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  1. #1

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    With everyone seemingly hanging out his/her shingle as a “jazz guitar teacher” or publishing a ”jazz guitar method”, how does one choose which material to purchase or to use? To start with, look for video evidence that teacher is an excellent player. If you can’t find credible evidence of their performing competency , stop right there!! Why? Because while a great player may not be a terrific teacher, a poor player (one with no credentials) will NEVER be a good/great teacher.

    If I wanted to become a competent NASCAR driver, I would want to get information/techniques from the best drivers – the winners. Like Jimmie Johnson, for example. I would not want to view video information from some kid in a baseball hat in his bedroom that has NASCAR posters on his wall. I want the knowledge and experience from a tried and true professional driver because they have lived it.

    See, the big problem with all of this, is that there are no gatekeepers (guarantors of quality) on the internet. Anybody with a cell phone can put up videos claiming to be a competent “teacher”. Where’s the proof? Is it just because they have slick e-books, or “gotcha” ads claiming “Secrets of Great Jazz Guitarists”.? They can claim anything they want. What I WANT so see/hear first is – can they play?. Show me some club/concert/performance videos where they demonstrate their competence. Let me be the judge. That’s the first step.

    When I know that they are excellent/great players like Pat Martino, Robert Conti, Martin Taylor, Jimmy Bruno, Andreas Oberg, Vic Juris, then, I will start to examine their teaching methods. How well are the concepts put together? How long have they been teaching using these methods? What level(s) of skill do they address. Do they have video examples of students who have successfully applied these methods? Can I get feedback from the artists? Do they have clear explanations of how to apply their principles to the music? Some of the above named artists started to publish their findings in books dating back to the 70’s and 80’s. Conti has been teaching his proven methods/materials since the late 60’s! Much of the “free lessons” stuff on the internet was copped (stolen?) from the material developed by the previously mentioned artists.

    Does access to quality teaching materials cost $? Yes! Absolutely; and rightfully so. Anything of high quality and effectiveness is worth paying for. Go to the true sources to get the best, most effective materials. Don’t waste your time with the jive materials from folks that can’t play! There IS some good stuff out there!

    One more thing: YOU have to do the work! There are no “secrets”! Look for the best materials on Jazz Lines, Chord Melody (and Beyond), Technique Building, Comping, Learning Tunes, Great Recordings, etc. Put in the time effectively, and you WILL achieve your goals! ‘Nuff said.

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    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #2

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    Absolute nonsense .. paying for a big name player would be a waste of money.

    Just listen to whoever you're considering play first. Plenty of players on this forum that would do a brilliant job teaching me for a lot less $$$ than those big name players.

    Btw .. Have you ever tried studying some of the material Pat Martino has released .. There is a course on Truefire.com called The Nature of Guitar ... Give us a review once you've watched it

  4. #3

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    I think the combination of an accomplished player who is an accomplished teacher is hard to beat.

  5. #4

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    To the OP,
    your post reminded me of this recent comment by the esteemed Mr DB's Jazz Guitar Blog,

    " Quite so. But you guys are forgetting the Dunning Kruger effect. There's some guys here that have this attitude as if they are God's own gift to jazz guitar (constantly pontificating on just about everything and giving advice all over the place) whose playing I find so weak that I suspect that exact psychological effect must be in operation. It happens all over the internet. Some people invariably overestimate their powers"

    OTOH Ive experienced a situation where i was taught by someone that in my opinion i didnt think was a great player, or at least whose playing i didnt particular gravitate towards, however they have a very particular skill set that has enabled them to teach at the very highest levels and to some of the greatest current players on all instruments.

    Some other thoughts regarding your post. With our current world situation, people are turning to online solutions to provide alternative income streams. This content is not really addressing your individual needs. It may not be relevant to your current level of development or with what you are working towards.That being said, you have to be able to make an honest assessment of where you are at playing wise, or seek out someone who can assess this.This is where the role of an individual, mentor/ facilitator/ coach becomes important. As mentioned elsewhere, you dont need to pay someone to disseminate musical information / theory. This is already freely available in the digital age. Of more importance, i think is to be able to find / manufacture or join in with opportunities for experiential learning and learn by doing. Now that opportunities for band apprenticeships / gigs have evaporated, this would be an ideal role for a facilitator.

