Jazz Improvisation: Vocabulary and Practice Techniques


Build a foundation for approaching jazz improvisation while learning how to transcribe on your own, and how to incorporate transcription study during practice time. Topics introduced during this course will include major, minor, dominant, and blues scale applications and patterns, as well as the ii-V-I chord progression, where it occurs, and how to identify it. Blues and standard song forms will be analyzed as well as how to “realize chord changes” using scales and patterns. This course will benefit beginners and experienced players alike. As part of this course, you will have the opportunity to utilize “play-alongs” for optimized practice time, and also examine a transcription of a classic jazz standard. Please bring your instrument as all students will perform during the class.

Instructors: Anthony Kidonakis & Jack Cassidy


Anthony Kidonakis joined the faculty of VanderCook in the Fall of 2009. He earned his bachelor of music education from Northern Illinois University, studying saxophone with distinguished research professor Steve Duke. Mr. Kidonakis performed and recorded with the NIU Wind Ensemble under the direction of Stephen Squires, and toured the United States and Europe with the world-renown NIU Jazz Ensemble and legends such as Benny Golson, Curtis Fuller, Jimmy Heath, Ed Thigpen, Frank Foster, and Wynton Marsalis under the direction of Ronald Carter. Mr. Kidonakis maintains an active performance schedule with numerous local musicians and has worked with recording artists such as The Drifters, Gene "Duke of Earl" Chandler, and The Cryan Shames, including a guest appearance with The Redwalls on NBC's Tonight Show With Jay Leno. He taught band for five years in Downers Grove Grade School District 58, and is the composer for the Paideia Projects, a series of video documentaries on the contributions of Ancient Greece to Western civilization. Mr. Kidonakis earned his master of music education from VanderCook College of Music in 2009, and a Master of Wind Performance and Literature from Northwestern University in 2012, studying saxophone with and serving as a teaching assistant for Dr. Frederick L. Hemke.


Jack Cassidy has toured the world with Blues Legend Junior Wells; performed with Van Morrison, Grover Washington Jr., Lou Rawls, Buddy Guy, and The Mighty Dells to name a few. Mr. Cassidy has also recorded with Jazz Artists’ Bob Mintzer and Jimmy Haslip of the Yellowjackets, as well as famed guitarist Mike Stern. In addition, he has shared the stage with Ziggy Marley, The Gypsy Kings, Hiram Bullock and Special EFX
Jack Cassidy was born in Brooklyn, New York on July 12, 1961. He currently resides in Chicago.
In 1983 he graduated from Indiana University with a Bachelors Degree in Jazz Studies. While at Indiana, Jack studied with famed trumpet instructor William A. Adam and Jazz Pedagogue David Baker. Upon returning home Jack began a Masters Degree in Jazz Composition at DePaul University, Chicago (1990). While at DePaul, he studied with Jazz Pianist Larry Novak and Composer/ Producer Cliff Colnot.
He is currently teaching Jazz Studies at Northeastern University, Elgin Community College, The Old Town School of Folk Music, Elk Grove High School and Dundee Crown High School. In addition, he has given Jazz Clinics and performances in Lleida, Spain, Stockholm, Sweden and St Nazairre, France.  Mr. Cassidy has also performed for Her Royal Highness Princess Anne of Great Britian, Princess Caroline of Monaco, Billy Eckstein and Jaco Pastorius. 
Jack Cassidy can be heard on and Junior Wells' "Better Off With The Blues" (1993 Polygram/Telarc). Jack Cassidy Symbia (2010), His first full length Cd of original music.


Course Information

6103 Jazz Improvisation: Vocabulary and Practice Techniques

1 graduate credit
Location: VCM Room 130
Tuition: $280
Tuition is due in full with registration


March 23-24
Saturday: 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Sunday: 8:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.

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VanderCook College of Music

3140 South Federal Street
Chicago, IL 60616-3731
(312) 225-6288

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