View Poll Results: What is the max speed at which you can play 16th notes *cleanly* ?

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293. You may not vote on this poll
  • less than 80 bpm

    43 14.68%
  • 80-100 bpm

    34 11.60%
  • 100-120 bpm

    55 18.77%
  • 120-140 bpm

    75 25.60%
  • 140-160 bpm

    32 10.92%
  • 160-180 bpm

    24 8.19%
  • more than 180 bpm

    30 10.24%
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  1. #1

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    This thread is purely for informative purposes, I got the idea last night when I was doing some technical practice. I was wondering where I stood in the strictly technical department, compared to my fellow jazz guitarists. This should be interesting for some of us !
    Last edited by Nabil B; 04-17-2013 at 07:31 AM.

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  3. #2
    Why is there such an emphasis on speed as a metric of musicality? I never really understood it.
    Last edited by Jimmy blue note; 04-17-2013 at 08:10 AM.

  4. #3

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    I knew someone would say something like that, that's why I made the precision that "this thread is purely for informative purposes", not for bragging (the poll is anonymous anyway). If you're not interested in that subject then you're free to read other threads.

  5. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by Professor Jones View Post
    This thread is purely for informative purposes, I got the idea last night when I was doing some technical practice. I was wondering where I stood in the strictly technical department, compared to my fellow jazz guitarists. This should be interesting for some of us !
    I was planning to post the same poll.
    Are the 16ths improvised phrases or a studied finger exercise?

  6. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dirk View Post
    I was planning to post the same poll.
    Are the 16ths improvised phrases or a studied finger exercise?
    A finger exercise, I'm talking about the purely technical aspect.

  7. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by Professor Jones View Post
    A finger exercise, I'm talking about the purely technical aspect.
    Could you post a simple exercise to play, so we are all playing the same patterns.

    Guy
    “I will not let anyone walk through my mind with their dirty feet.”
    ― Mahatma Gandhi

  8. #7

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    Slurs, hammer-ons and pull offs count? I play thumb (right hand) and most of the 16th notes come from the left hand. That would slow me down on the repeated unison note department, but a hammer-on trill would be pretty fast.


  9. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by GuyBoden View Post
    Could you post a simple exercise to play, so we are all playing the same patterns.

    Guy
    Let's say, playing a D major scale up an down using that pattern and alternate picking : https://encrypted-tbn0.gstatic.com/i...Ea0KtAU5qygQCg (root on the A string)

  10. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jimmy blue note View Post
    Why is there such an emphasis on speed as a metric of musicality? I never really understood it.
    i see your point, but there are many tunes that don't sound "right" at lower speeds (inner urge, be-bop, four brothers, airegin, move, budo, lots of horace silver tunes...), so not as an end in itself, but a necessary tool for expression.
    "Beauty is nothing but the beginning of terror, which we still are just able to endure, and we are are so awed because it serenely disdains to annihilate us." -- Ranier Maria Rilke

  11. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jimmy blue note View Post
    Why is there such an emphasis on speed as a metric of musicality? I never really understood it.
    I've noticed that if I can't play in the tempo of a tune I can't recognize what notes are playing in that tune.

  12. #11

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    If you want to play modern jazz with other modern jazz musicians, you need speed. It's just a technical necessity of the craft.

  13. #12

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    I'm not a fast player, but for playing faster lines, I find playing 3 note per string patterns faster, but I have big hands.
    Guy
    “I will not let anyone walk through my mind with their dirty feet.”
    ― Mahatma Gandhi

  14. #13

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    You're not getting a lot of responses because most of us measure speed with eighth notes, and we're still doing the math

    Seriously though, I've never measured my speed...I will though, today. I imagine I will be disapointed.
    Jeff Matz, Jazz Guitar:
    http://www.youtube.com/user/jeffreymatz

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

    --The Ghost of Duke Ellington

  15. #14

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    I've never measured my speed either, or not like that. On TUNES is the way I measure my speed. And Jeff's right. 8th notes are the measuring stick for jazz. That's where the groove lives. If you can GROOVE, or swing, 8th notes at 300 you doing pretty good.

