Video Review: “Modulation as an Arranging Technique” by John Stowell

Review by Az Samad

John Stowell’s new master class is very straight to the point. He addresses one interesting aspect – modulation in relation to arrangements especially for jazz standards.

This class gave me some ideas on how I could incorporate modulation as part of my own arrangements and performances. This is great as I often fall into the trap of playing tunes in the same keys again and again without creating much variation in my arrangements. Watching John play is always inspiring and the performance examples in this class are top notch.

I love the three song examples that John used in this video. It showed me how he used modulation in his own repertoire. In addition to learning about modulation, I also got to learn John’s arrangements of these pieces as well. I love the fact that he shows the chords and melodies, teaching the song to us in the video. We get A LOT of value from this knowledge-packed 28 minute class.

As an additional bonus to this focused master class, we also get John’s personal Real Book, a selected collection of songs and arrangements that he performs. This is wonderful as an additional resource to practice what we just learned in the video. I remember getting some photocopies of these songs (John’s own handwritten changes to some included) when I took private lessons with him years ago. Now you can have these too! This will help us learn the songs that we may have heard John performe live and online.

Pros: Focused master class. Great playing and examples. Wonderful PDF with amazing repertoire included.
Cons: No transcription for the improvised performance of the pieces demonstrated in the video.
TLDR: If you’re ready to level up your arrangements, this master class will help give you some ideas for your music. Recommended for intermediate to advanced students in general. Beginners may want to begin with some of John’s other classes first.

Modulation as an Arranging Technique | John Stowell
March 5, 2019

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