Advice · Interview

Do you want to improve your improvisation?

Jazz Etudes is a new resource that helps and supports students new to the world of jazz improvisation. The approach is centred around developing your jazz vocabulary and although primarily aimed at intermediate players, is receiving praise and endorsements from musicians at the top of their game.

The creator of is Darren Lloyd, a professional player and teacher, and I am grateful to him for telling us a little more about this exciting venture:

 I started the trumpet at the age of 12, I was instantly drawn to the jazz side with my first introduction being Chris Barber live at the London Palladium featuring the fabulous Pat Halcox and another record I was given called 22 trumpet greats that heavily featured the amazing Kenny Baker. After this I started buying jazz records, another I remember vividly was a recording called ‘I love jazz’ which featured Art Farmer, Miles Davis, Louis Armstrong, among many other great jazz artists such as Woody Herman, Sarah Vaughan, Count Basie, Art Blakey, Duke Ellington Charles Mingus, Dave Brubeck…. 

My career as a trumpet player has included playing with: The Royal Marines Band Service, Halle Orchestra, Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, Opera North, Echoes of Ellington Orchestra, Manchester Camerata, Northern Chamber Orchestra, Super Tramp Big Band, Pasadena roof Orchestra, many West end musical theatre and national touring productions. I have also worked with musicians such as Dianne Schur, Buddy Greco, Conte Candoli, Buddy Childers, Mike Vax, Derek Watkins, Tony Coe, James Morrison to name a few. 

As well as playing at the highest level in the UK, I am also certified teacher with 12 years experience. Since moving to the North West of the UK I have completed a Master of Arts in jazz performance and also qualified as a teacher. Combining my love of jazz and music education, I created the website

The aim of the website and the whole ethos of the site and its publications is to:

  1. Give musicians interested in jazz something to play that will give them the confidence to continue with this great type of musicality 
  2. Give intermediate musicians a way to develop their jazz vocabulary by playing through the etudes, committing some or all of an etude to memory and practicing in different keys 
  3. Help develop phrasing, articulation, listening skills and a general awareness of jazz music 

The etudes (currently) have been created using tunes from bebop, dixieland, latin and jazz standards. The etudes come in concert pitch, Bb pitch, Eb pitch as well as bass clef. All the etudes are aimed at early intermediate through to advanced intermediate (around grade 4 or 5 through to grade 7). 

What I feel is the biggest difference between my jazz etudes (and other products being created) are they have been created with the intermediate player in mind. I also produce many YouTube videos which vary in their content, from demo etude videos to free lessons! 

Currently I am working on a Louis Armstrong etude book along with a video where I will demonstrate many of the techniques one can incorporate into playing in that style.

I also have plans to create a jazz improvisation course specifically aimed at intermediate students that will focus on developing beautiful melodic, flowing solos. 

Along with this, I am also producing a jazz style duet book where I will record both the 1st an 2nd parts so that customers can either play with a friend, teacher or pupil or if unable to do that can play along with me! 

Finally, I want to record some of my original music either as a trio or duo and also make the sheet music available so that customers can use the music with their own ensembles. Listen to the recording for their own pleasure or play along with the backing track (the exact recording but without me). 

Here is what people are saying about Jazz Etudes:

“Exactly what I need to break the impasse and have the confidence to overcome years of “slavery to the dots”. Darren has achieved so much by Intelligently applying himself to the task of understanding the language and developing his own talent. His material and demonstrations…. make real progress achievable whether you are approaching improvisation like me from a classical background, or simply seeking to develop authenticity…. Darren’s articulate presentation encourages you to persist and really achieve. See you at the other end…..” Ken Brown – Trumpet, Hallé Orchestra

“The thing I like about your etudes is it allows me to be slightly freer in my improvisation. I usually find due to my “classical” background that I improvise ok-ish during rehearsals but when I get to the gig my ideas freeze up. This may be due to not having enough jazz language to use. Without doubt your etudes are helping me cement a better awareness of the language.” Martin Winter – Principal Trumpet, Bergen Philharmonic

“I love your jazz etudes …not just for myself but for all of my students. They range from grade 3 up to grade 8. I have been teaching trumpet and jazz for over 40 years now and have tried a lot of methods but yours are proving to be the best by far…. I realised (with my research of US music colleges) that “light/jazz” had to be learned on a par with classical if to survive in the profession.  When I played with the RPO Pops and Paul McCartney this came in very handy!! I look forward to all your future projects. We never stop learning so keep up the great work Darren. “ Graham Russell – Lead Trumpet, Studio/West-end/Shirley Bassey

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