Klezmer Style Guide


  • Klezmer music might sound like this example of Veretski Pass, a trio of Cookie Segelstein, Josh Horowitz, and Stu Brotman, who regularly teach KlezCalifornia workshops, emphasizing a traditional eastern European sound:
  • A Yiddish sing-along is a get-together to sing Yiddish songs, relying on the KlezCalifornia SongBook or on song sheets provided by participants. Specific songs are chosen by a leader or by participants.
  • A klezmer instrumental workshop is a gathering in which participants learn klezmer tunes and techniques from a teacher, sometimes with the use of musical charts. There is ample time for repetition and discussion. 
  • A klezmer jam is a gathering of musicians to learn tunes as they are played and to experience playing with other musicians. A leader guides the choice of tunes and their tempos, keeping the musicians together and moving on to another tune after sufficient repetitions of the previous one. Once the session is moving along, other players may call out tunes that they would like to play. See What Is a Jam Session? by Stuart Brotman
  • A slow jam is a klezmer jam in which tunes are played by ear, but much more slowly than usual. Sometimes this is accompanied by teaching of some songs (call and response). See What Is a Slow Jam? by Stuart Brotman
  • Learning by ear rather than from written music has specific benefits. See Why We Learn By Ear by Joshua Horowitz


Compiled by Jim Rebhan, this resource with links to instrument-specific materials and related audio and video files is for instrumentalists who wish to learn how to perform klezmer music in a traditional style.


  • Sherry Mayrent, KlezmerAcademy.com
  • Keith Wolzinger, podcasts, KlezmerPodcast.com
  • Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Jewish Music Research Centre, Lexicon of Klezmer Terminology (LKT). The LKT compiles a wide array of source materials that shed light on the historical and contemporary state of knowledge about klezmer music. Each entry includes a number of citations from primary and secondary sources that include or refer to the term in question. It also indicates whether musical notation or sound recordings are included in the source. By clicking on the bibliographic hyperlink at the end of each citation, you get the full reference. jewish-music.huji.ac.il/lkt
  • KlezmerGuide, a comprehensive cross-reference of klezmer tune names, recordings, and sheet music sources. KlezmerGuide.com 

General Publications with Stylistic Information

  • Henry Sapoznik & Pete Sokolow, The Compleat Klezmer, book with CD amazon.com
  • Stacy Phillips, Mel Bay's Klezmer Collection, book amazon.com C / amazon.com Bb / other sources
  • Josh Horowitz, ed., The Ultimate Klezmer, modern edition of Nat Kostowsky, International Hebrew Wedding Music (1916), book amazon.com
  • Kurt Bjorling, ed., Jewish Instrumental Folk Music – the Collections and Writings of Moshe Beregovski (2nd ed.), book muziker.org
  • Kammen International Dance Folio No. 1  & 9, books that include klezmer tunes amazon.com
  • Velvel Pasternak, The Big Klezmer Fake Book, amazon.com
  • Pete Sokolow, Klezmer Guide, book jewishmusic.com/search?q=sokolow
  • Andy Statman, Learn to Play Klezmer, DVD homespun.com
  • Yale Strom, ed., Shpil – The Art of Playing Klezmer, amazon.com

Klezmer Transcriptions on the Web






  • Michèle Gingras, Klezmer for Klarinettistsdolmetsch.com/klezmer
  • Dave Tarras, one-hour concert (in 1978 at age 81), youtu.be/V6zKleJSYi4
  • Joel Rubin, The art of the klezmer: improvisation and ornamentation in the commercial recordings of New York clarinetists Naftule Brandwein and Dave Tarras, 1922-1929, unpublished doctoral thesis (2001), PDF, openaccess.city.ac.uk/8393/
  • Robin Seletsky, Klezmer Clarinet Tutorials, in eight parts:
    1. The Krekht
    2. The Krekht, continued
    3. The Laughing/Crying Sound; see also Oleg Lapidus video on Laughing Effect
    4. Grace Notes and Trills
    5. The Doina
    6. Sliding Between Notes
    7. The Growl
    8. Extreme High Notes

Drums & Percussion

    1. youtu.be/JQaUB7zHfGo

    2. youtu.be/eIYzirfLQ6I

    3. youtu.be/wBW1x0mHs_o





Cantorial Models

Hasidic Nigunim