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  1. #51
    Quote Originally Posted by Jazzstdnt
    A very important part of the answer can be found in post #10.
    Lol. Dawg, that is so anticlimactic! I rushed back to that looking for some golden nugget I missed.

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  3. #52

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    Jamesrohr1 I think we are on a similar path.

    I would turf that Charlie Parker Omnibook, that guy is so advanced. There are so many before steps before that level of playing.

    Time and melody has been mentioned a lot above.

    I had a lesson recently with a top bass player and we spent a lot of the session focusing on time. Metronome on 2 and 4 or just 4. Make the metronome sound good he said. Don't play the head like it is written in a book a computer can do that, make music play it how you feel it, sing it change it up, use it as a reference but make that metronome sound good. The way he floated around but was always in time was so beautiful and exciting.

    The other thing he really pushed me on was to keep the head in my improvisation. These things I have really been working on and it is making a huge difference in improvising and coming up with cool lines. On playing the 3 and the 7 he had me do it in all the gaps in the melody as a bass line to facilitate knowing exactly where you are in the harmony when playing the melody and as a step towards improvising on the melody.

    Love the ride.

  4. #53

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jamesrohr1
    Lol. Dawg, that is so anticlimactic! I rushed back to that looking for some golden nugget I missed.
    Fair enough.

    But first think about it for a minute and please tell me why you bothered to work so hard to learn that solo.

    Also please tell me what you got out of it. Anything? Anything you can leverage, use again, slightly modify and use elsewhere? Add to or reply to with an idea of your own?

  5. #54

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jamesrohr1
    OK, Ok. I hear you. I don’t want to jump through hoops. I just want to communicate. How do I do that? How do I skip the technical stuff? How do I play music? How do I feel something? How do you get there? What is the procedure?
    James, I think you're going to keep asking for help and advice and get endless replies. And you'll keep asking endlessly too. People who really want to do something just get on with it, they don't keep asking endlessly. If you want to make music you'll find a way, believe me.

    Sorry, but that's about the bottom line. Don't keep asking 'How do I do this, how do I do that?', find out how to do it. If you're actually interested, that is.

  6. #55
    Quote Originally Posted by rpjazzguitar
    If I may, two questions.

    1. Can you scat sing?

    2. If you know a tune, say Happy Birthday, can you play the melody starting on any note without mistakes?
    1. No

    2. No

  7. #56
    Quote Originally Posted by ragman1
    James, I think you're going to keep asking for help and advice and get endless replies. And you'll keep asking endlessly too. People who really want to do something just get on with it, they don't keep asking endlessly. If you want to make music you'll find a way, believe me.

    Sorry, but that's about the bottom line. Don't keep asking 'How do I do this, how do I do that?', find out how to do it. If you're actually interested, that is.
    You’re probably right. From where I come from it’s very simple to learn and advance. Move the metronome up, sus this lick, etc. Not so with Jazz. I’m sorry to have troubled anyone if that is the case.

  8. #57
    Quote Originally Posted by Jazzstdnt
    Fair enough.

    But first think about it for a minute and please tell me why you bothered to work so hard to learn that solo.

    Also please tell me what you got out of it. Anything? Anything you can leverage, use again, slightly modify and use elsewhere? Add to or reply to with an idea of your own?
    My Skype teacher thought it would be good for me. And I certainly don’t know any better. I’m sure it was good for me. Although I have yet to incorporate any of the ideas into my own playing. Admittedly, I don’t even technically understand the notes I played (especially the half-whole stuff). But don’t be oblique dude, what are you getting at?

  9. #58

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    James do ask questions people around here are really good. ragman gives good honest advice, don't take it the wrong way, I don't think he would want to shut down the conversation.

    Another big thing I have found and the dude I had a lesson with addressed it, I hear a lot of top level players say it and you hinted at it re learning metal licks, narrow down what you are trying to learn so that each session you walk away having learnt something.

    Definitely in jazz there is an ocean of information you can drown in.

    The guy I had a lesson with was so precise and he explained his approach about narrowing down what you are going to learn in each session and over a week etc.

  10. #59

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jamesrohr1
    1. No

    2. No
    Can't scat sing at all?

    Perhaps others can chime in, but I can't see playing jazz if you can't scat sing at least something.

    I haven't any idea how to develop the skill.

  11. #60

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jamesrohr1
    My Skype teacher thought it would be good for me. And I certainly don’t know any better. I’m sure it was good for me. Although I have yet to incorporate any of the ideas into my own playing. Admittedly, I don’t even technically understand the notes I played (especially the half-whole stuff). But don’t be oblique dude, what are you getting at?
    Oblique? I haven't worked my obliques in years, so.

    But seriously, I suspected a couple of things here. Before I saw your playing of "Solid" I took it from your OP that you could play, and that your fingers worked just fine, etc. So you are far from a beginner. Check.

    Then I saw you play. Was that 3 chorus'? Great job! And I also suspected that you didn't necessarily have a great reason for learning/transcribing that solo beyond the fact that everyone says that's what one should do. Or maybe your instructor mentioned something but it flew by. That's OK. You've done the hard work.

