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  1. #1

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    What is the best way to learn to play jazz?

    Generally people will respond with "This is how I learned". But this really says nothing about whether their's is the best method. There has been no test against other methods. Did it take 100 hours, or 1000 hours, or 10,000 hours? Yes, you may have tried one way, and then another, and found something that you think worked best, but that is not a controlled experiment; it is an anecdote. There are studies that show that both teachers and students tend to choose methods that produce inferior long-term results in favor of superior immediate results, and it is very difficult to avoid this bias. So it is very possible that you fooled yourself, and got your result inefficiently. How then do we know what is the "best" method?

    I suggest that we should look at what the pros who have practiced the least do. While we are not getting a controlled experiment, we are getting a pool of talented people, who have all achieved similar results, with different time investments. I am suspicious of any advice from someone who had to practice obsessively to achieve the same results as someone who has practiced for three hours a day.

    There are great players who practice obsessively, and great players who say that more than three hours a day is a waste of time. Well, who are these efficient practicers, and how do they practice? Who is the laziest pro ever? I want to do what he or she does.
    Last edited by Jonzo; 05-31-2015 at 10:58 AM.

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  3. #2

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    You haven't articulated the goal with any elaboration to speak of, so you have a very fuzzy target.

    also, it would be nice to see those studies that you referred to.

    Finally, is this really "jazz improvisation" that you're asking about? Or are you asking about instrumental skills? (Jazz guitar instruction frequently mixes the two to the point that they appear to be synonymous, when they are not.)
    Last edited by fumblefingers; 05-31-2015 at 11:06 AM.

  4. #3

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    Here is a layman's article referencing UCLA's Robert Bjork:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/07/ma...hing.html?_r=0

    If you search out his research papers, you will find references to a lot of the primary research in this area.

    Read down in the article to the part about "fluency misperceptions". A common example would be repeating a phrase perfectly 100 times in a row. There will be a diminishing return on each repetition, but at the end of 100 repetitions you would feel like you had really learned it. So you might continue to use that method, even though it is not very efficient. It would be more efficient to play the phrase perfectly a few times, and then do some more valuable repetitions on something else, and then come back. At the end of a more varied session, you might not have completely mastered either phrase, but you would have made more total progress than you would have mastering just one phrase. I assume that there are some pros who do the 100 times in a row method, but still gain a high skill level by putting in more time than their more efficient counterparts.

    My question pertains to exactly what it says. What is the best way to learn to play Jazz? It is broad, not fuzzy. Specifically, it asks if it is reasonable to assume that the ratio of performance level to total work ("efficiency") is the best way we have available to determine the best method. Finally, it asks who those high performance/low work musicians are, and how do they practice.

    I would also be interested in hearing from high skill amateurs who have achieved their performance level with a minimal time investment (whatever you consider that to be).
    Last edited by Jonzo; 05-31-2015 at 01:56 PM.

  5. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jonzo View Post
    I suggest that we should look at what the pros who have practiced the least do.
    Which pros are you talking about?
    "Learn the repertoire. It’s all in the songs. If you learn 200 songs, you will have no problem improvising."
    Frank Vignola

  6. #5

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    For people who learn well practicing a ton, it doesn't matter that other people learn well without practicing a ton.

    If you're feeling like you've been squandering your precious practice-time, examine that and act on it. Conversely, if you're an efficient learner and wonder whether you'd be even happier practicing more, do that -- it's not like you'll be fired for dragging down the rest of the assembly-line.

    Because it's not a race, it's a process. If, by and large, you're not generally enjoying the process do something else. Nobody wants to win the prize for Best Burning But Sad Jazz Musician.
    "Don't worry about that. Everybody talks about finding your voice. Do your homework and your voice will find you." - Branford Marsalis

  7. #6

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    Here's a list of great jazz guitar players who haven't practiced much:



    Jeff Matz, Jazz Guitar:
    http://www.youtube.com/user/jeffreymatz

    "Jazz is like life...it goes on longer than you think, and as soon as you're like 'oh, I get it,' it ends."

    --The Ghost of Duke Ellington

  8. #7

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    Practicing the instrument regularly will yield quicker results than spending that time looking for shortcuts.
    Last edited by monk; 05-31-2015 at 01:48 PM.

  9. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sam Sherry View Post
    For people who learn well practicing a ton, it doesn't matter that other people learn well without practicing a ton.

    If you're feeling like you've been squandering your precious practice-time, examine that and act on it. Conversely, if you're an efficient learner and wonder whether you'd be even happier practicing more, do that -- it's not like you'll be fired for dragging down the rest of the assembly-line.

    Because it's not a race, it's a process. If, by and large, you're not generally enjoying the process do something else. Nobody wants to win the prize for Best Burning But Sad Jazz Musician.
    Sam,

    I understand what you are saying, Amigo, but unfortunately for some of us it is a "race" - against the Hellhounds of Time and Aging. Arthritis and tendonitis is creeping into the joints of our fingers, wrists, shoulders and back. Our memories are beginning to fail. And, a whole host of other things are going on that are detrimental to the process.

    Because of this, many of us who started Jazz late are looking for the greatest return on our time, maybe even a "shortcut" or two if there is one.

    I plan to be at a certain level of proficiency at some point, and to enjoy it for as long as I can before my hourglass is up. This forum has been a great, great help in setting realistic goals and understanding the best path for my particular way of thinking and talent level.

  10. #9

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    There are different methods of practicing. The way some people practice is not what other people might call it. There are some who play tunes, and play and play and play. Others don't consider it practice unless you play hard scales and lines over and over again. I do three times in a row without making a mistake. This might take only three times or 175. Whatever gets you there.
    Last edited by henryrobinett; 05-31-2015 at 01:50 PM. Reason: typos

  11. #10

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    Here's Andreas as a 12 year old ( he's a few years older now). Maybe he practiced for a good 5 years. My guess is probably around 5000 hours practice, with tiny fingers and a child's mind.

    How many of us were that good after 5000 hours? Prodigy? Or just efficient, well guided practice (Gypsy father/teacher)?

    If you want an efficient practice regimen, find a teacher who has proven they can produce advanced students in relatively little time. Stick with the program and sell all your other books as well as stay off the internet.


    Good luck!

  12. #11

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    i seem to remember the theory that young minds are better at learning new material than old.

    it seems useful to distinguish between teaching methods for children vs. adults for this, among a number or other reasons.

  13. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jonzo View Post
    What is the best way to learn to play jazz?....

    Who is the laziest pro ever? I want to do what he or she does
    .

    I agree that the goal of trying to sort out jazz learning folklore from stuff that is well-founded, scientifically, is worthwhile. But I'd be really careful about drawing firm conclusions, so much depends on prior knowledge base of that particular individual.

    E.g. Try to imagine the ideal place to learn jazz in the 20's or 30's. That place would be Kansas City, maybe New Orleans, Chicago, or New York, probably. Charlie Parker grew up in KC, listened to a lot of music....blues, swing, some country, church music (traditional and gospel), ragtime, maybe western swing, marching band stuff, some classical stuff. There was a LOT of music around....live clubs, etc., a school band, stuff on the radio, the "territory bands", bands being hired at resorts (this is how CP got hurt--car crash coming back from a resort gig, which led to morphine dosing, and then use of heroin), country club and private parties, etc.

    I've written before how the sharp 4 is found ALL the time in blues...no big deal to use it in a non-blues context--call it bebop dominant if you like....same with the sharp 2 sliding into the 3 from country stuff...and the sharp 5 found in a lot of ragtime stuff...so my point is....CP had a pretty good exposure to all types of music. Even he, though, had to woodshed intensively after the famous incident where he got bounced off the night club bandstand because he knew only a few keys really well. You could say...study scales/arpeggios backward and forward intensively for 2 years, and you will be CP...but that won't happen....too much other prior knowledge that he was bringing to the table....even then his style wasn't fully formed...until spending some time in NYC and working with a guitar-playing friend, supposedly, when he had his "breakthrough".

    Wes M. had a good ten yr. "incubation pd." between playing for Lionel Hampton (1948-50) and his later breakout period 1958-9 with Mel Rhyne, I think it was.

    Joe Pass played with Charlie Barnet in 1947 as an 18 yr. old. He came from a non-musical family but played Django stuff as a teen. I think he just played the stuffing out of the guitar...and figured out lead shapes, and chord movements, in a "bottoms up" manner--without a lot of heavy theory. Even so, it was another fifteen yrs. or so before he became known. Granted he had some demons to slay along the way....but I don't think he got to play the way he did without a lot of playing...to the pt. where the technique became 2nd nature, and fully internalized.

    So, I guess I have 2 points: (1) There are very few "instant" successes in jazz...there is too much to learn initially, at least on guitar...then there is the tradition and the history itself of the music, and (2) different individuals will learn in different manners---some guidance is helpful, but may or may not help any particular individual very much.

    (A lot of learning tasks are tricky---you may struggle for a while, feel you're not progressing, but if you stick with it, at some point...it falls into place---and you can't understand why you didn't "get it" before....like doing math problems, you either probably understand the concepts and application almost entirely--or you're just not going to be able to solve the problem at all....it's like an "on/off" switch...not a smooth gradation from ignorance to mastery but breakthrough steps along the way.)

  14. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by princeplanet View Post
    How many of us were that good after 5000 hours? Prodigy? Or just efficient, well guided practice (Gypsy father/teacher)?

    If you want an efficient practice regimen, find a teacher who has proven they can produce advanced students in relatively little time. Stick with the program and sell all your other books as well as stay off the internet
    That makes sense, especially if one's goal is to become very good (proficient) in a specific way (-say, mastering Django or Charlie Christian solos). I think for many of us, the goal is more diffuse: certainly, we want to know some great tunes, also be able to play a nice chord melody, then there's burnin' through jam session mainstays, and of course being able to comp with a walking bass line and a good swing feel, not to mention lots of voicings on the top strings for a more contemporary sound when comping, then there's essential bebop vocab, and also more modern sounds which come from a different approach, though there's always room for jazzy blues heads and improv too, and then there's swing / groove itself, o, and one's own sound. That's not just one thing, or even three things. (Was even Wes a master of all those things?)
    Last edited by MarkRhodes; 05-31-2015 at 02:14 PM. Reason: spelling
    "Learn the repertoire. It’s all in the songs. If you learn 200 songs, you will have no problem improvising."
    Frank Vignola

  15. #14

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    The laziest players must have at least done focused listening. Maybe you can add more of that to your routine - trade it from time on scales or something. Listening and ear training is half the battle.

    To answer your exact question with one example :
    Mike Moreno said somewhere that he has never practiced more than 5 hours a day. This doesn't mean Mike is lazy, but at the very least we can assume that he practices guitar less than most of his peers. Probably spends lots of time practicing writing since his tunes are so beautiful. He also said the only thing he ever works on is bebop because "everything else is so much easier after that." Easy to see where that got him. But on the other hand its worth noting that he probably worked on many other areas before settling on a bebop-only routine.
    Last edited by pushkar000; 05-31-2015 at 02:20 PM.

  16. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jonzo View Post
    Here is a layman's article referencing UCLA's Robert Bjork:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/07/ma...hing.html?_r=0

    If you search out his research papers, you will find references to a lot of the primary research in this area.

    Read down in the article to the part about "fluency misperceptions". A common example would be repeating a phrase perfectly 100 times in a row. There will be a diminishing return on each repetition, but at the end of 100 repetitions you would feel like you had really learned it. So you might continue to use that method, even though it is not very efficient. It would be more efficient to play the phrase perfectly a few times, and then do some more valuable repetitions on something else, and then come back. At the end of a more varied session, you might not have completely mastered either phrase, but you would have made more total progress than you would have mastering just one phrase. I assume that there are some pros who do the 100 times in a row method, but still gain a high skill level by putting in more time than their more efficient counterparts.

    My question pertains to exactly what it says. What is the best way to learn to play Jazz? It is broad, not fuzzy. Specifically, it asks if it is reasonable to assume that the ratio of performance level to total work ("efficiency") is the best way we have available to determine the best method. Finally, it asks who those high performance/low work musicians are, and how do they practice.

    I would also be interested in hearing from high skill amateurs who have achieved their performance level with a minimal time investment (whatever you consider that to be).

    firstly, yeah that 100 times thing is more excessive than I've ever been instructed or even heard about in either classical or jazz education.


    but regarding the rest, let me 'splain.

    Chris Standring for one, helps people articulate their goals along lines similar to the following:

    a. I want to be a world class, master musician, recording artist
    b. I want to be good enough to be a gigging pro
    c. I want to be able to play for my friends and family
    d. I want to play well enough to enjoy a little music making at home


    1. So - which are you referring to? (it matters, just go along with me on this one for a sec).

    2. What assumptions are we to make about musicianship skill levels going in? For example:

    a. Can the player already play all the standard scales, chords, arpeggios, intervals, and patterns that people learn when developing mature, intermediate level instrumental facility?

    b. Can the player play intermediate level tunes/repertoire in a convincing, artistically expressive, and style/period consistent manner?

    Universal practice advise across all levels of goal setting and pre-existing musicianship facility can only be responsibly dispensed at an abstract level of detail. In other words, not knowing the answers to the above while simultaneously attempting to give specific, useful, detailed advice causes us to scatter-shoot all over the map.

    In other words, causes us to have a typical internet discussion.

  17. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by goldenwave77 View Post
    I agree that the goal of trying to sort out jazz learning folklore from stuff that is well-founded, scientifically, is worthwhile. But I'd be really careful about drawing firm conclusions, so much depends on prior knowledge base of that particular individual.

    E.g. Try to imagine the ideal place to learn jazz in the 20's or 30's. That place would be Kansas City, maybe New Orleans, Chicago, or New York, probably. Charlie Parker grew up in KC, listened to a lot of music....blues, swing, some country, church music (traditional and gospel), ragtime, maybe western swing, marching band stuff, some classical stuff. There was a LOT of music around....live clubs, etc., a school band, stuff on the radio, the "territory bands", bands being hired at resorts (this is how CP got hurt--car crash coming back from a resort gig, which led to morphine dosing, and then use of heroin), country club and private parties, etc.

    I've written before how the sharp 4 is found ALL the time in blues...no big deal to use it in a non-blues context--call it bebop dominant if you like....same with the sharp 2 sliding into the 3 from country stuff...and the sharp 5 found in a lot of ragtime stuff...so my point is....CP had a pretty good exposure to all types of music. Even he, though, had to woodshed intensively after the famous incident where he got bounced off the night club bandstand because he knew only a few keys really well. You could say...study scales/arpeggios backward and forward intensively for 2 years, and you will be CP...but that won't happen....too much other prior knowledge that he was bringing to the table....even then his style wasn't fully formed...until spending some time in NYC and working with a guitar-playing friend, supposedly, when he had his "breakthrough".

