Jamie Holroyd

Jamie Holroyd is a UK based jazz educator and author who runs...

Jazz Standards Practice Technique - Connecting Arpeggios

In today’s lesson we’ll be checking out a cool practice technique you can use to practice connecting arpeggios smoothly.



An important part of learning a new jazz standard or chord progression is mapping out the arpeggios for a tune. Besides being some of the most important patterns you can learn on the guitar, arpeggios are great because you can define a chord with only 4 notes.

Many standards contain the II V I progression, so we're going to look a quarter note exercise in which you can connect the arpeggios over this progression which you can apply to different standards that you are working on.

Firstly, let's just check out the chords we need to a play a II V I in the key of C.


notation and Tablature Connecting Arpeggios exercise 1

Now that we know the chords, let's check the formula and fingers for each an arpeggio for each of these chords.

Minor 7th Formula: R, b3, 5, 7b7 D-7 Arpeggio: D, F, A, C
Dominant 7th Formula: R, 3, 5th, b7 G7 Arpeggio: G, B, D, F
Major 7th Formula: R, 3, 5th, 7 C Maj7 Arpeggio: C, E, G, B


notation and Tablature Connecting Arpeggios exercise 2

In the last example we looked at how to play an arpeggio for each chord in a II V I from the root to the 7th. Although this is important to practice, it's not exactly the most melodic thing you'll ever hear.

One exercise you can do is to try start each new arpeggio from the closest note of the previous one as shown in the example below.

This exercise helps break you out of always starting from the root and gets you cool voice leading techniques into your improvisation.


notation and Tablature Connecting Arpeggios exercise 3

* Practice doing this exercise with the II V I all over the neck then start to take it to tunes you know
* Try switching the rhythms from quartet notes to eighth notes
* Start from a descending arpeggio than ascending and vice versa so you cover all grounds

Do you have a favorite way of practicing arpeggios? If so, share your thoughts in the comment section below.