View Poll Results: Time it takes to learn pro level Jazz improv?

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  • 1-2 years - just play what you can sing!

    1 2.70%
  • 2-5 years - learn a few concepts and get good mileage from them.

    3 8.11%
  • 5-10 years - longer and harder than law or medicine!

    11 29.73%
  • 10 years+ - It's harder than most people realise...

    22 59.46%
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  1. #1

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    Assuming a starting point with some level of technical competence involving styles other than jazz...

    If you consider yourself someone who has reached pro level at jazz improv, how long did it take?

    If you're not there yet, please say so, along with how long you expect it will take.

    This is not a competition to see who is better/faster/smarter, just an exploration of how we all feel about this question.
    Last edited by princeplanet; 05-01-2021 at 10:41 PM.

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  3. #2

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    I voted 10 years +

    The internet informs me... rounded figures
    30 million total estimate guitarists in world
    Jazz album sales comprise about 2 percent
    A few assumptions to estimate 2% of 30M
    600,000 actual jazz guitarists in the world?
    That's a lone Jazzer in every fifty guitarists
    So, Jazz guitar forum has 69,000 members
    Wikipedia has a list, has 450 Jazz guitarists

    Pro level Jazz guitarists include:

    - known commercial pro level Jazz guitarists (the Wiki list)
    - local or regional pro level Jazz guitarists, not well known
    - teachers (lots of good unknown pro level Jazz guitarists)
    - "students" coming up through stage, classroom, or both
    - amateurs and bedroom excellent pro level jazz guitarists

    So, the poll looks a little like a tricky question. On the one hand I think it would be found that almost all of the commercially successful pro level Jazz guitarists got started early in their teens and were making a splash by their twenties. If the poll is asking how long it takes for those that succeed, it might be about 10 years.

    However, if it is asking what the average expectation is for non pro levelers to get to playing pro level Jazz, I think 10 years is overly optimistic. That is to say, those for which it doesn't happen relatively early (the vast majority) will need more like 20+ years, if they have the opportunity to perform regularly.

  4. #3
    Please note, I'm not necessarily asking how long it takes to become an actual working pro Jazz guitarist, but someone who can at least hang at that level over a variety of tunes (some at short notice! ...).

  5. #4

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    10 years+ - It's harder than most people realise...!!!

  6. #5

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    I don’t know what pro level jazz guitarist means.

    But I was writing some bios for Pat Metheny, George Benson etc. Metheny starts at age 12 iirc and is playing professional gigs in Kansas City at 14.

    But I don’t think he did much school work. You can bank a lot of hours at age 12 if you are a slightly odd, obsessive kid. I should know lol; although not on guitar for me.

    So, it takes as long as it takes. However, simply throwing time at something does not guarantee success. Even though most/any of us may not have the raw talent of the Pat Me-tween-y (and older musicians are always looking to mentor promising young players) it is worth asking - what was Pat doing for those two years?

    Similar story for George.
    Last edited by christianm77; 05-02-2021 at 03:15 AM.

  7. #6

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    Andres Varady was playing at a pro level in his early teens.

    I'm not there after 56 years playing, depending on how "pro" you mean. I played my first gigs as a teenager, but I don't consider any of that truly pro level playing.

  8. #7
    Well I think it took Pat Metheny about 4 years from starting to gigging but most dont have his talent gift by a long shot. Some wish and work and never get it.But if I had to guess about a talented hard worker maybe 6 years ? Say age 12 to 20 is often pretty close for starting out to being welcome at open jazz jam sessions from what I have seen.

  9. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by steve burchfield View Post
    Well I think it took Pat Metheny about 4 years from starting to gigging but most dont have his talent gift by a long shot. Some wish and work and never get it.But if I had to guess about a talented hard worker maybe 6 years ? Say age 12 to 20 is often pretty close for starting out to being welcome at open jazz jam sessions from what I have seen.
    Jinx haha

    I’ve always seen jam sessions as being encouraging for very young players. I think it’s very much part of the tradition.

  10. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by rpjazzguitar View Post
    Andres Varady was playing at a pro level in his early teens.

