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Back to The Blues: Understanding and Performing an American Art Form

Learner Reviews & Feedback for The Blues: Understanding and Performing an American Art Form by University of Rochester

570 ratings

About the Course

The blues is an American art form and the most important musical form in jazz. Although there are other formal paradigms of the blues, such as 8-bar or 16-bar, this course focuses on different incarnations of the 12-bar blues. There are considerable differences between Early Jazz blues, Swing blues, Bebop blues, Modal blues, and Post Bop blues. Each type has its unique harmonic syntax, melodic vocabulary and, associated with them, improvisational techniques. While other aspects of jazz performance practice have been constantly changing from one stylistic convention to another, the blues has never lost its identity and expressive power, and continues to exert a powerful influence on the harmonic and melodic syntax of jazz. This seven-week course explores important aspects of the blues, blues improvisation, basic keyboard textures, jazz harmonic and melodic syntax. Topics include: (1) Blues Progressions; (2) Blues and Other Scales; (3) Improvisational Tools, and others. This course will also cover valuable theoretical concepts enabling the student to master the art of jazz improvisation. Each topic will be introduced from a practical perspective with the clearly stated goal: to improve one’s improvisational skills. Jazz improvisation is rooted in spontaneity, creativity, self-expression and, at the same time, self-control and order. A unique pedagogical approach based on a one-to-one musical interaction conducted with different instrumentalists will help to reinforce many of the concepts introduced in this course and realize its stated objectives....

Top reviews


Jul 27, 2020

Very good and enjoyable mix of practice and theory - from basics to more advanced with good explanations throughout. I just wish I was a better piano player to be able to take full advantage of it!


Oct 7, 2016

Such a great course! Even though I am a bass player this course has made me understand patterns and ways in which the Blues can be taken to. Thank you very much for such an amazing experience.

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51 - 75 of 231 Reviews for The Blues: Understanding and Performing an American Art Form

By Martins J d S F

Sep 25, 2017

Excelente Curso. Abre a mente do aluno para os "segredos" da harmonia que envolve o blues. Excelente professor. O ritmo das aulas, a sequência dos conteúdos, o link com os estilos e principais nomes deste estilo musical. Realmente, um dos melhores cursos que já fiz aqui no Coursera. Parabéns!

By Fabián U

Dec 1, 2020

¡Excelente! aprendí muchas cosas y relacione mucho mejor otras que ya tenía. El maestro es muy claro en sus explicaciones e inspira a seguir aprendiendo al escucharlo y verlo tocar el piano. Dan muchas ganas de estudiar más contenidos de él y de la universidad. Felicitaciones desde Colombia.

By Manfred K

Aug 13, 2020

I liked this course very much. It has a very well selected content and is very well presented. I'm just an amateur musician, restarting to play after several decades hiatus. This course gave me the right material and right inspirations to get a major step forward. Thank you, Mr. Terefenko.

By Ryan B H

Apr 9, 2017

This course was wonderful! A great deep dive into all the theory behind the blues, the various harmonizations and the music theory behind them, as well as a number of great concrete examples of song analysis, composition and improvisation. I recommend it to anyone interested in the blues!

By Alexander S

Sep 18, 2021

A wonderful introduction to blues! Really helpful!

I liked that theoretical discussions were complemented with practicing tools.

Be careful, the course requires some prior theoretical knowledge of music. So if you don't know musical notation you will find this course quite challenging.

By Carlos

Jan 28, 2018

What a wonderful and comprehensive course, I feel like I have enough material to get through for at least a couple of years. The Profesor is absolutely wonderful, so inspiring and thorough, very clear in his explanations. 5 stars for sure!! Thank you, Professor Dariusz Terefenko!

By Munro W

Jan 24, 2019

Mr Terefenko's course is challenging but he gives you a wide variety of skills, tips and understandings to progress your involvement in both Jazz and music generally. He is very clever and also a wonderful source of inspiration. Complete the papers and you will learn lot's 🎼✔️!

