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  1. #1
    I have played the guitar for a long time but have only been learning jazz for a year. I've spent that year with a private instructor who while very talented is not a jazz musician. He is an accomplished classical guitarist that is now a teacher. Most of what he teaches is classical and rock. I have looked and not found any serious jazz instructors in my area. In fact my current teacher is known as the best in the region.

    While my teacher is really good he isn't teaching like a true jazz player would IMO. He isn't showing me how to improvise or comp over standards. In fact, I dont think he is able to do this himself. He knows the fretboard well enough that he could noodle over the changes of a real book tune but I guarantee this is not something he practices on a regular basis. We spent the last year working on technique, chord melody arrangements, music reading, and a lot of blues. More blues than I would like. He very much has a "method" for his general guitar students and that's what I am learning besides the chord melodies. Recently we began working on a Jim Raney transcription at my insistence.

    On one hand my technique has grown leaps and bounds over the last year. I sound significantly better. The chord melodies sound very pretty and learning more blues isn't terrible...And I am learning to read music and improve my rhythm. I am a lot better in that regard. But I dont feel any less confused about how to actually play jazz. And like I said my teacher isnt a jazz musician so I dont think he knows what I am looking for. Everything I have learned about jazz music I learned from jazz players on the internet.

    He's so rigid about his method that I feel bogged down by chord melodies and blues tunes (actual blues music not jazz blues...) Those chord melodies while sounding good take a lot of effort and time to learn and its hard for me to apply those concepts to other tunes. I do try learning to comp and solo over tunes from online resources like Truefire but I am usually struggling to shed that stuff as I am working on material for my private lessons.

    All that to say do you guys think I am wasting my time? Or should I have a talk with my teacher and insist we work on other materials? I do feel loyalty to my teacher. He taught me for years as a teenager (when I was a rocker) and he helped me a lot back then. And he really cares about my guitar playing, I just feel like we arent on the same page.

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  3. #2

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    Quote Originally Posted by Troubadour_1991
    I have played the guitar for a long time but have only been learning jazz for a year. I've spent that year with a private instructor who while very talented is not a jazz musician. He is an accomplished classical guitarist that is now a teacher. Most of what he teaches is classical and rock. I have looked and not found any serious jazz instructors in my area. In fact my current teacher is known as the best in the region.

    While my teacher is really good he isn't teaching like a true jazz player would IMO. He isn't showing me how to improvise or comp over standards. In fact, I dont think he is able to do this himself. He knows the fretboard well enough that he could noodle over the changes of a real book tune but I guarantee this is not something he practices on a regular basis. We spent the last year working on technique, chord melody arrangements, music reading, and a lot of blues. More blues than I would like. He very much has a "method" for his general guitar students and that's what I am learning besides the chord melodies. Recently we began working on a Jim Raney transcription at my insistence.

    On one hand my technique has grown leaps and bounds over the last year. I sound significantly better. The chord melodies sound very pretty and learning more blues isn't terrible...And I am learning to read music and improve my rhythm. I am a lot better in that regard. But I dont feel any less confused about how to actually play jazz. And like I said my teacher isnt a jazz musician so I dont think he knows what I am looking for. Everything I have learned about jazz music I learned from jazz players on the internet.

    He's so rigid about his method that I feel bogged down by chord melodies and blues tunes (actual blues music not jazz blues...) Those chord melodies while sounding good take a lot of effort and time to learn and its hard for me to apply those concepts to other tunes. I do try learning to comp and solo over tunes from online resources like Truefire but I am usually struggling to shed that stuff as I am working on material for my private lessons.

    All that to say do you guys think I am wasting my time? Or should I have a talk with my teacher and insist we work on other materials? I do feel loyalty to my teacher. He taught me for years as a teenager (when I was a rocker) and he helped me a lot back then. And he really cares about my guitar playing, I just feel like we arent on the same page.
    I recommend you move on to another teacher or just use on-line sources (if you can't find one that is an actual jazz musician).

    Good luck.

  4. #3

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    if you dont like the chord melodies and blues arrangements, study bach with your teacher. not jazz, he cant help you there. the raney solos are self-explanatory, you do not need a teacher for those anyway. there is also a study group here. are there jazz musicians in your area? a jazz teacher doesnt necessarily have to play the same instrument.

  5. #4

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    Don't be paying someone for stuff you don't want.

  6. #5

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    It sounds like you are getting an excellent foundation in reading, chord voicings and technique.

    That's all great.

    Teaching jazz is a different arena and apparently is not something this teacher is fully equipped to handle.

    The fundamentals are, arguably, ear training, repertoire and vocabulary. That's not an exhaustive list <g>.

    A jazz oriented teacher should, IMO, address all three, among other things. The traditional method is via transcribing, not that everybody necessarily does it that way. But, if you decipher the chord changes, lift the solos (or pieces thereof) and nail the rhythms you'll be on your way.
    Play in jazz combos as soon and as much as you possibly can.

  7. #6

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    I learned most of my jazz from a trombone player and from a clarinet player. Both played piano, of course, and both guys were monsters--and good teachers.

    The advice that a jazz teacher doesn't have to be a guitar player is very good advice.

  8. #7

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    If you want to study jazz, find a jazz guitarist.

    Edit: the point that you don’t have to be taught jazz by a guitarist is well made. Learning the guitar sounds like it is also an area of study as well.
    Last edited by christianm77; 12-10-2020 at 05:28 PM.

  9. #8

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    On the one hand you say you have gotten a lot better with this teacher and that's a good thing and likely much of what you have learned you will begin to apply to jazz eventually.

    However, you are obviously struggling with what this teacher can do for your playing and what YOU want to do with your playing. There are lots of on line resources to get you in the jazz direction.

    Firstly, there are excellent resources right here on this sight. Check the upper right of this page. Lots of stuff to work on if you are ok with doing things yourself. Other than that there are also lots of online jazz guitar teachers to reach out to.

    On a practical level, given that you have what sounds like a good foundation for playing, get some lead sheets and backing tracks for jazz standards and start playing along. Start with playing/learning the melody and then start expanding on that melody line. Just try things. Some will not work, some will. You'll figure it out. That's a good place to start learning to improvise if there are no good options locally for a jazz instructor.

    Basically, just have fun with tunes. Listen to a lot of jazz and play along.

  10. #9
    I appreciate the feedback although its a tough pill to swallow. Intuitively I've known for the last year this is not the direction a pure jazzer takes but due to my history with my teacher its hard to end that chapter you know? But I guess thats just part of the journey. Thanks guys.

  11. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by Troubadour_1991
    I appreciate the feedback although its a tough pill to swallow. Intuitively I've known for the last year this is not the direction a pure jazzer takes but due to my history with my teacher its hard to end that chapter you know? But I guess thats just part of the journey. Thanks guys.
    I understand that. A positive relationship with a teacher who cares is to be cherished. I'm going to guess that your teacher will understand and support you in pursuing your musical vision. But, it's going to be an emotional talk.

  12. #11

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    What songs are you learning chord melody? You can apply the chord melody stuff to jazz improv by outlining or referencing the different chord shapes to the melody you learn. You need to listen to the great recordings to get the feel and vocabulary. You have no obligation to your teacher. You also need the skills required for saying no or goodbye to different players who may work with or for you on future gigs.

    My advice would be to take Skype lessons since no one in your area. Find a Youtuber or social media jazz guitarist that you really like, who offers Skype lessons and see how that goes. In the meantime use all the resources on this site. I have gained tremendous knowledge and advanced greatly from the materials here.

  13. #12
    Many skills go into playing jazz well, and many areas of interface go into a truly fruitful student/teacher relationship.
    What kind of music are you aspiring to play? Give me some names because this will help you in a match for a teacher.
    Do you play or intend to play fingerstyle? Steel strings or nylon?
    Would you like to focus on group dynamics or ensemble playing? The skills for both do overlap but your present teacher may have a role in your continuing studies if you decide that solo work is your forte.
    Does your teacher have a compositional background? You're going to need to understand the rudiments and then much more than the rudiments of composition if you're going to improvise with confidence and intelligence.
    Because playing jazz is the result of a lineage of sound, technique, attitude, swing, options, choice, vocabulary, syntax, meaningful expression and mastery of the instrument, you'll be best to choose your teachers to build your and this demanding knowledge base.
    It may very well be the contribution of several teachers to help you make the soup that is your own voice.

  14. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by Troubadour_1991
    I have played the guitar for a long time but have only been learning jazz for a year. I've spent that year with a private instructor who while very talented is not a jazz musician. He is an accomplished classical guitarist that is now a teacher. Most of what he teaches is classical and rock. I have looked and not found any serious jazz instructors in my area. In fact my current teacher is known as the best in the region.

    While my teacher is really good he isn't teaching like a true jazz player would IMO. He isn't showing me how to improvise or comp over standards. In fact, I dont think he is able to do this himself. He knows the fretboard well enough that he could noodle over the changes of a real book tune but I guarantee this is not something he practices on a regular basis. We spent the last year working on technique, chord melody arrangements, music reading, and a lot of blues. More blues than I would like. He very much has a "method" for his general guitar students and that's what I am learning besides the chord melodies. Recently we began working on a Jim Raney transcription at my insistence.

    On one hand my technique has grown leaps and bounds over the last year. I sound significantly better. The chord melodies sound very pretty and learning more blues isn't terrible...And I am learning to read music and improve my rhythm. I am a lot better in that regard. But I dont feel any less confused about how to actually play jazz. And like I said my teacher isnt a jazz musician so I dont think he knows what I am looking for. Everything I have learned about jazz music I learned from jazz players on the internet.

    He's so rigid about his method that I feel bogged down by chord melodies and blues tunes (actual blues music not jazz blues...) Those chord melodies while sounding good take a lot of effort and time to learn and its hard for me to apply those concepts to other tunes. I do try learning to comp and solo over tunes from online resources like Truefire but I am usually struggling to shed that stuff as I am working on material for my private lessons.

    All that to say do you guys think I am wasting my time? Or should I have a talk with my teacher and insist we work on other materials? I do feel loyalty to my teacher. He taught me for years as a teenager (when I was a rocker) and he helped me a lot back then. And he really cares about my guitar playing, I just feel like we arent on the same page.

  15. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by djg
    a jazz teacher doesnt necessarily have to play the same instrument.
    Wise point. One of the most famous teachers in jazz was Dennis Sandole. He was a guitarist; one of his students was John Coltrane. What matters is the musical idea, not the instrument.

    Another thing to consider: your studies with this teacher have acquainted you with improved technique, reading and hearing music, chord progressions, melodies, etc. You also have supplemental access to the greatest jazz teachers in the world, which are all the greats of jazz who have left us their recordings. Most jazz musicians in the last nearly 100 years have learned a lot from listening to, playing along with and figuring out what's happening on jazz records. Fortunately that is also a set of skills that is essential on the bandstand, to be able to hear and respond to what is going on in the musical environment around you. If you can do it with recordings, you can do it with other musicians. Learning to play by ear is difficult but crucial. I haven't mastered it.

  16. #15
    What songs are you learning chord melody? You can apply the chord melody stuff to jazz improv by outlining or referencing the different chord shapes to the melody you learn.
    I am working out of a book of different Barry Galbraith arrangements. Using the chord shapes for single note stuff is a good idea, I will try that out.

  17. #16
    Give me some names because this will help you in a match for a teacher.
    Jim Raney, Paul Desmond, Charlie Parker, Wes Montgomery, Grant Green, George Benson, Pat Martino, Charlie Christian.

    Do you play or intend to play fingerstyle? Steel strings or nylon?
    Yes most of the chord melody arrangements I worked on were fingerstyle. I play steel strings on an electric guitar.

    Would you like to focus on group dynamics or ensemble playing?
    I am not sure of the distinction between these two. But my goal is to be able to play with other jazz musicians.

    Does your teacher have a compositional background?
    I don't think so, I believe classical guitar performance was always his focus.

  18. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by Cunamara
    Wise point. One of the most famous teachers in jazz was Dennis Sandole. He was a guitarist; one of his students was John Coltrane. What matters is the musical idea, not the instrument.

    Another thing to consider: your studies with this teacher have acquainted you with improved technique, reading and hearing music, chord progressions, melodies, etc. You also have supplemental access to the greatest jazz teachers in the world, which are all the greats of jazz who have left us their recordings. Most jazz musicians in the last nearly 100 years have learned a lot from listening to, playing along with and figuring out what's happening on jazz records. Fortunately that is also a set of skills that is essential on the bandstand, to be able to hear and respond to what is going on in the musical environment around you. If you can do it with recordings, you can do it with other musicians. Learning to play by ear is difficult but crucial. I haven't mastered it.
    I listen to a lot of jazz but I definitely need to transcribe more. My transcriptions so far have been limited to just the melodies of different standards but even that has been helpful. I read someone here say "those melodies are good jazz lines" which made sense to me. But I should definitely work on transcribing solos.

  19. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by citizenk74
    Thanks! I am already learning a lot from you guys.

  20. #19

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    You might check out some of these online courses; click the checkbox for guitar to filter for those classes.

    Jazzschool-Online Course Catalog – California Jazz Conservatory

    Steve Erquiaga is teaching classes in comping, chord soloing and sight reading. I studied privately with Steve some years ago. He's a great player with a great pedigree who is a methodical, organized and patient teacher.

    I would also encourage you to continue studying with your current teacher, if time and money don't prevent that. Your studies of reading, mechanical technique and tone production will make you a better player in any situation.

