Beginning Jazz Improvisation: Introduction to Jazz Theory

This 0.5 credit hour course provides a theoretical overview of the melodic and harmonic elements that make-up the jazz language. Concepts include intervals, triad and 7th chords, scales and modes, diatonic keys and harmonic function, and chord-scale theory.

Course Objectives

Upon completion of this badge, students will be able to:

  • Construct melodic and harmonic intervals.
  • Construct major and minor triads, as well as the seven harmonic 7th chord families found within the major/minor key system.
  • Construct major and harmonic minor scales and their related modes
  • Apply the structures of major and harmonic minor scales and their related modes to harmonic families.

Credit Hours
Success in this 0.5 credit hour course is based on the expectation that students will spend, for each unit of credit, a minimum of 7.5 hours over the length of the course in direct instruction as provided by the instructor and an additional 15 hours outside of class reading, reflecting, and evaluating the topics for a total of 22.5 hours.

Grading Scale: Badge/No Badge

Evaluation: 100% completion of badge criteria


William Flynn

William Flynn playing guitar

Described as “playing a mean guitar” (Wichita Eagle), William Flynn is a Kansas-based guitarist and composer emerging onto the contemporary jazz community with an increasingly original musical voice. William’s recent professional engagements include sharing the stage with saxophonist Bob Reynolds (John Mayer, Snarky Puppy), as well as performances at The Blue Room (Kansas City), the Charlie Parker Celebration Festival (Kansas City) and the Wichita Jazz Festival.  William’s playing and composing can be heard on the Artists Recording Collective label (Traveler, 2017), and Armored Records (The Songbook Project, 2016).  As a graduate student at the University of North Texas, William held the guitar chair with the world-renowned and Grammy-nominated One O’ Clock Lab Band. As a member of the One O’ Clock, William performed alongside such jazz luminaries as John Clayton, Wayne Bergeron, and Terell Stafford, and he can be heard featured on the band’s 2012 release Lab 2012.  As an educator, William has taught, presented, and adjudicated at conferences and universities across the country, including the Seattle Jazz Guitar Society, the South Carolina Music Educators Association, the University of Oklahoma, the University of Missouri, Capital University (Columbus, OH), and South Dakota State University. Additionally, William is the co-author of Mel Bay’s 2016 publication Jazz Guitar Duets. William holds a Bachelor of Music degree in Jazz Studies from Capital University (Columbus, Ohio), and a Master of Music degree from the University of North Texas, where he held a position as a Graduate Teaching Fellow.  William currently serves as Assistant Professor of Jazz Guitar at Wichita State University, where he teaches applied jazz guitar, jazz improvisation, and directs the Guitar Ensemble. 

badge image for introduction to Jazz Theory


CRN Course # Term
17116 MUSC122 BA Fall 2019