By Carlos W A

Oct 31, 2017

This course is really incredible. It is very complete and although it focuses on the blues style, many of the principles learned can be applied to other musical genres. The teacher is excellent and the classes very didactic although I must warn that it is not aimed at beginners

By Brian D

May 2, 2018

Excellent learning experience. Dariusz Terefenko's demonstrations and explanations helped me better understand the theory and mechanics behind the progressions and improvisations. Great to have students show some of their compositional and improvisational skills as well.

By Tristan K

May 21, 2022

Excellent information, well realized examples, pertinent discussion, and above all, a wonderful instructor with a wealth of knowledge and engaging classroom manner. I highly recommend this course to anyone who wants to broaden their technical understanding of the blues.

By Rebecca D

Nov 21, 2016

Excellent course. I thought the explanations about Jazz theory were well grounded when demonstrated by the students playing. Lots of great tips and complex ideas brought to life by great performances. A course in Blues that I could probably do again, it was so good.

By Bill P

Nov 21, 2016

I got a lot from this course. It looks a bit technical and demanding at first but worth sticking with. There are useful ideas to help understand and apply the course content to practice and hearing music.

One minor point - the video subtitles could do with an edit.

By Jonathan F

May 14, 2017

Wonderfully insightful. Rigorous and structurally clarifying. Way beyond my current playing and comprehension/composition/improvisation abilities, but I hope someday to have a chance to use at least some of this to expand the range and beauty of the music I play.

By Ben S

Jan 28, 2017

This course presents the relationships between various aspects of composition and performance in a clearly structured manner, demystifying much about blues jazz that had confused me before. This has improved my musicianship, but more so my music appreciation.

By Sofia K

May 16, 2016

Although I don't have any musical background I really enjoyed this course and have learned and understood a bit more about the blues.

Thanks to the Professor and the musicians for giving their time and effort to make this MOOC a reality.

Much appreciated.

By Linda Y

Aug 30, 2020

The Lecturer was amazing in his teaching technique but also his talent. My one suggestion is that many of the written notes are not written correctly. This can be confusing at times. Other than that I loved the course and would highly recommend it.

By Robert B

Oct 2, 2018

Very interesting and informative course. The theory was a bit over my head, I did not know what the pre requisites were. I did not fully understand most of it but it sounded so good to me. I am sure it will sink in if I take the course again later.

By Jean P G C

Jul 14, 2020

Excelente curso. Un curso completísimo para gente interesada en relacionar la teoría musical con la música popular. Sirve para comprender de buena manera los alcances del blues y su desarrollo en el jazz, rock y en gran parte de la música popular.

By Michael C

Jul 19, 2017

Excellent. I've learned a lot and got lots of opportunity to see not only the harmonic content on a page, but listening examples and "play-alongs." I'd definitely recommend this course to someone else and already have!! Thanks for the great class!

By Joshua G

Mar 4, 2021

I have my bachelor's degree in music, but I always enjoy expanding my current knowledge. The history behind this genre of music was fun to learn about. I also enjoyed listening to the musicians and their compositions. This was a fun course.

By Paul B

Feb 4, 2021

I have found this course to be of the very highest level - interesting, informative, original in approach to the subject matter and finally enjoyable ! Excellent tutoring from Dariusz, look forward to joining him again sometime

By betelgeuseaml

Nov 11, 2020

Descubrí muchas cosas que no sabía. Darius Terefenko es genial para dar el curso, y armaron todo el contenido de una forma muy interesante, que te lleva a aprender de forma gradual y consistente. Con muy buenos resultados.

By Francois B

Jun 15, 2018

Good focus on theoretical content plus practice tips and how to apply the knowledge. Very interesting.I would have liked more advanced examples on piano from the teacher to show case how far you can get with his teaching.

By Anthony R J

Feb 8, 2019

Thank you for the excellent method of educating and presenting examples of how to understand and play music and especially The Blues. The Instructor was simply Grand in his delivery and structure.

Anthony Ray Johnson

By Ralitsa N

Sep 12, 2017

A course I would recommend to anyone who wants to dig into blues origins and forms. I ended up with some very valuable improvisational tools as well! Thanks to all the people involved into making this couse available!