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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

355 ratings
144 reviews

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


Mar 04, 2017

This is very practical and useful course. I really learned something from it! I love this courser and I strongly recommend this course to everyone who is fascinated in Blues.


Sep 18, 2017

Thanks so much to all involved - I found the material to be clearly presented and rich in content. It really helped me to understand how to grow in my jazz exploration.

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26 - 50 of 141 Reviews for The Blues: Understanding and Performing an American Art Form

By jason

Nov 09, 2016

Great course- thank you, Dariusz!

By John R

Oct 12, 2016


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 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 Ervin S

Jun 19, 2016

I've learnt a lot from this course. Thanks!

By Linda K

Jul 23, 2017

Fantastic introduction to the blues and to music theory. Very clear explanations, great demos, engaging professor.

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 Herman J V

Jun 25, 2018

Very well explained, step by step, increasing difficulty and suitable for different levels of music theory knowledge. Great teacher.

By Roberto J H

Aug 15, 2017

Great course

By Juanjo R C

Dec 10, 2017

buen curso, lastima no está en español 100%

By Alan t

Aug 10, 2016

Excellent class. Interesting, informative and with practical application. Highly recommended.

By Pablo S H

Aug 25, 2017

It´s great and resourceful. From basic to advance level.

By Marek J

Jun 27, 2016

Very good course for all musicians. Explains advanced blues and jazz theory in easy way. Very interesting material about the music history and harmony evaluation.

By Simone S

Sep 25, 2016

The assignments are not really commensurate to the content, i.e. they are much simpler and superficial and do not really test the content, which is deeper and implies practical activities difficult to measure. The title is also partially misleading, at least for me, and I would rather call it a blues introduction to jazz improvisation. But the content and the exercises proposed are great, one of the best and no nonsense approach to bebop improvisation I've ever found

By Susanne R

Dec 16, 2016

This was the best music course I have ever taken. Thanks to Professor Terefenko, the Eastman School of Music, the talented musicians who composed and performed pieces, and Coursera. I have learned a lot of new ways to practice. The ear training and the explanations of the theory were very helpful.


May 14, 2016


By Xiangxin L

Jun 18, 2017

So many ideas for blues and jazz.

By Carlos A F

Jul 18, 2016


By Marcos N d O

Apr 13, 2017

Pratical, straight foward and elusive.

By Fuchs

Dec 31, 2017

Excuse my english language (i'm French) but I really want to thanks the teacher for those courses. It's was very very clear and my girlfriend said to me yesterdays : "wouah your sound is better :)"

I hope that you will continue with the jazz standards. I know we can use all this tools for the jazz standards but the harmony and melody are sometimes more complex than the blues and it can be useful to have the same course for the most important standards.

Meanwhile, real thank you very very much, i will work tomorrow with the pattern of Coltrane.

Happy new years :)

Anton Fuchs

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 fabian r

Jul 27, 2016

excellent! great course for undertanding the blues and its evolution!

By Ernesto D L

Dec 03, 2016


By Lee M

Nov 01, 2016

A fantastic introduction to how Jazz was formed and relates to the blues. What an inspiration Professor Dariusz Terefenko is.

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.