Jamie Holroyd Guitar

Jamie Holroyd Guitar

Beginner Jazz Guitar Lesson Practice Schedule

Beginner Jazz Guitar Lesson Practice Schedule

This article is a beginner jazz guitar lesson. One question I frequently get from readers all over is the world is “I am a beginner jazz guitarist, what should I practice?” This article is aimed at someone who has never played jazz before and wants the best approach to learning it.

This jazz beginner jazz guitar lesson plan has worked very well with the Skype students that I have taught over the years. Each of the different practice headings in this beginner jazz guitar lesson comes from my jazz guitar practice article.

Depending on how often you practice and what you know the material in this lesson could last anywhere from a few days but should not take longer than a month. I hope that enjoy this beginner jazz guitar lesson.

Remember there is no shortcut to learning jazz guitar. But, I honestly believe anyone that wants to learn it, can. You just have to want to!


Beginner Jazz Guitar Lesson Plan — Repertoire


The first thing you need to do when learning jazz guitar is learn a jazz standard. This means learning a chord progression and melody. The standard which I like to teach first is Autumn Leaves because it teaches you how to play and comp major and minor ii-V-I progressions. More about those later.

The best way to learn the Autumn Leaves melody is by ear. Though it is ok to use the real book as a guide, learning it by ear will improve your phrasing, touch, and you won’t forget it as easily either.

I like student’s to learn Jim Hall’s version of Autumn Leaves which can he heard through the video below. Jim’s tone, touch and phrasing on this is perfect. Don’t worry about working out the chord voicings, only work out the top note of the chord, the melody note.



I normally teach students the Autumn Leaves chords in our lesson and most have it within 10 minutes. But, you could learn them from almost any version. The study articles below have the chord diagrams.

Every section of this beginner jazz guitar lesson is applied to Autumn Leaves. If you have never heard Autumn Leaves before I have published two in depth articles about it which you will need to have a read through.


Beginner Jazz Guitar Lesson — Transcription Task


Jazz guitar students should spend at least 25% of their practice time on transcription. Jazz is a language and each line a jazz musician plays can be thought of as a sentence. The more language you know, the easier it is to have a fluent conversation.

The phrases you know, the easier it is to play a fluent jazz solo which is why it should be part of a beginner jazz guitar lesson plan. Babies learn to speak a language as soon as they are born through listening to other people. It’s the same with learning jazz.

The first transcription most of my students start to learn is the first chorus of Miles’ Davis solo on “Autumn Leaves” from the album “Something Else”. This solo is one of the most beneficial and beautiful jazz solos to learn in a beginner jazz guitar lesson.

Learning this solo will help develop you aural skills, feel, language, and phrasing. When learning the solo it is very important to follow each of these points if you want to benefit from it:


  • Practice the solo with a metronome on all four beats as well as on 2 and 4. There are several metronome apps, but I have linked to an online one in the email.
  • Play the solo with a backing track so you can hear how it sounds in a musical situation..
  • Write it down on Sibelius or using manuscript. If you don’t read dots, write down the tab with rhythms, or just the rhythms by themselves with the chords written above. You need to know what is happening over each chord!
  • Analyze each line harmonically and rhythmically then make practice exercises out them. This is discussed more in the next section.


Transcribing 32 bars might seem daunting at first. The best way to go about this is to set your self small and realistic goals.

Even if you only transcribed one section a week (that’s about 2 bars a day) you would still learn the entire chorus in one month. If you did 4 bars a day then you could learn it in 2 weeks!

If you have transcribed before you will know how much useful information and how many hours of practice are found within one section of a solo.

I would recommend that you record yourself playing the transcription as it will be very beneficial for you to hear yourself.


Beginner Jazz Guitar Lesson - AL Solo


Transcription Resources




Beginner Jazz Guitar Lesson Plan — Improvisation Exercises


There are countless ways that jazz guitarists can practice improvisation mentioned in my main jazz guitar practice article. But the exercises in this section are specifically written for a beginner jazz guitar lesson plan.

The improvisation section of this beginner jazz guitar lesson should be carried out when you have learnt at least 8 bars of the solo from the first section.

As mentioned in the transcription section, it is important that you analyze every single line of the solo to get the most out of it.

The following table shows a few points from the solo that I liked and how I would practice improvising using what I learned from transcribing.

Each of these small points can be used an improvisation exercise that will make a big difference in how you play and think about improvising. Try and make your own.


Solo Analysis Improvisation Exercise
  • Not one lick starts on beat one of the bar. Miles is known for this simple but effective phrasing technique which makes solos sound less predicable.
  •  Improvise starting any beat of the bar except the first.
  • Every rhythm is very clear and strong. The four quarter notes in the opening solo are played so confidentially that they almost sound staccato.
  •  Improvise using the same rhythms Miles uses but make your harmony.
  •  Bars 3 and 5 both land on 3rds. Highlighting 3rds in improvisation is probably the strongest way to outline the changes of a jazz chord progression.
  •  Practice improvising only using the thirds of each chord.


Beginner Jazz Guitar Lesson Plan — Technique Studies


The technique side of the beginner jazz guitar lesson plan covers chords, scales, and arpeggios.  The details of which arpeggios, chords, and scales should be in a beginner jazz guitar lesson are mentioned in this article under the technique heading.

Technique studies should be applied to the tune which you are working on. The following diagram shows how you can practice drop 2 chords, arpeggios and scales over each the first major ii-V-I in Autumn Leaves.

Each of these chords, arpeggios and scales should be practiced in at least two different locations on the neck.

Do the same for the minor ii-V-I chord progression.


Beginner Jazz Guitar Lesson - ii V I Road Map


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Hi Jamie, great lesson, thanks a million.

Jamie Holroyd

Cheers Jez - enjoyed the lesson last night!

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