    I'm not there after 56 years playing, depending on how "pro" you mean. I played my first gigs as a teenager, but I don't consider any of that truly pro level playing.
    . And obviously Metheny at age 14 was not Metheny at age 19 or whenever he came into his own style. (Similar with Varady.)

    For one he was basically imitating Wes at that point. But that’s the start.... if you can imitate Wes after a few years of playing, not bad :-)

    I remember that a lot of guitarists were (lol) quite critical of Varady not being in the pocket back when he first surfaced.

    They were of course being dicks, but it shows that there are things forgivable in a extremely talented young player (that you know is going to learn this stuff by gigging, and the point is to put them in situations were they will learn all this stuff) that you wouldn’t necessarily tolerate in a adult player at that level.

  11. #10

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    So basically - if you do the right stuff (as Dutchbopper did) you can be playing jazz out there in a reasonable time, I think even as an adult

    However learning the ropes to be someone who might get called for a pro gig as an adult. Well, that can take a long while.

    A lot of it is experience, just being someone bookable. I’ve not done always great at this myself. Often you never hear feedback about yourself either.

    Booking gigs myself I’m going to want players I know and trust, and failing that someone with good word of mouth.

    Do they feel good to play with? Is this person going to turn up on time with gear that works? Do they know any tunes? Are they a fun person to hang with? That kind of thing.

    Mentoring btw is often as much about this stuff as it is about music. So young prodigy types get a briefing in this early. It doesn’t mean they listen; I know talented young musicians who got fired from gigs we’d all give our eye teeth for just for crap professional conduct.
    Last edited by christianm77; 05-02-2021 at 03:42 AM.

  12. #11

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    I put 5-10 - equivalent to studying for a big bad career. If a really talented musician puts in that amount of work, then they can get to the point of playing well live and being proficient in the studio. I think the jazz musicians who really wow us are in the way over 10 years ballpark tho. It's such a tough field. It's messed up lol.

  13. #12
    I think going to a competitive music center like Nashville,LA,Boston,London,Etc is an excellent way for young players to find out if they were just Big Ducks In A Little Pond or really have the talent and even Much More Important the SelfDisapline to make a pro career. I used to hear Talent Is A Cheap Trick when I first moved to LA 40 years ago and didnt understand what it meant at first? Well there are Lots of Very Talented people but to have the Extreme Self Disicipline not to fall into the traps of life.... well thats a very different story. Getting along with many different types of people is At The Top I think newcomers will find!!!

  14. #13

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    I said 10+ but I think it is difficult to say how long it actually took me. Because it wasn’t a continuous effort, along the way I spent a few years dabbling with saxophone instead of guitar, I got married and started a family (so hardly played for several years due to all those demands on my time), I changed jobs to a better-paid but more demanding job, which cut down my playing time, etc. When my son started classical guitar, he inspired me to do likewise, so I dropped jazz guitar for a few years and concentrated on reviving my classical guitar playing for a few years, before going back to jazz.

    Also bear in mind I never took it very seriously, for me it was just a fun thing to do, I never expected that one day I would become reasonably proficient at it! So I never had a particularly systematic method or anything, it was basically just ‘copy stuff off records and fool around with it’. And only when I felt like doing it, not every day.

    So in view of all that, I guess it was about 20 years before I felt I was proficient.

    I suspect that had I concentrated 100% on jazz guitar, with none of the above distractions, I might have reached the same level in 10 years, or maybe less.

  15. #14
    I dont think any of us know of any musicians more talented than Mozart, Charlie Parker,or Jaco but look at how young they all died. Although a lot easier said than done taking care of ones health and body should be their TOP PRIORITY unless maybe they want to join the 27 club. But even if some do just let em know I never saw a hearst pullin a U Haul !!! Shrouds dont have pockets for picks!!!

  16. #15

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    One benchmark I have is that a player who has a shot at making a living at it, should sound like a pro by age 19, at least on his own stuff. Some things will take experience, but the ability should be evident by then.

  17. #16

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    All your life.

  18. #17

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    It really depends, as for me I cheated and tuned guitar in major 3rds so even though I barely practiced/played jazz for 5-6 years I could still hold my own when jamming tunes (donna lee for example) with a prodigy who has played for 17+ years. If I seriously practiced I could see myself getting there in 1-2 years

  19. #18

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    I said 10+.

