This is a follow up to our enormously successful, ‘20 songs in 20 weeks‘ course that introduced many of you to new songs.

In this course we are going to learn 10 licks in 10 weeks.  Each lick has been carefully chosen by me because of its sound, frequency of use and harmonic application.

You should learn each lick carefully the following three ways…

  1.  Learn how I play the lick BY EAR!
  2.  Keep playing the lick everyday, the moment you pick up the instrument, each time before you pop the saxophone away on the stand or back in its case – play this weeks lick.
  3.  Transpose each lick into as many keys as you can.
  4.  Be able to move the lick,
    (a) Around the cycle of 4ths
    (b) In Semitones
    (c) In Tones
    (d) In Minor 3rds, Major 3rds and tritones
  5. Find a song you can ‘plant’ this lick into,  I will give you an idea each week, but find some more.

Finally, when you’ve done this on 10 different licks you will have an enormous amount of VOCABULARY at your finger tips – use it wisely!


Lesson 1 – Preparation for 10 licks

Welcome to our #10licks10weeks course. Before we start the ten licks in ten weeks, it would be a good idea to recap some of the underpinning theory to the licks we are going to learn.

Lick #1 – One Bar ii V

This lick is based over a Major 9th chord and can be use over a one bar ii V progression, such as the one found on a blues form.

Lick #2 – Two Bar ii V lick

Lick #2 is a very straight forward ‘inside’ lick that was given to me by Eric Alexander whilst I was studying with him.

Lick #5 – One Bar ii V

This is a very inside sounding lick as it uses all the notes of the Minor 7th chord, followed by the 3rd and Root note of the Dominant 7th or V chord.

Lick #6 – ‘Cry Me a River Lick’

The ‘Cry Me a River lick’ is a very popular lick. It outlines the chord my starting on the 9th and descending down the minor arpeggio. There is also a great way to use this over a Dominant 7th chord, but let’s deal with this in its minor form first!

Lick #7 – Diminished Lick

Lick number 7 is a diminished lick, and being diminished it is extremely versatile. Diminished scales are known in Classical music as octatonic scales and they were employed by many of the great composers of the 20th C – read more here.

Lick #8 – Whole Tone Lick

The Whole Tone scale, like the diminished scale is built on the principle of the tritone. It is a hexatonic or six note scale and works really well over a descending whole step ii V pattern.

Lick #9 – Dominant 7th Lick

Some of you may have seen this video before, in fact one of you is in it! I wanted to hold off my intended lick #9 till next week and give you another Dominant 7th lick.

Lick #10 – Rhythm Changes

Rhythm Changes is the name given to any composition that uses the harmonic framework of George Gershwin’s ‘I Got Rhythm’.


Dan Forshaw

I'm passionate about creating inspirational experiences through music and other arts. A life changing experience under the influence of the music of John Coltrane lead to study in New York and London. My thesis was on the Theology of John Coltrane as expressed through A Love Supreme. I perform across Europe with various jazz groups and teach through my innovative website, www.cambridgesaxophone.com. I'm a total Apple Geek, Cricket, Rugby, F1 and Football fan and I'm learning to listen opinions before giving my own!