Opening the Studio


About a year ago, in the middle of yet another 2020 lockdown, I was juggling my teaching commitments at the Conservatoire of Amsterdam, some online courses where I was a guest tutor AND the second gypsy jazz Zoom group I’d just set up.

My diary that week was a mess; people got their preparation info too late from me; and I had to skip a meal to be in 2 (online) places at once. I made the end of the week, but decided there and then I wanted to do this better.

Ellen and Martin from my first Zoom group had been telling me I should write a simple, small book that would summarize the things I kept saying to the students: like “use the Leading Note Lick”; “play Minor on the Dominant”; “start your Bebop rhythm with a down bow”, that kind of thing.

My other ‘gypsy jazz family members’ Jim, Gary and Bob liked the idea, too, and all of them came up with valuable suggestions and reminded me of stuff I’d forgotten I said. The book took shape in my brain (but not on paper) over the next months.

The puzzle pieces only fell into place when I asked Pablo, violin improv colleague and technology buff, what he thought about a teaching website of my own. We thought about calling it the Studio and the name stuck. And that’s when it hit me: the book, now called “First Aid Kit” should be a blueprint for the Studio.

Over the Summer, the First Aid Kit had started taking shape, with me as usual writing on board trains, the bus of the orchestra I toured with, backstage before some concerts, and on my regular teaching trips to Amsterdam. October, November and December saw Pablo working hard on the technical side of this website.

Thanks to those five violinists already mentioned, the Gypsy Jazz First Aid Kit found its current form, and thanks to Pablo and the testers we are now GO … and look forward to your feedback 🙂

Can’t wait to work with you here!


The Leading Note Lick explained, and how to transpose it up and down.

I explain my reasons for choosing to tune to 441 Herz

How to use the A7 Universal Dominant Lick on D major

(1946) Paul Durand, Joseph Gilbert

(1937) Dino Olivieri, Nino Rastelli
(1883) Edvard Grieg arr. Django Reinhardt / Stéphane Grappelli

Understand keys and how they work in this short tutorial, and join the inner circle of improvisers!

All music works with tension and release. Get to understand this basic concept before you start working!

Unlike the (simple) major scale, there are three types of minor scales, of which we mostly use melodic minor. I explain.

How to digest The Library?