    Finally: chord soloing is a complex task. Don't be discouraged by the fact that it just takes a lot of work to do that stuff...

    Cheers,

    SJ

  21. #20

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    If you don't know about IRealPro, it's worth considering as a practice tool, at any level.

    Runs on your phone and costs $10 last I looked.

    You click a few times to download thousands of tunes, organized by style, if you like.

    The tunes will include every jazz standard (someone will now find an exception). Chords not melody. Just chord symbols.

    You pick the tempo, rhythmic style (swing, bossa, or whatever you like), and the key.

    So, for a jazz beginner, you pick All of Me in the key of C. Tempo Di Learno -- as slow as you need it to be. Medium Swing.

    First two bars are Cmajor. Your turn to solo. What are you going to play?

    You probably already know the notes of a Cmaj7 chord and where they are. You can use those. They'll fit. You can go to a Cmajor scale. You can raise the F to an F#, making it C lydian (same notes as G major). Try to make a simple little melody with them.

    Don't like that approach? Fine. There's another way which might be better. Listen to the chord and scat sing. When you sing a line you like, stop and figure out how to play it.

    Still not satisfied? Go onto youtube and find a version of the song you like, hopefully by a jazz artist who doesn't play a zillion notes. Paul Desmond and Hank Mobley come to mind, although I don't know if they recorded All of Me. When you hear a line you like for the first two bars, figure it out and use it.

    Time for bar 3. E7. Similar drill. Chord tones. Chord tones plus the additional notes that make a scale. Some other scale that works. Scat sing. Copy a pro.

    Next chord ....

    Don't forget to make melody, not just run the individual chords as if they don't connect to each other.

    That's a perfectly good framework and now you can spend your remaining lifetimes improving your arp and scale knowledge, expanding your vocabulary of jazz material, developing your ears, improving your scat singing and getting the notes onto the guitar fast enough.

    I use IRealPro most days. I paid full price and have nothing to do with the company. I set it for 13 repeats with a change of key by a 4th every chorus. I play the head and then comp the tune in different keys and solo in different keys.

    If you can play blues, rhythm changes and Blue Bossa, you're ready to get together with a bassist.

  22. #21

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    This forum is at its best when everybody strives to help the newcomer, rather than someone telling him everything he knows is wrong and his experience is useless and he must practice for years and really suffer and even then he will be average at best.

  23. #22

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    Quote Originally Posted by Litterick
    This forum is at its best when everybody strives to help the newcomer, rather than someone telling him everything he knows is wrong and his experience is useless and he must practice for years and really suffer and even then he will be average at best.
    Which is not wrong exactly, but makes it all sound a lot less enjoyable than it is.

  24. #23

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    I have not tried IRealPro but that kind of drill would be excellent. I like the idea of shifting through the cycle of 4ths the way rpjazzguitar described.

    The online school option is also potentially a very good choice. It provides the opportunity for feedback and also for asking questions, neither of which an app can give you. Ten years ago or maybe even more I was a student at the first iteration of Jimmy Bruno's school. Learned a lot and it dovetailed very well with what I already knew, so that was helpful. I didn't have a computer with a webcam at the time, so I was not able to take full advantage of the program (sending in videos for Jimmy's analysis and critique) but even with that handicap it was still helpful. Jimmy needs to be taken with a grain of salt- he often says things to make a point but isn't meant literally- but he's a seasoned pro and has no time or patience for hifalutin BS. There are other online jazz guitar school options, too.

    My wife is studying Irish music on various mandolins and tenor banjo. She has a local teacher who's an excellent and wide-ranging mandolinist/guitarist/tenor banjoist/guitarist/well, if it has strings he can play it; and also an online teacher who is a top-notch player in the Irish music world. There's differences and overlap- the local teacher addresses technique, music theory, filling in the blanks, practice approaches, etc., and the online teacher covers repertoire, feel, ornamentation, the tradition, etc. So you could also have both going on and they can reinforce each other.

    The Barry Galbraith arrangements are renowned; I've never been able to read my way through them (because I can't read music competently despite 40 years of trying, so pretty sure that's not happening).

  25. #24
    I am going to grab iReal pro that sounds very helpful. I can see the parallel between your wife's two instructors and how I try to balance my teacher with jazz material I get online. I will check out Jimmy Bruno's stuff, I see him recommended a lot on this site. The Galbraith arrangements I am working on have tabs as well, its on amazon if you're interested.

  26. #25

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    If you want to make a good start with improv, check out Jens Larsens Roadmap to jazz course. You get the ability to share videos and receive feedback from him. It's a no-nonsense approach that I really like.
    Also get a subscription on Truefire. That will keep you busy.