    To the point - when it comes to learning Jazz Improv you may have heard "Imitate, Assimilate, Innovate". Now that's just a slogan but it's backed up by logic and historical practice. It can/should be applied over many solos from the masters that you learn - AND - it can/should also be applied to EVERY solo that you learn. One might say "leverage your investments, otherwise you'll just have to keep investing and investing before you gain any return". The good news is, you've just made a nice investment. That's a nice Bb blues and is chock full of the Jazz language! Many opportunities here.

    There are many creative ways to apply Imitate/Assimilate/Innovate and I'm happy to show you a few. It's difficult to say, but you may be pleasantly surprised by what unfolds.

    Imitate - you have completed that step, but keep playing it to get it closer and closer to Grant Green's performance. Dial it in.

    Assimilate - start simple. Play this in a different key. It's in Bb so take it to the Key of C, two frets up. If you don't want to do that for all 3 chorus' that's OK. Do it for one chorus and maybe the best sections of others. Later you could take it to half a dozen keys, but that's later. Just take it to C.

    All for now, later.

  12. #61

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jamesrohr1
    Ok, at the most basic level, I don’t entirely get that. Can you elaborate? How does one practice this sort of thing: thinking of a melody? Can I just compose a solo that is “correct” and has all the right notes and then just use it every time? That’s probably a stupid question as I know it’s not actually improvising. But I genuinely don’t know what you mean when you say to think of a melody. Why isn’t the original one good enough?

    I can honestly say that I have never, in my 32 year musical life, ever “thought of a melody”. I’ve learned and harmonized many of them. I may have composed a few. But I have never 1) Thought of a melody 2) Attempted to play it in real time.

    When it comes to soloing, in my background, you just pick the notes you know will sound good over the key and you play those until it sounds good. And once recorded, that is what you play every time. But there is no conscious thought of melody. Plus there is usually only one or two chords to think about.

    I mean there are, of course, times when when I was called on to play “melodically”, but that just means to slow down and hit some bluesy bends or something.

    This is is the crux of why Jazz seems so alien to me. Lol
    Ever read Douglas Adams? ... where the answer was "42"? I think this #42 post of yours has the answer.

    I played a show with one of my bands and during a break I was approached by two women, a pianist and a singer who joked about stealing me for their own band because, as the pianist said, "You don't make mistakes". I told her that I wasn't so sure about that because I always improvise my solos, so there were no pre-existing lines against which a deviation would comprise an error. She said, "Well, you play what always sounds like the right notes."

    The simplification of improvisation others are pointing to is really just that - learning to distinguish what sounds like the right notes for the style of music. Most of that comes from listening to lots of the style and learning what the various style's dialects accept to be "right notes", and rhythms, and other things. The jazz sound is an open system of possibilities of right notes tempered only by your own musical judgements about the style's history and authenticity.

    As far as getting the "right notes" expressed, when you can sing lines spontaneously in your head with the music, then you can learn to "sing with your hands" on the guitar. Then, improvising becomes more like choosing among the ideas of "right notes" you hear contending to be played... much less of a "construction" orientation and more a focus on "direction".

  13. #62

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    Quote Originally Posted by rpjazzguitar
    If I may, two questions.

    1. Can you scat sing?

    2. If you know a tune, say Happy Birthday, can you play the melody starting on any note without mistakes?
    My story has a lot in common with the OP. My answers would be:
    1. kinda, not so well

    2. No. After playing for 41 years, usually professionally, and a lot of teaching as well, I'm embarrassed to say that the honest answer is no.

    Anyway, here is what I'm doing now , and how it relates to this concept of playing what you hear in your head. I'm trying to play bebop, and I have a book called Bebop licks for guitar. It's alot of phrases that you can learn and then string them together. One of the things the author suggests is that you also sing the phrases.
    So I am trying to sing the phrases, and after I get used to a few phrases, I try to make up my own phrase by mixing up simple ideas from those I just learned. Some are cool sounding, and some not so much.

    I don't know if this process will ever lead me to do it in real time on the bandstand - but I've yet to come up with a better idea.

  14. #63

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    There is a playful aspect to the music.

    How did it start?! Piano players and others, in bawdy houses, were employed to set a mood, and put waiting patrons at ease.

    They played tunes they knew....but probably got tired of playing the same old tunes the same old way, and they started to play around with it...swing it....chromaticize it....etc. At first melodic embellishment, and then somewhere along the way, Louis A. (I think was the 1st) starting just playing off the chord tones, and composing in the moment.

    So...how to maybe replicate this idea?! Listen to a lot of versions of a well-known tune. Find different versions, and see if you can "cop the feel"---not even exactly, but maybe in just one little way, at first.

    Growing up playing basketball, we played endless games of H-O-R-S-E....where you have to replicate a shot, and then if you make it, you have the option of changing it slightly....same idea.

    I maybe set the bar too high before, mentioning Charlie P. I love older swing. Sidney Bechet, some Louis A, Ruby Braff, Johnny Hodges, Lester Young, trombonists, are great players to listen to. Other players like Gene Ammons, Art Farmer, Ben Webster, Bix, Gerry Mulligan are all worth listening to, and much more approachable as models.

    Or, you know the game of "telephone"?..where someone whispers a phrase like "I need to die trying"....and "passes it on" to the next person, whispering it....before long, somebody is saying "I want to try flying"...each version kind of builds on the preceding one, but changes it slightly....that's the spirit of the music, to me.

  15. #64
    It’s a lot to go on. I’ll definitely try to see how some of these approaches work over the coming months. And I hope to check out some of the players mentioned as well. Ultimately, even with all these numerous great suggestions, it sounds like I’ll either get Jazz guitar sorted on my own or fail miserably. And failure isn’t necessarily a bad thing as long as I learn a few things in the process.

    Besides, it’s not like a band is just sitting there waiting for me to get my stuff together. Lol. It’s no great loss to the world when a bedroom guitarist fails to grasp a new style.

    Thanks again everyone for being so patient.

  16. #65

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jamesrohr1
    Ultimately, even with all these numerous great suggestions, it sounds like I’ll either get Jazz guitar sorted on my own or fail miserably.
    "Jazz guitar" is a pretty big and multi-faceted thing. I know for myself, I need a narrow scope. Even then, it's time and effort intensive, and progress comes as it comes.

  17. #66

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    Quote Originally Posted by wengr
    I don't know if this process will ever lead me to do it in real time on the bandstand - but I've yet to come up with a better idea.
    My experience is that stuff like that kind of sinks in unconsciously, and comes out the same way.

    Like, I can transcribe a solo, and learn a couple of really good licks, drill the hell out of them, etc. But trying to put them in my playing *consciously* is very difficult, because to do that, I have to interrupt my mental flow, and essentially say to myself, "Now is the time when we play The Lick." and it always sounds terrible.

    BUT, keep practicing it, and maybe in a month, or maybe in a year, that lick, or some variation of it, will pop up in a solo. I didn't plan it. I didn't think of it as "a lick" even. It was just a melodic possibility that was there, and I took it. Or maybe it's not the lick, but it might be a fragment of it. The way it foregrounds a particular note or interval or something.

    Something similar (but different) happens when I try to learn a lot of licks in a short period. It's not so much that the licks will pop out, but if there's some commonality with them - a particular contour or way or ending or something - then that might be what sticks, rather than any particular lick.

  18. #67

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jamesrohr1
    I get that, in its simplicity. The intellectual thing I’m referring to is trying to nail that arpeggio over each chord in a tune, while avoiding the root, emphasizing the 3rd and 7th, not losing the form, playing with good time, at tempo, while quoting the melody, etc, etc.

    It boggles my mind. Lol
    When I first started playing jazz my main thought was that everything was happening way too fast. I mean, if you're playing a tune at 180 bpm, each bar only lasts 1.25 seconds.

    Analogy: I write for a living, so I can type pretty fast. When I first took typing classes in school though (I may have just dated myself), I was nowhere near that fast. I can remember struggling to hit 40 wpm on a couple of early tests for jobs. What happens is, certain processes become automatic. My fingers know where the keys are. Words and phrases I use a lot have kind of become "macros". I don't think about typing each letter. I think about the word or phrase.

    Going back to our 180 bpm tune, suppose now you've got four bars of a common progression (say a II-V-I). Now, instead of thinking of each note, you think of a phrase you want to play, and you play it. You don't have to think about it. That's four bars you've got covered. So your time interval has gone from 1.25 seconds to 5 seconds, and you only have to think about one thing instead of four.

    The point is, all this stuff builds on top of each other. As more and more processes get shunted off to the subconscious or muscle memory, you find yourself able to concentrate on larger structures, and your feeling of being rushed lessens considerably.

  19. #68

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    I have a hunch that in "practice mode", the best things wont happen. I mean, best as the best you can do. After a hour of practicing, the spark is gone but improvisation is all about being inspired. Proof - I occasionally played a good solo with 100x less skills than what I got now. The attitude&mood made all the difference. Another hunch is that there are people that are constantly "in the zone" and build everything on this. Similar with natural born performers - every aspect of their practice driven by the "performance mode", hence the development is much faster.

    Maybe works for OP- play as simple as you need to not mess up and overthink too much. But play it like you would play for a stadium full of people. Or another - try to become inspired somehow.. listen to your favorite great stuff or think happy thoughts.. whatever. And then try to just play nicely. Play, not practice.... sometimes. This kinda works for me when in similar trouble. Hm, practice is important but actually playing and hoping for great stuff for happen, that takes other kinds of preparations.

  20. #69

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    There is also an aspect of improving where you work, and work, and you ARE in fact learning, but it may not be immediately apparent.

    To keep going at this....takes some faith, in what you're doing, and granted you might be completely deluded, but there is a kind of "intermediate zone of understanding" .

    I guess what I'm saying is that I've noticed with athletic skills, sometimes you keep working and working at something, and you figure out what you need to do...when you finally get it, you might not even realize that the proverbial "light bulb" went off, but it did.

    I think this is why accomplished practitioners are not always the best teachers: They often can't articulate exactly what they're doing, though it is obvious that they are skilled at it.

    Harry Vardon was by far the greatest golfer of his day...pretty much invented the modern swing, but when he was asked to write a book on golf instruction, he really struggled to put into words what he did. It's just something that he figured out, and knew how to do.

    With music, your ear gets better--you can figure out riffs faster and tunes more easily, and your fingers seem to find the spots on the fretboard, more easily, and yet this can happen without any obvious "aha" moment.

  21. #70

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    Quote Originally Posted by wengr
    I have a book called Bebop licks for guitar. It's a lot of phrases that you can learn and then string them together.
    Yeah! Way to go! That's the way to do it! I love the brutal approach!

    no sarcasm intended here, I really do love it!

  22. #71

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    Quote Originally Posted by wengr
    "Jazz guitar" is a pretty big and multi-faceted thing. I know for myself, I need a narrow scope. Even then, it's time and effort intensive, and progress comes as it comes.

    I think that this is a very important point for part time players pursuing jazz improvisation on the guitar - a dicey proposition in the first place.

    Focus is key to making progress - NOT taking every little tributary off the main river.

  23. #72

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jamesrohr1
    Much appreciated. I’m meeting with a Jazz guitar teacher I found about 50 miles east of me this weekend for a one-off lesson. Hopefully, he can help set me straight.

    Some of you mentioned that hearing me play would help, so here is a YouTube vid of a Grant Green transcription I did. Keep in mind, I can’t actually improvise like this. I’m just copying him.


    OK, from an Imitate-Assimilate-Innovate perspective you have competed the first part.

    Now for some Assimilation Ideas:

    1. Play this solo in at least one other key. That's easy on the guitar, we can use the same fingerings in a lot of cases. The key of C is two frets up. Give it a try!

    2. Select the "best" phrases and play each one around the cycle of fifths. You can choose your favorite motives and phrases. Some of mine started and finished at:

    40-45
    50-53
    136-139
    142-145
    148-152 (loved this one. Jazz gold!)

    The circle of fifths can begin anywhere but typically starts at C. So if you played each one of these phrases starting where you are in Bb, the order of keys would go like this:

    Bb-Eb-Ab-Db-Gb-B-E-A-D-G-C-F

    I hope that you try a little bit of this. It should start building your toolkit and your confidence to boot.

    Best of success!
    Last edited by Jazzstdnt; 02-18-2018 at 11:18 PM.

  24. #73
    Quote Originally Posted by Jazzstdnt
    OK, from an Imitate-Assimilate-Innovate perspective you have competed the first part.

    Now for some Assimilation Ideas:

    1. Play this solo in at least one other key. That's easy on the guitar, we can use the same fingerings in a lot of cases. The key of C is two frets up. Give it a try!

    2. Select the "best" phrases and play each one around the cycle of fifths. You can choose your favorite motives and phrases. Some of mine started and finished at:

    40-45
    50-53
    136-139
    142-145
    148-152 (loved this one. Jazz gold!)

    The circle of fifths can begin anywhere but typically starts at C. So if you played each one of these phrases starting where you are in Bb, the order of keys would go like this:

    Bb-Eb-Ab-Db-Gb-B-E-A-D-G-C-F

    I hope that you try a little but of this. It should start building your toolkit and your confidence to boot.

    Best of success!
    Thank you. Solid advice. Will do what I can.

  25. #74

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jamesrohr1
    ... here is a YouTube vid of a Grant Green transcription I did. Keep in mind, I can’t actually improvise like this. I’m just copying him.
    Well, you can play all right (I won't post your vid again) and you're copying, probably from the transcription on YouTube (see below).

    But what matters isn't the playing/copying, it's whether you understand what you're playing. There's not much point in just shifting to another key if you're merely going to copy that too.

    This isn't said cruelly. What matters is whether you understand what you're playing and why. Because then you can shift it to any key you like. Then you can take the same principles and apply them in your own way to your own solos. Then you'll be improvising, not copying.

    So how far do you understand that solo? Is he using pentatonics, mixolydian, blues sounds? Do you see what happens when he shifts from Bb7 to Eb7? And over the F7? Do you see how he connected the chords? And later got those outside sounds?

    This is what matters. The copying will surely give your hands and memory a workout but it won't do much for your comprehension - but the comprehension matters more than the imitation. That's how you become independent and find your own voice.

    Ask us, or better, the guitar teacher if you're lost. Hope that's all right, I don't mean to be overbearing :-)


  26. #75

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    Yes, that is part of the Assimilation process, but not the only part. It's not either/or, it's both.

    h'ttp://www.jazzguitar.be/forum/improvisation/65808-develop-improvisational-capability-imitate-assimilate-innovate.html#post848213

  27. #76
    Quote Originally Posted by ragman1
    Well, you can play all right (I won't post your vid again) and you're copying, probably from the transcription on YouTube (see below).

    But what matters isn't the playing/copying, it's whether you understand what you're playing. There's not much point in just shifting to another key if you're merely going to copy that too.

