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  1. #1

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    Hi,
    I've been playing the guitar for several years now, mostly in a blues context using primarily minor/major pentatonic in a visual way...so not really knowing what I played because I know my roots on 6th and 5th string and my solos took place in these positions...

    I had my first jazz lesson last week and we worked on :
    - major scale in 5 positions (which I've played before so this was nothing new)
    - harmonization of a major scale with the root on the 5th string (I don't know if I am explaining this so you understand but basically I started with Bb maj7 played the arpeggio and Bb ionian...then came D min7 where again I played the arpeggio and then D dorian over it..E min7, F maj7, G7 and so on...)
    Now this was already challenging but it's getting better and better...

    Now comes my dilemma :
    My teacher suggested to work on "Autumn Leaves".
    Comping is ok (well the chords are not difficult...technique and playing fluently is still a thing to practice!)
    Melody is easy too.
    Then he suggested playing the arpeggios over each chord trying to stay in one position...first arpeggio up, second down, third up...you get the idea and here I encounter following problems :
    - I realize I try to learn by heart in a bad way so that when I'm out for whatever reason coming in again is impossible. Knowing my notes on 6th and 5th string is good...now trying to learn the notes on the other strings too.
    - when playing slowly it is ok (not always though!!) but as soon as I use my app to play with the band i mess up.
    - every day I grab my guitar again (I've been practicing on it for 6-7 days now) I feel like beginning almost from 0.

    Now is this really hard work at the beginning or am I simply not talented enough? I am 46 now and have NEVER worked the guitar like this...
    Can I do things to improve faster/better?
    Thanks for your expert input!!
    Best regards

  2.  

    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #2

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    Quote Originally Posted by rsoby
    Now is this really hard work at the beginning ?
    Without going into detail and not meaning to discourage you but yes: it is for someone with your background and absolutely necessary.

  4. #3

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    Break the Autumn Leaves down into measures where 251 are.
    Practice these progressions slowly separately and then try to combine them into a whole piece.

  5. #4

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    Wrong instruction that is. It should be easy.

    After scale positions, chord building, and comping, you should learn chord tones and non-chord tones (major/minor II-V-I 12 keys in 5 scale positions).

    Provided you have mastered all mentioned, you can continue with the arpeggio. In my instruction, dealing with a tune is an advance level. But if you insist to practice the arpeggio with the tune, practice like you practice the chord tones: start with triad; start from the root and then from the 3rd, 5th; up and down. All in 5 scale positions. Here you can ignore practicing the 7th chords because you don't have to repeat practicing the non-chord tones (dissonances).

    Hope that helps.

  6. #5

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    no you’ll be fine !
    I just seems too hard at the beginning
    (like everything really .....
    remember the first weeks of first learning
    the guitar when everything hurt and
    you felt clumsy )

    it deffo gets easier as you go on ....

  7. #6

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    It always seems impossibly hard when you start. You're doing things you've never done.
    You do have to feel the rewards and hear what you're doing at every step of the way. Does your teacher work with your hearing and listening skills? Are you listening to examples and music of the genre as much as you're trying to play it?
    I've found that every person's approach is different but keeping perspective is always important. Keep the fun and excitement in the equation. You can do it.

  8. #7

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    Yes, on the one hand it is difficult at the beginning, but also no, I would also criticize the teacher here. But one after the other:

    From your background, I assume that you can't read music. I assume that you also don't really know all the notes on the upper 4 strings intuitively and confidently i.e. if you want to play F# your finger goes there without thinking.

    So I assume, you try to remember the arpeggios visually/geometrically. Of course, if anything interrupts you, you'll be lost. Your teacher should have divided this exercise (whether it makes sense at this stage of learning or not) into smaller steps.

    For example, I would have first given you the task of reciting the arpeggios (without an instrument), ideally also singing them. And then very slowly make the transition to playing.

    Or as Bergonzi teaches with 1 2 3 5 tone sequences instead of complete arpeggios. Tell your teacher that you need smaller steps.

    Or what Chris wrote, dividing the song in II V I units and practice them separately, seem to be a good idea.

    And most importantly, get away from visual/geometric playing as soon as possible, it's a dead end.

    And a last one: Take your time, practice as slowly as you need it to be - and if it's super slow-mo... so what? Speed will come with time....

  9. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by rsoby
    Hi,
    I've been playing the guitar for several years now, mostly in a blues context using primarily minor/major pentatonic in a visual way...so not really knowing what I played because I know my roots on 6th and 5th string and my solos took place in these positions...