    I think thats true for most people. There's some folks with certain aptitudes and the obsessive gene that allows them to literally crave the hard work and practice that it takes can get there faster.

    I've been playing guitar 29 years...jazz as a real focus for about 16. I don't know what my playing qualifies me as, There's plenty of situations I can hang in, plenty I can't, but I can definitely say that if I had streamlined what I did when I started out, avoided some dead ends, and not only had more time to practice but really practiced when I had the time...I could have gotten to where I am now in a half to a third of the time.

    I think

  20. #19

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    However as Martin Taylor pointed out on a Facebook thread the only criterion for a musican being a professional is whether or not they can make a living at it. There’s many factors involved in this only some of which are within a player’s control.

    Reading Taylor’s autobiography reveals times when it was a real struggle for him. It’s not just about how well you play; and for many players (including Martin) it’s finding the right niche, as well as putting up with the endless BS you need to in order to be a performer.

    anyway, it’s not like someone does a ceremony, and there you are, a professional musician. I was quite naive and used to think you get to the right level and boom lol. It’s not quite so simple.

    Remember this - Metheny booked the gigs and drove the car in the early years of the PMG. What, do you think he was a bass player or something haha?

    So I think about that when I’m having a sulk about how hard it is lol. (And some times the gig of jazz guitarist seems to be professional taxi service, emailer and complaint magnet.)

    You never get that simple validation (in fact as you get better you get less as people take you seriously, or compliments seem to mean less); so a lot of discussion of ‘pro level’ etc can seem quite asinine to actual musicians, because pros also have insecurities and worries about their playing and pro players can be at different levels. I guess if you are working you know you can’t be that bad? But then, none of us have been working. It takes its toll psychologically.

    people can drift in and out of it.
    Last edited by christianm77; 05-02-2021 at 10:37 AM.

  21. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77 View Post
    Jinx haha

    I’ve always seen jam sessions as being encouraging for very young players. I think it’s very much part of the tradition.
    ^^^^ This. The Cootie Harris Jazz Jams I participated in had a bunch of pro-level people but it was always emphasized that encouragement and involvement of younger players was a primary purpose of the jams (Arts Council funding and provision of space to do it may have been a factor). It wasn't just beers and cheer on Sunday for the older i.e. adult cats - it was an opportunity for the prodigies and the not-so- advanced younger players to get their feet wet playing in ensembles, before a live audience; to get some real-time performance experience, and maybe get some mentoring or at least strategic advice. I went there as a jazz newbie who was invited by Cootie himself to add a little Blues to the mix. I think I was one of the few who had not majored in music in college. I was embraced, none the less, by these fine people. And I saw many a youngster likewise welcomed and treated with respect. This is how it should be.

  22. #21

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    to learn pro level Jazz improv...?
    It's not only practicing at home, but also playing with various bands, recording CDs, festival concerts, etc.
    If you keep doing this for 10 years, you will learn a lot.
    It all depends on your talent.
    It is easy for some people and others can get tired.

  23. #22

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    Quote Originally Posted by citizenk74 View Post
    ^^^^ This. The Cootie Harris Jazz Jams I participated in had a bunch of pro-level people but it was always emphasized that encouragement and involvement of younger players was a primary purpose of the jams (Arts Council funding and provision of space to do it may have been a factor). It wasn't just beers and cheer on Sunday for the older i.e. adult cats - it was an opportunity for the prodigies and the not-so- advanced younger players to get their feet wet playing in ensembles, before a live audience; to get some real-time performance experience, and maybe get some mentoring or at least strategic advice. I went there as a jazz newbie who was invited by Cootie himself to add a little Blues to the mix. I think I was one of the few who had not majored in music in college. I was embraced, none the less, by these fine people. And I saw many a youngster likewise welcomed and treated with respect. This is how it should be.
    Amen

  24. #23

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    Quote Originally Posted by kris View Post
    to learn pro level Jazz improv...?
    It's not only practicing at home, but also playing with various bands, recording CDs, festival concerts, etc.
    If you keep doing this for 10 years, you will learn a lot.
    and not just music stuff!

  25. #24

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77 View Post
    So basically - if you do the right stuff (as Dutchbopper did) you can be playing jazz out there in a reasonable time, I think even as an adult

    However learning the ropes to be someone who might get called for a pro gig as an adult. Well, that can take a long while.