    This isn't said cruelly. What matters is whether you understand what you're playing and why. Because then you can shift it to any key you like. Then you can take the same principles and apply them in your own way to your own solos. Then you'll be improvising, not copying.

    So how far do you understand that solo? Is he using pentatonics, mixolydian, blues sounds? Do you see what happens when he shifts from Bb7 to Eb7? And over the F7? Do you see how he connected the chords? And later got those outside sounds?

    This is what matters. The copying will surely give your hands and memory a workout but it won't do much for your comprehension - but the comprehension matters more than the imitation. That's how you become independent and find your own voice.

    Ask us, or better, the guitar teacher if you're lost. Hope that's all right, I don't mean to be overbearing :-)

    Thank you. I understand. To clarify though, I transcribed it on my own. I did find that other transcription but didn’t use it as I thought it might be “cheating”.

  28. #77

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jamesrohr1
    Thank you. I understand. To clarify though, I transcribed it on my own. I did find that other transcription but didn’t use it as I thought it might be “cheating”.
    No, it's not cheating! Saves you lots of work - unless you want to improve your ear and all that.

    When you say you understand, do you mean you see the point about merely copying or you understand what the music was doing?

  29. #78
    Quote Originally Posted by ragman1

    When you say you understand, do you mean you see the point about merely copying or you understand what the music was doing?
    I do see your point about copying, however I do not understand everything he/I played. I get the blues/pentatonic stuff, heard a Dorian run in there, recognize some of the arpeggio shapes. But I’m lost on some of the stuff at the end. Maybe tri-tone subs? Or half-whole diminished? No idea really.

    The biggest takeaway for me, and it’s a small thing, was realizing how important those little slides from below are to getting a real Jazzy flavor. It’s not on every note, and I don’t think there’s any real formula. But it’s stuff like that that seems important for nailing this style of music.

  30. #79

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    I've had a quick look and he's basically playing what you'd expect him to play. He does it his own way, of course, with the triplets etc.

    Bb: Bb6 shape with blue notes. Bb alt as a transition.
    Eb7: Bbm melodic, Bbm blues pentaonic.
    Cm: Cm melodic (Cm6)
    F7: still Cm but he also plays a DbM7 over it. Pretty, but difficult to resolve. And the usual F alt.

    The nailing thing is effective. You can do it in 3rds too.

  31. #80
    Drove to the lesson. I had tried to prepare for it and had a list of questions ready to go. The teacher was very patient and tried his best to answer my questions.

    But I could tell he wasn't really seeing my pain. I needed my hand held. I needed to be spoon fed. It didn't happen.

    A piece of advice to for all Jazz guitar teachers out there: Just because a student may have some technique and theory down doesn't mean he knows the first thing about Jazz.

    He tried to get me to play some phrases but I was pathetic. It was humiliating bordering on physically painful.

    After the lesson I'm more lost than when I started.

    Overall very disappointing. I'm sure I'm not a great student but sometimes I think this genre is unteachable.

  32. #81

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jamesrohr1
    Drove to the lesson. I had tried to prepare for it and had a list of questions ready to go. The teacher was very patient and tried his best to answer my questions.

    But I could tell he wasn't really seeing my pain. I needed my hand held. I needed to be spoon fed. It didn't happen.

    A piece of advice to for all Jazz guitar teachers out there: Just because a student may have some technique and theory down doesn't mean he knows the first thing about Jazz.

    He tried to get me to play some phrases but I was pathetic. It was humiliating bordering on physically painful.

    After the lesson I'm more lost than when I started.

    Overall very disappointing. I'm sure I'm not a great student but sometimes I think this genre is unteachable.
    I have handled that scenario by simply saying I can't. I can't really improvise - but I want to learn.

    Then the weight goes back on him.

  33. #82

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    I am enamoured with your thread James and some of the feedback the forum members have contributed are fantastic, as a fellow try hard thanks guys.

    I often feel the same. Sometimes I get angry even and think man I have past 50, I ain't got enough years left to learn. I feel I am exploding with passion for this music and sometimes I get close but like that movie National Treasure one clue just leads to the next.

    I had my first lesson 3 weeks ago and as I said a few posts back narrowing the focus was one of the tips. I have recently thought jeepers I am going back for another lesson and what have I learned I have not improved? Thinking about it, how much is realistic to expect to improve in 3 weeks when it took a lifetime to get here.

    I started jotting down what I have done over the last three weeks and I have definitely advanced. I think the diary thing could be a real boost to see the improvement and also to help narrow the focus so that you do improve.

    My teacher also made me record the lesson, I hope yours did. No failure only feedback. Just like listening to a song you don't like it is not a waste of time, what is it you don't like what is the good in there?

    Overarching everything must be to have fun. It sounds like you love the music, stay focused on that perhaps and admire the Lee Morgan's and Gilad Hekselman's. Bring the passion to your playing, your focused development and I am sure you will have even more fun and frustration in the future experiencing the jazz journey.

