If you are looking for the Donna Lee Lead Sheet, you’ve most definitely come to the right place!
Written by Charlie Parker in the 1940s, this has become one of the most iconic bebop and jazz standards in the 20th and 21st century.
It’s chart is filled with 2 5 1 chord progressions and its melody is a challenge on its own.
The most famous recording of the song is the one by the master himself, Charlie Parker which can be found on YouTube or Spotify.
As always, let’s discuss what steps we can take to ensure a successful performance of this song.
How To Master The Donna Lee Lead Sheet?
First of all, it is crucial to start out the song by learning the melody?
Because even if you’ve never played jazz in your life and you’re crazy enough to start with the Donna Lee Lead Sheet (haha), learning the theme melody or head will give you the impression and idea of what bebop and jazz feels like once played on your instrument.
Once you have the notes down, no matter what instrument you play (If percussive play rhythm), next you have to make sure that you can get the song up to speed.
And this is crucial, because bebop is a pretty fast genre.
Example: If the original song is let’s say at 150 BPM, I recommend you practice it until you get it comfortably at 200BPM. You’ll thank me later!
When you go about things in this particular way, you’re really practicing pushing your boundaries and making sure that you feel comfortable actually performing the song at a slower temp.
This also takes into consideration that when you actually perform a song in front of an audience, especially a difficult song, it’s important to note that nerves and stage freight may come to play. You can boil that impact down to not being able to play a song as fast as you had practiced it in your bedroom. Hence why we recommend you practicing it much faster than you’re suppose to know it. It’s a confidence booster and helps with technique! The only downside truly is that it takes time to get there.
Practice Practice Practice!
With that being said, the next step is for you to memorize the harmony and chords! Can you imagine trying to solo over the song while having to look at the chart. Let alone if you have to look at your hands as well. That won’t end well!
Memorize the melody and then we can talk further!
Last and final step is to make sure you’ve practiced the chord progression connections.
Did you practice all of the 2 5 1s in the appropriate keys. Do you know the voicings? Do you know the scales over each chord? Do you have patterns set in place?
Once you do, practice performing though the chord progressions using a metronome. This may feel very uncomfortable, but once you are able to hear the harmony come through the solos you’re performing following the original harmony over a metronome, then you’ve made it!
All that’s left now is for you to perform a lot in front of an audience with players you do’t often play with. Go to jam sessions! They are the best learning classes!