James Kass

Play What I Play™

Jazz Lessons
* Free! *

Play What I Play™ lessons combine play-along recordings with private instruction for both beginning and advancing improvisors of any instrument. Play What I Play™ lessons teach players jazz licks and provide invaluable ear training, essential for musicians of any style.

How it Works

Listen to the mp3 lesson and whenever you hear me play something, try to play it yourself. The licks are easy at first and gradually get more involved. If you ever get stuck on something, written parts are included, too.

Great for School Bands, Too

Band directors can use Play What I Play™ lessons in rehearsal as fun and effective teaching tools. With younger students, the included jam tracks can even be used in concert.

Each Lesson Includes:

  • Audio files (mp3): a guided lesson and a jam track for practicing.
  • Jazz Scales (pdf)
  • Jazz Licks (pdf)
  • Instructions (pdf)

Lessons to Download

Play What I Play

Demo Lesson, D Minor Swing

by James Kass

A short sample similar to Lesson 1. The entire lesson uses one chord and scale, Dmin7. NOTE: This demo includes the mp3 audio lesson and jazz scales only. Other lessons include a jam track (mp3) and jazz licks (pdf), as well.

Groove: swing
Difficulty level: easy

Free Download (4 MB)

Play What I Play

Lesson 1, D Minor Swing

by James Kass

This is a great introduction to jazz improvisation and ear training. Using only one chord and scale (Dmin7), the lesson starts off easy with one-measure licks and progresses to slightly more advanced two-measure licks. The first half of the lesson uses only the first five notes of the D minor (C major) scale, and the entire lesson covers only one octave, so it's in a comfortable range for all players. Suitable for beginning improvisors of all technical abilities. Includes mp3 audio files and sheet music.

Groove: swing
Difficulty level: easy

Free Download (22 MB)

Play What I Play

Lesson 2, C Minor Bossa Nova

by James Kass

Like Lesson 1, this is an introduction to jazz phrasing and ear training, but uses a C minor (Bb major) scale and bossa nova rhythm, which has a straight 8th-note feel instead of swing. The majority of this lesson covers only an octave, so it stays within a very comfortable playing range for all instruments. Lesson 2 is at the same beginning level as Lesson 1, and may be taken before Lesson 1, if preferred. Includes mp3 audio files and sheet music.

Groove: bossa nova
Difficulty level: easy

Free Download (25 MB)