  16. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by mr. beaumont View Post
    You're not getting a lot of responses because most of us measure speed with eighth notes, and we're still doing the math

    Quote Originally Posted by henryrobinett View Post
    I've never measured my speed either, or not like that. On TUNES is the way I measure my speed. And Jeff's right. 8th notes are the measuring stick for jazz. That's where the groove lives. If you can GROOVE, or swing, 8th notes at 300 you doing pretty good.

    Playing 8th notes at 300bpm is the same speed as playing 16th notes at 150bpm.
    Guy

    Formula to get from 8th notes to 16th notes:
    bpm divided by 2
    Last edited by GuyBoden; 04-18-2013 at 04:56 AM. Reason: bpm divided by 2
    “I will not let anyone walk through my mind with their dirty feet.”
    ― Mahatma Gandhi

  17. #16

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    Since a lot of metronomes don't go past the 200~ bpm mark I find it more convenient to practice using 16th notes. I don't know if there really is an added benefit to going from playing 16th notes at 100 bpm to playing 8th notes at 200 bpm, from a jazz perspective. The brain and physical activity should be the same, but maybe I'm missing something ?

    And of course, being able to play an exercise at a given tempo and being able to improvise melodically interesting lines at the same given tempo are two very different things.

  18. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by GuyBoden View Post
    Playing 8th notes at 300bpm is the same speed as playing 16th notes at 150bpm.
    Guy

    Formula to get from 8th notes to 16th notes:
    bpm divided by 2
    Well yeah, duh. But playing 8th notes in feel and vibe and execution is MUCH different than playing 16th notes.

  19. #18

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    Kind of reminds me of a perhaps apocryphal story about a woman looking for a job who advertised as follows:

    ''Lady seeks secretarial work. Can type "the quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog" at 160 wpm. Willing to learn other phrases."

  20. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ozymandias View Post
    Kind of reminds me of a perhaps apocryphal story about a woman looking for a job who advertised as follows:

    ''Lady seeks secretarial work. Can type "the quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog" at 160 wpm. Willing to learn other phrases."
    Yeah I was just going to say who cares how fast you can play a scale up and down. You most likely can't improvise freely at that speed or even play a complex arranged piece of music at that speed.

  21. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by henryrobinett View Post
    Playing 8th notes in feel and vibe and execution is MUCH different than playing 16th notes.

    I agree, but top players can do both, when I listen to George Benson, I hear his great musical lines, great feel, vibe and execution, and also his fast 16th notes add a burst of musical excitement.
    Guy
    “I will not let anyone walk through my mind with their dirty feet.”
    ― Mahatma Gandhi

  22. #21

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    Read the previous posts, it's been explained before. This poll is about technical facility, not improvising lines. Why do some people always have to say that talking about speed is stupid/useless ? Technical mastery of the instrument is a very important part of jazz, and nobody here ever said that it's the only thing that matters. It is one of many essential skills a jazz musician must have, and without it we wouldn't be able to listen to gems such as these :





  23. #22

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    Picking every note, I could get to about 152 on the D major scale exercise, faster if I was noodling some "comfort zone" lines and licks (I don't ever practice scales, so that's probably why)

    It's also interesting (to me at least) that I cannot scat without slurring any faster than that either...what is it, about not being able to play what you can't hear...or maybe, speak?

    I definitely could get faster if I played legato, but the jazz purists don't like that, right?

    BTW, I found this quite difficult with a three on a string pattern...I really wanted to throw everything into triplets...when I noodled some actual lines with chromatics and string skips I was able to play much more comfortably faster...which, while I know was not the OP's point, is something to note...technical speed vs. practical speed...
    Jeff Matz, Jazz Guitar:
    http://www.youtube.com/user/jeffreymatz

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

    --The Ghost of Duke Ellington

  24. #23

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    Quote Originally Posted by Professor Jones View Post
    Read the previous posts, it's been explained before. This poll is about technical facility, not improvising lines. Why do some people always have to say that talking about speed is stupid/useless ? Technical mastery of the instrument is a very important part of jazz, and nobody here ever said that it's the only thing that matters. It is one of many essential skills a jazz musician must have, and without it we wouldn't be able to listen to gems such as these :
    But your missing the point, the technical challenge is to play something musical at a given speed. Your videos only prove my point. I never stated that speed was useless. I said merely playing a scale up and down at a fast speed is useless. Your videos only support my point. A more useful poll & technical challenge for yourself is "How fast can you play melodic 16th note lines over rhythm changes?" or whatever tune you want.