    Wes M. had a good ten yr. "incubation pd." between playing for Lionel Hampton (1948-50) and his later breakout period 1958-9 with Mel Rhyne, I think it was.

    Joe Pass played with Charlie Barnet in 1947 as an 18 yr. old. He came from a non-musical family but played Django stuff as a teen. I think he just played the stuffing out of the guitar...and figured out lead shapes, and chord movements, in a "bottoms up" manner--without a lot of heavy theory. Even so, it was another fifteen yrs. or so before he became known. Granted he had some demons to slay along the way....but I don't think he got to play the way he did without a lot of playing...to the pt. where the technique became 2nd nature, and fully internalized.

    So, I guess I have 2 points: (1) There are very few "instant" successes in jazz...there is too much to learn initially, at least on guitar...then there is the tradition and the history itself of the music, and (2) different individuals will learn in different manners---some guidance is helpful, but may or may not help any particular individual very much.

    (A lot of learning tasks are tricky---you may struggle for a while, feel you're not progressing, but if you stick with it, at some point...it falls into place---and you can't understand why you didn't "get it" before....like doing math problems, you either probably understand the concepts and application almost entirely--or you're just not going to be able to solve the problem at all....it's like an "on/off" switch...not a smooth gradation from ignorance to mastery but breakthrough steps along the way.)
    On the contrary regarding Joe Pass. He told a story of a relative quizzing him on "all" his scales at 14, and he promptly gave a demonstration. maybe he was light on theory, but not on instrumental facility homework.

  18. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by pushkar000 View Post
    The laziest players must have at least done focused listening. Maybe you can add more of that to your routine - trade it from time on scales or something. Listening and ear training is half the battle.

    To answer your exact question with one example :
    Mike Moreno said somewhere that he has never practiced more than 5 hours a day. This doesn't mean Mike is lazy, but at the very least we can assume that he practices guitar less than most of his peers. Probably spends lots of time practicing writing since his tunes are so beautiful. He also said the only thing he ever works on is bebop because "everything else is so much easier after that." Easy to see where that got him. But on the other hand its worth noting that he probably worked on many other areas before settling on a bebop-only routine.
    who could be called "lazy" if they practiced 5 hours per day?

  19. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by MarkRhodes View Post
    That makes sense, especially if one's goal is to become very good (proficient) in a specific way (-say, mastering Django or Charlie Christian solos). I think for many of us, the goal is more diffuse: certainly, we want to know some great tunes, also be able to play a nice chord melody, then there's burnin' through jam session mainstays, and of course being able to comp with a walking bass line and a good swing feel, not to mention lots of voicings on the top strings for a more contemporary sound when comping, then there's essential bebop vocab, and also more modern sounds which come from a different approach, though there's always room for jazzy blues heads and improv too, and then there's swing / groove itself, o, and one's own sound. That's not just one thing, or even three things. (Was even Wes a master of all those things?)
    Sure, to get proficient fast, then you'll probably be focussing on narrower goals, to the exclusion of the many other facets of Jazz composition / performance that will get neglected. No one can be good at all of it, not even Wes or GB

    I remember Bill Evans told the story of how he came to play with Scott Lefaro. Scott was "on the scene" but people thought he was just an "average" bass player, including Bill. But he insisted that a miraculous transition took place within only months, where Scott had obviously holed up somewhere for some serious shedding and emerged the fully formed virtuoso/genius that we hear in the trio recordings, going on to inspire countless bassists after his untimely demise.

    That along with the Bird or Wes story, or even the Robert Johnson story, continues to inspire either awe, and/or humility in us mere mortals. Again I'd ask- is it genius, or powerfully applied methodology? My guess it's both.

  20. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by fumblefingers View Post
    On the contrary regarding Joe Pass. He told a story of a relative quizzing him on "all" his scales at 14, and he promptly gave a demonstration. maybe he was light on theory, but not on instrumental facility homework.
    I think we're saying the same thing....he did some Carcassi studies but left off doing them, so his fingerstyle approach he described as "any old way"...he was pretty famously anti-CST...thought of chords as minor/major/dominant....and could play a ton of stuff without necessarily explaining it ...theoretically...I don't get the sense he thought in those terms, but rather had really "big ears" both in learning and listening to music, and in playing it.

    (Caveat....I never met Joe P., and others here have...so maybe I'm off base...but I get the sense that for him, the "rubber meeting the road" was to always play what he was hearing...and to work on tunes and licks to the point where he could, in real time, compose in the moment)

  21. #20

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    I want to be clear that I am fine with research. Science does not scare me. I do not fear it will kill the magic. Yet I am also aware that whom one studies makes a vast difference to the outcome one obtains.

    To keep it simple: if you divide a large pool of randomly selected players into small groups that approach the same task in different ways, you might find that 'the randomly selected player learned task X most quickly when using approach Y.' That could be useful to the average player who wanted to make the most efficient use of limited practice time. (Of course, that approach may not work for HIM, in which case he will have to try something else. Perhaps in THIS respect, he is not average....)

    But if your pool of subjects is great players then this is of course not a random sample and it is unclear what the non-great player should make of the results obtained.

    (There is the separate question of how great players practice now---say, a decade or two into their greatness--as opposed to how they practiced when they started out, or how they practiced five years later when they were clearly above average but not yet world-class.
    Last edited by MarkRhodes; 05-31-2015 at 03:02 PM. Reason: grammar
    "Learn the repertoire. It’s all in the songs. If you learn 200 songs, you will have no problem improvising."
    Frank Vignola

  22. #21

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    A couple of comments...

    Some have mentioned that some players will practice a lot, regardless. Others have mentioned that you have to practice a lot to be a pro. These statements are true, but irrelevant to the OP. Certainly even people who practice many hours want to make the best use of their time.

    Regarding specificity of goals, it is true that we can set different goals within Jazz, but they can also be seen as among a continuum of skills that pros have mastered. Thus their experiences are relevant.

    Finally, it is true that we are not identical to pros, but they were more like us than not when they started.
    Last edited by Jonzo; 05-31-2015 at 04:27 PM.

  23. #22

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    Jonzo, in all seriousness, in the several years now you've been posting about and searching for the most efficient way to learn to play jazz...how many tunes have you learned?
    Jeff Matz, Jazz Guitar:
    http://www.youtube.com/user/jeffreymatz

    "Jazz is like life...it goes on longer than you think, and as soon as you're like 'oh, I get it,' it ends."

    --The Ghost of Duke Ellington

  24. #23

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    Good one! Although i would like to talk to Berili Lagrene or hear from someone who has.I bet his Dad made Joe Passes dad look like a softy.

  25. #24

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    Quote Originally Posted by mr. beaumont View Post
    Jonzo, in all seriousness, in the several years now you've been posting about and searching for the most efficient way to learn to play jazz...how many tunes have you learned?
    This is a good example of the flawed way that people think about learning.

    How many tunes do you think I should have learned? Do you know how many minutes a day I have to practice? Do you know my age or when I took up guitar? Do you know whether I have any physical limitations? If not, how would you judge whether I have learned "enough"?

    I don't spend as much time as you posting on the forum, so why would you assume that I am wasting my time, or that I am not practicing effectively while continuing to look for ways to improve my practice?

    My OP is pretty straight forward. Why are you so intent on avoiding a straight forward answer? Is there something about the question that makes you feel insecure about your own methods?

    I'm serious, because why not just engage with the OP instead of derailing it with implied insults? Is there something wrong with examining the effectiveness of learning methods in a forum about learning methods?
    Last edited by Jonzo; 05-31-2015 at 04:16 PM.

  26. #25

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jonzo View Post
    This is a good example of the flawed way that people think about learning.

    How many tunes do you think I should have learned? Do you know how many minutes a day I have to practice? Do you know my age or when I took up guitar? Do you know whether I have any physical limitations? If not, how would you judge whether I have learned "enough"?

    I don't spend as much time as you posting on the forum, so why would you assume that I am wasting my time, or that I am not practicing effectively while continuing to look for ways to improve my practice?

    My OP is pretty straight forward. Why are you so intent on avoiding a straight forward answer? Is there something about the question that makes you feel insecure about your own methods?

    I'm serious, because why not just engage with the OP instead of derailing it with implied insults? Is there something wrong with examining the effectiveness of learning methods in a forum about learning methods?
    So none?

    Because you've been looking for the most efficient way for years. I think it's a futile quest, because as a teacher, I've never met a foolproof method that works for everybody. What are you doing now? Are you seeing progress or not?
    Jeff Matz, Jazz Guitar:
    http://www.youtube.com/user/jeffreymatz

    "Jazz is like life...it goes on longer than you think, and as soon as you're like 'oh, I get it,' it ends."

    --The Ghost of Duke Ellington

  27. #26

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jonzo View Post

    My OP is pretty straight forward. Why are you so intent on avoiding a straight forward answer? Is there something about the question that makes you feel insecure about your own methods?

    I'm serious, because why not just engage with the OP instead of derailing it with implied insults? Is there something wrong with examining the effectiveness of learning methods in a forum about learning methods?
    Not intending to jump into this fray so much except to say that the original OP has no real answer. It's a rhetorical question that asks for generalized guesses and surmises. It's somewhat silly.

    You have through the years it seems, tried to find ways of getting around the issue of hard time earned practice. That's fine. And you've been asked this question about learning songs over and over again and has been met with no answer, repeatedly. That's fine. It's just what it is.

  28. #27

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    I will also say this: you seem pretty intent on explaining how many here have a flawed way of thinking about learning, yet you don't give us a leak to see how effective your way actually is. You seem to be an expert.

  29. #28

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    Mr. B.--

    Here you are saying that there is no "foolproof method" (which is a straw man), but on every other thread you preach "learn tunes".

    You do have opinions about best practices, but you are complacent.

  30. #29

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jonzo View Post
    This is a good example of the flawed way that people think about learning.