    Another thought: The proliferation of youtube teachers. This can be confusing to most people when the youtuber in question is driven mainly by the need to constantly be creating a barrage of new content. While this satisfies our thirst for info, most people realise that new concepts and vocabulary take months to internalise and get into your playing. Its just not possible to be given new content every week and expected that you will have internalised it and using it naturally and with confidence.
    My 0.2c
    cheers

  6. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jazzism
    Quite so. But you guys are forgetting the Dunning Kruger effect. There's some guys here that have this attitude as if they are God's own gift to jazz guitar (constantly pontificating on just about everything and giving advice all over the place) whose playing I find so weak that I suspect that exact psychological effect must be in operation. It happens all over the internet. Some people invariably overestimate their powers"

    Actually I am willing to challenge this to a certain extent .. I mean there are plenty of people like that, but with regards to learning on the internet, you sometimes gotta be selfish. I've realized that starting your belief and often is a very loud and brash manner is what will incite other to challenge you and enable you to learn something.

    Being polite or not very direct will get your stuff ignored.


    I've learned heaps on forums, but it's always been thru bold posting resulting in argument

  7. #6

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    I have been taking lessons for years from Wes Montgomery, Joe Pass, Jimmy Raney, Pat Martino, etc. etc...

  8. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by grahambop
    I have been taking lessons for years from Wes Montgomery, Joe Pass, Jimmy Raney, Pat Martino, etc. etc...
    A fine approach and list of tutors indeed.

    One day I hope to possess even a basic grasp of the language spoken by Paul Gonsalves with Ellington. Right now my mode of expression is still at the pointing and grunting stage.

  9. #8

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    Actually I knew a few teachers of whom you could not find much evidence as players in the net (of course they were players)... some poeple just do not promote themselves as players.

    and also teaching and playing are often different skills.

    Jazz is practical thing - so the teacher should be able to play of course - but not necessarily in the level of the top players...
    very often ability to notice weak points and smoothely guide to overcome problems lies beyond personal performance skills in realtime music.
    in other words he can notice what you do wrongly and know how to correct it - but it is not necessary that ge himself does it absolutely perfectly.

    Another big question is what you are after: jam gigging skills could be one thing (comping, playing jams etc) in that case probably the best teacher is the partner in duo playing... he just forces you and supports you in real time...

    but if you want to dig some conceptions - it could that a player not that skilful could be a good guide for you.. you can even play faster of more agile than him but he knows what to do

    (Great classical teachers were often not that skilful as their prominent students)

  10. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by TLR
    I feel it helps to think of the Internet as a digital (and free) version of the old 'vanity press', which allowed anyone who decides such as "I am a poet worthy of your consideration" to reach an audience, regardless of any merit beyond unbridled ego. Of course, patient sifting will always reveal more worthwhile talents and abilities, but they're probably in the minority.
    Ha, you were too quick for me. I’d actually deleted my post. I think today was my grumpy Monday. Sorry about that!

  11. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jazzism
    Ha, you were too quick for me. I’d actually deleted my post. I think today was my grumpy Monday. Sorry about that!
    No need for any apology. I understood the basic point you were making.
    The good stuff is always out there and like anything worthwhile needs investment in time and patience to be found.

  12. #11

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    That depends on the students level. A nobel prize winner physicist is not the best teacher of physics 101 material. You're much better off with a full time lecturer.

    Also in my experience jazz teachers who are no longer active players make better teachers than the "career minded" pro's who are trying to establish themselves in the scene. Those in the second group tend to feel that they are prostituting themselves when teaching. It's a chore that pays the bills. Where as the first group tend to take pride in their teaching abilities.

  13. #12

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    My experince lines up with the above Tal175's post.

    I've had a established pro perfomer who would ask me at the beginning of a lesson, "what were we working on"? I consider that a fail, as in no lesson planning, no preparation.

    It makes sense that a musician putting most of their effort in performance/gigging, would have less time or interest to work on their teaching skills. I think a teacher needs to be well organized to give you full value.

    I've had teachers that are dedicated to teaching, super well organized, and it was obvious that they gave some thought to what and how they were teaching me. And, those were the ones that I thought were the best teachers. It's a different mind set.

  14. #13

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    One theory is to get a teacher that is two levels 'higher' than that of the student; Such an arrangement leads to better collaboration. E.g. the teacher is more in tune with how the student takes-on material since the teacher had a similar experience not-too-long-ago.

    Of course 'two levels' is just one POV, with the over all point that the teacher shouldn't be miles-ahead of the student, because then the teacher doesn't have much freshly-in-common with said student.

  15. #14

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    Like other professions. Look for the best level possible, background, experience, professional attitude. I would add that a lot about playing music can only be learned by playing with other people, and playing with/for an audience, so in my book a teacher that also has playing experience would have an edge.

  16. #15

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    the teacher/student relation ..the main ingredient for me is communication..and how to establish it from day one..
    my teacher was a teacher foremost..but was well known in the professional guitar community..

    I remember well my first day as a student...

    teacher: what do you want to learn..
    me: jazz
    teacher: ok..what do you mean by jazz
    and right there I was stopped..because I didnt know how to describe what I wanted to learn..

    so the teacher seeing and understanding my place...played several styles of "jazz" and when he played
    a certain harmonized scale in chords...i said..."yeah..that !!"

    he was patient and very thorough and knew where I was in the learning process
    and I slowly learned harmony and chord relations and lots of insight into "theory"

    I realized much later that everything he played was just different variations of the same thing...

    he thought me how to "think" music on the guitar not just finger movement ..but eye/ear stuff..so at some point i knew
    a what a certain chord would sound like before I played it and what other chords could go with it in a progression

    yes this all took years to learn...but I am still learning from his lessons

  17. #16

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    A great player can point out all what is missing. It is not enough most of the time. When a student is missing a few "talents", he/she needs a great teacher to figure out how to improve.
    A great player... most of those have those essential abilities by nature and don't really know how to treat the students that don't. So, if the student is not blessed with all essential talents, he needs a super teacher. Not a super player.
    This is my own experience but when thinking back, it really seems quite common. I was an average student and probably an average teacher now. Getting better slowly now. But it needs loads of experience. Teaching experience.
    My colleagues mostly ain't really virtuosos here but quite a few of them really shine at teaching. There is no point dissing a teacher because of his playing skills are not world-class.

  18. #17

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    I guess sax player Bill Eans would qualify as both a great player and an excellent educator. His course is only $5 on TrueFire for the next couple of days.
    The Language of Improvisation - Bill Evans - Sax Lessons

  19. #18

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    The OP made several points, two of them being that the bar should be set high for teacher qualifications, but also that it is up to the individual to make it happen. I agree with that but have a few other observations.


    I have met many good teachers and they were also good to very good players, but not as good as the famous players/best of the best. I don't think they needed to be - if their educational material was sound.

    Style is important - there are some players who are terrific but I don't want to play like them, nor do I want to listen to their music. That doesn't make them bad educators though. It just means I don't care.

    Jazz Improvisation is not so well sorted out in step-by-step fashion, or so it seems to me. It seems to get complicated very quickly with complex lines and frequent changes. I think that jazz educators could work a little harder on that.
    Last edited by GTRMan; 07-29-2020 at 11:27 AM.

  20. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by mjirish
    With everyone seemingly hanging out his/her shingle as a “jazz guitar teacher” or publishing a ”jazz guitar method”, how does one choose which material to purchase or to use? To start with, look for video evidence that teacher is an excellent player. If you can’t find credible evidence of their performing competency , stop right there!! Why? Because while a great player may not be a terrific teacher, a poor player (one with no credentials) will NEVER be a good/great teacher.

    If I wanted to become a competent NASCAR driver, I would want to get information/techniques from the best drivers – the winners. Like Jimmie Johnson, for example. I would not want to view video information from some kid in a baseball hat in his bedroom that has NASCAR posters on his wall. I want the knowledge and experience from a tried and true professional driver because they have lived it.

    See, the big problem with all of this, is that there are no gatekeepers (guarantors of quality) on the internet. Anybody with a cell phone can put up videos claiming to be a competent “teacher”. Where’s the proof? Is it just because they have slick e-books, or “gotcha” ads claiming “Secrets of Great Jazz Guitarists”.? They can claim anything they want. What I WANT so see/hear first is – can they play?. Show me some club/concert/performance videos where they demonstrate their competence. Let me be the judge. That’s the first step.

    When I know that they are excellent/great players like Pat Martino, Robert Conti, Martin Taylor, Jimmy Bruno, Andreas Oberg, Vic Juris, then, I will start to examine their teaching methods. How well are the concepts put together? How long have they been teaching using these methods? What level(s) of skill do they address. Do they have video examples of students who have successfully applied these methods? Can I get feedback from the artists? Do they have clear explanations of how to apply their principles to the music? Some of the above named artists started to publish their findings in books dating back to the 70’s and 80’s. Conti has been teaching his proven methods/materials since the late 60’s! Much of the “free lessons” stuff on the internet was copped (stolen?) from the material developed by the previously mentioned artists.

    Does access to quality teaching materials cost $? Yes! Absolutely; and rightfully so. Anything of high quality and effectiveness is worth paying for. Go to the true sources to get the best, most effective materials. Don’t waste your time with the jive materials from folks that can’t play! There IS some good stuff out there!

    One more thing: YOU have to do the work! There are no “secrets”! Look for the best materials on Jazz Lines, Chord Melody (and Beyond), Technique Building, Comping, Learning Tunes, Great Recordings, etc. Put in the time effectively, and you WILL achieve your goals! ‘Nuff said.
    Sure; I think you are right.

    (That’s also why I don’t advertise as a teacher. People who ask for lessons like my playing and teaching style.)

    there’s lots of jazz graduates out there looking to pay rent. I certainly don’t think they’d be bad either - a lot of them put serious hours in teaching and are very good at this. an obvious question is a great player a good teacher? And what are you hoping to get from a lesson?

    So Id be a little wary about approaching well known players for lessons (although this is quite a common thing) as opposed to a strong local player as there is less opportunity to build up a longer lasting student/teacher relationship on the whole.

    Some people seem to think learning jazz is about information. This is not how it is; great players don’t know more info than the random jazz grad; often they know less! They are better musicians by and large, and that is the bit that’s not possible to formulate.

    in fact developing as a musician is generally about trying to play the music, getting feedback, reflecting and working on the stuff and trying again. The most important factor in this is not the nature of the instruction, but the nature of the environment and community you find yourself in.

    I know nothing about NASCAR but I imagine an important part of becoming a racing driver (once the mechanics of driving are mastered) is racing A LOT and getting expert feedback on your performance, technique and strategy.

    So if you can put yourself in a situation where you can play a lot and get detailed feedback from Jimmy Bruno (for instance) based on your playing, that’s obviously worth doing. The important thing to bear in mind is that what is useful for you might not be the same thing someone else might need, so it is important to get personalised input.

    (Though some gifted musicians might not be able to break things down well enough to give helpful feedback; things like ‘you don’t swing’ are obviously not that helpful from a learning standpoint.)

    OTOH jazz isn’t about pedagogy, there isn’t a method to learn it. You really have to work it out yourself. You can be helped here, but you do have to do it.

    The scales and all of that stuff is in the public domain, and the music itself is all out there to be checked out.

    What is golden is the experience and feedback loop.

