Advanced Player starting new in Jazz with little theory knowledge

Question by Anonymous


I have been playing guitar for 17 years but have been entirely self-taught. As a result I cannot read notation nor do I have an understanding of some basic fundamentals, for example I have poor timing when not aided by a metronome.

What I want to know if there is a good way to approach a proper jazz education at my age (29) that simultaneously teaches me notation, and all the things that go along with it (such as understanding what a II-V-I progression is etc.)

Are you able to provide this kind of service in your custom lessons? I am also open to being directed to a particular book, but I really hope to get into the jazz side of things as soon as possible so if there is a combination of the two that would be ideal.

Thanks for your time.

M-A’s Answer:


Wow. To be brutally honest, there’s very few people (like you) that are attempting to learn “jazz” and that are prioritizing learning to read standard notation. Good for you!

What I strongly suggest in your case, is to go through the Berklee Modern Method for Guitar (at least Book 1). This is how I’ve personally learned to read in the first place. The books are so well “graduated” (the difficulty levels increase very slowly BUT strictly throughout) that it is hard NOT to learn to read while using them. (-:

In page one, you’ll start from scratch in an open position, learning C major scale … and by page 20 you’ll be playing solo pieces that are quite nice … learning to read scales, triads, timing and everything along the way. The beauty of it, is that as an advanced player, these won’t be a technical problem for you.

Book 2 has some theory stuff too, but that we could take care of in many other ways.

So, yes, of course… the custom lessons service provided here can certainly help you. I think that in this case, it would be mainly for guidance about all the “other” stuff. For instance, a good way to go about learning to read and jazz improv would be to learn some tunes (standards, blues, etc.) along with the Berklee method (so you don’t get fed up of the book too much.)

A good balance of Berklee and “other” stuff can certainly be optimized in custom lessons.

I hope this helps,

Thank you,

Marc-Andre Seguin
“Improve Your Jazz Guitar Playing with a REAL Teacher”

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