Tag Archives: transcribing

Why Transcribing Is So Important

If you ran through this website you would notice that there is one type of course that keeps popping up – transcription.

Transcribing in its strictest sense is the art of musical dictation, that is writing down what is played – but I don’t want you to do that, (at least most of the time.)

Why? Well music is sound. I’ll say it again MUSIC IS SOUND! So often we spend far too much time using our eyes when we play music rather than our ears.   If you truly want to understand how a musician, especially a saxophonist sounds then you need to learn the art of imitation.

But I thought jazz was all about self expression, being unique? Self-expression is a real important part of jazz, but you’d be very much mistaken if you thought jazz was all about making it up on the spot etc.  Jazz is a language, like French and if you really want to become fluent in a language, to communicate with others in that language, to express yourself in that language then you need to learn how to converse in that language.

There is no better way of understanding how Lester Young, Charlie Parker, Paul Desmond, Miles Davis (not a sax player, but worth transcribing,) John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins and many others construct their solos than listening intently and learning how they play by USING YOUR EARS!!

Here’s one of my students Simon playing a transcription project he’s been studying on Sonny Rollins’ version of ‘Three Little Words’ (there’s no course for this, Simon’s been working on this by himself.)

You can listen to our transcription projects below


If you want to start learning how to transcribe, or how you can apply it to your playing, then click here

Riding along in my automobile (with Chris Potter beside me at the wheel) …

Well, Chris along with Paul Motion, Larry Grenadier and Rebecca Martin.

The most-often heard phrase I hear during my student consultations is ‘I just don’t have the time to practise …’

I feel your pain. It is difficult to find time. The secret is planning to practise and then doing your best to keep that date … Maybe that’s another video for me to do.

In the meantime here’s some practice you can do on the way to work, while travelling around or simply sat at home.

Uploading a Video to YouTube


As part of our ‘Them Dirty Blues’ exercise I would like you all to record a video of you playing the transcription and then uploading it to the web.

Here’s a short video for those of you who don’t know how to record and post to YouTube via your own software – YouTube allows you to do it directly! The quality will be better if you use something like iMovie and then upload it to the web, but this isn’t a bad option for free!

If you’re on a mobile device (like iPhone or iPad) then it is really easy to upload a video directly from the YouTube app.