  25. #24

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    Quote Originally Posted by GuyBoden View Post
    I agree, but top players can do both, when I listen to George Benson, I hear his great musical lines, great feel, vibe and execution, and also his fast 16th notes add a burst of musical excitement.
    Guy
    I hate to say duh again, but I can also do both. But in JAZZ the metric pulse is 8th notes. I can do bursts of a measure or two or three 16th notes kind of cleanly at 300. More probably. As I said, I have never measured it. But in JAZZ I don't think that's very relevant. The pulse is what is relevant. And playing exercises with no musical reference or consideration I THINK is a dead end and somewhat pointless. It's all about the music.

    And to the other poster, I did read the original post. MY post stated that *I* have never measured MY playing that way. I do it against songs. THAT'S where I feel the musical relevance comes in.

  26. #25

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    Guy works his way up to 16th notes at 600 bpm (at 5:22), playing "Flight of the Bumblebee". Owned!


  27. #26

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    Okay, am I a dunce here? If were measuring 16ths at a tempo, the click is quarter notes, right? Four notes per click?
    Jeff Matz, Jazz Guitar:
    http://www.youtube.com/user/jeffreymatz

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

    --The Ghost of Duke Ellington

  28. #27

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    Quote Originally Posted by mr. beaumont View Post
    It's also interesting (to me at least) that I cannot scat without slurring any faster than that either...what is it, about not being able to play what you can't hear...or maybe, speak?
    That's what I'm trying to say in my post #10:

    I've noticed that if I can't play in the tempo of a tune I can't recognize what notes are playing in that tune.
    You're able to hear or sing it in the tempo you can play it.

  29. #28

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    Speed is such a difficult thing. I don´t want to practice technique exclusively, but I´m definitely not satisfied with my speed. I can do a d-major scale up and down in 16ths at 140 tops. I´ve played for many years and do have moments where I think - "will my technique ever improve?"
    Last edited by yaclaus; 04-17-2013 at 04:46 PM.

  30. #29

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    ditto on all the kvetching about the premise of this thread, I never practice scales, etc., etc......
    .......... and I can do this scale in 16ths at about 135-140. I've never had much speed. Sounds better when I turn on the distortion box to imitate the shredder youtube videos.

  31. #30

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    You need one more voting button: "Does it really matter?"

  32. #31

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    Quote Originally Posted by mr. beaumont View Post
    Okay, am I a dunce here? If were measuring 16ths at a tempo, the click is quarter notes, right? Four notes per click?
    If your referring to the bumblebee video, he has it clicking on 1 & 3. On the example at 170 you can hear a pitched sound right before he starts which is quarter notes, but the click is definitely on 1 & 3.

  33. #32

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    post your best take on Countdown changes at 300 bpm.

  34. #33

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    that record setter video was really something. it's difficult to comprehend how a human being can play that fast.


    on the other hand, i think that these speed shredders would provide a better example if they turned off all distortion. distortion hides a lot of little imperfections.

    finally, fast is relative. it depends on what you're playing. some things are difficult to play even when played slowly. (arpeggios, wide interval or range leaps, etc). all notes are not created equal.

  35. #34

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    I don't get why some people are saying that speed is not important..
    Although it may not be the most musical thing if used excessively, it's a huge component in (and I will generalize here!) music.
    Hell, Bach wrote some nasty 16th-note stuff that can go at pretty fast tempos. (Violin sonatas?)
    Also, I don't think Bird would have been Bird if he did not have the ability to play at speeds of 320+ with ease.

    Scales might come off as useless to some of you guys, but you have to get the speed somehow. I've talked to countless cats, Adam Rogers for example, who I'm sure all of you can respect his technical facility at least (I personally do. Hate his tone, but his technique is near perfect). Took an hour and a half lesson with him once where I wanted to focus on technique, all we did was work on scale exercises (many of which he came up with, really interesting stuff!) and Bach sonatas.

    Anyways, my continuous 16th notes are kind of stuck at 120 bpm. Really want to get them working at at least 160.
    Playing tunes at fast tempos is different though, I could handle myself pretty well at something at 250-280, although a lot of my lines would consist of even quarter notes . The content is what counts though haha.
    Last edited by jtizzle; 04-18-2013 at 01:14 AM.

  36. #35

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    It's as simple as this - whoever can play the head to Donna Lee in the shortest amount of time wins.


  37. #36

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    I've not the same maximum speed if I play one note, if I play a scale on many strings or if I play with hammer and pull-off. What is the method to measure it ?

    edit: sorry, I've read the thread too fast.
    Last edited by nado64; 04-18-2013 at 04:35 AM.

  38. #37

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    Quote Originally Posted by hodge12 View Post
    post your best take on Countdown changes at 300 bpm.
    Yeah, this. Also dug the "quick brown fox" gag Seriously folks, speed is cool for some styles, and nothing wrong with trying to acquire it if that's how you feel you need to express yourself, but c'mon, there is a world of difference between scales at 320 bpm and improvising great lines to Giant Steps at the same same speed! What's that you say? You gotta start by practicing scales fast before you practice improvising fast? You sure? How about practicing to improvise well at a slow speed first, then speed it up? How about another poll: What's harder, improvising well slowly, or playing scales quickly? If improvising at quick tempo is twice as hard as improvising at a slow one, then I'd venture to say that improvising quality lines at a fast tempo is a thousand times harder than playing scales fast. At least....

    And If I'm wrong about that, then I am clearly living on a different planet to everyone else!

  39. #38

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    Here we go again...

    You are 100% right, but why do you feel the need to say that when nobody here said the opposite ? Nobody here suggested that playing scales fast is going to make you a great jazz guitarist, who could be that naive ? Some of you make it sound like the title of the poll was "how good of jazz guitarist are you ?" !

  40. #39

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    You might be right about improvising slowly. But sometimes, the problem isn't improvising. Sometimes the problem is pure technique. I know that to be the case with many people, not only guitarists. It's good to practice something that you know how it sounds in order to produce the best technique possible out of it. It could be Bach or it could be a Charlie Parker transcription, but sometimes you don't even want to worry about making changes, or reading something. Something as mindless as a scale can be great practice and can be made just as musical as Bach or Charlie Parker if played with musical intentions.

  41. #40

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    Guitarists have such a weird relationship to speed. It's so polarizing. Some people are just completely obsessed, like the Flight of the Bumblebee guy. What a colossal waste of practicing time.

    Others are just furious at the suggestion that anyone practice their technique. Like you don't need to ever work on your basic picking skills to be able to play fast licks. Equally weird.

    It would be like someone only caring about whether or not a sax player can play in altissimo, or being furious at the suggestion that any sax player ever practice altissimo or ask questions about it. It's just something we all have to practice. Chill.

  42. #41

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    Quote Originally Posted by ecj View Post
    Guitarists have such a weird relationship to speed. It's so polarizing. Some people are just completely obsessed, like the Flight of the Bumblebee guy. What a colossal waste of practicing time.

    Others are just furious at the suggestion that anyone practice their technique. Like you don't need to ever work on your basic picking skills to be able to play fast licks. Equally weird.

    It would be like someone only caring about whether or not a sax player can play in altissimo, or being furious at the suggestion that any sax player ever practice altissimo or ask questions about it. It's just something we all have to practice. Chill.
    One of my teachers used to say "Speed is like money, you only need it when you don't have it"

  43. #42

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    46 years of playing guitar and I've never measured how fast I can play. Of course I've worked on playing fast every now and then, but I've never come up with the technique to be super fast. I remember Shawn Lane saying that his speed was due to his fast nervous system and it was natural for him to be super fast.


    I think one has to practice on speed daily if that's the goal. Still, there's a varied limit for each of us.

  44. #43

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    Generally with jazz... you need technical skills. It's great to be able to practice lines and get them up to faster tempos. But usually when actually playing... a better measurement of speed might be what tempo you can play something with out rehearsing. At what tempo can you read a line without practice.

    Generally with rehearsal... almost any technique can cover 8th notes at 200. That's somewhat the starting point. What you should be able to play... with out rehearsal.

    Two octaves of any 7th chord arpeggios... 8th notes at 200. That's slow, right.

