“The piano ain’t got no wrong notes.” 

– Thelonious Monk


Improvisation is as much a skill (that can be learnt) as it is an art.   In this lesson we look at a tried and tested way to get in to the world of improvisation using a very simple framework to improvise a solo over a jazz blues tune.  In this study we will take the simple, yet beautiful melody from Duke Ellington’s classic tune “C Jam Blues”, which, as the name suggests is in the key of “C” and together with the C Minor Blues scale, learn how to create simple yet powerful improvised musical statements.  

Plan of Action:

1) Hear the Tune! 

2) Learn The Melody and play it over the Tune

3) Learn to play the Minor Blues Scale over the Tune

4) Alternate between the Melody and the Minor Blues Scale

5) Improvise by embellishing the Melody and the Minor Blues scale

6) Learn some Minor Blues Licks


1. Hear It!

Our first step is to learn the melody accurately and be able to play it over a backing track.  Below is the melody notated and also a backing track for you to practice on.