Transforming TikTok into an online course

Pocket Jazz is coming.

I am finishing up transforming the nearly 70 TikTok videos I produced earlier this year into an online course I am calling ‘Pocket Jazz’.

I call it ‘Pocket Jazz’ since these 1 to 3-minute bite-sized jazz tips are formatted to TikTok within the vertical space of a phone screen. 

I recorded very specific lessons on every important improvisation topic I could think of. I also carved out some of the pure gems from my Jazz Master Summit interviews with great players and teachers. And for desert, I’ll throw in some music videos.

Wait… three-minute lessons? How can I teach something in only three minutes? Well, they’re not meant to replace hundreds of hours of in-person instruction, although I did receive this generous comment:

How did you teach more about improvisation and scale work in this video that my professor did in an entire semester?

I hadn’t seen these videos since posting them several months ago. Going back to them, I am reminded of my intent: short dense bursts of focus on one topic. My goal is to give you something practical for your playing while holding your attention through the short length, carefully scripted language, and entertaining visuals.

Using trombone and piano, I demonstrated examples of deliberate bad playing (the before) and good playing (after). I think it helps when people hear the contrast, and I don’t want to use someone else’s playing examples for the ‘before’! (Any volunteers?)

Here’s one example from the lesson on improvising more melodically:

Improvising more melodically

One advantage to posting these to social media is that I can see which topics players are most interested in. I shouldn’t be surprised that my three minutes on how to practice scales is my most popular lesson, coming in currently at nearly 15,000 views. You probably know how little I enjoy talking just about the notes: “Just show me what buttons to press.”

But, for everyone who wants to play scales, I can at least show them some fun ways to practice them. 

This is that popular lesson on scales:

Practicing Scales

Organizing all this is key, so I’m categorizing and indexing the material with a companion book of transcriptions from every lesson’s dialog. After all, some people like to read as well as watch. For you analyticals out there, I really want you to be able to quickly find what you want throughout this dense material. 

I also want to create some sort of online community where we can engage as you go through the course materials. I’m pretty good at hearing someone play and then knowing what they should be working on in order to get better and then how to best continue their progress. I think that in itself is a value to the course.

I’m open to suggestions on the community platform. I know Facebook is the go-to place for this, but I personally find Facebook toxic, and a growing number of people I speak to are off Facebook. I think we can do better somewhere else. I really do want to hear your thoughts on that. Please write in the comments below.

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Michael Lake

Michael Lake

Trombonist, author, composer, marketer

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This is just a fake book example for the type of website I can build for you. Just trying to use a little humor here!