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Learner Reviews & Feedback for Jazz Improvisation by Berklee College of Music

611 ratings
189 reviews

About the Course

Learn the basic concepts of improvisation from Gary Burton, one of the most renowned improvisers in the jazz world, including the mental, melodic, and harmonic processes that contribute to the instinctive skills that an improviser puts to use when taking a solo. While many people are fans of jazz and understand that musicians are often “making up” the notes they are playing during a performance, most people—often including musicians, themselves, who are beginning to learn improvising—aren’t clear about what exact processes take place to enable this to happen. The purpose of this course is to introduce the basic concepts of modern improvisation and how to go about mastering the different musical and mental skills involved. Course author Gary Burton codifies a sought-after approach to improvisation that has been at the core of Berklee College of Music's curriculum for decades. Students who complete this course will know what to practice and how to practice the various aspects of improvising, in addition to understanding how the improviser spontaneously communicates to the listeners through their musical creations....

Top reviews


Nov 20, 2016

This was a truly great course, I learnt so much. And I have been playing piano for almost 60 years! Thanks to a wonderful teacher and musician (brilliant rendition of Chick Corea's Crystal Silence)


Jul 03, 2019

It showed got me real close to a personal tutor combined with its active class discussion network, keeping me on my toes and giving me a boost in my Jazz learning. I am happy I took this one.

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176 - 186 of 186 Reviews for Jazz Improvisation

By Kangrui X

Jan 02, 2018

As a newcomer to jazz (classical background), it took me a while to figure out how to apply the concepts and sound good. I particularly would've liked demonstrations/ analysis of these improv techniques by musicians over real music. Also, the quality of peer evaluations was sometimes inconsistent (this may be inherent in peer learning). Other than that, my musicianship improved and I would recommend this course.

By David Z

Feb 17, 2017

Great course, the peer-editing could be improved or find a different mode of judgement.

By Jerry T

Oct 07, 2019

Excellent mini course on the rudiments of the language of jazz improvisation.

The only reason I didn't give 5 stars is because the website isn't as clear and direct showing how to navigate to find an answer to a question you may have -- other than the forum. If there was a way to have direct contact with a mentor via Live Chat or Phone call or even email?? I'd have given this 5 stars. The one email I sent in with a question I never got a response other than she was going to look into it and "get back to me." Never did.

Gary Burton was of course a great instructor!

By Angelene M S V

Nov 13, 2015

Very good and simplified instruction. But I think it needs one more week discussion to improve improvisation. Also, grades are usually late.

By Adrian C

Dec 16, 2015

The teacher is great at performing but the pace of the class is way too fast for me.

The assignment is hard.

But, hey, that's Berklee.

By brian b

Aug 19, 2019

Keep trying to understand.

By Henrik H

Sep 21, 2018

I was looking forward to this jazz course. The course material is good, great instructor and challenging assignments but bad interface. Un-enrolled because I couldn't find a place to upload assignments.

By Alexander P

Feb 23, 2017

I did not like this course. It is a course for those who are already involved into the topic not newbies. Very general short and sloppy explanations and a lot of practical assignments for peer evaluation. I had a lot of experience in classical music but I was puzzled with what goes on in this course. After having completed some other jazz courses I realized that i had no chances to learn anything here since the theory is not explained sufficiently. The title of the course is misleading. It rather should be called a master class on jazz improvisation.

By Jonathan L G

Jan 04, 2018

Bueno el curso para empezar, esta bien, pero los examenes estan en ingles y no estan traducidos, eso dificulta el avanze

By Michael S

Jan 24, 2016

The class covered a good variety of subjects to learn. There are some key areas of improvement:

1) You should build more examples in the lectures. The lectures were short to start with, but adding more examples and passages would have helped.

2) Xylophone is perhaps the worst instrument to use to teach this course, especially with the camera facing the front of the xylophone. It was very hard to see what notes were being hit by the mallets (especially when using chords) and therefore it was very difficult to understand (visually) what Gary was doing. I suggest using a keyboard and having the camera shooting from the above of the keyboard (look at how several people have done this on YouTube). This way you can see what notes are being hit, held, and you can see them from a pianist's view.

The material was good, but because of the two areas above the teaching was not as effective.

By Torsten P

Nov 21, 2015

While the content is very helpful and Gary does his best to make people confident to improvise in Jazz music, this course has imho two major flaws:

The biggest one: assignments given and results accepted do not fit together. E.g. in week 1 learners are supposed to describe in their own words how a piece of music does sound like. But the accepted answers are totally different from such a description. Instead only a very detailed and specialized answer is accepted. This leads to studends copying these answers into their assignments without them learning anything.

The other flaw is that Gary is very brief in his explanations. Even intermediate musicians seem to struggle with content just because some explanations are not exact or vague.