    As is goal setting. Just something like ‘learn 20 tunes’, ‘play a gig’, ‘record a standard by next week’ can be helpful. TBH that’s a lot of my job as a teacher. Almost all jazz musicians are essentially ‘self taught’ (or community/bandstand taught), with lessons and input from time to time.
    Last edited by christianm77; 07-29-2020 at 12:10 PM.

  21. #20

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    The other point is there are many amazing players and teachers who don’t become well known, because professional music requires a skill set that includes a lot of non playing skills and a willingness to tour etc, which not every great musician shares.

    an obvious example is Ted Greene. So, you go by reputation among players...

    You find these local legends all over... and they may be a lot better than a jazz celeb at teaching and just as good at playing...

    From my scene I can reel off a load of amazing but underrated player/teachers while the critical and fan polls reflect those players who have worked all the clubs and hustled the magazines, or have managed to get on the hype train and are just the ones people have heard of.... not dissing, that’s just the way it works.

  22. #21

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77
    So Id be a little wary about approaching well known players for lessons (although this is quite a common thing) as opposed to a strong local player as there is less opportunity to build up a longer lasting student/teacher relationship on the whole.
    Great post, Christian. There's a YouTube video of a Mimi Fox interview in which she talks about going to Joe Pass for a lesson in his hotel room. Great story. (Starts around 5:00 minute mark.)


  23. #22

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    Yeah and that lesson was clearly an awesome experience (and probably what she needed), but it’s not like Joe was going to spell out the fundamentals of the music, and why should he? And why would someone like Mimi need it?

    (The joke is Joe probably didn’t think that was good teaching, when actually it was!)

    A lot of well known players do a *lot* of tuition and masterclasses and have their talking points and riffs. And that’s cool; sometimes it’s really helpful, but it’s never going to be that personalised learning experience based off one lesson. Really the best bit of having a lesson with whoever is it it’s a chance to play with them.

    (that said if you go to a Barry Harris workshop you need to be prepared to be confused and maybe bored at first; those classes are not built around you, but there’s normally something you can steal... and the more you stick around the more you learn.)

    Teaching jazz one to one can be an agonising process. Sometimes I realise I just take a mountain of stuff for granted and I might spend weeks teaching based on some assumption that doesn’t relate to my student.

  24. #23

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    I don't think someone needs to be a top musician to be considered a Top Level Teacher. A lot of us on here have heard of the Jazz Teacher, Charlie Banacos. Notice I said "Jazz Teacher" and not guitar teacher, because he couldn't play one! I had the privilege to study with him off an on for several years. So didn't pianist, trumpet, saxophone, bass, guitar, players, and other instrumentalist. Jazz is a technical way of expression that can be taught by musicians who understand the language and how to share it with others. Look at the faculties of music schools. Does someone need to be a virtuoso on their instrument to teach Jazz Theory? How about Composing? Arranging, etc.

    Because of the pandemic there's definitely a lot of musicians/teachers, good and not so good offering online lessons at every price point.
    I get a reminder from Mike Stern every couple of days!

    Since I started playing again a little over two years ago I've tried, Jimmy Bruno JGW, Richie Zellon's Bebop Course, Barry Greens Online Video Classes. They all have a ton of stuff to learn at reasonable cost. But none felt right for me, and that's not to say that their not awesome for others.

    What I've decided to do is work on the Randy Vincent books, and then every month or two I'll try taking a lesson online with Randy. I'll also continue with everything that I saved from my time with C.B. because I can also start up again through studying with Pianist Garry Dial who's teaching C.B.'s methods with the blessings of the Banacos family.

  25. #24

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77
    Yeah and that lesson was clearly an awesome experience (and probably what she needed), but it’s not like Joe was going to spell out the fundamentals of the music, and why should he? And why would someone like Mimi need it?

