That’s Frank Sikora‘s creed.
Frank Sikora is also in charge of the theory department and the Master’s program in Jazz Composition & Arrangement at the University of the Arts Bern and is the author of a best-selling and widely acclaimed jazz theory book, Neue Jazz-Harmonielehre, that is now available in English: Jazz Harmony: Think – Listen – Play – A Practical Approach.
While this coincidence might seem puzzling or even contradictory at first, it is exactly what lends Sikora’s approach the nuance and balance to successfully bridge the gap between theory and practice. In Jazz Harmony: Think – Listen – Play – A Practical Approach, Sikora sets out to mold musicians who can adapt to anything, regardless of how novel and unexpected it may be. To achieve this, he establishes a close relationship between theory, the ear and our instrument, forging a dialogue between theory and spontaneity that helps musicians connect with music both intuitively and analytically.
Jazz Harmony: Think – Listen – Play – A Practical Approach is divided into three sections: Think, Listen and Play. Contrary to our natural instincts to first listen, then play and finally think, Sikora turns this order around to cultivate a knowledge of theory as a way to work past what’s ingrained and instinctive and open a playground of new possibilities. The skilled musician can then begin applying this newfound knowledge to their exploration of the sounds around them and also incorporate this new toolset into their practice until it has become part of their subconscious, intuitive vocabulary.
Ultimately a practical aid rather than a textbook, Jazz Harmony: Think – Listen – Play – A Practical Approach draws from the jazz canon to demonstrate theoretical principles and gives practical lessons on both listening and playing. In addition to a wealth of examples, exercises and assignments, there are downloadable MP3 play-along tracks and additional materials and solutions available online.
For more visibility into Sikora’s landmark text, click on the cover image below to browse through sample pages containing the table of contents and the introduction, titled “Why yet another Harmony Book?” in which Sikora himself explains his approach in detail: