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  1. #1

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    Linked article prompted a ramble. Feel free to stop striving: learn to relish being an amateur | Psyche Ideas

    It's good to be an amateur jazz guitar player. I don't have to transcribe if I don't want to (honestly, I never want to). Don't travel if it isn't for fun. And I can spend weeks on a tangent. I'm not in a hurry to get better or to achieve the next plateau or to be more consistent. Of course it's satisfying when I do. But there aren't obligations depending on it. And my ambition is not to be the best. Or even to be a competent jazz player as that is a lofty achievement. I just want to be good enough to perform a bit and to pursue my love of music. To some I'm sure that sounds like laziness and you would be right (thank goodness). But I do, in fact, also play quite a bit every day and have reasonable goals. Though the way things are going in the live music marketplace I might have to open my own coffee shop to perform in, I do believe music performance is important. As long as it's something worth listening to. Being retired means I have the time and means to pursue music on my terms. It's one of the most fun and satisfying things I do and I can't imagine being without it.

    So.. there are others that take it a lot more seriously than I do. Even some that tsk tsk at those of us who insist on wading about the shallow end of the pool. And there are some that take it less so. Not everyone has hours a day to spend on guitar. I just hope other amateur players never feel pressed or driven and can just enjoy the simple pleasure of playing.

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    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #2

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    Quote Originally Posted by Spook410
    Linked article prompted a ramble. Feel free to stop striving: learn to relish being an amateur | Psyche Ideas

    It's good to be an amateur jazz guitar player. I don't have to transcribe if I don't want to (honestly, I never want to). Don't travel if it isn't for fun. And I can spend weeks on a tangent. I'm not in a hurry to get better or to achieve the next plateau or to be more consistent. Of course it's satisfying when I do. But there aren't obligations depending on it. And my ambition is not to be the best. Or even to be a competent jazz player as that is a lofty achievement. I just want to be good enough to perform a bit and to pursue my love of music. To some I'm sure that sounds like laziness and you would be right (thank goodness). But I do, in fact, also play quite a bit every day and have reasonable goals. Though the way things are going in the live music marketplace I might have to open my own coffee shop to perform in, I do believe music performance is important. As long as it's something worth listening to. Being retired means I have the time and means to pursue music on my terms. It's one of the most fun and satisfying things I do and I can't imagine being without it.

    So.. there are others that take it a lot more seriously than I do. Even some that tsk tsk at those of us who insist on wading about the shallow end of the pool. And there are some that take it less so. Not everyone has hours a day to spend on guitar. I just hope other amateur players never feel pressed or driven and can just enjoy the simple pleasure of playing.
    I agree


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  4. #3

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    I like approaching music like this as well. It's nice for it to not be a grudge. But I do enjoy it very much and so am compelled to play and practice frequently anyway. My main objective goal is to be able to get my recordings (and playing) sounding 'professional' as in they are not annoying to listen to. Everything's 'correct' - in time, good rhythms and note wise while still being creative about it.

  5. #4

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    I fall into this category as well, and I suspect a fair percentage of members here do also. I know for a fact that I could not, nor ever would I be able to, hang with the local jazz players here in my city. Doesn't matter how many courses/lessons I take or how many hours I put in, it ain't gonna happen.
    I do find the process of studying and practicing jazz guitar to be alternatively frustrating AND rewarding.
    Being an amateur, and also retired, gives me the luxury to take a few days off if I find myself being frustrated by a perceived lack of progress. That being said, I am absolutely hooked on the process itself, and the great feeling when discoveries are made.
    Of course due to the pandemic, it has been 14 months since I have played live music with friends, or done any performing, ( I do gig in non-jazz contexts) and this has been the biggest challenge to maintaining a positive attitude regarding practice. It just ain't music if it's not shared with others.
    I think amateur players are good for the jazz scene, in that our understanding of the skills required, provides an appreciation of the pros who can actually get the job done. We are the ones who are going to concerts, clubs and festivals and in that way helping to keep the art form going. I think the smart pro players get that and are encouraging and helpful to amateurs. I find a lot of that here on this forum.
    In the meantime, I will keep chipping away, cause every once in a while a bit of magic happens, and that makes all the grunt work worthwhile!

  6. #5

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    Yeah .. No matter what you do these day it has to be about improvement. Did you go for a run and just enjoy it .. Oh dear, that ain't no good .. You need to prepare for a sub 3 marathon my friend!

    If you're not paying your bills doing an activity it's ok to just find the joy in it .. sometimes you're going to immersed in it for many hour day after day ... and then you maybe won't do it again for a year or two .. All is good

    It's also ok to spend 10k on a guitar collection only to never play it .. having the possibility to do so is in it self quite valuable!


    But ok .. If you read this forum sometimes you get the impression that being interested in music isn't about love and appreciation, but about hating all artist that don't narrowly define you .. So there is that too

  7. #6

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    yeah...every time I play my guitar I wear a fitbit.

  8. #7

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    The Avocationist

    No amateur am I. In fact, I rival the best!
    An expert without need of recompense.

