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

585 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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26 - 50 of 240 Reviews for The Blues: Understanding and Performing an American Art Form

By Michela M

Jan 3, 2024

The teacher is a treasure. He is clearly in love with the subject and teaching. His students are so lucky. I play the guitar, and this is a more piano-focused course, but it didn't stop me, and it would not stop you either. Even without knowing the piano, I understood everything and learned so much. I had some former blues/jazz training, but it is suitable for absolute beginners as well. There are so many examples that anyone can learn. The course rating has only five stars available, but I would give it six. Totally recommended.

By csceconomics

Jan 31, 2019

What an awesome course! A must learn for any musician who is caught in a rut and is looking to jazz to expand their knowledge and ability. This gives you such great organised information that cannot be acquired except through formal music studies/classes from a tutor. Surely not a course for beginners though. Thanks to Mr. Dariusz Terefenko for his meticulous preparation of the course, his generosity in sharing his knowledge and for thinking ahead to prepare backing tracks for the student. Full marks to him and to the course.

By Craig S

Jan 28, 2017

This is an informative course for anyone interested in improvisation, regardless of your current level of achievement. If you have learned by yourself, with the help of instructors or friends over the years, you will find this course of benefit for filling in the holes of your knowledge. if you are a beginning or intermediate student, it is highly recommended as a means of understanding how to improvise. There are plenty for opportunities to practice with a rhythm section which is a great opportunity.

By Guillermo G

Apr 23, 2020

Excellent !!!

Through the study of the Blues from it's early manifestations, this course presents Jazz theory and practice, in a coherent, to the point way. The teacher is excellent, very articulate, very clear, just amazing.

Don't loose time and energy trying to find the concepts all around the place (internet) and attempting to assemble them in a coherent way, take this course instead, you will be rewarded with valuable knowledge, super well organized, and you will become a better musician.


By Nikita K

Feb 25, 2017

This is perfect course that overviews jazz blues evolution over time. It introduces the ideas to investigate both for soloist to improvise melodies, as well as for other musicians to provide harmonic and rhytmic context for soloist. It suggests very useful exercises to everybody, that will help to develop modulation and improvisation skills. Throughout the course I understood harmonies of many songs I tried to play before, and now I am able to better improvise on them.

By Jose W O

Feb 24, 2017

The Course Contents Quality is very good overall. The explanations applied to the instruments are also beautifully done. I like the historical references and the evolution of the course. This course is probably heavy for someone new as the concepts are not basic as the course advances. However for someone who already has good basic this course is excellent, it is well organized and very well presented including the performances. Thanks i really loved this course.

By Vera B

Jun 24, 2020

A wonderfull course, this is exactly what I was looking for a long time. Mr. Dariousz is a wonderful teacher, I have a deep respect for his knowledge. His manner of presentaton of the material is very intelligent. During training in this course, I noticed that I was tallking with my students, using his intonations, I was under his influence. I got a necessary knowledge for my work and the pleasure of communication with a great musician. Thank you, Mr. Terefenko!

By Ulla L P

Jun 11, 2016

This a formidable course that has given me a thourough understanding of jazz harmony, of the development of jazz harmonic language exemplified by the blues, and a plethora of practical exercises, both ear training and (primarily keyboard) playing. The play-along tracks are very useful, too, and last, but not least, it was wonderful to listen to the talented young jazz music students, who demonstrated various aspects of the subjects taught.

By Joao P

Jul 17, 2016

I've done quite a few online courses and have been studying Jazz intensively and seriously since 2009. This is, hands down, the best course I've found on the subject of improvisation - because it is so carefully organized and well explained. Mr. Terefenko does an amazing job taking you through the various blues types and improvisational devices. My only regret is that I didn't find years ago, as I was starting! Absolutely top material.

By Eduardo M C

Aug 10, 2016

It´s an excelent course, with a lot of material to study for long time. The explanations are clear and step by step. Professor Dariusz Terefenko is a great teacher and also a great player. Their students play great demonstrations on explained topics. I learn a lot about, otherwise difficult topics, on jazz styles, jazz harmony and improvisation using modes and other techniques. All applied over 12 bar blues structure.

By Igor M

Jun 7, 2017

Excellent course, not only to understand and learn about the Blues form, but also as a primer for Jazz.

