How to play “Take the A Train” on Guitar
Approaches to the Jazz Guitar standards
Greetings! If you’re trying to learn Jazz Guitar, Take the A Train, by Duke Ellington is a great beginner Jazz tune to start with. There are only 2 sections, the chords are pretty straight forward, and you can learn to be creative within the confines of the tune. There are also deeper layers, and ways to make your approach more complex when you are ready.
The video below was taken to show a current student some thoughts and ideas on jazz guitar. Namely, how to approach the Jazz standard, Take the A Train. How do you learn them? What does it take? How hard is it?
In the video below, I outline a few ideas that I think about when looking at a tune, the tune being Take the A Train, by Duke Ellington. How are some ways we can make the arrangement more interesting?
Below is a recording of the original take a listen:
Now, consider some ideas in the video I made, which is linked below:
Things to consider when learning Jazz Standards:
- To make them more interesting, add color to every chord you can. A major chord can be a major 7th, major 9th, major 6th, even another chord built on a different scale degree.
- Play the same chord in different places on the guitar, and practice connecting them in interesting ways.
- Create motion, ideas, movement from chord to chord. This can be something as simple as a slide from above or below to the correct chord. Anything to add interest.
- Consider the scales you would use when improvising, and practice trying to connect them into one another, at challenging speeds!
- Experiment with substituting chords for other chords, and using the substitutes as scales for improvisation. An example touched on in the video is F major 6 as a substitute for D minor 7. There are many others.
- Have fun!