    I had my first jazz lesson last week and we worked on :
    - major scale in 5 positions (which I've played before so this was nothing new)
    - harmonization of a major scale with the root on the 5th string (I don't know if I am explaining this so you understand but basically I started with Bb maj7 played the arpeggio and Bb ionian...then came D min7 where again I played the arpeggio and then D dorian over it..E min7, F maj7, G7 and so on...)
    Now this was already challenging but it's getting better and better...

    Now comes my dilemma :
    My teacher suggested to work on "Autumn Leaves".
    Comping is ok (well the chords are not difficult...technique and playing fluently is still a thing to practice!)
    Melody is easy too.
    Then he suggested playing the arpeggios over each chord trying to stay in one position...first arpeggio up, second down, third up...you get the idea and here I encounter following problems :
    - I realize I try to learn by heart in a bad way so that when I'm out for whatever reason coming in again is impossible. Knowing my notes on 6th and 5th string is good...now trying to learn the notes on the other strings too.
    - when playing slowly it is ok (not always though!!) but as soon as I use my app to play with the band i mess up.
    - every day I grab my guitar again (I've been practicing on it for 6-7 days now) I feel like beginning almost from 0.

    Now is this really hard work at the beginning or am I simply not talented enough? I am 46 now and have NEVER worked the guitar like this...
    Can I do things to improve faster/better?
    Thanks for your expert input!!
    Best regards
    Yes, it is hard. If it was easy, everyone would be doing it. Don't sweat it. It takes time, and plenty of it. If nothing else, the study of jazz and its expression on guitar can bring us to a greater appreciation of the accomplishment of the masters. I've been at this for years, myself. I still kinda suck, but a little less every week. I hope. Be of good cheer. Console yourself in the fact that beyond a very small circle, few people care enough to, say, picket your house. Let us be grateful for small things, and incremental improvements.

  10. #9

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    A few takes on your questions:

    1. Yes its hard and it takes time and dedication. Jazz musicians really must master two arts (at least); (1) Their instrument, and (2) Improvisation, and that refers to improvisation on harmonically challenging music in many cases. That's double work. Who else has to do that? Trying to master your instrument and jazz improvisation at the same time can be overwhelming. It's quite a bit easier if your instrumental facility precedes your improvisational studies, by at least a little bit. ***

    2. Regarding your lesson on Autumn Leaves and playing the arpeggios in position. That's a pretty standard (no pun intended) approach. Learn your one-octave 7th chord arpeggios to begin with. Then learn the two-octave or two-octave plus forms - across all 6 strings in other words. Then yes, play them up and down per the song's chart and connect them by closest chord tone. Do it over and over until you can do it with your eyes closed. As slowly as you need to, not a problem.


    There is another little brain buster that you can use for learning those arpeggios in position and it can give you a little headache at first. Start at either the lowest or highest arpeggio tone in position (6th or 1rst string) and play four tones of the arpeggio in a cascading fashion. Example: 7-R-3-5, R-3-7-5, 3-5-7-R, 5-7-R-3 etc. across all six strings. This is an alternative to learning arpeggio inversions in all fingerings, as standalone objects. Some may opine that the former approach can be more readily utilzed in music. Others may disagree.

    3. Just remember that outlining changes with smoothly connected arpeggios is not the end of jazz language building, by a long shot. It's like a frame to a house, there is much more to add later. But it's a logical starting place for both bop and post bop, especially bop.

    *** Speaking of having your facility lead your improv study - at the great UNT Jazz Studies program there are four (4) undergrad improvisation classes starting at the sophomore level. UNT has used "barrier exams" for entering those courses. One example would be the ability to play arpeggios to the 13th on changes to a particular tune. If the student is not yet able to do that they cannot enter the course.

  11. #10

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    It has been my experience that most younger students learn quickly whether they have musical potential and, if not, drop out within 90-120 days if they're studying with a qualified teacher (unless there's a parent pushing them). Adults may hang on for a lifetime and wonder why they never improve. Why do you think Guitar Center and Sweetwater sell so many instruments? However, any interested student, irrespective of "talent," who studies with a good teacher, can reach a level of reasonable competence. Honesty of both the teacher and student is necessary but don't expect to become your favorite guitar idol when you languish in the lower levels of performance, seemingly, forever.
    Play live . . . Marinero

  12. #11

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    Don't be dissuaded by people who say your teacher is doing it wrong and who present you with a long list of things you must learn instead. Ignore them. Your teacher knows you and you know yourself. Do your thing.

