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  What IS Targeting?

Targeting- Aiming at a goal note with purpose. 

There is a common misconception about targeting in the Jazz education community. Targeting is not merely playing to land on the guide tones (3rds and 7ths) of each passing chord,

but rather a form of thinking ahead by making the last note of your phrase the target/goal.

Too many beginner musicians worry about how they are going to start their line and freeze during the improvisation process. Each chord has a 3rd (and potentially 7th) and they can fly past you before you had a chance to play a single note. By focusing on the targeted note, the musician has a roadmap to follow. Then, all of the tools we discuss become vehicles to get us to our desired target. It simplifies our thought process which allows your creativity to emerge.

Does that mean that we don't use the 3rds & 7ths (traditional guide tones)? You do-they're still valid! I teach Targeting in two very important ways:

  1. This can be on a micro level (from chord to chord and guide-tone to guide-tone) or
  2. On a macro level (key areas so you can focus on longer and more melodic phrases).

What makes good targets?

  • When thinking micro: the guide-tones. Traditionally the 3rds and 7ths of chords because they help define the quality of the chord. However, these can be expanded to include the root, 5th, and extensions
  • When thinking macro: they key center's 1, 3, and 5. For example, if we have a progression (or part of one) in the key of C; our target notes would be C, E, and G (1st, 3rd, and 5th of the key). I prefer to teach the macro approach to beginners because it's easier to find and hear. This also gets the beginner thinking horizontally (melodically) instead of vertically (harmonically). Those targets also end up being other guide tones as well. We'll explore this a little more under basic theory.

What are our tools?

Every musical device you can imagine (as long as you are using them to get you to your desired target). Those tools include chromatic targeting, pentatonic scales, rhythm, diminished/altered and half-diminished scales, the blues, licks, patterns and whatever else you find useful. The key is using that tool as a means to get to your desired target. 

            To get the most out of this masterclass you will want to dedicate time to practice each lecture in as many keys as you can. When learning a new concept, it is helpful to start in familiar keys. However, to develop fluidity it is important to learn them in the one's we're not as familiar too. Key fluency is something you will always continue to work on as a developing musician.