    Not a connoisseur, wannabee,
    Would-be, retiree,
    Has-been, armchair-banterist,
    Pre-professional, recreationist,
    Leisure-timer, pseudo-sensationalist,
    Hobbyist, hobby-horse-rider,
    Dilettante, dabbler, Dilly 'n' Dallyer,
    Freak, fanatic, novice, or nutter.

    None of the above need apply,
    And none will I ever be,
    For a noble musician am I,
    And not a paid employee.
    Part-Time you may argue - yet I disagree,
    Full Time it provides me with the wages of glee.

    For years I've recoiled from trouble and strife,
    In pursuit of a sublime, luxurious life,
    Parallel to one spent in toil and earning,
    Filled with concord and harmonious learning.
    Not to place bread on my table as goal,
    But provision of sustenance for a musical soul.

    Avocation - the calling away from one's vocation.
    I am an Avocationist - Full Time;
    For it's not how you make your living,
    But it's how you live your life!
    ...
    Last edited by StringNavigator; 06-09-2021 at 07:12 AM.

  9. #8

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    After years playing mostly at home, from early 2017 through late 2019 I found several nearby live music clubs with jam sessions (jazz, blues, bossa, funk). Played with several pros who showed up, got invited to sit in on a few gigs. I now see those years as a real blessing. 2020 changed all that.

    Even though as corona waves wane and the clubs tentatively re-open, and some pros have been gigging on and off, it's not the same for me. And the thing of it is, without that weekly impetus to play with others, I have been playing less at home, delving into other endeavors, like using pedals, studying music, and such. No forays into recording, aside from iPhone vids. Really miss playing live.

  10. #9

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    I have a day (all-day) job and what sucks most about not having the necessary free time is when you need to go through the long process of internalization before actually playing something new. I can play all kinds of stuff, but that is my case right now regarding non-diatonic/"bop" vocabulary in soloing, which I hear just fine but don't readily have in my fingers. About 100 hours would suffice to get going, give or take.

  11. #10

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    I envy pro musicians, but I’m glad I’m an amateur.

    I strive for improvement, but I’ll never be elite-level.

    I’m thankful that now in my mid forties, I can (and will for the rest pf my life) devote a substantial portion of my time to making music for joy only, without financial objectives or career pressure.

    Music is truely one of the greatest joys in life.

  12. #11

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    I've had a few situations in my life where music was my sole source of income, and let me tell you...I will happily not do that again.

  13. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by Peter C
    I have a day (all-day) job and what sucks most about not having the necessary free time is when you need to go through the long process of internalization before actually playing something new. I can play all kinds of stuff, but that is my case right now regarding non-diatonic/"bop" vocabulary in soloing, which I hear just fine but don't readily have in my fingers. About 100 hours would suffice to get going, give or take.
    I can sympathize with the lack of time to practice due to having a full time job. I used to play with a little combo when I was working a full time labor intensive job. We learned new songs all the time, so all I had time/energy to do, was learn the new songs, but my soloing never improved.

    For you, since you can already play well on a technical level, and you can hear that stuff, maybe you could refocus the time that you do spend on the guitar to addressing your bebop chops. When you pick up your guitar practice what you most want to be able to do, and put everything else aside for a while. Even if it's only small time periods, drill the bebop stuff to the exclusion of other guitar related activities. Maybe it will be like putting some money away in a savings account regularly, and after a period of time you will have a substantial amount.

    At a rate of 15 minutes a day you'd have your 100 hours in just over 13 months. By next summer, you could be playing bebop!

  14. #13

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    I just play for fun, it’s all I’ve ever done. I never expected I would ever be able to play jazz properly. Yet somehow I’ve managed to get reasonably good at it, I don’t really know how. I never seriously followed a daily regime or anything. There are probably gaping holes in my knowledge but I couldn’t care less.

    Now I am retired, I do play more than I used to. But when it’s a nice day (like today!) I find it hard to sit in a room with a guitar for a long time. I feel drawn to get outside in the sun, or go for a walk in the countryside.

    Some days I’d rather play my classical guitar - today I played a couple of studies by Sor. Haven’t touched my jazz guitar so far today.

    So yes I’m happy to be an amateur, play whatever I like, or don’t play at all, and no stress!

  15. #14

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    @ alpop, sounds like a plan, thanks!

  16. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by Peter C
    @ alpop, sounds like a plan, thanks!
    You're welcome! I will buy your bebop album when it comes out in Aug 2022.

  17. #16

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    I've been a fairly serious jazz+ bassist for about forty-five years. I've been a guitar gearhead -- building, repairing, selling and buying guitars and amps -- for almost as long. That whole time I screwed around with playing guitar (and built an unrelated career I like too).

    About ten years ago I decided to try move the 'gearhead' energy over to playing jazz guitar. ("Results are mixed," as they say.) Now I can play a two-set jazz duo gig without a book and satisfy my educator / semi-pro partners.

    That's my mark for basic competence as a jazz musician. I am an Advanced Beginner.


