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  1. #1

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    My teacher gave me the 4-year curriculum of the local uni’s jazz guitar degree program, broken down semester by semester (8 semester total).

    Is there such a thing for Berklee or other well-recognized college guitar programs? Links? PDFs?


    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
  3. #2

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    Yes, a lot of information is listed online, have you gone to their site?

    Other programs show a bit as well: UNT, USC, MSM

  4. #3
    Yes to Berklee. A lot of stuff to wade through.

  5. #4

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    There's a breakdown of requirements but it's not necessarily on a year by year basis. There's also a graduated proficiency requirements with specific requirements for each level. Would you like a PDF of those? PM me if it'd be helpful. I'll also give you my personal thoughts on the merits and pitfalls of that system if you're interested.

  6. #5

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    I've got your merits and pitfalls right here! (said in my best Tony Soprano voice).

    OK, all kidding aside here are some thoughts on the Berklee 8 levels:

    Firstly, beyond the private lessons with your instructor there will be required ensemble credits (every semester or close to every semester is typical in music schools). If you want to focus on jazz there are multiple improvisation classes offered. That's also typical in a robust jazz studies program.

    For the 8 levels of guitar:
    1. The 8 levels are not atypical of any well organized program for undergraduate instrumental study, in that they include a semester-end proficiency exam for: technique, reading, and a recital performance. ("Technique" refers to chords, scales, arpeggios)

    2. During the semester your instructor will also assign multiple additional tunes and etudes beyond what is required in the recital. That's also typical. One needs to build repertoire.

    3. If your focus is jazz, your instructor will also likely require a semester-end performance of a transcribed jazz solo. By transcribed I mean transcribed to paper by you - and turned in. (using Finale, Sibelius etc.)

    So far so good. However, there are three "Berklee Guitar 8 levels" issues that I think should be resolved to better serve the student.

    1. A reduction in the three-octave scale and arpeggio "compulsories". I'm not suggesting that they be eliminated, but am suggesting that they be reduced and replaced by some more musically applicable technique requirements. For example - junior and senior level "standard etudes" that embody lots of technical challenges, including long range scale and arpeggio runs at a brisk clip. Oh, and lots of "jazz language" too. :0

    2. The emphasis on arpeggio inversions in 1-2-3 octaves. I believe this emphasis is a holdover from William Leavitt's Modern Method and plectrum guitar influence, which in turn has some classical influences in it. Again I would suggest reduction not elimination, and would point to Berklee's own Technique of The Saxophone studies for scales and chords. Note: The scales book has a little bit on scales but quickly shifts to arpeggios in triads, seventh, ninth chords, etc. up to 13th chord diatonic studies. It's more about arpeggios in other words. The "chords" book (hint: saxophones can't play chords) includes a lot of chromatic and scale tone approach notes on the most typically encountered chords in modern/jazz harmony. So these studies are not quite "jazz patterns" but are darned close, and are for daily practice and proficiency.

    On these two objections, my point is that one should be challenged by increasingly difficult material, but it should be directly applicable to music. In other words, practice should provide a "high bang for the buck". A survey of what is found in many jazz solos reveals the relative "usefulness" of three octave scales, modes, arpeggios and arpeggio inversions. It also sheds some light on the applicability of only playing arpeggios like 1-3-5-7, 3-5-7-8, 5-7-8-3, 7-8-3-5 and permutations of same.

    Just look at what Coltrane and Wes played and you'll see an approach to arpeggio playing that includes lots of streams of thirds (sheets of sound), much like what is covered in the Berklee sax books. So, I think some adjustments/tweaks are called for. Not a revolution, but an evolution.

    3. The requirement to go to "triad heaven" as I call it, for triad cycles. Don't eliminate these studies altogether, but don't make them the holy grail. Where are the quartal harmony compulsories? (half kidding, but you get the point). Eddie Lang and George Van Eps are dead. Long live Eddie Lang and George Van Eps.

    Ironically, everything I just wrote could have been said/done in 1968-1978, but just like with a lot of other academic disciplines, the schools are always 5-10 years behind the market.

    Just my two cents.
    Last edited by Jazzstdnt; 04-28-2019 at 04:42 PM.

  7. #6
    Interestingly, I have the Viola book, but I never thought of using it for guitar!