    A lot of it is experience, just being someone bookable. I’ve not done always great at this myself. Often you never hear feedback about yourself either.

    Booking gigs myself I’m going to want players I know and trust, and failing that someone with good word of mouth.

    Do they feel good to play with? Is this person going to turn up on time with gear that works? Do they know any tunes? Are they a fun person to hang with? That kind of thing.

    Mentoring btw is often as much about this stuff as it is about music. So young prodigy types get a briefing in this early. It doesn’t mean they listen; I know talented young musicians who got fired from gigs we’d all give our eye teeth for just for crap professional conduct.
    "Professional conduct" is a semester-equivalent subject that is as important as actual musical ability, if you ask me. Trustworthiness goes along way. Are you going to show up on time? By "on time" I mean sufficiently early to get your stuff set up and in tune and warmed up and ready to bring your A Game?. Not ten minutes to showtime or, Heaven forfend, actually late? Is you gear in working order, or must I supply you with a string or two and wait the 15 minutes it will take you to replace one string and tune it up? Once, maybe. Stuff happens. Twice? You. Are. Done. My Mantra:

    In Tune. In Time. On Time. Every Time.

  26. #25

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    After 42 years of studying guitar pretty obsessively, I am at best a middling jazz player when I'm on a good day and a fairly crappy one the rest of the time (although I am a pretty good blues player).

    Time on the instrument only goes so far; basic musical talent is necessary as well. I hear people who've been playing five years who have surpassed me. But it's still fun and that is the point for me. I don't have any illusions about being a top rank professional jazz musician.


    Many years ago an older jazz musician told me "progress in jazz is infinite, therefore we are all equally far from the goal."

  27. #26

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    In terms of sheer technical excellence, and assuming similar dedication and application, people who start in their early teens or younger may accomplish more in a much shorter time than people who start later on in life.

  28. #27

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    Quote Originally Posted by rpjazzguitar View Post
    One benchmark I have is that a player who has a shot at making a living at it, should sound like a pro by age 19, at least on his own stuff. Some things will take experience, but the ability should be evident by then.
    Well that may have been my case in the 70s in the rock genre. Thing is, I was beginning to get bored with all the clichés and prog (the music I was interested in) was dying a death. I sold my guitar.

    Over a period of 40 years, a pro playing and practicing an average of say, 40 hours a week will clock up 80,000+ hours on the instrument. I can imagine that could easily creep up to 100,000 hours. Over the same time, I've been though periods where I may have played well over 10 hours a week, but others where I played nothing, so I'll say 10,000 hours: 10% of the pro. (My practice schedule between the ages of 12 and 18 was absolutely like a pro's).

    In spite of this, I play (and compose) all kinds of stuff "in slow motion" and I am still in the process of absorbing those aspects of jazz which interest me. I'm not sure what the OP is asking - how long to learn a bunch of standards, mostly transcribing someone else's lines, or to become a consummate improviser with one's own voice? Very different concepts.
    Last edited by Peter C; 05-02-2021 at 06:32 PM.

  29. #28

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    Much depends on luck and timing. I got interested in playing jazz at about 15 (1969). By '72 I was gigging with a band that was playing jazz. I had the good fortune of falling in with a dedicated group of older guys that were willing to work with me. I was young enough to believe I could do it, and footloose enough to move to their town. We practiced as a group at least 4 hours a day for several years. That's where I learned how to play.

    That's the thing. As has been mentioned, you have to learn how to get comfortable in front of an audience, and how to create with your fellow players. That's time on the stage. Seems a lot harder to come by now than when I started.

    Learning the basic technique and foundation? Maybe 5 years for me. Learning how to use that technique properly? Still working on that.

