
step-by-step process for retraining hearing. And the process
you use to practice Forward Motion exercises is crucial
to changing the way you hear phrasing. As Galper says its
not only what you practice that is important, its
how you practice, because, as a performance tool, you bring
to the band the process itself, not the music ideas you
What separates this method from others is
that it assumes you have been applying outmoded practicing
and performing habits long enough that, when corrected,
you immediately recognize their natural appropriateness
on an intuitive and emotional level. Hearing via Forward
Motions methods is is natural. Once practiced
and learned, you may never return to your previous way of
hearing musical phrases
Ebook (Internet) Version
Once the ebook is downloaded from the Internet,
you can read it using the Acrobat Reader product (http://www.adobe.com/products/acrobat.html).
These PDF files will run in your web browser (Microsoft
Explorer) along with the free Myriad Music Plug-in.
The Myriad Music Plug-in is freeware that can be
downloaded at: <http://myriad-online.com/plugmain.htm>.
It enables one to play, display, transpose and print music
files that are apart of the ebook, directly from your web
browser. Just click on any of the 300 play-along exercises
to play them in your browser. Unlike MP3's, the Internet
exercises load quickly and use very little of your computers
memory. By simply clicking on a button you can, transpose,
change the tempo, zoom to expand a files viewing size.
Wherever practical, the exercises have a click track, an
automatic scroll bar and are looped to repeat. They are
easily printed thus allowing for portability if your instrument
isn't near your computer. The musical examples in Forward
Motion are not contained within the PDF file (ebook)
itself. They reside on the Internet and are linked to the
books musical examples. With the PDF file open in
a web browser while connected to the Internet, the hand
curser, when held over an example, turns into a pointing
finger thus indicating the example is an Internet link.
So be careful not to run the PDF files offline because there
will be no Internet interaction.
I particularly like the addition of the Internet
version because the author can easily update the methodology
with addition instructional materials. Literally, this book
is never finished since Forward Motion's music example
files reside on the Internet, not in the book itself. The
printed textbook also has Internet access; on its second
page, the Tipsheet lists internet links for
the musical examples. When bought through the Forward
Motion web site both the ebook and print version purchases
are automatically entered into Forward Motion's mailing
list. Print version purchases from other sources can join
the mailing list from the TipSheet Internet
Myriad Music Plug-ins
The Myriad Music Plug-In (MMP) enables you
to play all of the musical examples found on Hal Galpers
web site. This free product works fantastically well with
Hal Galpers ebook. In addition, Myriad has two music
notation products that can build web music examples for
Internet interactive instruction. Melody Assistant
and Harmony Assistant are available for both the
Macintosh and Windows platforms. Myriads score files can
be read with either Melody or Harmony. These two programs
are compatible. They both have the same general look and
interface and all features of Melody Assistant are
available in Harmony Assistant, but the reverse is
not true. Many of Harmony Assistants features
are not available in Melody Assistant. Harmony
Assistant is also more powerful than Melody Assistant
in that it can do many operations automatically. Therefore,
it is simple to use. Full-page editing, in either scroll
mode or page mode, is available with Harmony Assistant.
In scroll mode, bars are drawn on a single row. In page
mode, you can edit your score as it will be printed on paper.
Melody Assistant uses only scroll mode. Both products
are multilingual and include the following languages: English,
French, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese and Japanese.
At the Myriad web site you can download the most recent
versions of programs and plug-ins for Windows 95 to XP and
Mac OS 8.6 to X.2. The web site has one the very best one-on-one
tutorials on the Internet. There is a on-line, must-see,
step-by-step video tutorial available that explains how
to use Myriad music programs. Web developers may be interested
in the shareware versions offered at a slight fee. For more
information about all of Myriads programs and plug-ins,
you can log on to <http://www.myriad-online.com>.
This improvisation publication by Hal Galper
is outstanding. Because of how it was put together, a very
creative and innovative learning environment for jazz improvisation
pedagogy is established. I strongly suggest that music educators
become familiar with this improvisation publication. I predict
that future improvisation publications will take advantage
of similar Internet capabilities. Although many people have
computers, most dont know much about the technology
theyre using. The improvisational materials reviewed
in this installment will definitely utilize your computer
chops more with real-time improvisation instruction on the
Internet. The printed book is 198 pages and costs $29.95.
The e-book is 193 pages and costs $16.97. Both are available
through Hal Galpers web site, http://www.forwardmotionpdf.com.