    How many tunes do you think I should have learned? Do you know how many minutes a day I have to practice? Do you know my age or when I took up guitar? Do you know whether I have any physical limitations? If not, how would you judge whether I have learned "enough"?

    I don't spend as much time as you posting on the forum, so why would you assume that I am wasting my time, or that I am not practicing effectively while continuing to look for ways to improve my practice?

    My OP is pretty straight forward. Why are you so intent on avoiding a straight forward answer? Is there something about the question that makes you feel insecure about your own methods?

    I'm serious, because why not just engage with the OP instead of derailing it with implied insults? Is there something wrong with examining the effectiveness of learning methods in a forum about learning methods?
    No, but it really helps to know

    goals of player
    current skill/experience level of player.

    context is important in music as much as any other field of study. Medicine, law, accounting, mixed martial arts.

    make sense?

  31. #30

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    Henry--

    There are people who have practiced much less than you, and achieved equal or better results. There is no need for regrets if you enjoyed the process and got the results you wanted. But your equals and superiors who practiced less have evidence of using a better method than you. It is not perfect evidence, but evidence nonetheless.

    I don't see where answering the OP requires guesses or surmises, if you happen to know what some high efficiency learners did, or were a high efficiency learner yourself. I don't see how it could possibly be considered a silly question. It doesn't give us a perfect answer about how to practice, but it is more supportable than everyone just saying "Here is what I did". I have laid out my reasoning for looking at the methods that high efficiency learners have used. Perhaps you could lay out your argument for complacency.

    The topic of this thread is specifically not about how I practice. It lays out a line of reasoning, and asks for input. If someone responds with a flawed argument, should it not be addressed? I mean, what does "some people like to practice a lot" have to do with "what is the most effective way to practice"? How many tunes I know, how I practice, my attitude, etc. have nothing to do with the OP. Next someone will ask me the color of my guitar.

    It really is a straight forward question. Answer it or don't.

    Really, I am kind of shocked by the contortions people go through to avoid actually engaging with the OP.
    Last edited by Jonzo; 05-31-2015 at 05:21 PM.

  32. #31

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jonzo View Post
    Mr. B.--

    Here you are saying that there is no "foolproof method" (which is a straw man), but on every other thread you preach "learn tunes".

    You do have opinions about best practices, but you are complacent.

    I preach learn tunes, because that's the point, isn't it?

    Tunes aren't a method in and of themselves. But they ARE the point of playing--to make music.
    Jeff Matz, Jazz Guitar:
    http://www.youtube.com/user/jeffreymatz

    "Jazz is like life...it goes on longer than you think, and as soon as you're like 'oh, I get it,' it ends."

    --The Ghost of Duke Ellington

  33. #32

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    Quote Originally Posted by fumblefingers View Post
    No, but it really helps to know

    goals of player
    current skill/experience level of player.

    context is important in music as much as any other field of study. Medicine, law, accounting, mixed martial arts.

    make sense?
    For each individual, you are correct. But all of the fields you mention above also address generalities. In mixed martial arts, for example, you will discuss generalities of offence, defense, spacing, leverage, etc. They are the foundation that the specifics for individual goals are built on.

  34. #33

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    Quote Originally Posted by mr. beaumont View Post
    I preach learn tunes, because that's the point, isn't it?

    Tunes aren't a method in and of themselves. But they ARE the point of playing--to make music.
    So when people ask questions about learning methods, and you tell them to learn tunes, are you purposely misguiding them?

    Learn tunes to learn tunes is pretty circular.

  35. #34

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    I think there's some really good stuff hidden in the OP. The brief statement you made about practicing a line 100 times being less effective than practicing it 10 then 10 then 10 then 10 ... etc ... Times is very interesting and something I've looked into a lot. As for a specific answer to a point in your OP, I would say that the "repetitions" method of practicing is misguided. I agree there. I've read various thing that seem to settle on 4 as a pretty good number for establishing muscle memory. I'll often practice something until it's perfect 4 times before changing it (something other than tempo). Transpose or play in a different position or something like that. Then go back and repeat the whole process with the tempo a bit higher. Sometimes I try it on a more macro level too. Like working on bop heads until I can feel auto pilot kick in before switching to something else, then again, then back to bop heads, etc. I'll also say that with that idea it's important for me to find the sweet spot where I'm not working on the exact same thing for hours but I have picked a small enough number of things to work on that at the end of the day they all got real attention. That's a fine line.

    as for the broader answer to your question - I think maybe you've gotten it already. Id guess that maybe some really good people to check out would be prodigies. Not random hot young players or YouTube talents but someone like Julian Lage who was both a genuine prodigy at a very very young age and also has staying power to keep improving and evolving. I think the difference youd find is in Princeplanet's "focused listening." Musical families, constant subconscious exposure to music, the willingness and passion to move beyond that into real critical listening, early attempts to assimilate what they hear on recordings and live into their own playing in a direct way. Listening. Constant exposure to sounds.
    Last edited by pamosmusic; 05-31-2015 at 05:21 PM.

