Keeping arrangements fresh

After I have learned a new arrangement, how do I keep it fresh? I just learned The Nearness of You beginner arrangement, but since I play it the same way every time, it doesn’t really feel like jazz to me. Do you play arrangements differently every time?


Good question, one I can relate to. being able to play some variations on a tune come from a deeper understanding of the many voicings avail to one chord. Be patient with yourself and your current knowledge and skills, but explore the tune and LISTEN to many other recordings of the tune. It’s a journey.


Hi Chase - welcome to the community area!

Here’s a couple of related forum posts which you might find useful:

As @LoriNelson mentions, it’s very important to listen to the tunes we are trying to arrange. Try to listen to as many different versions as possible and save the ones you like in a playlist.

We can then use these recordings as inspiration… perhaps try to imitate how the melody is phrased on a recording, how the chords are played, or perhaps try to work out a little fill or run with your ears.

I also hosted a couple of live seminars on learning jazz standards, check them out here:

In the first seminar, we discuss how best to learn the melody and harmony of a tune so that we no longer need the lead sheet in front of us. This is important to achieve a sense of freedom so that we can start to be creative in our playing.

The second seminar covers reharmonisation and we discuss lots of cool techniques such as:

  • tritone substitution
  • passing chords
  • sus chords
  • inner voice movement
  • intros
  • endings
  • full reharmonisations

After watching that seminar you should have more ideas of the options available to us for adding variations to the tunes we are playing.

You might also like to check out our course on chord substitution which discusses these topics in more detail:

And also check out my short masterclass lessons which cover many cool techniques for making tunes our own:

Spend some time to work through the seminars and lessons above Chase, and here to help if you have any further questions.



Hi Chase: adding to Lori’s “patient” suggestion and Hayden’s whole list and the “listen, listen, listen…” one, I can add one more: when I can play something more or less to my satisfaction, I sat it aside, keep listening to various performances and then, when I get back to it weeks, even months later, I find that my playing is so much richer, more creative, much more to my liking. I guess the cumulative effect and some sort of (subconscious?) maturation pays off?? So, give it time. Best, Smole

1 Like