  13. #12

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    Learning hurts! You'll get used to it.

    Along with all the hard work, I would encourage you to have some fun. It can be deadly to turn music into a series of endless obstacles that must be overcome. Remember: we call it 'playing'.

    Spend some time trying to play along with a recording of the tune without worrying about the mental stuff so much. Alone Together by Jim Hall and Ron Carter is a nice one for that. If you know the chords and the melody you'll pick up some good tips. And it'll help bake in the structure of the tune.

    Don't be discouraged. You're just taking the first steps. You'll gather some momentum once you get moving down the road.

  14. #13
    Thanks for all this valuable input!! I'll try to incorporate it in my practice schedule...
    Jimmy blue note mentioned listening, singing etc...well I actually have a weekly 2 hour group lesson at the music conservatory on Jazz theory which also includes singing and ear training.
    I really enjoy that and working guitar in hand.

    I know it's no easy way and I like that...I simply was not sure if everybody saw it that way.
    Thanks for the encouraging words!!

  15. #14

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    That "talent" is not what you'd think. Every single people with huge talent works their asses off for years.
    Music is hard.

  16. #15

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    Yes, it really is that hard at first. Just keep at it. And I want to reiterate what @ccroft said: keep it fun, make a game of it, avoid turning it into a series of obstacles to overcome. Mastering any new skill takes time; don't become discouraged if you can't play like <insert name of your favorite guitar player here> quickly. Undoubtedly, they practiced for years before you heard that sound of theirs that you love.

    If you do not know the name of every note on the fretboard, you might want to start working on that. Some basic understanding of how to spell major scales in all keys will help you to break out of the "geometric shapes" approach. Not that you will abandon shapes; muscle memory is part of being able to navigate the freboard. But you will understand how the shapes you know are constructed, and you'll be able to figure out new shapes on your own.

    Learning to spell keys will teach you how to spell scales, and that will be the basis for understanding which notes make up a chord or an arpeggio. (Both have the same notes; in a chord, all notes sound at once, and in an arpeggio aka a "broken chord" you play the notes one at a time... but both the C chord and the C arpeggio are composed of the same notes.)

    This much is a huge task. It will take months of daily effort to be able to do this in real time. But getting a basic level of level of notational and theoretical literacy will make it easier to learn everything that comes afterward. (Imagine how hard life would be if you could not read English. You could learn to navigate the grocery store and the street by memorization, but you would have difficulty in a new store or a new city.)

    It is especially important to understand everything in SOUND. Don't just learn to spell the C major chord; learn to distinguish by ear C major from C minor from C diminished from C augmented.

    Finally, IMO Autumn Leaves is WAY too difficult for a first tune. It's a recipe for frustration and discouragement. Something like Killer Joe, Freddie the Freeloader, Maiden Voyage, Little Sunflower, Green Dolphin Street, or Satin Doll would be a lot easier and more fun.

    Different strokes for different folks; if this is not helpful to you, do what works for you. But I hope it helps.

    Best,

    SJ

  17. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by starjasmine
    Finally, IMO Autumn Leaves is WAY too difficult for a first tune. It's a recipe for frustration and discouragement. Something like Killer Joe, Freddie the Freeloader, Maiden Voyage, Little Sunflower, Green Dolphin Street, or Satin Doll would be a lot easier and more fun.
    Thanks, I'll work on them for sure!!

  18. #17

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    Well, if you already have some facility with blues I would start there, adding a jazz approach to it using the arpeggios, scales, etc., that you're learning. Capitalize on what you already know to get you further up the learning curve quicker. An awful lot of jazz tunes are just blues dressed up a little bit.

    So, playing the G7 arpeggio over the G7 chord, C7 arpeggio, D7 arpeggio, etc. will get those movements under your fingers. It'll also get boring very quickly* and you'll be looking for ways to spice up and add some color. A jazz trick is to lay arpeggios of different chords on top of the one you're playing: for example, playing the Dmin7 arpeggio over the G7 chord adds the 9th and the 11th of G7 (A and C, respectively) which creates a little extra color. Play the G7 ascending and the Dmin7 descending; try vice versa. See what your ear likes (sorry for mixing the senses there).

    But yeah, it's hard at first for all of us. It is a new way of thinking and that's the difficult part. Your description sounds very familiar!

    * it seems to me that the great jazz musicians usually have a low threshold of boredom when it comes to music. If they repeat something a couple of times, they're bored with it and looking for something else to play.

