In this guitar class I will present various approaches to soloing and comping on the guitar. While the instrument has its challenges in the non-linear organization of the fretboard, it also presents unique possibilities through the combination of aspects attributed to the piano (polyphony) and to the saxophone or trumpet (bending, dynamics, slurs etc.), while at the same time being able to create sonic landscapes through the addition of electronic effects. Check out Sebastian in action here.

Attaining a technical command of the guitar is a prerequisite for fluid single-line improvisation. I will work with the students towards this goal by looking at various picking techniques, such as alternate and economy picking, three-notes-/four-notes-per string scales, bebop scales, symmetrical scales, Messiaen modes, isometric and chromatic picking exercises.

We will also examine the ‘building blocks’ of improvised solos in the jazz and (to a certain degree) rock idioms: intervals, arpeggios and scales. Exercises such as restricting yourself to a certain interval or type of arpeggio and developing a melodic or rhythmic motif will expand the students’ improvisatory skills in a creative way. In this guitar class, special attention will be given to training the ear by encouraging the students to sing these exercises before playing them.

Aside from the standard voicings (drop 2, drop 3) and their inversions, we will explore more unusual ones: close position, drop 2+3, drop 2+4, spread position, other diatonic interval structures (4ths, 5ths etc), open string voicings and chromatic clusters or bi-/poly-/atonal chords, the knowledge of which will open up possibilities for a personalized chordal approach through the discovery of more modern sounds.

We will apply various concepts of voice leading to above mentioned chordal structures and practice them over well known jazz forms (blues, rhythm changes, standards, modal).

Another important aspect of comping is placement. We will discuss and practice traditional as well as modern approaches to rhythmic comping, such as using polyrhythms.

In preparation for the Guitar Class at NYJW, although not a requirement, knowledge of the following literature and recordings is recommended:

Mick Goodrick: The Advancing Guitarist, Almanac of Guitar Voice-Leading
Ted Greene: Chord Chemistry, Modern Chord Progressions
Barry Galbraith: Guitar Comping, The Fingerboard Workbook
Joe Diorio: Intervallic Designs For Jazz Guitar
John O’Gallagher: Twelve-Tone Improvisation
Ben Monder: Compositions

Jim Hall: Live ‘75 (box set)
Ben Monder: Dust, Flux, Excavations, Oceana, Hydra
Kurt Rosenwinkel: Reflections, East Coast Love Affair
Lage Lund: Small Club, Big City


Fee: $255 per 4 sessions, plus a one time $45.00 registration fee.
Trimester pay option: click here for to learn more about trimester and yearly enrollment for additional savings!

The Guitar Class is an interactive experience:
– Get your instrument out and get ready to play.
– You will receive materials in the form of pdf’s, mp3’s, you-tube links etc.
– This includes weekly assignments in balance with your level and the theme of the workshop.
Live streaming offers many benefits. It is an enriching positive communal learning experience. Our faculty is top notch and experienced in the flow of online learning.

We use Zoom as our streaming program which is free for students to download, shared google docs and email for pdf transfers, shared screen/computer audio for youtube links, iRealPro (optional) and mp3’s. Are you not sure if your equipment setup is sufficient? Let us help you to ensure that you will be ready to participate.

For new students, if you are not sure and would like to try it out a session, ask for our trial class option ($20).


“All of my concerns about having class online were laid to rest once the zoom session with Marc Mommaas started up. All four of us in class could see and hear each other well. Marc provided numerous charts on-screen for us to work with, and we had a metronome and an on-screen backing/practice track that was both visible and easy to hear for extra support. It was as close to having an in-person class as I could imagine. “ – Matt Craddock

“I just had my first video lesson with NYJW on mixed meters. It was the highlight of my week. While I’ve been occupied with how to stock up on supplies and worried dearly about my loved ones, I was able to take an hour and engage with my love of music, engage with an outstanding and passionate teacher, and meet a great musician in Japan. I’m learning, engaged remotely with my community, and – in a very real sense – expanding my world. I cannot recommend virtual music lessons enough. Marc was able to hear my playing clearly and critique my articulation/time. I was introduced to new ideas and given grounding for this new phase in life. Most importantly, the audio and video quality was good. The latency was low enough that I was able to play along with Marc during the example exercises and follow him. For me this was critical in being able to bridge the gap and bring the lesson to life. I strongly encourage anyone to try it out!!” – John Dalto

“I did not realize how much fun it could be to join the online program at the NYJW. My classmate where all online with the instruments and the instructor had charts, a metronome and backing tracks on hand. I learned a lot in just one session!” – MC

“A lesson via zoom was seamless! I was surprised how easy it was to share the material online, play along together w iReal Pro as an ensemble. I walked away with plenty of material to work on – this is a really worthwhile experience” – James Kibbe