Lesson/Rehearsal Plan – See If I Don’t

Warm-up / Skill-building suggestions

Objective: Establish groove in the rhythm section

  • Have drummer play a medium swing style at 128 bpm. (see example of medium swing)
  • Encourage all students to get engaged in time by tapping their heels and vocalizing triplet subdivision: “lah doo dle lah doo dle lah.” Put inflection on the upbeat (“lah”).
  • Have bass join drums playing the written part (mm. 5-16).
    • Aim for long, connected quarter notes.
    • Make sure bass/drums are listening to and watching one another in an effort to lock in time.
  • Add guitar written part (mm. 5-16).
    • Using down strokes, think “chunk, chunk, chunk, chunk” making sure quarter notes line up with the bass and drums.
    • Add slight accent on beats 2 and 4.
  • Add piano written part (mm. 5-16).
    • Remember piano is a percussion instrument; play with intent.

Keep repeating groove (loop mm. 5-16) until it feels good.

Objective: Review basic articulations of ^“Daht”, >“Dah”, —“Du”, . “Dit”

  • While drummer plays swing groove, have all students vocalize each articulation.
  • While drummer continues, have students play each articulation on the note Concert Bb
  • Listen for unification across the band for all articulations.

Objective: Increase students’ technical skill.

  • With drummer playing swing groove, have students play Concert Bb Scale (ascending and descending) in swing eighth notes to the 9th degree.
    • Connect notes with emphasis on the upbeats (Dah) Du Dah Du Dah Du Dah, etc.
  • With drummer playing swing groove, have students play and repeat a Bb Major Blues Scale.
    • Connect notes with emphasis on the upbeats (Dah) Du Dah Du Dah Du Dah, etc.

Rehearsal/Teaching Suggestions

1) Have students listen to the reference recording.

  • Direct them to pay particular attention to how the notes are being articulated.

2) Learn mm. 1-4 (Introduction)

  • Unify articulations.
    • Even though quarter notes show “dit” added to the articulation, think fatter note. “Daht”.
  • Have students play with full sound to set up contrasting dynamic at mm. 5.
  • Have drummer play ensemble figures (small cued notes on top of the staff) on the snare drum.
    • Ensemble figures reinforce what the ensemble is doing rhythmically.

3) Learn mm. 5- 16 (the melody).

  • Have rhythm section loop mm. 5-16 as necessary.
  • Alto/Tenor 1, Trombone 1 play start pick-up to mm.5, trumpets start pick-up to mm 17.
    • Have students first sing/say the melody using the reviewed articulations, listening for unified articulations.
    • Have students then play the melody using these articulations. Listen for and unified articulations and ‘fixing’ where necessary.

4) Learn mm. 17-23 (the melody and countermelody).

  • Have rhythm section loop mm. 5-16 as necessary.
    • Saxes and trombones play mm. 17- 23.
      • Listen for clean and unified articulations.
      • On dotted half notes, hit the note, reduce volume and then crescendo to beat 4. Be careful not to overdo it; be musical.
      • On the pairs of eighth notes in each of these phrases, be careful not to rush. Think “du daht” where “du” represents the first two thirds of the beat and “daht” the final third.
        • the last eighth note of the measure should almost be late.

5) Learn mm. 24-26

  • Unify articulations: think “Daht.”
  • For any crescendo, always think “start quiet” and listen for the evenness of crescendo across the band. Be sure to place the eighth note on the and of 4 almost late. Don’t rush!

6) Learn mm. 29-34.

  • Think fat quarter notes on the downbeats: “daht”
  • Think long quarter notes on beat four: “du”
  • For the drum solo
    • Suggest to a young drummer that sense of time is far more important than lots of notes.
    • Think/feel eighth note triplets in soloing.

7) Solo Section mm. 29-52.

  • The first six measures include written parts for the ensemble.
  • Have students use the major blues scale throughout the progression for quick success. Download a PDF of the major blues scale.
  • Less is more, especially at first.
    • Instruct students that they don’t have to play lots of notes.
      • Limit note choices to use: i.e., 1, b3,3, or 5,6,8 (scale steps)
      • Limit rhythms to use.
        • Give them a rhythm they use for entire solo; they can change the notes.
        • Don’t be afraid to limit the note choices as well.
      • Remind students that silences are as effective as sounds.

8) Learn mm. 53-62 (Shout Chorus).

  • This should be the loudest section of the piece, the “Shout Chorus.”
    • Encourage students to play with a full sound.
    • Have drummer play ensemble figures using various parts of the kit confidently; experiment with what instruments sound best. For swing style music, typically ensemble figures are played on the higher pitched instruments of the drum kit including cymbals and snare drum.
  • Ensure the brass sustained notes don’t bury the motion in the sax part.
  • Saxes unify articulations across the section.
  • Brasses listen for quarter note shots mm. 54-56 to line up across band.

9) Learn mm. 65-76 (recap of the melody).

  • Listen for unified articulations.
  • Listen for good balance in horns that are playing.

10) Learn mm. 77-83 (recap of the melody and the countermelody).

  • Listen for unified articulations.
  • Listen for good balance in horns that are playing.

11) Learn mm. 84- fine. (Ending)

  • Listen for unified articulations.
  • Listen for effectiveness of ensemble crescendos.
  • Ensure dynamics come back down to mf (or less) on mm. 86 & 88.
  • Careful not to rush the eighth notes on mm. 90.
  • Piano last two measures think fat notes: “dahht”
    • Horn players as well on the last note.
    • Note should have a clean ‘t’ end.

Additional Musical Considerations

See If I Don’t is an example of 12-bar blues form. Within this form, the melodic material is often AAB where A is the first 4 bars of the melody, the second A is essentially a repeat of the first 4 bars, and B is something completely different.

Encourage multiple soloists for the solo section and remind them of the AAB form of blues. “Say it, say it again, say something different.”

Historical Considerations

The blues originated from African roots in the southern U.S. Originally a vocal form, it was meant to convey emotions, particularly of melancholy or sadness. Usually in a 12-bar progression, in its most basic form uses only dominant chords based on the first, fourth and fifth notes of the scale.


Reference recording

See if I Don’t

United States Army Field Band
(Jazz Ambassadors)
Conductor: Gordon Kippola
Composer: Paul White

Solo Section Resources

Backing track for students to practice improvising.

Suggested Listening

Splanky  — Count Basie Orchestra

Blues in Hoss’ Flat —  Count Basie Orchestra