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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

584 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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76 - 100 of 239 Reviews for The Blues: Understanding and Performing an American Art Form

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!

By Pavel T

Dec 28, 2017

I expected to see the content different from what was in the course but nevertheless it was great. Quite challenging, more jazz then blues, in my opinion, but a lot of great ideas and techniques for improvisation.

By cathy l

Aug 24, 2021

Fantastic course; thank you so much. I am a recently retired trumpet professor and have so much enjoyed your explanations of blue and especially the practice techniques. Wonderful course---I'll be practicing!

By Anne E

Jun 2, 2017

Excellent teacher; a delight to take the lessons and absorb the concepts involved in improving my improvisation skills. Many thanks; I'm thrilled to have had the opportunity to take this very worthy course.

By John B

Jul 28, 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!

By Azajul I N

May 10, 2020

This course is really interesting. I would like to recommend this course to those who genuinely loves music. Thanks to the University of Rochester for launching this wonderful masterpiece.

By Maurizio C

Feb 16, 2021

Really great course! Being a bassist, I was interested in delving into the harmonic bases of the blues and its evolution, and understanding what the pianist does. Really very useful.

By Bruce W

Dec 27, 2020

This was one of the best courses I have taken in my 61 years of piano...I'm 67 was certainly comprehensive and extremely educational and most enjoyable. Thank you so much.

By Jack

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.

By Sandro V O d M

Apr 2, 2017

Thanks a lot, Dariusz Terefenko! You are a terrific teaching and outstanding musician! This course changed the way I thought about music, it really made the difference!

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 Christos H

Jul 12, 2017


By Martin B

May 4, 2020

Great teaching needed to go through each lesson a few times to maximise information transfer and now need to practice the theory! Thanks for this course.

By Frederikke H S

Mar 22, 2021

Great and detailed course! The instructor's enthusiasm can be felt through the screen! Really worthwhile to spend time on if you're into blues or jazz.

By Dmitry A

Dec 30, 2016

The most interesting and complete course about the blues I've have ever seen! Structured, clear and very kind form of teaching. Thank you, Dariusz!

By Jordi F

Jun 30, 2017

All you need to know about how blues works. You won't be a blues musician after seven weeks but you've got a big step in the way to got it.

By Massiel

May 15, 2019

Very nice and genial course. I learned some new aspects i didnot know or which i had dute. More course like this please. Thank very much

By Lekhan

May 7, 2016

Excellent content and faculty ! thoroughly enjoying it : )

Thanks a lot to all who have worked towadrds making this material available

By Ekaterina S

Oct 24, 2020

I understood the theory better and combined it with practice. The course is very interesting and rich, very grateful to the creators!

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.