  36. #35

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jonzo View Post
    So when people ask questions about learning methods, and you tell them to learn tunes, are you purposely misguiding them?

    Learn tunes to learn tunes is pretty circular.
    not at all.

    my advice is never just to learn tunes. I've posted my advice for beginners here a hundred times...chord building, 12 essential chords, arpeggios, ear training, etc, all learned in the context of tunes.
    Jeff Matz, Jazz Guitar:
    http://www.youtube.com/user/jeffreymatz

    "Jazz is like life...it goes on longer than you think, and as soon as you're like 'oh, I get it,' it ends."

    --The Ghost of Duke Ellington

  37. #36

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    Suggest you research Chet Baker. OK not a guitarist, but by all accounts he hardly practised at all. I'm not sure what his methods were though. Just having a phenomenal ear and copying everything he heard, probably.

  38. #37

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    Quote Originally Posted by mr. beaumont View Post
    not at all.

    my advice is never just to learn tunes. I've posted my advice for beginners here a hundred times...chord building, 12 essential chords, arpeggios, ear training, etc, all learned in the context of tunes.
    Exactly. Though you say there is no "fool proof" method, you are happy to give advice on what you consider the "best" methods. The OP seeks to explore an idea for determining who is really using the best method.

    We can all float around in the sea of "everyone is different", and make no judgments on methods, or we can make our best efforts to identify best methods, both general and specific. Or we can be complacent.

  39. #38

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    Who are some examples of pros that practiced the least?

  40. #39

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    You have to practice a lot to learn jazz well, but yes, I do feel you can become competent at it in a timely manner if your approach is an organized one. This I've come to realize in the last 3 years since I've started practicing with more structure. To help with structure I advocate you write everything down in an organized binder.

    There is certain things that you have to do whether you like it or not - things like ear training, music theory, and knowing your fretboard the same way you know how to walk or ride a bike. Tackle everything step by step - no skipping. As someone mention it's better to find a good teacher you enjoy listening to, when you want to generate ideas on how to do things more efficiently. Good luck.
    Last edited by smokinguit; 05-31-2015 at 05:38 PM.
    "If I don't practice for a day, I know it... for two days, the critics know it... three days, the public knows it." -- Louis Armstrong

  41. #40

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    Quote Originally Posted by henryrobinett View Post
    Man, I thought I answered it already. There is NO frogging finite, definitive answer. None. Everybody attacks it in a different way. And methods vary over time. You try --EVERYONE -- different things at different times. No one size fits all. No one size fits even a single person forever.
    I don't know what "everybody" does. I assume that there are differences and commonalties, and that identifying the commonalities would likely be worthwhile.

    Why do you assume there are no commonalities? On your website you say that you don't just teach jazz guitar; you teach people how to learn anything. So you must believe that certain practices and principles will apply to everyone. Or have I misunderstood you?

    Do you really think there is no value to learning how the most high-efficiency learners have approached learning?
    Last edited by Jonzo; 05-31-2015 at 05:41 PM.

  42. #41

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    My experience has been regarding those who never appear to need to practice and yet play at a high level of ability two things seem to have occurred:

    1) they started out very young. I mean like by the age of 6.

    2) they "practiced" long hours in their youth.

    When your language skills, including music develop at such a young age, as your body is also growing into your hands, arms it becomes a lethal combination. Everyone I personally know or knew who were great players and yet never practiced fell into those categories.

  43. #42

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jonzo View Post
    Exactly. Though you say there is no "fool proof" method, you are happy to give advice on what you consider the "best" methods. The OP seeks to explore an idea for determining who is really using the best method.

    We can all float around in the sea of "everyone is different", and make no judgments on methods, or we can make our best efforts to identify best methods, both general and specific. Or we can be complacent.
    I give advice based on reality. It works. It's not fast. If "fast" is necessary for "best practice," then no, it's not the best. But it's worked for 1,000's...because its non-linear. So is/does the stuff Paul mentions.

    Efficiency isn't so important.
    Jeff Matz, Jazz Guitar:
    http://www.youtube.com/user/jeffreymatz

    "Jazz is like life...it goes on longer than you think, and as soon as you're like 'oh, I get it,' it ends."

    --The Ghost of Duke Ellington

  44. #43

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jonzo View Post
    I don't know what "everbody" does. I assume that there are differences and commonalties, and that identifying the commonalities would likely be worthwhile.

    Why do you assume there are no commonalities?

    Do you really think there is no value to learning how the most high-efficiency learners have approached learning?
    Because I don't believe there are. There are people and people are different. And because I've known countless great and many,many, many famous musicians. The commonality was they all, without exception, practiced long and hard. They worked harder than anyone could guess. I've taught seminars with a lot of these greats. We've talked methods. I don't know ANYONE personally who said they never practiced. Not anyone who I considered was accomplished.

  45. #44

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    neuro plasticity

  46. #45

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    Quote Originally Posted by mr. beaumont View Post
    Efficiency isn't so important.
    Anyone concerned with making the most progress during limited practice time would disagree, but you are entitled to your opinion.
    Last edited by Jonzo; 05-31-2015 at 06:48 PM.

