Autumn Mystery of Modes Classes, 2020

Dates & Time: 8 ninety-minute weekly sessions starting September 22-23, 2020.  SOLD OUT

I will probably offer this again in early 2021.  Email me if you would like to be notified at

TRACK 1: Tuesdays, 7:30-9:00 pm SOLD OUT Eastern/New York Time (time changes from EDT to EST November 1st)

Dates Sept 22, 29; Oct 6, 13, 20, 27; (TIME CHANGE to EST) Nov 3, 10

TRACK 2: Wednesdays, 3:00-4:30 pm  SOLD OUT Eastern/New York Time (time changes from EDT to EST November 1st)

Dates Sept 23, 30; Oct 7, 14, 21, 28; (TIME CHANGE to EST) Nov 4, 11

Each track limited to 20 participants.


Register by August 31 for discounted price!


Mystery of Modes ONLINE 8–Week Course

DESCRIPTION:  We will explore the 6* modes used in music – their characteristic sounds and basic chord progressions.  A booklet comes with the course that includes charts and melodies in each mode.  We will look at how to change a tune from one mode to another mode. Every class will include a lot of hands-on playing (in the muted privacy of your home). Basic improvisation with chords and scales in each mode, including pentatonic scales and ostinato bass lines, will be covered.  *The Locrian mode will be briefly discussed but we will not be covering it. NOTE: You need to be able to go from the Key of C (no sharps /flats) to the key of A (3 sharps).  We will not be using flat keys. 


GOALS & EXPECTATIONS: The course should give you clear ideas of what each mode sounds like and how to play in it.  Each week you will be provided with a sound recording for practice purposes.  Three students will be assigned to play for the class the following week for 5-10 minutes.  This can include playing solo or along with the practice recording.  Other students can just listen or play along. This will give participants a chance to hear the concepts being taught interpreted in a variety of ways and on different instruments.  All students will be expected to play for each other ONCE during the course. Therapeutic Musicians will earn 12 CEUs if they complete the course.


COURSE SCHEDULE: We will begin each session with about 30 minutes of check-in questions and students playing/presenting on the scales and improvs of the previous class (solo or with the practice recording).  Then we will spend an hour going over the featured topic of the week.

Week 1 : Introductions, Pentatonic scales with and without chord progressions for Major/Ionian, Dorian, Native American flute scale (minor pentatonic), and the Japanese Hirajoshi minor pentatonic scales.

Week 2: Three assigned students will play/lead the class in playing on one or two of the pentatonic scales. What is a mode?  What are the 7 modes in music? Major/Ionian–scale and basic chord progressions; simple improvising ideas based on chords.

Week 3: Three assigned students will play/lead the class in improvising in Major/Ionian with Canaries or a simple chord progression.  Mixolydian–scale and basic chord progression; how to change a tune from Major to Mixolydian; how to change a tune from 4/4 to 3/4.

Week 4: Three assigned students will play/lead the class in improvising in Mixolydian. Dorian–scale and basic chord progressions (two different ones); how are the Dorian and Mixolydian modes related; what is the difference between Dorian and Aeolian?

Week 5: Three assigned students will play/lead the class in improvising in Dorian.  Aeolian/Minor–natural, harmonic and melodic minor– scales and basic chord progressions.

Week 6: Three assigned students will play/lead the class in improvising in Aeolian/Minor.  Switching between 4 modes using the tune Nonesuch. How does switching modes change the melody and chord progression? Using Ostinato bass lines.

Week 7: Three assigned students will demonstrate in taking one tune and switching between two (or more) modes. Lydian and Phrygian– their basic scales and chord progressions. 

Week 8: Three assigned students will play/lead the class in improvising in either the Lydian or Phrygian mode. Overview and review of the entire course.



Please fill out and send in the registration form.  Download HERE. (Available as pdf and MS Word file.)

Register by AUGUST 31 for discounted price!

Instructions for payment are on the registration form.

COST Options: Pay by check if you mail the registration, or pay by Paypal,  or (preferred) Venmo or Zelle.  Outside the US, contact me for bank details for payment by Transferwise.

OPTION 1 –pay in full with registration by AUGUST 31st - $165 (early registration discount)

OPTION 2 –pay in full  SEPT 1st or later $185

OPTION 3 – Pay in 2 installments.  First Payment $90 with registration by AUG 31 ($95 after Aug 31); Second Payment $90 DUE OCT 15

QUESTIONS? Contact Karen Ashbrook (information bottom of page)