    The next step is to be able to play patterns or written lines which involve position changes, Try 2 octaves and a 5th.
    A on 5th fret 6th string to E on 12th fret 1st string. But play constant 3rds arpeggios... any chord. If you want b5, A to high Eb. Now swing those 8ths...I would guess most guitarist have a little trouble with at 8th notes at 200.

    Now try to read a line at that tempo...

    Anyone still with me... I'm sure there are a few. But my point is if your really worried about being able to play at faster tempos... these are the skills you need to be able to cover.

    Playing at faster tempos is a reflection of your technical skills... not a rehearsed scale.

    But I understand polls are fun so...I can play 16th notes at 150 cleanly and still articulate...My reading breaks down, I can hang but I make mistakes.

  45. #44

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    Quote Originally Posted by Reg View Post
    Generally with jazz... you need technical skills. It's great to be able to practice lines and get them up to faster tempos. But usually when actually playing... a better measurement of speed might be what tempo you can play something with out rehearsing. At what tempo can you read a line without practice.

    Generally with rehearsal... almost any technique can cover 8th notes at 200. That's somewhat the starting point. What you should be able to play... with out rehearsal.

    Two octaves of any 7th chord arpeggios... 8th notes at 200. That's slow, right.

    The next step is to be able to play patterns or written lines which involve position changes, Try 2 octaves and a 5th.
    A on 5th fret 6th string to E on 12th fret 1st string. But play constant 3rds arpeggios... any chord. If you want b5, A to high Eb. Now swing those 8ths...I would guess most guitarist have a little trouble with at 8th notes at 200.

    Now try to read a line at that tempo...

    Anyone still with me... I'm sure there are a few. But my point is if your really worried about being able to play at faster tempos... these are the skills you need to be able to cover.

    Playing at faster tempos is a reflection of your technical skills... not a rehearsed scale.

    But I understand polls are fun so...I can play 16th notes at 150 cleanly and still articulate...My reading breaks down, I can hang but I make mistakes.
    You make it sound like you need to be able to read anything in 8ths at 200bpm. I missed that memo, and so did, I suspect, many of the greats, like CC, Wes, Django, GB etc. I like some of your posts Reg, but sometimes it seems you assume we all want to learn how to play like you, and that we should therefore learn everything the way you have learned, and conceive of everything the way you conceive things. Sure, we all may be a little guilty of this without realising, but while most on here will suggest general advice, you almost insist on a very specific methodology. While this is totally appropriate for your private students, I do wonder if you manage to confuse and/or intimidate many novices on this wide forum who may read your posts as the "final word" on Jazz guitar.....

  46. #45

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    context is important, Reg is giving pro advice, not advice for the hobbyist. it seems clear enough to me.

  47. #46

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    Yes, Reg's goals are worth achieving for starters. Measuring speed with the scale is only so everyone will be measured from the same exercise. Playing something where string skipping is involved or changing neck position would surely slow down most of us. I ended up playing the D scale in 16th notes at 132 bpm yesterday. Frickin' metronome!

  48. #47

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    Quote Originally Posted by mr. beaumont View Post
    Okay, am I a dunce here? If were measuring 16ths at a tempo, the click is quarter notes, right? Four notes per click?
    You've got it right.

  49. #48

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    OK... I do assume too much, but generally I push this way because almost everyone else pushes the other direction. You know, play by ear, don't worry about understanding what's going on, practice slow and get it right. That's what the masters did... that's all BS. (personal opinion).

    I'm definitely not a final word on anything except for myself, but I don't advise on what I haven't gone through and what I can't cover.

    I don't pass on advice from the greats unless I've gone through that method of learning of a skill. If I don't understand the method I don't push it.

    That's probably a great question... How should I pass on advice? Babysit school, charge $, get advice from my wife... Hmmm I already get enough of that.

    Would be great if other pros would give advise, give their approaches etc... and how to get there. Oh yea...(send $).

    I'm curious... how do I play? I don't really think about it.

    Anyway...OK you don't need to do anything, Hows your jazz performance skills going, don't worry about it, it just take time, you sound great.

    Reg

  50. #49

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    Babysit school? what does that mean?

  51. #50

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    Hold your hand and walk you across the street...oops I mean fretboard... make sure you don't get hurt feeling...oops I mean you don't have to think.

    Sorry...not directed towards anyone. It's a method of teaching.

    Reg