jazz language

The language of jazz improvisation consists mainly of the melodies and rhythms of its repertoire. That's why good jazz musicians, as a matter of course, learn repertoire by heart.

Learning by heart, and learning how to transfer what you hear directly onto the instrument without conscious calculation - these are the most important steps in improving your jazz playing.

To this end we have put together a great collection of tunes, pulled from all corners of jazz history, chosen not only for the specific improvising challenges they throw up, but also because they are now part of the jazz lexicon.

As we go through the season, we'll be exploring the fundamental principles of the music - the rhythmic foundations both of swing and latin pulse, how to play both on and through chords (two different things!), how best to use all the scales and modes in different situations, how to lock in with the rhythm section, how to practise, how to create dialogue, shape and atmosphere in your solos, and much much more.

Here are the details of the various programmes we offer:

study options


ensemble (click/touch for more info)

The ensemble is the heart of what we do at Jazz School UK - regular playing sessions in streamed groups learning a set repertoire, with expert guidance from some of the finest players and teachers around.
The regular meetings and carefully graded repertoire ensure steady and consolidated progress for players of all abilities and experience, from beginning improvisers right through to aspiring professionals.
Knowing the tunes in advance - exploring new improvising skills and coming back to them repeatedly to consolidate knowledge - establishing musical relationships in a regular group - all these things give purpose and meaning to your practice between each meeting. Improvement is unavoidable!

  • This is a programme of learning - players sign up for a group for the whole season.
  • Groups are streamed by ability and experience.
  • These are small groups based round rhythm section (drums, bass, piano/guitar) plus frontline.
  • Meetings take place in the large studios (lounge and clicking) at Jazz School UK. Grand pianos galore!
  • Each group has a set repertoire of jazz tunes and standards. With the help of prepararatory Zoom sessions, a playlist, tunesheets that we supply, theory notes taken in sessions and available on the members website and in jazz school literature, players prepare the new tunes each month and come in to play them in their group under the guidance of one of our expert tutors. They then work some more on these tunes in the light of what they have learned in this session and bring them back for revision later in the season.
  • The aims of the programme are - learning the essential tune repertoire which is the primary source of the melodic, harmonic and rhythmic elements of jazz improvisation - learning how to function correctly within a small jazz group - learning how to apply the theory of jazz harmony and rhythm to real-time improvisation - learning how to connect sound to feeling.
  • The main part of the programme work is done by the player in personal practice, performance and study;  the monthly meetings, as well as being guided playing sessions, provide a focus for this personal work, an opportunity to ask questions and to receive feedback and clarification of theory points, and are also very enjoyable social occasions. Sometimes there is cake.
  • The monthly meetings comprise four x 1 hour sessions and use a range of development techniques to explore and consolidate the ensemble skills, tune language and theory points arising in the performance of each tune.
  • All students value individual feedback into their playing - this is one of the things that can really help the learning process. At the end of each season each regular ensemble player gets an individual report, compiled from their own and tutor evaluations of progress through the year.
  • ensemble plus

    The ensemble plus programme is a step up, offering feedback at the end of each term, as well as online 121 lessons to address the instrumental and theory issues arising. This is a great opportunity to combine repertoire, ensemble and theory work with tightly focused personal study with a professional.


    The pathway programme is our most intensive course of study, being similar to a part-time degree course. It generally involves two visits a month (one ensemble and one pathway day) 12 hours of online 121 lessons, transcription and artist projects, online support, and a prescribed amount of guided personal study (10-15 hours a week).


    The basis of Jazz School UK workshops, like that of our regular Ensembles, is the tutored playing session. You will be working in small groups of players of similar ability. They are based round rhythm section (drums, bass, piano/guitar) plus frontline. The focus of these sessions will be the repertoire, development work and improvising skills that are essential for all jazz players. Early booking is advised to secure your place, especially in the rhythm sections.

    Jazz workshops are generally a great way of getting in some serious playing time and hooking up with like-minded players, and of course, of getting valuable advice from experienced pros. On the downside, the amount of new information and repertoire on offer can be overwhelming. Players often emerge exhilarated, but strangely dispirited, nuggets of new understanding completely outweighed by what they suspect they haven't quite understood! This can lead to issues of low self-esteem and long term alcohol and chocolate abuse. Our workshops are very different. We provide tune lists, recommended listening and tune sheets in advance. All this means you can learn much more effectively when you get here. All the buzz of the short workshop with maximum educational benefit.

    It's great if you can do a whole weekend, but as long as we can fit you into a group, we're happy for you to come for single days.

    We aim to provide a good playing and learning experience for players of all levels, from beginners right through to good gigging standard. Workshop repertoire is generally based on the Ensemble programme, although we also run some stand-alone workshop days.

    jazz school online

    Having been obliged by the pandemic to take Jazz School UK online for most of the 2020-21 season, we weren't expecting more than a barely acceptable stopgap. In fact we found that in some areas the online alternative was very effective - so much so that we mean to continue to run it alongside our 'live'sessions. This means that you will be able to have 121 lessons with our brilliant tutors (among the best players and teachers you will find anywhere - do I keep mentioning this?) and follow our popular online theory courses.

  • jazz history
  • jazz listening
  • jazz transcription
  • jazz arranging
  • Blues
  • I Got Rhythm
  • form maps
  • axis theory

    You can register interest in our programmes, workshops and lessons using this form. You will be asked to give an indication of your playing standard - please read through the guide to playing levels and season repertoire on the ensembles page for help with this. The workshop diary is here. Prices are here.