Minors in the Practice Guide

Any reason why you don’t have us drill the harmonic minor? Any downside to conceiving the dorian minor as the scale of the key one whole step down?

Hi @wendy, thanks for writing!

I’m happy to help you with the harmonic minor, I just want to first ask how you want to approach it?

I mean, in jazz harmonic minor is commonly used when improvising over minor 25s (for example E-7b5 - A7b9 - D-6), is this what you want to learn more about?

Also we can talk about the different modes of the scale, and/or how the different scales are connected.

About the dorian minor, sorry I don’t quite understand what you mean, can you give me an example?

All the best,


Hello Tuomo.
Thank you for responding.
I was specifically referring to the Jazz Piano Basics Practice Guide at the end of the Jazz Piano Foundations course. Hayden has us practicing natural, dorian and melodic minors scales, but not the harmonic. I do know that the harmonic minor and the jazz harmonic minor are used in improvising over minor 25s, so I’m wondering why he didn’t include those in the Basics Practice Guide.
As for the dorian, it seems easier to me to just think about it one whole step down rather than flat 3; flat 6. Is there a problem with viewing it that way?

Hi Wendy,

Great questions here.

Yes you can certainly add the Harmonic Minor Scale into that practice slot.

My view is that the Dorian Mode and the Melodic Minor/Jazz Minor Scale are the most useful and practical to have ‘under our fingers’ as beginners.

We do explore the harmonic minor scale in more detail in the course on Rootless Voicings.

Please use these PDFs as a rough outline of the key areas to practice which can be extended if the student desires.

No there is certainly no problem with relating modes to their parent scale. The ‘parent scale’ approach is used by many jazz musicians.

In my course on modal theory I highlight the 2 approaches of viewing modes:

  • The Parent Scale Approach
  • The Numeric Approach

I personally prefer to think in terms of numbers.

Ultimately, it’s just 2 ways of looking at the same thing.

I think it’s good to have an understanding of both approaches and then choose which one works best for you.

I had a similar conversation with Tuomo and he explained that he prefers the ‘parent scale’ approach. @Tuomo - please give Wendy some insights on how you view modal theory.


Hi @wendy and @Hayden,

yes you’re right, both approaches are as good, the key is to find the way that works the best for each of us.

I’m all about the parent scale approach, I just think there are 1 scale where all the others derive (for example if I have 251 in Cmaj7, I just think of tension (G7) to release (Cmaj7), scale behind the whole 251 is the same Cmaj.

Like Hayden mentioned, there is a good reason why he didn’t include the harmonic minor into the course;

all the basic modes and chord colors used in jazz come from the modes of the major scale and melodic minor, after learning them well you can start with the harmonic minor.

Let me know if you have any further questions,