    (The joke is Joe probably didn’t think that was good teaching, when actually it was!)
    Well, Joe did put out a few books with a lot of fundamentals in them...(Joe Pass Guitar Method, Joe Pass Guitar Style..) But yes, Mimi was no beginner. But what struck me is Joe's "Thank f**king God" reaction to her playing. Evidently a LOT of people who approached him for lessons couldn't play through a 12-bar blues.

    He elsewhere said of Mimi, "She can play anything I can play." I liked the bit about him thinking she had all the technique she would ever need and that she was probably practicing too much (!).

  26. #25

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    Quote Originally Posted by MarkRhodes
    Well, Joe did put out a few books with a lot of fundamentals in them...(Joe Pass Guitar Method, Joe Pass Guitar Style..) But yes, Mimi was no beginner. But what struck me is Joe's "Thank f**king God" reaction to her playing. Evidently a LOT of people who approached him for lessons couldn't play through a 12-bar blues.

    He elsewhere said of Mimi, "She can play anything I can play." I liked the bit about him thinking she had all the technique she would ever need and that she was probably practicing too much (!).
    Well yeah....

    OK, so what I mean, is do we need Joe Pass to explain how scales and chords work? Well actually he probably does a better and less pretentious job of it the many people.. anyway forget that haha. Probably we do, or it all ends up being Ancient Greek trapezoids.

    But yeah. It's so easy to forget music is an art. We seem to want to turn it into a branch of engineering. You really want to spend some time absorbing how a great musician listens to music, for instance. That's not on any syllabus, but it's one of the most important things. Very often as much - if not more - can be learned by simply playing music with someone as from any verbal communication.

  27. #26

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    Quote Originally Posted by Strbender
    I don't think someone needs to be a top musician to be considered a Top Level Teacher. A lot of us on here have heard of the Jazz Teacher, Charlie Banacos. Notice I said "Jazz Teacher" and not guitar teacher, because he couldn't play one! I had the privilege to study with him off an on for several years. So didn't pianist, trumpet, saxophone, bass, guitar, players, and other instrumentalist. Jazz is a technical way of expression that can be taught by musicians who understand the language and how to share it with others. Look at the faculties of music schools. Does someone need to be a virtuoso on their instrument to teach Jazz Theory? How about Composing? Arranging, etc.

    Because of the pandemic there's definitely a lot of musicians/teachers, good and not so good offering online lessons at every price point.
    I get a reminder from Mike Stern every couple of days!

    Since I started playing again a little over two years ago I've tried, Jimmy Bruno JGW, Richie Zellon's Bebop Course, Barry Greens Online Video Classes. They all have a ton of stuff to learn at reasonable cost. But none felt right for me, and that's not to say that their not awesome for others.

    What I've decided to do is work on the Randy Vincent books, and then every month or two I'll try taking a lesson online with Randy. I'll also continue with everything that I saved from my time with C.B. because I can also start up again through studying with Pianist Garry Dial who's teaching C.B.'s methods with the blessings of the Banacos family.
    Actually Banacos did pop into my head as an example. Sandole's another perhaps?

    I really like Randy's book BTW. I think if there is a method for jazz guitar basics, that's the nearest thing I've seen to it. Of course, the real learning comes from putting it into practice.

    If you don't mind I'd be very interested to hear more about what its like studying with Randy.

  28. #27

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77

    OTOH jazz isn’t about pedagogy, there isn’t a method to learn it.
    I must respectfully disagree.

    • No music is "about" pedagogy, so jazz is not special in that regard.
    • The challenge with jazz isn't that there isn't a method for it, it's that there are many. Probably too many.


    And comparing recent college grads to seasoned pros doesn't make much sense. It is true that college requires one to spend too much time away from the practice room for a few years. But provided that one is well prepared and talented when they enter jazz school, and they decide to stick with it after graduation, they should be fine.

    George Benson considered Berklee but opted out for some reason. I believe that he set out on the road instead, and did quite well obviously. But compare the 22 year old, or even 25 year old George Benson with the 32 year old version. Becoming a jazz master takes time.
    Last edited by GTRMan; 07-29-2020 at 02:18 PM.