  30. #29
    I got my first guitar and lesson 57 years ago.There was the citys top music store in walking distance and our neighborhood hangout. The British invasion and local niteclub musicians were our heroes. The first drummer I ever played with was named Ted Seibs and he was very talented in music. He encouraged me to move to Boston and study with Mick Goodrick and later attend Berklee. His roomates early on included John Scofield. Ted played Vibraharp so Gary Burton used to go to Ted and Johns apartment and jam a couple of hours a lot to avoid the traffic jam going home to suburbs. John often mentions Ted in his interviews about how he g ot started. My first foray into jazz was a local theater group doing Hello Dolly from a Grand piano score which my guitar teacher transposed to something simpler.Hearing Jimmy Smith Live In Paris with Kenny Burrell really enticed my to want to be able to play jazz. There were a few good B3 players kickin bass so they were local heroes,too. Ted took me to a jam session at the Copley Plaza in Boston with Carmen McCraes group piano and bass and Ted on drums and Pat Metheny on guitar. He was very impressive as they did some Wes tunes note for note on his part. Later I got to meet and hear Jaco at Poohs Pub while they worked on Bright Size Life.What a prophetic title. Anyway this is some of my background and story and I still consider myself a student who is lookin into using Skype to enlarge my vocabulary.

  31. #30

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    I think someone who is musically talented, has a solid baseline of technique and musicianship, and starts learning jazz seriously in an environment where he/she can play with other people and receive decent instruction/mentorship can go from almost no jazz knowledge to being really good at jazz within about 2 years. I've seen it happen. E.g., a good classical musician who decides to learn a bunch of standards and some degree of improv., who can be good enough to hang with a cocktail trio pretty fast.

    But I don't think most people have such straightforward, clear beginnings at jazz and arrivals at jazz proficiency. What's more common is for jazz to be woven into people's learning relatively early, or even from the start (e.g., most sax and trumpet players), and then how good they get at jazz and how quickly become a matter of how seriously they take it, as well as how much access they have to other jazz players and what instruction (if any) they get. A kid who played in his/her high school jazz band and got to be pretty good for a high school kid who then went into a solid college jazz program might be pro-level substantially before graduation. I've seen that a lot [my college didn't have a jazz program, but did have a jazz band led by a great player, and kids who passed through that band were gig-ready within a couple of years, sometimes sooner]. But how do you measure how long it took? Even if you can point to the time when they were "pro-level", when is the beginning? ¯\_(?)_/¯

    I started out as a kid taking classical lessons, stopped, restarted with blues and rock at about 16, dabbled in jazz within a year or two of that, took some jazz lessons in college. But I never had a period where I mainly played jazz until I was about 30, when I got into a playing situation with players who were much better than I was, which enabled me to learn a lot of tunes and get to the point of playing something recognizable as jazz. At that point, I could sort of "hang at that level over a variety of tunes", though I think that's a pretty low bar for a definition of "pro level". Since then, it's been kind of a punctuated equilibrium, with another big jump around 5 years ago, when I got into another regular playing situation with some really good players (including some working pros). So, I'd say it takes 2-3 years of intensive study and experience, but I'd also say I packed that 2-3 years of intensive study and experience into about 25 years of fecklessness and procrastination. ¯\_(?)_/¯

  32. #31

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    Quote Originally Posted by rpjazzguitar View Post
    One benchmark I have is that a player who has a shot at making a living at it, should sound like a pro by age 19, at least on his own stuff. Some things will take experience, but the ability should be evident by then.
    Sounds about right to me.

  33. #32

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    Quote Originally Posted by John A. View Post
    I think someone who is musically talented, has a solid baseline of technique and musicianship, and starts learning jazz seriously in an environment where he/she can play with other people and receive decent instruction/mentorship can go from almost no jazz knowledge to being really good at jazz within about 2 years. I've seen it happen. E.g., a good classical musician who decides to learn a bunch of standards and some degree of improv., who can be good enough to hang with a cocktail trio pretty fast.
    I've seen that too.

    There was a classical guitarist from the music conservatory of my home town who liked to attend our jam sessions we had in the local Jazz scene.

    One day he asked if he could borrow a guitar (mine) and sit in for a song. As he could technically play the guitar but never had improvised over any standard it sounded, lets say .... strange. But he caught the flame and half a year later or so he was better than most of the "old cats"!

    Edit: And that guy could read .... !!!!
    Last edited by DonEsteban; 05-04-2021 at 05:48 PM.

