The End Is Here

The end is here

End-Note Targets

I wanted to share a simple tip that has been helping my students. I’ve talked about targeting concepts for a long time, but we can view them in a number of different ways. For example, we can target the guide tones (3rds/7ths of chords) as we move from bar to bar or even do harmonic targeting where we aim for key area changes.

Targeting as Punctuation

Today’s tip is to look at targeting as a form of punctuation. By having an end-note in mind we force ourselves to not wander aimlessly in the moment.

If you aim at nothing, you’ll hit it every time.”

-Zig Ziglar

This is definitely a challenge (especially for beginners), because we spend so much time worrying about how do I start something as opposed to how do I finish? I have found for most, this is not intuitive and it has to practiced. But, I have found that it has yielded some great results for my own playing as well as some of my students.

The concept is simple. Pick an end-note somewhere in the progression and choose to make that your punctuation. The creative part is what you can do with it on the left-side of the target. Here’s an example:

I decided to pick the 5th of the CMaj7 as my end-note (target) in this ii-V-I example. The goal is to use it as a type of punctuation. I can change the note value or even where it’s placed within the bar, but I need to have some sort of stopping point (punctuation) to try and resist the urge to keep adding on. This where most people tend to wander in their improvisation. We want to keep adding and keep building to the same line without stopping and let it have its own sentence structure.

Here is an option of what I might do with the above (the possibilities are close to endless). The creative part is that we can do almost anything to the left of the target and it will work because we picked a strong end-note. The ear hears the tension on the left and the resolution of the target. If you want some other ideas about what you can do for the left side, check out my book Targeting: Improvisation With Purpose in my store.

I would love to hear your thoughts! Have you used this thought-process before (end-note targets to make a punctuation)? Share the line you’d play if you made the G your end-note target…

I hope this simple tip has added some value and benefit to your playing in some way!




Jason Klobnak Joins the B.A.C. Family!

Klobnak Joins B.A.C.

Klobnak Joins B.A.C.

I am absolutely thrilled, honored, and incredibly excited to share that I am now an endorsing artist for the B.A.C. (Best American Craftsman) company based out of Kansas City, MO (USA)! Mike Corrigan and the staff at B.A.C. do an amazing job creating some of the best brass instruments in the world. Everything is done in their shop in Kansas City and is handmade with the finest craftsmanship and detail.

I met Mike and a few of his staff at NAMM 2017 (National Association of Music Merchants) in Anaheim, California in January. It didn’t take long for me to fall in love with just about every trumpet they had at their booth. I was the guy that kept trying their trumpets, went away and tried others, and then kept coming back like a lost puppy. After some conversation in Anaheim and later over the phone; I officially joined the family! It is an honor to be on the same roster as great musicians like Delfeayo Marsalis, Kenny Rampton, Kevin Williams, Jim Pugh, Michael Ray, Paul Nowell, Marcus Lewis, and a host of others.

Be sure to check out B.A.C’s website at CoolIsBac

To see Jason’s other Endorsements click Here.




Jason Klobnak Joins the Denis Wick Family!

Klobnak Joins Denis Wick

Klobnak Joins Denis Wick

Klobnak joins the Denis Wick family! I am absolutely thrilled, honored, and incredibly excited to share that I am now an endorsing artist! Denis Wick (London) makes some of the best mouthpieces, mutes, and accessories for brass players around. While I have been performing and recording with the Denis Wick adjustable cup mute for almost 20 years, I have never had the opportunity to really check out their mouthpieces until January of 2017.

I met Mary and a few other Wick artists at NAMM 2017 (National Association of Music Merchants) in Anaheim, California in January. I had the pleasure of trying out a few of their mouthpieces and there was an instant comfort, yet familiarity that I fell in love with. I have made the switch over to the American Classic 3C (and Classic 3E when I need something a little brighter) and they keep surprising me every time I put them in my trumpet. I can color the sound, yet still have the comfort and endurance to make it through an entire night of R&B/Soul music without feeling shot the next day. I would gladly recommend any of the fine Denis Wick products to students and colleagues.

