Things You Have To Stop To Become a Better Jazz GuitaristSep 23, 2022
Over the course of years in JazzGuitarLessons, I have shared tips, lessons, and what to do to improve your jazz guitar playing. In this blog post, we will be discussing things that hinder and hold back your efficiency and progress in learning. Here are the top things that you have to stop in order to become a better jazz guitarist:
STOP SITTING DOWN WITH YOUR GUITAR WITHOUT A PLAN
Not including your warm-ups, it is always fruitful to have a plan before practicing. Practicing without a plan is like going to the grocery store without a shopping list – this can waste your time and can be very unproductive, so make it a habit to sit down with your guitar with a goal in mind.
STOP TRYING TO PRACTICE TOO MANY THINGS
In relation to the first reminder, it is better not to put too many things on your plan for a single practice session. There have been multiple research studies that prove that learning too many things in a short span of time can be counterproductive and can lead to information overload. Take a step back and learn your licks one at a time. This way, retention is better and you can better grasp the concept of what you are trying to learn.
STOP STICKING TO ONLY ONE APPROACH
Playing jazz improvs, solos or music, in general, is meant to be a form of poetry. To make poetry, you will have to use letters, words, and phrases wherein in music, we play the scales, modes, etc. to express. You may have your own, comfortable way of using these concepts but sometimes a single approach can not fully give you all the benefits. Do not be afraid to get out of your box of comfort and see these concepts from different angles, this way, you may learn things that weren’t visible to you before and understand the music more than you have.
STOP THINKING THAT YOU HAVE TO KNOW EVERYTHING
One reason why we love music is that it is an art form. There are lots of technicalities and complicated theories. Overthinking these can lead to over-complicating things, and this can be exhausting. Sometimes, we just have to listen and feel what sounds good to us. Music isn’t physics or rocket science, it is an art form. Stop thinking that you have to know everything first before putting down your fingers on your instrument
STOP TRYING TO FIND SHORTCUTS
"There is no substitute for hard work." - Thomas A. Edison
There are no shortcuts that can quickly help you become a master of this craft. Time well spent, time invested on practicing, making a plan, experience: these are irreplaceable. Yes, you can find a quick tip online, but learning its roots or understanding how it came to be will certainly make you a better jazz guitar player.
Well, that might be confusing. You are playing a tune, and alas, you make a mistake. You stop playing. Let yourself make the mistakes and don’t stop.
STOP BEING AFRAID OF IMPROVISING
Improvising is a habit. You can improv using just three notes – using just timing, feel, and phrasing. Scales, modes, arpeggios… there is a lot to learn. You doubt yourself and do not allow yourself to play what you know. Don’t let your learning stop you from improvising. You don’t have to learn everything first before improvising. Improv is a habit, don’t wait before you improvise. Just play and explore – see what comes out!
STOP THINKING OF POSITIONS
Know the positions, but do not solely play IN the positions. Most guitar players tend to be bound by the positions they know, and do not bother to move outside of them. It is wise to know the positions but do not limit yourself within them and maximize your whole fretboard. Yes, this will take time and practice but once you understand how you can use the notes not only from a certain position, a whole new world of improvisation will open up for you.
STOP PLAYING YOUR SCALES WITH THE INDEX FINGER
With any scale or arpeggio that you currently know, start with your middle or pinky finger instead of your index finger for better reach on the adjacent frets. This can extend the possibilities that you can do with your phrasing, making it easier for you to traverse the fretboard.
STOP PLAYING THE 7TH CHORDS
As soon as you know the 7th’s, go up to the 9th’s,13th’s, or 11ths. In the language of jazz, 7th’s can sound too plain and are barely used. Add more colors by adding those few extra notes.
STOP THINKING THAT ARPEGGIOS ARE ENOUGH
Do not over-rely on your arpeggios. Yes, arpeggios contain the notes of the chords that you are playing over, but linear note choices are more lyrical and melodic if you want to converse through your improvisation. Use your arpeggios as a foundation for your phrasing, identifying your target notes, and play like how you would sing a line. This way, your phrasing will sound much better and more memorable.
It is always good to be mindful of how we play and practice, looking at ourselves from a different angle as we all want to become the best version of ourselves. Learning and identifying ways how to efficiently improve and stop ourselves from developing bad habits are tickets to becoming a better jazz guitar player.