Avoiding the whole concept of “avoid” notes

Here’s a question I get all the time:

“I’ve read that in the key of C major, the ‘F’ is an “avoid” note. That means I shouldn’t play it, right?”

In a lot of books on musical improvisation, particularly jazz improvisation, they talk about “avoid” notes. In other words, they claim that in scales, there are certain notes to “avoid” because they don’t sound good. One such note (so they claim) is the 4th note in a major scale.


All I can say is that it’s a good thing that Beethoven had never read any of these books. If he did, he may never have composed the wonderful “Ode To Joy” melody. And it’s a good thing no one reads these books on their way to a birthday party. If they did, they wouldn’t sing “Happy Birthday.” And it’s a good thing that Charlie Parker didn’t read these books when he sat down to write the melody to “Confirmation.” If he did, the first measure might be a lot less catchy than it is now!

How can someone say to avoid 1/7th of a musical scale? That’s preposterous.

So the next time you read about any “avoid” notes, I hope you’ll avoid continuing any further.

Music is vast. Don’t let anyone limit it for you.


Learn the 5 Essential Left Hand Techniques with my free ebook: Left Hand Techniques for Jazz Piano
You’ll also get my weekly jazz newsletter with practice tips and inspiration

Leave a Comment

Sign up for Blog Updates