I do a master class primarily on language skills for improvisation (applicable on all instruments). The most common problem that many high school students and college students have is that they have this eternal question that needs to be clarified. That is “what scales go with which chord changes, how can I apply them to create good solos"
My method takes you through learning all your 2-5-1 progressions in all keys using various drills, for voicing and mastery of the chords in all keys. Utilizing major scales and diminished scales I can get a beginner moving very quickly on his or her quest to master the understanding and performance of chord changes. I take you through a simple and methodical way of thinking about harmony and improvisations.
My scale drills and chord outline drills combined with my motive development drill will drive your improvising in forward motion. The simplicity of my way of thinking of the language allows a student to learn it quick and begin soloing right away which turns learning into fun as well as boosts the players confidence on their instrument of choice.
After a 2hr clinic (complete with handouts of my materials) I rehearse a group of faculty members or local players in a program of a couple of original compositions combined with my arrangements of various standards and I do an evening concert leading a quartet (the performance portion can be incorporated into the master-class if time and budget do not allow an evening performance). This allows the students to see my method in its highest form of application. They notice many of the techniques discussed in the clinic in performance. I find this to be a great learning and motivating experience for them. I have had many letters from students long after I’m gone telling me of how my one day at their school helped them feel secure about what they were playing.
This program has been successful at The Juilliard School, Peabody Conservatory, University of Southern Missisippi and many other university and high school music departments that I’ve traveled to. Yamaha sponsors many of the traveling clinics I do with instruments and some funding when needed.
Below are some testimonials regarding my teaching method
I found Mark's teaching method to be the best I've yet encountered regarding what's REALLY important in jazz, i.e., his "triplets" concept re: feeling time, for example. He knows how to convey all the essentials of extended harmony and at the same time keeps you glued to the basics of swinging, soulful phrasing plus how to listen & respond the other players. U can't get any better than that.
Larry Coryell Jazz Guitarist
It is with great pleasure that I lend my support to this web site. Mark Sherman is a unique individual in that he embodies both the spirit of musical excellence with a gift and desire to assist others in their musical quests. I have known Mark for some 30 years now and have had the pleasure of performing with him in numerous settings from Lena Horne to Rosie O'Donnell as well as on three of my own Cd's including my most recent release on Blue note Records scheduled for a spring 2001 release. I have also watched Mark in action as a teacher and musical mentor. I can think of no finer person that one could apprentice to. He has a gift for distilling the key elements in any style of music thus making accelerated learning possible. Rather than wasting time studying things that are not necessary, Mark is able to guide the student to those key elements that make musical progress quick and learning fun. I wholeheartedly recommend his teaching methods. Now everyone has the opportunity to experience what the pros in the music business already know. Mark is an amazing musician, teacher and most importantly, a fine human being.
Rodney Jones, October 2000
Blue note Records Recording Artist
Professor of Jazz Guitar Studies, Manhattan School of Music
Staff Guitarist, The Rosie O'Donnell Show
Over a span of several decades, Mark Sherman has consistently proven himself as an original and creative improviser. Finally his wonderful improvisation system is available online. This system reveals valuable secrets in a clear easy way and covers all bases Bravo!
Associate Professor, Berklee Coll. of Music
Formerly with Miles Davis
Mark Sherman's approach to teaching reflects the multidimensional experiences he's had as a pianist, vibist and percussionist over the years performing and recording in a variety of musical contexts. It is one thing
to be a soloist, it is another challenge to be a well-rounded musician who is prepared to play what the music calls for. Mark Sherman can teach whatis necessary to play."*
Akira Tana Drummer “Tana Reid Project
Mark Sherman's master class was absolutely fantastic! It provided students with a clear path to the world of improvisation using a method that was both logical and engaging. That Mark could demonstrate his approach fluently on vibraphone, piano, and drum set also enhanced his presentation tremendously. It was a revelation to a very eager group of musicians, who since that time have improved dramatically. I am grateful to Mark Sherman for putting together a series that will help numerous students find their voice in music.
Paul Hostetter-Faculty, the Juilliard School Music Advancement Program
Finally students of jazz improvisation have a clear guide in Mark Sherman. His method of integrating scales and chords into a linear and rhythmic framework is as satisfying and learning-friendly as I've seen. Any student of Mark's will immediately gain confidence, and the ability to play thru chord changes seamlessly. I applaud his enabling generosity.
Gordon Gottlieb-Professor of Percussion The Juilliard School