  34. #83
    Quote Originally Posted by gggomez
    I am enamoured with your thread James and some of the feedback the forum members have contributed are fantastic, as a fellow try hard thanks guys.

    I often feel the same. Sometimes I get angry even and think man I have past 50, I ain't got enough years left to learn. I feel I am exploding with passion for this music and sometimes I get close but like that movie National Treasure one clue just leads to the next.

    I had my first lesson 3 weeks ago and as I said a few posts back narrowing the focus was one of the tips. I have recently thought jeepers I am going back for another lesson and what have I learned I have not improved? Thinking about it, how much is realistic to expect to improve in 3 weeks when it took a lifetime to get here.

    I started jotting down what I have done over the last three weeks and I have definitely advanced. I think the diary thing could be a real boost to see the improvement and also to help narrow the focus so that you do improve.

    My teacher also made me record the lesson, I hope yours did. No failure only feedback. Just like listening to a song you don't like it is not a waste of time, what is it you don't like what is the good in there?

    Overarching everything must be to have fun. It sounds like you love the music, stay focused on that perhaps and admire the Lee Morgan's and Gilad Hekselman's. Bring the passion to your playing, your focused development and I am sure you will have even more fun and frustration in the future experiencing the jazz journey.
    Yes, everyone here has been very supportive. It has been very interesting to get all this input. I’m overloaded though, and it seems that sometimes much of what one person recommends is contradicted by another. What I need are specific, actionable, measurable steps to take to get from beginner to intermediate. I have not found that yet, not here, not elsewhere online, not in books, and not with teachers. Jazz is very confusing.

    I agree strongly that I need to narrow my focus, but I have no idea what to narrow it down to? I’m definitely shelving the Omnibook for now. For a beginner that book can be an incredible source of frustration. I’m not taking anymore lessons either. Far too expensive for so little return. I’ll either figure this out on my own or quit trying and forget about it.

    For me personally, studying Jazz is less about having fun and more about exercising discipline musically. It’s like dieting, or trying to stick with an exercise regimen, or sticking to a budget. In other words, studying Jazz is something that I know is good for me, but can be very hard work. It’s no fun feeling like a stupid person or an undisciplined one. And like those activities, I personally need clear, concise, goals. I thought I had them defined. Turns out I don’t. Ugh.

  35. #84

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    Don’t know if this helps, but when I was starting out I also learned things similar to that Grant Green solo without knowing much theory or what they were doing. But I just treated the phrases as little melodic shapes, little bits of melody as it were. Then I just messed about with some of them on other tunes where they would fit. E.g. if a phrase is on a minor chord then you can insert it into another tune on a different minor chord. Play by ear and move it to the right key or another string group. I had a lot more fun doing this than if I worried about progress etc.

    Six months is nothing, it took me a few years to get anywhere. But I was enjoying just playing around with the tunes and my ‘pet phrases’ and eventually it got me somewhere.

    I am basically quite lazy, so if I couldn’t make the process fun and musical, I probably wouldn’t have persisted.

  36. #85

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jamesrohr1
    For me personally, studying Jazz is less about having fun and more about exercising discipline musically.
    I'd have trouble spending the time needed to learn this stuff if I didn't love the music. (The American Songbook)

    Learning jazz can be a humbling experience especially if you're goal is to be able to play like the greats. I'm happy learning the changes then applying whatever new concepts I'm working on to them. My goal is much lower than playing like the great jazz players. I will take satisfaction from just knowing more than I knew last week and take inspiration from those who are farther along on the path.

    Again, best of luck in your journey.
    Last edited by Gramps; 02-20-2018 at 09:13 AM.

  37. #86

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    Its easy to get overloaded with Info's ...
    It happens to me too ...

    The sound comes first , so
    What I do is concentrate on one tune

    Take a standard you like ...
    (do all below ear if you can , but don't worry
    if you need paper at first , it will come easier
    as you do more tunes)

    Learn the tune
    (sing it first , then play it on the guitar)
    Learn the changes
    Make a simple chord-melody arangerment of it
    Play it a LOT ....
    Play it more !

    Then Analyse / think about the harmony of it
    Ie 'OK its the IV chord for two bars' etc

    Then improvise some simple lines of your
    own that fit over the changes nicely

    I find that really knowing the tune well
    combined with your ear
    (I don't naturally have great ears
    but they do get stronger as you use them)

    Is most of what I need the play ... and learn
    I tiny bit of theory helps occasionally

    But a tiny bit , don't get overloaded studying
    the dry theory ...

    Its very easy for me anyway to get overloaded
    with that stuff

    Man you're half way there already ...
    You can play !

  38. #87

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    I think you should go easier on yourself and bear in mind you have actually made some progress in six months. See the glass half full.

    Dave Leibman says (IIRC) it takes something like seven years to become a competent jazz player. And this is 7 years, I think, of pretty heavy practice and gigging.

    So, there's a lot of this ahead if you are serious, so you better learn to enjoy the process of working on the music. Or give up if you don't. You should do what you enjoy. Unless you are getting paid.