  47. #46

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jonzo View Post
    What is the best way to learn to play jazz?

    I suggest that we should look at what the pros who have practiced the least do. While we are not getting a controlled experiment, we are getting a pool of talented people, who have all achieved similar results, with different time investments. I am suspicious of any advice from someone who had to practice obsessively to achieve the same results as someone who has practiced for three hours a day.

    There are great players who practice obsessively, and great players who say that more than three hours a day is a waste of time. Well, who are these efficient practicers, and how do they practice? Who is the laziest pro ever? I want to do what he or she does.
    Quote Originally Posted by Jonzo View Post
    ... why would you assume that I am wasting my time, or that I am not practicing effectively while continuing to look for ways to improve my practice?
    ...
    I'm serious, because why not just engage with the OP instead of derailing it with implied insults? Is there something wrong with examining the effectiveness of learning methods in a forum about learning methods?
    Jonzo, I think there's at at least a little misunderstanding of intent and terminology here. If you're looking for a correlation of mastery on the instrument and a different balance of kinesthetic training and musical awareness, that's a huge topic, and though very relevant, one that is rooted in the fact that everyone I know of has found their own way eventually regardless of how they've begun. I've seen peers at music school, having studied with the same teachers, taken the same proficiency tests and run parallel trajectories wind up with radically different uses for those fundamentals in the real world. I've seen some of the most ostensibly erratic practice regimens turn out to be much more rigorous when seen through a different metric.
    In the end, if I get your OP right (I'm not entirely sure I'm on the right track on that), we all accumulate a complex toolkit that we need in order to become improvising musicians. I agree that there is no standard procedure to getting there, and the time it takes to get there is widely varied.
    But Jonzo, I think the idea of "professional mastery" is a myth. If you ask some people, it's a distinction that anyone with airplay has. To others, it's the ability to play over a form without stumbling. To others, it's having your own sound. Still, for others, it's a personal moving target and only occasionally achieved in themselves though the majority of the music world considers them masters.
    When you think of it, only you can know where the bar is set, and what that space beneath it consists of. You're going to run into ideological conflicts here until you define your own standards clearly. Personally, I don't see a smaller ratio of "practice" time to playing as being bad, if your time not playing drills is spent on the path to the development you have a clear picture of.
    If you have a clear picture of where you need to be, see what needs to be done, commit to your constant growth, and keep an open mind to changing possibilites, then yes, your practice regimen MAY look erratic but only to outsiders. A better question may be: If your musical training deviates from the norm, has it served you well and why did you make the choices you did? It may be very revealing.
    David

  48. #47

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jonzo View Post
    Anyone concerned with getting making the most progress during their practice time would disagree, but you are entitled to your opinion.
    i do disagree. Jazz is a journey, not a destination.

    so far, the more i play and practice the better i get. I'll be at it the rest of my life. To me, that's progress and the promise of future progress. I guess I don't think i can reasonably expect anything more than that.
    Jeff Matz, Jazz Guitar:
    http://www.youtube.com/user/jeffreymatz

    "Jazz is like life...it goes on longer than you think, and as soon as you're like 'oh, I get it,' it ends."

    --The Ghost of Duke Ellington

  49. #48

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    Quote Originally Posted by paulkogut View Post
    There's never going to be a one size fits all, hyper-efficient method for art. I hope it's self evident, but Jim Hall, Wes Montgomery, Pat Martino, George Benson, John McLaughlin and Bill Frisell are all different people with different aesthetics who practiced different things to get different results.
    This is an interesting turn. He's totally right. You could probably go so far as to say that the INefficiencies in their practice are what make them what they are. It's the things that at some point in your development seem to be the time wasters (ugh why did I spend years learning brad paisley licks, ugh why did I spend all that time trying to play bluegrass, ugh why did I waste all that time playing bebop heads, ugh why did I waste all that time writing bad tunes when I could've been practicing) that often turn into parts of your signature sound and your uniqueness when you start to mature.

    Jonzo - If if you're keen on posing this as a logic problem then I'll challenge the logic of one assumption you're making throughout this thread. You seem keen on equating "best" practices with "efficient" or "effective" practices. How do you know that those practices are the same? Is "best" way always the most efficient way? Id wager that it's not.

  50. #49

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    Emulating the players who practised the least could be a mistake. It could be that they had incredible gifts for rapid development that most of us do not possess. In which case you might be better off emulating the ones who practised the most. Their skill set may have initially been closer to yours and therefore their methods might be more appropriate. Just a thought.

    I would tend to assume that I need to practise more like the 'heavy practisers' if I wanted to make a huge amount of progress.

    Actually I doubt I have practised much more than an hour a day on average, if that. But then it took me probably 15 years to get anywhere good with it.

  51. #50

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    Id also wager that something that makes people learn more quickly is to have the ability to turn anything they do into a learning experience. It's not what they do but rather their ability to make it a part of them and to see it as a progression rather than a diversion.