Hello! Today I'll be talking about the top 5 mistakes that prevent beginners from really progressing in jazz.
For each mistake, I'll try to offer a solution or two - but of course I don't claim to have all the answers. I'm still learning myself 😅
1. Not learning enough tunes
2. No Immersive Listening
For a while I wondered how this could be, but eventually I realized: they're not actually listening to the music they're working on!
I mean, I'm all for having diverse tastes. But the fact is, if you want to learn jazz you have to be familiar with the history, the great masters, the classic records. Knowing the lyrics to the tunes, really internalizing the form, the intention of the song.
That's the kind of thing that can only be learned by intense immersion through listening! So, make a playlist of the tunes you're learning with a bunch of recordings that you love. Then, put it on around the house, doing the dishes, whatever.
3. Not working on time
- We're trying so hard to make the chord changes at first that we just forget about everything else!
- We don't have that formative experience of playing really simple swing and locking in like a bass player and drummer do.
- In a lot of settings, we're sort of left to our own devices and can get away with shaky time.
You could also learn actual bass lines from the great jazz bassists like Paul Chambers or Ray Brown and try to swing along with their recordings! By playing along with the great masters, you've slowly start to internalize the feeling of swing.
- duo with a vocalist
- duo with another guitar
- quartet with a piano
- big band
- and more
A really common thing you have to do in jazz school is playing guitar duo. There are so many guitarists that it's just bound to happen. Now, playing guitar duo tastefully is actually really hard!
This is because the instruments have the exact same range, and this means it can get really muddy. I've seen people comp in the same range as the soloist, or even worse - comp for themselves when they're playing in a duo and it doesn't sound very good.
So, ask yourself:
- What is the musical situation calling for stylistically?
- What are the other instruments around me doing? Where do I fit in, rhythmically and range-wise?
5. Worrying about gear
As long as you have a guitar that's playable, the intonation is fine, and ideally has a pickup so you can go to jam sessions... you will be good!
In fact, if you are able to get a good tone just going straight into a mid-level amp then you'll sound even better when you finally upgrade.
Progressive Lessons for Jazz Chords and Rhythms
Many beginner and intermediate players alike practice jazz chords like they’re trying to memorize that entire GIANT chord book. Given the enormity of the task, results are often disappointing. What you need are simple building blocks of jazz harmony and comping.
This Toolkit is designed to propel you in the right direction by covering the essentials of jazz chords in an easy-to-read format.
Marc-Andre Seguin is the webmaster, mastermind and teacher on JazzGuitarLessons.net, the #1 online resource for learning how to play jazz guitar. He draws from his experience both as a professional jazz guitarist and professional jazz teacher to help thousands of people from all around the world learn the craft of jazz guitar.
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