    This music is very difficult. The question may be instead not 'when do I become a halfway decent player?' but 'can I get engrossed in the process of learning or does it annoy me?'

    Also, you will never be able to listen to your own playing with hearing something you want to fix no matter many years you put into it. That never changes, just read interviews with musicians.

    Other than that? Work on fundamentals. Time, tone, triads and so on. Don't bother with anything complicated until that's together. The Omnibook can wait.

  39. #88

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jamesrohr1

    For me personally, studying Jazz is less about having fun and more about exercising discipline musically. It’s like dieting, or trying to stick with an exercise regimen, or sticking to a budget. In other words, studying Jazz is something that I know is good for me, but can be very hard work. .
    OK I think that's plain wrong !
    Sorry ....no offence

    Its not like that for me at all
    It HAS to be fun otherwise you just
    won't do it ...
    My method above is all about fun and
    reward ...

  40. #89

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77
    I think you should go easier on yourself and bear in mind you have actually made some progress in six months. See the glass half full.

    Dave Leibman says (IIRC) it takes something like seven years to become a competent jazz player. And this is 7 years, I think, of pretty heavy practice and gigging.

    So, there's a lot of this ahead if you are serious, so you better learn to enjoy the process of working on the music. Or give up if you don't. You should do what you enjoy. Unless you are getting paid.

    This music is very difficult. The question may be instead not 'when do I become a halfway decent player?' but 'can I get engrossed in the process of learning or does it annoy me?'

    Also, you will never be able to listen to your own playing with hearing something you want to fix no matter many years you put into it. That never changes, just read interviews with musicians.

    Other than that? Work on fundamentals. Time, tone, triads and so on. Don't bother with anything complicated. The Omnibook can wait.
    Totally !

    I'd add tunes in there
    Learn a tune ...

  41. #90

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jamesrohr1
    For me personally, studying Jazz is less about having fun and more about exercising discipline musically. It’s like dieting, or trying to stick with an exercise regimen, or sticking to a budget. In other words, studying Jazz is something that I know is good for me, but can be very hard work. It’s no fun feeling like a stupid person or an undisciplined one. And like those activities, I personally need clear, concise, goals. I thought I had them defined. Turns out I don’t. Ugh.
    I think this points towards the fact that you feel a bit stupid for not making progress.

    Rather, I think you are underestimating the difficulty and your goal setting is not realistic.

    I would suggest that you set goals that are based around inputs than outcomes for now. OK. I will practice arpeggios through a tune for 5m. Transcribe licks for 5m. Try and learn the melody of this standard for 5m. And so on.

    See where that gets you.

    Learning jazz should be fun in an 'oww my head hurts but its a good pain!' sort of way. Musical weight training.

  42. #91

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jamesrohr1
    Yes, everyone here has been very supportive. It has been very interesting to get all this input. I’m overloaded though, and it seems that sometimes much of what one person recommends is contradicted by another. What I need are specific, actionable, measurable steps to take to get from beginner to intermediate. I have not found that yet, not here, not elsewhere online, not in books, and not with teachers. Jazz is very confusing.

    I agree strongly that I need to narrow my focus, but I have no idea what to narrow it down to? I’m definitely shelving the Omnibook for now. For a beginner that book can be an incredible source of frustration. I’m not taking anymore lessons either. Far too expensive for so little return. I’ll either figure this out on my own or quit trying and forget about it.

    For me personally, studying Jazz is less about having fun and more about exercising discipline musically. It’s like dieting, or trying to stick with an exercise regimen, or sticking to a budget. In other words, studying Jazz is something that I know is good for me, but can be very hard work. It’s no fun feeling like a stupid person or an undisciplined one. And like those activities, I personally need clear, concise, goals. I thought I had them defined. Turns out I don’t. Ugh.
    It's not that complicated. The biggest difference between jazz and other "meaty" (i.e. classical) styles of music is improvisation.

    The concept of "levels" is very important. Unless one is exceptional they will generally fail when/if they skip levels. Progressing through the levels IS your road map!

    Jazz, like other folk styles has been prone to informal teaching/learning "methods" (in other words, inconsistent and not well sorted out methods). But that has changed in the past 5 decades. Some excellent reading will likely help you tremendously. I highly recommend Improvising Jazz by Jerry Coker, a classic book - AND - it has been updated with a lot more useful material for the digital version, available at Amazon.com. I have it on my iPad. Take a little time and read it. You'll be glad you did.


    Here's what a jazz musician needs to do - according to well organized levels of difficulty:

    1. Technique (scales, chords, arpeggios etc)
    2. Reading.
    3. Etudes.
    4. Repertoire (tunes/songs)
    5. Solo and Ensemble work
    6. Harmony & theory
    7. Composition, or at least an analysis of same.

    and last but not least - 8. Improvisation. Everything is improvised in jazz - the head/melody, the comping, and of course the solos. One note about improv, it is helpful to have some experience and knowledge in the above items 1,2,3,4 and 6 before pursuing deep study in jazz improvisation. I'm not saying put off all improv until a rainy day, just the opposite - but - digging in hard with the expectation of uninterrupted and upward moving progress is best supported by 1,2,3,4 and 6. If one has plenty of time and sheer will they can get around that to some extent, but that's not your adult situation.