  19. #18

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    Yes. It is really hard. And the minute you think you know something you find out you don't. You'll feel like you suck, constantly, for the rest of your life. This is punctuated by major leaps forward that will feel great, or jam sessions, rehearsals, and gigs, where everything clicks and time slows down, and you feel creative and in control. But then it's on to the next thing and you feel like a beginner again.

    But I gotta say, without that constant cycle of mastery and abject frustration, studying this music wouldn't be nearly as interesting and rewarding.

  20. #19

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    It's not that bad, your teacher just put 5 years of stuff to work on in one lesson.

    I'll go to the grave saying jazz isn't as complicated as people think, but its not for the impatient...and dabblers never get anywhere. Clear your calendar and go all in, its very worth it.
    Last edited by mr. beaumont; 11-17-2021 at 11:24 AM.

  21. #20

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    I started playing guitar when I was 12-ish. Mainly self-taught with a few helpful lessons at certain milestones. I had a certain facility with the instrument, played in lots of bands in high school and college—lots of improv: jam band stuff, funk, blues, etc.—at my peak during those years I was probably in the above-average bracket as far as non-music-school and non-professional players go. Always nodding towards jazz, but never really playing jazz. I got bored in my mid-20s after the college band thing. I took a big chunk of time off—maybe played a few times a year, if that, until my mid thirties. Always the same mindless "modal" noodling. I had lost a lot of the spark that I once had, my facility had crumbled.

    Mid-30s I decided to get back into it—jazz specifically. I am roughly your same age, and I've been working pretty hard at this stuff for probably 10 years or so now. Always a balancing act between work, family, guitar. Lots of exercises, books, listening, a mediocre jazz guitar duo with a couple of empty gigs. Not all of it was useful, but a lot of it was. Over time, some things started stick. Coming from that same pentatonic background as you, where you can make some decent sounding music and hear what you're going to play pretty readily over by playing the same scale / set of notes over an entire tune, it was *really* eye opening to realize how much I had been missing. Chord tones, diatonic theory, etc.—I had an intuitive sense of maybe 10% of the total picture of what I would now consider fundamental shit. I started working with a teacher right before covid. That, and participating in Jimmy Blue Notes SuperChops threads and Mr. Beaumont's Virtual Jam threads, were the best things I ever did for my playing. A good teacher will help you see just how much goes into –truly mastering– even basic concepts, especially after a certain age. But man, just playing and posting music every week with folks from this forum, forcing yourself to learn new tunes and listening to a lot of tunes, will do heaps for you.

    Try to divide your practice time into 50% fundamentals—running your arpeggios, shell voicings through the cycle and through tunes at low tempos— and 50% working on fun shit / tunes / performance. If you are already comfortable on the instrument and can hear *something* in your head when you're playing, it will eventually happen. Just be wary of taking on too much at once. Aside from the weekly jam threads, I have been doing a lot of the same shit in my daily practice for almost two years, adding stuff only when I'm really ready for it.

  22. #21

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    I would try the following and see if this makes things a little easier for you:

    - Most people start doing 7th arpeggios by starting on the 6th string and going all the way up and down. Instead, I would focus on the top 4 strings to begin with (DGBE). Start by learning major and minor triads, one note per string. Three different shapes per chord, all very guitaristic. As soon as you have the shapes under your fingers, practice playing around with them and coming up with different ideas. You'll find that adding 7ths is pretty easy from there. Eventually you will want to learn expand them down to the E and A strings. But start at the top at first, since most of your improvising will be higher in the instrument's range.

    - Now let's take your tune. I think "Autumn Leaves" is a bit hard for a first tune (deceptively tough to thread those changes if you don't have practice with it). I would have started with a blues. but it is what it is.

    Ok, so first thing I want you to practice is just Bb. Play your Bb arpeggios and just practice improvising with them. Don't be afraid to add color tones, chromatic notes, etc. Experiment. Use your ears as a guide.

    Once that feels pretty good, now just practice playing G minor. Same process as the last chord.

    When you feel pretty comfortable with that, now I want you practice F7 to to Bb. Start by switching from one arpeggio to the other, but after that gets comfortable, start to use your ears to find nice ways to connect them.

