1. #1

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    I'm thinking I know the answer to this already, but here it goes anyway...

    One of my favorite guitarists in NYC is offering lessons this summer. I've already taken a few lessons with him over the years, bought his videos, seen him play many times, and practice my butt off. I did feel that I started to reach a point of diminishing returns with how much new information I was getting after taking a few lessons and studying his videos; there wasn't that much more that was NEW. It was more like, OK, go transcribe and play as much as possible. How often do you take lessons with people that inspire you? What are the greatest benefits? What would be reasons not to, aside from the steep price?

    thanks,

    Charlie

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  3. #2

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    Not all great players are great teachers.

    Not all students are great students.

    There are people who you can learn a lot from just by "being around them." But they might not actually explain anything to you. Some folks here might know who I'm hinting about

    So I guess my question to you would be--what would be your goal for taking this lesson? If there's no goal in mind going in, the lesson is useless.
    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

  4. #3

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    I've taken lessons in various ways over a very long period of time.

    At the beginning, in my teens, the lessons were helpful for the basics.

    After that, I studied with Warren Nunes, which was really my introduction to jazz. Warren taught in a group setting, often with a bassist. Sometimes with a quartet. A crowd of students, even if the lesson was technically "yours". The group setting was very helpful. He could demonstrate everything with backing musicians.

    Later, I took some individual lessons with a great player, but I can't say I learned much.

    Still later I took 10 years of combo lessons, weekly, with a master. With that, I was able to make more progress than I ever thought I would.

    Those 10 years ended about 4 years ago. Since then, all I've done is hire master players to teach combo lessons for group I organize. Several per year. I find those valuable, but in sort of unpredictable ways. At this point, I'm not expecting major revisions to the way play. It's more nuggets of insight. My feeling is that I couldn't have gotten to where I am now if I had extended the 10 years of combo lessons -- they were so focused on the teacher's ideas of music and so time consuming that I don't think I'd have been able to develop my own style as much as I did.

    I've posted before about hiring master players touring through town for single group lessons. The musicians have been open to it. We haven't been turned down yet. We have to make sure the money works for everybody, but something like a two hour quintet lesson seems to work.

  5. #4

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    If you can work with him consistently--I have a feeling I know who this guy is--I'd say, go for it.

    Go in with something very specific.

    I have taken lessons throughout my own musical journey. Most of them I found extremely helpful.

    Even though I only got one lesson with Larry Koonse, that was helpful as well--he made me more aware of my accented notes.

    Here's something that a lot of people advise against, but I totally clicked with. I've often asked my current teacher to practice WITH me. He'll play whatever we're working on with me, and we have to nail it 10 times before we continue. I find it inspiring. Then I practice the same material in front of him. Some say, why waste a lesson practicing? Well, a great teacher is able to get really granular with what you are doing right and what isn't working. I remember working on a Peter Bernstein line with my teacher (he's a former student of Pete B). My teacher kept saying "dig in more, put some weight into the phrase". By the end, I learned what it feels like to play a line with real confidence--now, I take that into my own improvised lines.

    I studied with Sid Jacobs when I first arrived to LA. Although I love Jimmy Wyble's music, I had to be honest with myself--I wasn't ready lessons at that moment. He really wanted me to stay because he knew I was serious about music... Would I go back and study with him after addressing more rudiments--HELL YES! But that would mean returning to LA... that's a tough sell for me. That said, listening to Sid Jacobs play up close is akin to hearing Segovia play in concert--some say hyperbole, but I say it's true

    When I studied with James Chirillo back East, I think I was his worst student. I worked on the George Van Eps "Guitar Method" to death as well as Segovia and Johnny Smith fingerings to scales and arpeggios. But I hated doing the singing exercises he assigned me every other week. He'd call me out when I didn't practice the ear training piece (imagine that, me--Mr. Obsessed With Ear Training) and I knew I was letting him down and myself down. He's still an awesome teacher and a kind soul, I just didn't take his singing exercises seriously at the time.

  6. #5

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    LOVE the "combo lesson" idea!!

    To OP: it sounds like your question changed in your post... from "should I keep studying with this guy?" [NO] to "Are lessons a good thing?" [YES!] If you're in NYC, there are probably several players with whom you could study, and not just guitarists! Find someone else you like, and either be focused on what you want to learn, or open to what the teacher thinks you need (or both!).

    Let us know what you decide!

  7. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by crhyner View Post
    I'm thinking I know the answer to this already, but here it goes anyway...

    One of my favorite guitarists in NYC is offering lessons this summer. I've already taken a few lessons with him over the years, bought his videos, seen him play many times, and practice my butt off. I did feel that I started to reach a point of diminishing returns with how much new information I was getting after taking a few lessons and studying his videos; there wasn't that much more that was NEW. It was more like, OK, go transcribe and play as much as possible. How often do you take lessons with people that inspire you? What are the greatest benefits? What would be reasons not to, aside from the steep price?

    thanks,

    Charlie
    Tbh it’s not about information and there’s a sharp limit to what you can learn in the practice room.

    That advice is good advice. He’s probably told you all the information he uses. Great players often have a very straightforward concept that they apply extremely consistently and learning more stuff won’t make you better per se.

    The really important stuff to learn is not information.

  8. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77 View Post

    The really important stuff to learn is not information.
    I think I mostly agree with that Christian. It's like once you reach a certain point intellectually (a point which really isn't THAT out of reach for anyone), it's more about learning to let go and go for things in an almost childlike way, and to learn to get out of your own way. Our self-limiting beliefs and the stories and assumptions we tell ourselves and buy into can really be the biggest obstacles in the way of our continued progress. And information generally isn't what breaks us through those issues.

    That said, it takes information to reach that intellectual point... and even then, I'm not a fan of throwing the intellectual stuff out completely. I think when viewed properly it can be incredibly helpful... it doesn't make for a great CEO, but it does make for a brilliant branch manager to keep the employees working and the storefront looking nice.

    As for lessons, I'm always a fan. I've been self-taught most of my life and have learned plenty on my own... but the few times I've taken it upon myself to seek out teachers that I admire and respect, it has always brought about massive, foundational shifts for me. It's a little bit of a double-edge sword in that it can make a musician too reliant on the teacher and if they trust the teacher too much it can cause the student to not explore and listen to things themselves to formulate their own opinions and thoughts. But it can also point out so much great stuff... the unnecessary self-limiting beliefs we might hold, major weaknesses in our foundation, possibilities that we weren't aware of, ways of thinking that can open up new universes of sound and expression to us... who knows what else?

    For me, if the situation is right, I try to hang with the guys that are going to force me to step things up. Even if it's just my own knowledge that I need to get some things accomplished to be ready for the hang. You never know whether or not you'll get the chance again. Life's crazy, you know?

  9. #8

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    I think I could chip in and say it’s probably worth going to someone else for a different perspective.

  10. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by mr. beaumont View Post
    So I guess my question to you would be--what would be your goal for taking this lesson? If there's no goal in mind going in, the lesson is useless.
    Great advice.

    I have a jazz bass background, but am a self-taught guitarist. I've taken some lessons at a local college over the last couple of years, but although I like the teacher, he only teaches during the semesters and lessons aren't offered every week. I decided that it was time to get really serious and found someone through referrals who is available to teach every week. I have just started with him and at the first lesson I outlined my three goals for lessons. During my first two lessons he helped me fix some issues I've been struggling with since trying to learn to play jazz.

    I make sure that every lesson contributes to at least one of those three goals.