    Just remember, it takes time and levels will keep you focused and progressing. Skipping levels is folly in most fields and that includes jazz musicianship. Think "crash and burn".

  43. #92

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    Quote Originally Posted by Boston Joe
    My experience is that stuff like that kind of sinks in unconsciously, and comes out the same way.

    Like, I can transcribe a solo, and learn a couple of really good licks, drill the hell out of them, etc. But trying to put them in my playing *consciously* is very difficult, because to do that, I have to interrupt my mental flow, and essentially say to myself, "Now is the time when we play The Lick." and it always sounds terrible.

    BUT, keep practicing it, and maybe in a month, or maybe in a year, that lick, or some variation of it, will pop up in a solo. I didn't plan it. I didn't think of it as "a lick" even. It was just a melodic possibility that was there, and I took it. Or maybe it's not the lick, but it might be a fragment of it. The way it foregrounds a particular note or interval or something.

    Something similar (but different) happens when I try to learn a lot of licks in a short period. It's not so much that the licks will pop out, but if there's some commonality with them - a particular contour or way or ending or something - then that might be what sticks, rather than any particular lick.
    Thanks for this. I think it's important for players to be reminded that there is light at the end of the tunnel, as often it cannot be seen.

  44. #93

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    I think it's important to remember.

    Jazz is music, music is TUNES. SONGS. LEARN SONGS.

    The journey IS the destination. There is no light at the end of the tunnel. There's another tunnel. Trust me, that's actually better.

    There's a saying in the martial arts, about how you train until you get a black belt, and then you keep training until your black belt is so worn and frayed it's white again.

  45. #94

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    Quote Originally Posted by mr. beaumont
    I think it's important to remember.

    Jazz is music, music is TUNES. SONGS. LEARN SONGS.

    The journey IS the destination. There is no light at the end of the tunnel. There's another tunnel. Trust me, that's actually better.

    There's a saying in the martial arts, about how you train until you get a black belt, and then you keep training until your black belt is so worn and frayed it's white again.
    That's the central thesis of the book Zen Guitar. Journey from white belt to black, and then back to white.

    But yes, learn tunes. One of the biggest differences I see between the pros and the amateurs I know is that the pros know a million tunes. The amateurs (me included) are lugging our books around.

  46. #95

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    Anyone who told you learning was a linear process had something to sell you. There will be times when you pick up things quite quickly, and other times that it seems like a struggle. Just slow down, focusing on playing as perfectly as you can and let the process unfold at the pace it will. Be persistent, show up every day, give your best and you will learn at the pace that is right for you.

  47. #96

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    Here's Joe. He's finding it amusing as well. It's that kind of tune


  48. #97

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    Quote Originally Posted by guido5
    at the pace that is right for you.
    Which at the moment is *&)"^!

    sorry :-)

  49. #98

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    Quote Originally Posted by ragman1
    Which at the moment is *&)"^!

    sorry :-)
    Probably should have mentioned that coping with the frequent in-balance between our expectations and the non-linear nature of learning was one of the hardest things for a lot of folks to deal with...

  50. #99

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    Quote Originally Posted by guido5
    Anyone who told you learning was a linear process had something to sell you. There will be times when you pick up things quite quickly, and other times that it seems like a struggle. Just slow down, focusing on playing as perfectly as you can and let the process unfold at the pace it will. Be persistent, show up every day, give your best and you will learn at the pace that is right for you.
    And you never know what's going to "move the center".

    A bunch of years ago, I bought a book. It was a little over my head at the time, and a lot of it was exercises, but there was one page that broke down an idea, and for me, that was a spark that ignited a huge fire.

    Just that one page. Honestly, I've barely looked at that book, except for that page. And probably that information isn't any big deal to a lot of people. And it might not have made a difference to me except for the way it was laid out.

    (Learning styles are a big deal. My ex-wife did research on it for her Ph.D. In college, I got a D in Statistics. When I took it again, I got an A. The difference wasn't that I'd already seen the material. The difference was that the second time I took it, I got an instructor who taught in a way that worked with my learning style.)

    I guess my point is that if you keep at it every day, like Guido says, you will happen across these little nuggets of information that will open doors for you.

    Recently, I griped that while I like the sound of the whole tone scale, my fingers hate it. Forum member TruthHertz encouraged me to work at it, saying it's the key to getting "outside". So I've been working at it. Guess what. My fingers hate it a little less, and my ears are hearing it as an option more and more. And that's only been about a month. A year from now, it'll be just another option.

  51. #100

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    Quote Originally Posted by Boston Joe
    the whole tone scale, my fingers hate it
    That's one of the easiest. Just 3 1 - 3 1 - 3 1 down the neck:

    A wholetone: Frets from top string:

    5 3
    6 4
    6 4
    7 5
    8 6
    9 7

    It's symmetrical ( G and B strings together because of tuning).

    Dealing with frustration and a demonstrable lack of progress.-th5-jpg