Dariusz Terefenko is a great pedagogue. He makes all concepts very accessible, easy to understand and to put into practice. The course is nicely put together: packed with theory, practice tips and live examples.

I do not hesitate to recommend this course to anyone interested in playing Blues and Jazz.

By Cristian E

Nov 1, 2020

Great for people who want to compose, not just jazz, good music. The more music notions the student has, the more fluidity he/she will have following the lessons, even playing along. But many lessons, concerning scales, modes, comping techniques, are useful for very novice learners. This is not an interactive course, but for people like me who are almost starting with music, is not a bad thing.

By Pawel S

Jan 24, 2017

Excellent course. It is all about theory, which is fantastic, with some facility provided to enable improvisation. It would be great to extend this course to a hands-on improvisation. How about a part 2 - practical implementation of the introduced improvisational concepts?

Many thanks to prof. Terefenko and the band members - what a gathering of talent!

Best regards,

Pawel Slomowicz


Jul 8, 2020

i found this course very very helpful the way of teaching was excellent and the tips provided through this course was awesome and interesting. now i can improvise by using different scales and pattern which i found very different in jazz and blues improvisation. overall it was a great course which i found very helpful..........thanks a lot coursera for providing this type of course.

By David B

Aug 10, 2016

Excellent course. The lectures are well organized and illustrated with good examples. This professor not only has a remarkable fund of knowledge but understands how to teach the material focussing on key points, practical tips and fun. I will certainly obtain his book to continue learning and hope he will consider teaching additional courses on this site.

By Lorne D M

Jul 24, 2017

Some difficulty understanding instructor had to review some of the material. Need to improve my limited piano skills to better understand what was discussed. Able to play along with backing tracts in the later chapters. If the reference texts weren't so expensive would gladly have purchased them. as I have with other online coursera programs.

By Linda K

Jan 17, 2024

The course was incredibly well organized and had a great deal of information on the blues from its beginnings to todays music. Many great examples of blues were discussed. Many fantastic ideas on how to improve on improvisation. The course has inspired me to learn more about this musical form and to delve more into improvisation. Thank you!

By Doug B

Sep 5, 2017

Class is amazing if you have just a bit of theory background, and especially if you have a keyboard to practice some of the stuff on. Excellent professor, great appearances and performances on trumpet, bass, etc.. Also a nice intro to jazz piano. Happy to see Eastman contributing some top caliber material to a major mooc platform.

By Mahbub E

Jul 5, 2020

This course discusses several important aspects of Jazz and Blues music. And the course is well outlined, so it gradually gives you the fuller information and demonstrates for you what was earlier taught through a jam. It has been very helpful for me, I would suggest any one interested in blues and Jazz should take this course.

By Moriah T

Jan 3, 2021

Excellent course! The professor explains and demonstrates things in a very clear and coherent manner. As a classically trained pianist, I often find all things jazz & blues mystifying. This course is a great introduction to the techniques and strategies behind improvisation; I will continue to review and practice the material.

By Ivan L

Oct 16, 2016

I think this is a very complete course that teaches in detail the history and development of The Blues, backed up by extent theoretical content. I definetely learned a lot from it and also gave me all i need to continue developing my playng skills. Thanks to Coursera and all the people involved in the creation of this course.

By Claudio M

Sep 14, 2022

The course was very interesting. In my case I did not know technical details about Blues and Jazz, so taking this course was very beneficial. The teacher in charge was very clear throughout the sessions. But a greater practice is necessary that allows the acquisition of all the different aspects treated during the course.

By Graeme H

Mar 1, 2017

Brings together a lot of the 'book' theory in a pretty comprehensive and comprehensible form, with playing examples individually and in ensemble. Having struggled with some of this material in the past, I found Dariusz explanations really helped me move my comprehension of this subject area along quite dramatically.

By Anjali S A

Dec 8, 2020

Mr. Terefenko exhibited passion for his subject, which is always motivating for a student. His lectures were thorough, articulate and comprehensible for this singer who has had much theory in the past but does not play an instrument. I found the improvisations fun to sing along with and very useful. Thank you.

By Santiago A S

Jan 5, 2020

I'm not an english speaker and with the english subtitles I was able to understand everything, and the course content is very insightful, I'm going to be a long time coming back to some concepts and ideas for their detailed study and practice. I'm really gratefull and I recommend it, don't hesitate to do it!