    It doesn't take long to figure out that the 7th in F7 connects nicely to the 3rd in Bb. And then you find that the 3rd in F7 goes nicely to the root of Bb. The 5th of F7 can either go to the root or the third of Bb. But what about the root F7? There's already an F in Bb, so I guess it can stay. But what if instead of playing the F on F7, you played a Gb? Hmmm, that's a sound that'll be very familiar assuming you've listened to a lot of jazz (or Bach).

    Play around with this in different positions. Just F7 to Bb, over and over, until you get it in your fingers and ears.

    After that, do the same process, except with D7 to G minor.

    Once all that feels pretty good, we'll go to the last step. Practice Cm7 to F7 to Bb. Use your C minor shape as a guide for the Cm7, and just add the b7. Again, figure out the voice leading.

    After that, we'll do Am7b5 to D7 to G minor. But wait, we really haven't practiced an Am7b5 arpeggio, have we? Don't worry about: play C minor over Am7b5. Add the 6th (A) as a color note.

    That's pretty much the whole tune.

    - If you do want to practice 7th chord arpeggios up and down, I would practice them within the context of the scale positions you already know. You say you know your 5 positions already, perfect. In the key of C, play Cmaj7 up, Dm7 down, Em7 up, Fmaj7 down, etc. Whether it's 5 or 7 positions, you eventually want to know all your chord tones in them.

    - For learning the notes on the other strings, here's what I would do. Find a random 12 tone row generator (you do not need to worry about what that means). Something like is perfect: Mike McFerron

    You'll have all 12 notes in a random order. Start on the high E string, and staying within the first 12 frets, play all 12 of those notes just on the E string. Then repeat the process on the B string, then G string, etc.

    It is very unmusical, but we are just trying to force ourselves to learn the notes as quickly as possible without the aid of patterns or other tricks. It will be hard at first, but you will very quickly make progress. Do a little bit every day, but not so much to drive yourself nuts.

    - Balance this out with listening, singing, and just having fun with the instrument.

    - You say that you feel like you're starting from square one every time you pick up the instrument. Counterintuitively, this is a good thing. It means your brain is trying to organize all these new skills you're acquiring, which is a taxing, exhaustive process. You will feel like your fingers are working through mud, that you're playing worse than ever, that you're making 0 progress. This is where a lot of people give up, because it doesn't feel good. This is like turning on your computer and unplugging the machine halfway on the bootup. Keep going. Your brain is going to finish up those new connections sooner than you think. And when they do, you'll suddenly feel like everything came together at once.

  23. #22
    After checking out Jerry Bergonzi and Randy Vincent’s methods, I think it would be cool if more teachers built upon the pentatonic framework that most beginning jazz guitarists already know. GIn other styles you play one pentatonic pattern for the whole tune whereas in jazz, you do similar, but for each individual chord. Learn to play the first for notes of the major pentatonic of each major chord and the first four notes of a minor pentatonic for each minor chord.

    Variations on this idea comprise the entirety of a beginning improv book by Bergonzi. Anyway, this is very basic chord tone soloing. 1235 and variations for major and 1b345 and variations for minor. The point is that you already know these if you know pentatonic.

    Of course minor ii-V requires altering notes: 1b235 and 1b34b5.
    Last edited by matt.guitarteacher; 11-15-2021 at 02:15 AM.

  24. #23

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    Yea... your not even close to being ready to learn tunes.

    Your trying to play what you don't have any technical skills to be able to perform.

    You learn tunes after you have the technical skills required to be able to perform what's in the tune.

    It sounds like you might be able to play some chords... stay with chords and work on tunes.

    Who's your teacher... can he actually perform. I'm not trying to get personal, but you can't teach what you can't do.

  25. #24

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    My first reaction was, WOW. You have a music conservatory near you that you can take jazz lessons from! How lucky.

    Then it was, oh right. Do the arpeggios of Autumn leaves in one position alternating ascending and descending at tempo. That’s your first assignment? Come on.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro

  26. #25
    Quote Originally Posted by rlrhett
    My first reaction was, WOW. You have a music conservatory near you that you can take jazz lessons from! How lucky.

    Then it was, oh right. Do the arpeggios of Autumn leaves in one position alternating ascending and descending at tempo. That’s your first assignment? Come on.
    Sorry, english is not my mother tongue...maybe I don't get what you want to express but yes, there is a music conservatory nearby where I take these lessons in Jazz Theory...and NO, my guitar teacher is not teaching at this conservatory, he is a private teacher.
    My goal is to be ready to apply for jazz guitar in September 2022 where I'd have to do kind of an entry exam, choosing 3 standards from the Real Book. Comping is a must, basic impro is welcome.