  18. #17

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    To play for the love of music has been one of the many blessings of my life. I've made a little money, to be sure, but that was a bonus, not the purpose.

  19. #18

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    I’m definitely an amateur, though it took me a long time to recognize that as a valid way to approach jazz and the guitar generally. At one point in the 90s, I was good enough to sit in at the Saturday afternoon jam sessions at the old Visiones club in Manhattan and actually play stuff from the Real Book.

    No longer (and memorizing dozens or hundreds of tunes seems to be a mental block for me anyway), but I am able to get joy from playing anyway.

  20. #19

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    Bravo to the original post! Well said!

  21. #20

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    I'm a total amateur. Practice-wise, I just figure out new ways to tackle the notes. Learn stuff different ways.
    It's just fun to come up with something new to do. Been doing that for years and now got written down a bunch of exercises.
    I have this list now.. that I look at with amusement.. and never have enough time for all that

  22. #21

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    As an amateur jazz guitar player I tend to agree with most of the comments here; All I can add is that when playing with others, (which for me is with fellow amateurs), I feel one has a duty to be more disciplined and put-in-the-work to ensure they can play the songs known by one's colleagues well enough to make a jam fun for all.

    About 20 years ago I wasn't doing my part; E.g. in our weekly jam we had a gentleman's agreement that each week a select member could introduce one new song (say 4 members that would be 1 song a week per person). One would create lead sheets for each member. These were handed out at the end of the jam. Often I wouldn't work on those songs and just ask something lame like "lets just play the songs we know". These were friends so they put up with this for a while, but it was clear I was being selfish.

    Funny but today it is the other way around (since I don't have kids I guess); I keep learning songs, providing lead-sheets for songs I love, but they don't have the time to put in the work! Karma is a bitch!
    Last edited by jameslovestal; 06-10-2021 at 07:56 PM.

  23. #22

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    "engaging or engaged in without payment; nonprofessional." amateur defined.

    Amateur can refer to skill level or engaging in a pursuit without payment. In the first instance(skill level), there is a very blurred line; in the second(payment) . . .the parameters are quite clear. So, it's for you to decided how you perceive "amateur."
    Secondly, pursuit of a hobby reflects one's personality type. I have never taken a cavalier approach to any of my pursuits. However, seriousness, alone, does not insure competence. Only talent and hard work get results.
    Play live . . . Marinero

  24. #23
    Quote Originally Posted by Marinero
    "engaging or engaged in without payment; nonprofessional." amateur defined.

    Amateur can refer to skill level or engaging in a pursuit without payment. In the first instance(skill level), there is a very blurred line; in the second(payment) . . .the parameters are quite clear. So, it's for you to decided how you perceive "amateur."
    Secondly, pursuit of a hobby reflects one's personality type. I have never taken a cavalier approach to any of my pursuits. However, seriousness, alone, does not insure competence. Only talent and hard work get results.
    Play live . . . Marinero
    The cut and paste definition you selected seems limited in it's applicability. With very rare exception, the level of pay available to jazz guitarists does not represent a living wage. Making us all amateurs. Level of play is probably a better definition. As vague as that is.

    If 'pay', 'seriousness', and 'competence' are what matter to you in the world of jazz guitar, by all means, carry on. I'm sure we will all enjoy listening to the results or your hard work. However, I will remain comfortably and happily.. cavalier. It's a good word choice.

  25. #24

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    The root of amateur is Latin: Amas, or LOVE. An amateur is a lover of that pursuit he or she sets out upon without expectations for goals of professionalism; the journey is the reward. No reason not to be an amateur; after all, the Professional is a driven, myopic, disappointed, always-striving slave to the muse. And we like it that way, so really don't try to be like us unless you enjoy burning yourself with lit cigarettes or constantly wondering if you can afford a tune-up on that old beater that gets you to gigs that don't look worth the trouble to sane observers.

    An interesting observation through my years of captivity by the performing muse: the longer the gig, the shorter the money. I played 4-hour Dances at the local VFW for $5, then 6-hour show band gigs for $75 a night when starting out. My first 90-minute concert paid $300. My 2 ten-minute features with a concert chorale paid $600. Etc., ad nauseam.

    Pat Martino's most valuable advice to me during my lessons with him: "Don't work for scale".

  26. #25

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    " With very rare exception, the level of pay available to jazz guitarists does not represent a living wage. " Spook410

    Yes, S! This is why many of us who played professionally bailed(full-time) after the clubs closed. I've never regretted that decision from a practical perspective but have from a spiritual one. But, spirituality does not pay the bills. However, the experiences I had playing live are some of my most cherished memories as well as the interesting, creative people I met.
    But, I have also had a rich, rewarding life playing part-time since the early 90's in select(my choice) venues playing largely Classical and some Jazz/Bossa if the mood is right. And, being paid a fair price for my skills in upscale venues. So, making a living in The Arts is an oxymoron for most. This is a sad reality that must be accepted.
    Play live . . . Marinero