So, I have officially joined the family! It is an honor to be on the same roster as so many great musicians that perform all types of brass instruments.
Be sure to check out Denis Wick’s North American site at DANSR.COM




Harmonic Targeting

My previous blog posts about targeting concepts (aiming at a goal note with purpose) have dealt with the various ways we can get to the targeted note. We’ve also discussed what makes a good target. But, in today’s post I wanted to touch on something that I think might help a number of players and that is the concept of harmonic targeting.

The idea is similar in that we’re aiming at a goal note with purpose, but it is more about a specific goal note that makes the difference in harmonic targeting. In the harmonic progression, we want to find the note (or notes) that shifts or alters the harmonic landscape of the progression into a different key area (whether that’s a temporary modulation or an actual key change).

Let’s take a look at some examples:

One of the earliest concepts of harmonic targeting I learned as a young student was making sure I was hitting the major third of the chord change in the 8th bar of a blues


There was a definite departure from the Bb key area by having the B natural stick out at you. So it became a goal to make sure that every time that 8th bar came around that I aimed for that B. What do you play to get to that B? Check out other posts on my blog for tips or get my book, Targeting: Improvisation With Purpose

What can you harmonically target? The answer is just about anything that highlights that you’ve departed from the key area you were just in. That can happen quickly or just occasionally. It’s up to you, but I like making sure that the drastic changes are caught. Let’s look at another example in the B section of There Will Never Be Another You

This progression (like hundreds of others) have a couple harmonic targeting spots that you could aim for. The Db7(#11) could be a highlight for instance. However, the F7 is what sticks out like a sore thumb. That A-natural lasts for 2 measures making it an excellent choice for a targeted note. As an added note, I like making that F7 into an F7(#11) for added color. 

I hope you find this tip useful for yourself or your student’s playing in some way. It’s a simple concept, but one that helps you play through harmonic progressions with more confidence.

Thank you for checking out my blog! If you’d like to join my mailing list I would love to send you a FREE MP3 from my band. Simply click on the image below and in a few short steps I’ll send it over!



Not Your Ordinary Drones

jazz drones

Not Your Ordinary Drones

I want to talk about drones, but not your ordinary ones. Other sites and musicians have talked about the benefits of warming up with drones, exploring shapes and intervals. All of this is great and something I personally use now and then too. If you haven’t explored this area before I would suggest you at least try it. It’s an amazing way to open up your ears and explore music’s various layers.

If you’re sitting there thinking, “I’m still not sure what you mean by drones. Aren’t those the remote control things you fly around to annoy your neighbors?” Well, yes. But, not this topic. Here’s a great YouTube example of trumpeter Ingrid Jensen talking about how she uses a drone:


“A musical drone is a harmonic or monophonic effect or accompaniment where a note or chord is continuously sounded throughout most or all of a piece.” – Wikipedia

Instead of rehashing what others have already talked about, I want explore some other ways we can use a drone through the lens of targeting. Targeting is aiming at a goal (note) with purpose. It’s one of the central points of how I improvise and teach improvisation. While it’s great to explore a scale, intervals, or free-improvisation with a fixed pitch (drone)-I have found that beginners and intermediate musicians often have a hard time hearing the note they are aiming for.

What to Use

There are a number of great tools that create a drone. Ingrid Jensen mentioned her device in the video above. You can use just about anything that will create a sustained pitch. I have used a piano with the sustain pedal, computer software (garageband, Logic Pro, etc), YouTube (which has a WIDE range of options that you could spend hours searching), or one of my favorites: iReal Pro

Beginners and intermediate improvisors have to be intentional with what they practice. It’s too easy to get distracted and let your imagination go on a tangent. That’s ok when it’s time to explore and foster creativity. But, students need to hear where their line is going. What does it sound like when you are targeting the 3rd of major chord? How does that sound different when you’re targeting the 3rd of dominant chord? What about minor? If a student can learn to hear what targeting sounds like it opens up the creative mind to be able to explore it in real-time. This is why I like using iReal Pro because you get to choose not only the harmonic situation (major, minor, diminished, etc), but you get to do it while keeping time and locking in with a rhythm section that won’t slow down or speed up.

