Coursera Improvisation Course (with Gary Burton)

Today is the deadline for Assignment 1 of Coursera’s Jazz Improvisation Course, which I’m taking. I was about to drop out, because my violin technique isn’t good enough, and my music theory is rusty at best, but since it’s a public holiday today here in Norway, I had a whole day to spend on playing. Here’s what I came up with:

Yes, it’s faaar from perfect, and I missed some notes in the bridge, but I can’t stand recording yet another take, so this is the one I’m submitting. Also, I’m pretty satisfied with the theme that I open the solo with.1

And by the way, what Coursera does here is absolutely magnificent. It enables me (and thousands of others) to do something I always wanted and never believed to be possible: to study jazz improvisation with no other than Gary Burton, the greatest vibraphonist alive, and one the greatest improvisers in the world. And it’s for free. So then even if he kicks me out, I’ll have something to tell my grandchildren about.


  1. What I’m also unsatisfied with is the quality of the record. This is due to a couple of reasons. First of all, I’m using a 2010 MacbookPro, which only has one, combined input-output audio socket. Playing on a silent instrument this means that I can either hear myself playing, or the trio, but not both. So then the way I do it is that I play the trio in iTunes on the laptop, and then independently record my violin through a NAD C715 stereo. This is the reason why the timing is sometimes a tad off – I simply can’t always hear the trio clearly (laptop speakers aren’t loud enough). I’ll buy an external soundcard tomorrow, so hopefully there won’t be any problems with the next recording. Secondly, I’m using GarageBand to mix the tracks, and it’s either poorly designed software, or I’m a dumb user. Aligning the tracks (there’s a delay of about 3-4 seconds between when I press “record” and when recording starts on my NAD…) took me 30 minutes or more. Oh and finally, the strings I’m currently using (Dominant) also contribute to unpleasant sound.

Published by Piotr Kaźmierczak

I like jazz and cycling.