  34. #33

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    Quote Originally Posted by John A. View Post
    I think someone who is musically talented, has a solid baseline of technique and musicianship, and starts learning jazz seriously in an environment where he/she can play with other people and receive decent instruction/mentorship can go from almost no jazz knowledge to being really good at jazz within about 2 years. I've seen it happen. E.g., a good classical musician who decides to learn a bunch of standards and some degree of improv., who can be good enough to hang with a cocktail trio pretty fast.

    But I don't think most people have such straightforward, clear beginnings at jazz and arrivals at jazz proficiency. What's more common is for jazz to be woven into people's learning relatively early, or even from the start (e.g., most sax and trumpet players), and then how good they get at jazz and how quickly become a matter of how seriously they take it, as well as how much access they have to other jazz players and what instruction (if any) they get. A kid who played in his/her high school jazz band and got to be pretty good for a high school kid who then went into a solid college jazz program might be pro-level substantially before graduation. I've seen that a lot [my college didn't have a jazz program, but did have a jazz band led by a great player, and kids who passed through that band were gig-ready within a couple of years, sometimes sooner]. But how do you measure how long it took? Even if you can point to the time when they were "pro-level", when is the beginning? ¯\_(?)_/¯

    I started out as a kid taking classical lessons, stopped, restarted with blues and rock at about 16, dabbled in jazz within a year or two of that, took some jazz lessons in college. But I never had a period where I mainly played jazz until I was about 30, when I got into a playing situation with players who were much better than I was, which enabled me to learn a lot of tunes and get to the point of playing something recognizable as jazz. At that point, I could sort of "hang at that level over a variety of tunes", though I think that's a pretty low bar for a definition of "pro level". Since then, it's been kind of a punctuated equilibrium, with another big jump around 5 years ago, when I got into another regular playing situation with some really good players (including some working pros). So, I'd say it takes 2-3 years of intensive study and experience, but I'd also say I packed that 2-3 years of intensive study and experience into about 25 years of fecklessness and procrastination. ¯\_(?)_/¯
    Thank you for highlighting what I view as one of the key factors in an aspiring Jazzperson's development: namely, the extended opportunity to play with others who are better than they are. Nothing focuses the mind quite like the imminent possibility of disaster.

  35. #34

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    Often wondered what level I could get to if I had the time, money, motivation, and physical stamina (I have none of these) to commit to 8 hours a day for one full year: practicing, playing with other people, focused listening, transcribing, lessons, etc. Basically full immersion, but not as a beginner, but someone who is physically comfortable with the instrument, but not terribly proficient, after various levels and periods of guitar engagement for 30+ years.

  36. #35

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    Been teaching guitar in a music school for about 15 years now. I can say with full confidence - the effort, it may vary 10 times. At least 10.
    So, if the average could be 10 years to get to "professional" level, a few can do it in 1.

    edit: sorry about the math. 2 years. not 1.

  37. #36

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    Quote Originally Posted by citizenk74 View Post
    Thank you for highlighting what I view as one of the key factors in an aspiring Jazzperson's development: namely, the extended opportunity to play with others who are better than they are. Nothing focuses the mind quite like the imminent possibility of disaster.
    I recall scuffling through a gig with some much-higher-level players and thinking, "if this was a nightly gig for a month, at the end of the month I'd be able to hang with these guys". Of course, I don't really know if that would prove true, but at that moment it seemed like the issue was familiarity.

    Another point raised in some of the posts is that sometimes progress can be made in a leap rather than a long, gradual slog.

    It occurs to me, for example, that players choose between emphasizing learning completely new things and emphasizing development of things they already can do. My experience has been that accepting some limitations while trying to exploit a few stronger points, allowed me to raise the level overall, resulting in more calls.

    And, then, there's the definition of "pro". My impression is that the players who make a living at it have a few things in common. First is great time. Second is ability to play their role in a band, meaning good comping, good interaction, good sound and decent solos. After that, it's pretty flexible. Most pros know a lot of tunes, but lots of working bands read arrangements. Some are brilliant soloists, but not all. Some can't read notes, but I've never met one that couldn't deal with chord charts. etc

  38. #37

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    If one were to compare playing pro level jazz to other professional skills this has me thinking. In the case of a physician they to medical school for 4 years then have residency and it can take somewhere between 6-8 years after graduating from standard college. During this time they spend huge amounts of time studying and working on their skills. My understanding is that during residency weeks can be 80 hours long.