Here’s how I use iReal Pro as a drone:

  • create a new song using the blank template
  • pick a chord type that you need to work on (major 7th, dominant, minor 9th, etc)
  • type that chord in the first measure and set up whatever repeat function you desire
  • set the repeats 30x
  • pick a tempo and feel (swing, bossa, etc)
  • work on first targeting the root in as many ways as you can imagine with various tools with GOOD rhythm (for more info on those tools you can check out Targeting: Improvisation With Purpose).
  • Once you’ve felt like you’ve fully explored the root move on to the 3rd, 5th, 7th, and other extensions (9th, 11th, 13th)
  • Now move on to the same chord type, but in a different key.
  • Apply what you just did to a song or harmonic progression you’re working on

All of the above is good practice for any musician. It will get you to focus on the sound of targeting so you can hear where you’re going. This will also give a student plenty of practice!

Thank you for checking out my blog! If you’d like to join my mailing list I would love to send you a complimentary MP3 from my band. CLICK HERE and in a few short steps I’ll send it over!





What to do when you are the "red-headed step-child" of your scene

Every Jazz scene (and other genres too) has them. Maybe you’re one of them or you know someone who fits the description. They are the musician that’s not originally from the scene. They weren’t born there or haven’t grown up in the local school system (or didn’t recently go to one of the local universities). For whatever reason, they’re in the scene now and trying to fit in.

I’ve been there and I want to encourage those that fit this description, give you some advice on how to handle it, and maybe even raise some awareness for those that would be considered locals. This is also perfect for people who are new to town and wanting to get into the scene.

Some things to consider first. This advice won’t help you if:

  • You’re a jerk. If you’re always putting other people (or venues) down and no one is calling you for gigs and/or hangs-then you might be a jerk. It has nothing to do with how good you do or don’t play. It’s because you’re a drag to be around. You don’t have the be the red-headed step-child of the scene. Jerks come in all types of demographics.
  • It’s your playing. This one is rough. We all have to evaluate our playing and that can be tough because some of us look at our own playing with way too much of a microscope. BUT, if your playing is not up to par it could be why you’re not getting the calls. If that’s the case-fix it. Spend more time in the shed. Get lessons from some of the top call people in town and ask for advice (not for asking for a gig). Listen to what they have to say.

If the above doesn’t apply to your situation, but you’re still the red-headed step-child:

  1. Be patient.The music business is all about relationships. If you are new to the scene-be patient. It takes time to develop a relationship with people. Get to know the musicians by going to jam sessions, going to their gigs, and hang when you get the chance. This applies to venues too. Don’t just frequent the venue when you’ve been hired to do so. You are the red-headed step-child because you’re newer to the scene than the other musicians. The longer you are around the less you will feel like the outsider. The longer you are around the deeper your relationship becomes. This takes patience and time.
  2. Be humble. You may be the next greatest thing since sliced bread. But, chances are you’re not. When you hang with people in your scene, be humble and spend more time talking about them or whatever conversation is being made. When asked about you and your playing remember to keep it honest and save the bragging for when it really matters (on the stage).
  3. It’s not going to be fair. Put your big boy/big girl pants on. Life isn’t fair and we have to accept that fact. Whether like it or not, preference is given to local musicians who have been there longer or who have grown up in the scene (assuming they are good). They’ve been around longer than you. They have built relationships earlier than you have and that means they probably have more of a following as well. My advice: stick it out. Being a musician is a lifelong endeavor. Life happens. People move on, people move in, and venues come and go. Go back and read point 1.
  4. Ignore the local jerks. Every scene has them and you have to make a conscious decision on whose statements you give weight in your life. It’s not easy, but we have to ignore those personalities. As of this writing, I’ve lived in the Denver area for the past 13 years. I’ve been a part of the scene for a while, but still get the occasional outsider feeling from people and some venues. About 3 years ago I had someone come up to me during a jam session at one of the local clubs and say, “Who do you think you are? This is (local player’s name)’s town. You’re wasting your time.” Wow. First off, I absolutely love the local player they mentioned. I think they are an incredible musician and more importantly an awesome human being. While we’re not BFF’s, I still consider them one of my friends and colleagues. Some people are jerks and you have to do your best to ignore them. Will it hurt? Probably. But, life is a long ride if you let yourself be defined by the jerks of society.
  5. Keep moving forward. Keep working. Keep calling venues for gigs, keep playing with musicians, keep building relationships, and keep your career moving forward. There’s nothing worse than the feeling of what-if in your life. Discouragement is a feeling and feelings change all the time. The music business is a war of attrition. KEEP MOVING FORWARD!
  6. Embrace being a red-headed step-child! Healthy scenes have musicians from all over the place. While you want to continue building relationships, embrace being the outsider! You bring something unique to the scene. Believe it or not, you’re probably not the only outsider. AND, musicians who have grown up in the scene probably want to play with you. Eventually you will get to the point that you will feel like you’ve always been a part of the family!

