Publication Date



Open access

Embargo Period


Degree Type

Doctoral Essay

Degree Name

Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA)


Studio Music and Jazz (Music)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Brian Lynch

Second Committee Member

Stephen Zdzinski

Third Committee Member

Brian E. Russell

Fourth Committee Member

John Daversa


The piano can serve as a visual, tactile, and aural tool to inform a student’s comprehension of jazz harmony. Through Whit Sidener’s extensive experience teaching jazz piano, theory, and improvisation over the last 40 years at the Frost School of Music at the University of Miami, he organized a systematic approach to understand jazz harmony in addition to developing intermediate piano skills. This study codifies the grip system, explains the system’s unique contributions to the jazz theory and piano vernacular, and explores direct influences from concepts defined and taught by Jerry Coker, David Baker, Jamey Aebersold, Dan Haerle, Ron Miller, and George Russell. The grip method labels unique structures which have specific chord-scale relationships. The approach of the grip system gives a practical vehicle showing how advanced concepts can be understood in accessible and transferable ways.


jazz harmony; improvisation; Whit Sidener; jazz piano; grip system; jazz theory