    From the prospective if someone does this playing the guitar they should get to the pro level or they probably don't have the tools. That is why I put 2-5 years after they have some level of skill. Naturally as time goes on one hopes they get better but does it actually happen? My guess is Joe Pass was playing pretty pro level at maybe 15. He did get better and expand but in truth I like his early playing when he was in his 30's as well or better than when he was 55. Certainly he was better in some sense but maybe not anymore creative or at least interesting. My favorite jazz guitar recording was/is his first Virtuoso recording he did at about 44 years old. My guess he could not have done it when he was 22 but still could play pro level solo jazz guitar. By the same token he single line jazz stuff in my opinion did not get much or any better than what he did in his 30's. Just to set he record straight. From my point Joe Pass may have been the single most important jazz player in history.

    Back to my point. If I played the guitar the amount of time a physician takes in getting all the skills to be licensed and board certified, then my guess is I would be a much better player than I am now by a mile. I play a lot be never 8 hours daily for continuous years of say 5-6. That is a lot of guitar playing in my book. I personally think much of it is talent. I doubt Wes play the guitar as much as maybe a good number of players on this forum he only lived to be 44.

    Time can make one a pro with at least some talent. Huge talent with commitment can make someone a pro pretty fast. Huge talent with huge commitment probably puts one in the level of greats. By commitment I also mean playing live and gigging steady. One can play live and gig without necessarily being a pro level player. I remember the great Johnny Smith said.......practicing was practicing.........but playing out was playing and that is what got a guitar player better and was in effect the best practice. I also know that right now at almost 60 and playing 48 years my desire to sit down and continually learn and practice is not anything like it was. I enjoy playing but these days sitting down for 2 hours straight and playing intense focus does not happen much. Age takes it toll on drive and surely I am a work in progress never to get to the pro level.

  39. #38

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77 View Post
    Remember this - Metheny booked the gigs and drove the car in the early years of the PMG. What, do you think he was a bass player or something haha?
    In Gary Burton's autobiography, he talks about Pat being surprised when Gary tells him he should plan to lose money for the first few years of being a bandleader.

    Most really top level players sounded great when they were in high school, and/or sometimes younger. But that doesn't mean it can't take longer. My thought is, everyone's different, who cares how long it takes? It took me a long time to sound good, but giving up was never an option.

  40. #39

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    Quote Originally Posted by pcsanwald View Post
    In Gary Burton's autobiography, he talks about Pat being surprised when Gary tells him he should plan to lose money for the first few years of being a bandleader.

    Most really top level players sounded great when they were in high school, and/or sometimes younger. But that doesn't mean it can't take longer. My thought is, everyone's different, who cares how long it takes? It took me a long time to sound good, but giving up was never an option.
    maybe, but Gary didn’t play the guitar

  41. #40
    When I was at Berklee in the mid seventies being an LA session man was stressed to motivate us to become really good sight readers and very versatile players. Tommy Tedesco was put on a high pedestal by those teachers . His son came through a while back with a presentation about The Wrecking Crew Movie which he helped produce. In Nashville I was told the guitar player who knew the best jokes would get the most sessions.Which to me meant there are so many good players here that there is a lot of who you know is pretty much King! A small percentage of players do a large percentage of the most lucrative work. There are small cliques even in big cities of the A team or first call people. What I am trying to say is you have to really refine your Goals.Brent Mason can play jazz very well but it didnt buy him a farm or anything. Of course I watched Sco,Metheny,Stern and Ritenour start out and prosper for those who think they can be Great artists that is evident pretty early say like Julian Lage at this time. In both LA and Nashville I was told you should plan on staying at least 10 years or dont even bother. Like I said earlier I think location is very very important to becoming a better player and the amount of work available.GB or general business gigs are the meat and potatoes for a lot of big city jazz players. Very few jazz superstars playing concerts all over the world. And are you willing to travel? You should be.A friend of mines son moved toNYC and got the Blue Man Group gig.So he will have to travel some.And you have to be near auditions to get the best gigs.Pat Metheny started with the Gary Burton Group.Scofield got the Billy Cobham gig.A degree from a known music program cant hurt either. Be Realistic.