I would love to hear from you on this. Have you been or are you currently the red-headed step-child in your scene? What advice would you give to others?

*** In real life my family has a number of red-heads and I have had the honor of being a step-child ***

Thank you for taking the time to read this blog/post. As a thank you I wanted to give you a FREE MP3 from the JKQ. Simply click the button below and fill out the short form and you’ll have it in just a few short moments!






Jason Klobnak Joins the Westone Family

I’m incredibly excited to share that I am officially joining the Westone family! While the in-ear monitor and hearing protection community is familiar with them (you should check out their artist roster-it’s a “who’s who” of the musician world), this is from their About Us section on their website:

Established in 1959, Westone Laboratories has more than 55 years of experience delivering premium in-ear solutions for critical listening applications. Westone is the largest manufacturer of custom ear pieces in the world and was the first to design and manufacture a balanced armature driver earphone. With hearing healthcare and music specialists on our research and production teams, Westone invented the most ergonomic monitor design which provides the most comfortable, best fitting and quietest earphones on the market. The largest names in music turn to Westone in-ear monitors for on-stage use, just as U.S. Air Force fighter pilots depend on Westone’s ACCES® in-ear communications system for mission-critical noise isolation, hearing protection and two-way communication. It is our experience, our products, and our people that make Westone The In-Ear Experts®.

I’m a proud user of the Tru Customs and the ES20 custom in-ears (both pictured below). The Tru Customs are perfect for everything I play from small group Jazz (especially in a loud room) to louder amplified bands where the sound team doesn’t have capability to run a line for my ES20‘s.

I have the size 20 filters which reduces overall down to 13dB. If I ever want to raise or lower that filtration I can get different filters that range from 25 down to 10. The ES20‘s are AMAZING. When I went to get the molds, my rep didn’t try to up-sell me to something I didn’t need. The ES20‘s are a dual-driver system. The clarity is exceptional and the fit is spot on. I really love their Flex Canal technology. A body temperature-reactive, semisoft earpiece canal additive that stays firm at room temperature for ease of insertion and then softens at body temperature, allowing increased comfort and acoustic seal for incredible noise isolation.

I would highly recommend that you check out Westone for your hearing protection and IEM’s. Not just because I’m officially an endorsing artist now, but because the products and service are worth it!




Hark the Herald | Official Video

Hark the Herald

Hark the Herald | Official Video

If you’re on my mailing list you were able to get a sneak peek preview of my creative experiment of putting a video to my new Christmas single, Hark the Herald. If you’re not on my mailing list you can DO IT HERE and get a free mp3 in the process. Please feel free to share this, like, comment, subscribe to my channel on YouTube, etc. Enjoy!