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  1. #1

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    Just wonderered what everyone thought about guitar teachers and - given the range of online material, books and CDs, etc. out now - whether they are worth their price anymore.
    When I began playing in the late 70s, some of us had teachers, but usually we learned from other guys or spent hours listening to 33 1/3s - or casettes when the 80s arrived - trying to cop the latest solo, riff, etc.
    32 years later I decided to give jazz improv lessons a try. Wow. What a mistake, especially for the price. The instructor had difficulty conveying what appeared to be later rather simple concepts; he dragged the lessons out; insisted on money up front (viz., pay for a block of lessons); screwed up just how many lessons had "been used up"; and then refused to return the balance owing.
    Obviously, what I've written says more about this particular instructor than the about the original question, but none of these things would have happened with a good jazz improv book ordered from Amazon and perhaps studied here under one of the study groups.
    Thoughts anyone?

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    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #2

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    One on one is still best. There's enouh crap on the internet to keep a beginner wading for years.

    I have never met a good jazz player who learned how to play from books and youtube videos. Books and videos can't kick your ass and then show you how they did it. A teacher can. And having your ass handed to you a few times by someone nice enough to go back and show you how they did it is one of the best ways to learn jazz.

    Mind you, it need not be a traditional, i pay you, you show me situation....and you still gotta do a lot of legwork on your own...but time is much betterspent figuring out chords and tunes and transcribing than watching some schlub on youtube show you licks...it's "give a man a fish" vs. "teach a man to fish."
    Last edited by mr. beaumont; 07-07-2012 at 09:17 PM.
    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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    Teleman, you provide a great example of something that is almost never mentioned: Audition Your Teachers! I would never pay for a block of lessons from someone without taking a few first and seeing if we clicked. (A guy may be a great player, and even a good teacher, but not the right fit for YOU.)

    And remember, guys who have played a long time without taking lessons can be hard on a teacher because their technique and knowledge tends to have gaps. It takes a teacher a while to figure out what you know and what you don't. (If a teacher treats like you like you know nothing, find another one.)

    Several people here have worked with online teachers----not every town has a good one taking new students!--so you might ask about them.
    "Learn the repertoire. It’s all in the songs. If you learn 200 songs, you will have no problem improvising."
    Frank Vignola

  5. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by mr. beaumont View Post
    One on one is still best. There's enouh crap on the internet to keep a beginner wading for years.
    This sentence resonates with my situation.

    After a few years of internet research and book reading, I found myself knowing a lot of Jazz Theory, but not being able to put it all together.

    Part of the problem is what I call a "Jazz Porn" mentality that I have. Just like porn guys go from magazine to magazine, DVD to DVD, and website to website, I did the same with Jazz Theory.

    Now, with a teacher, I am absolutely more focused and also, more confident. He has given me some "hard" targets to aim for and has showed me how we will apply them to several Jazz songs that I love.

    That being said, you must choose the correct teacher as well.

    When I can't make it, I tell him to just keep the money for that lesson, and he refuses and insists on allowing me to give him a make-up lesson.

    Integrity is very important, even if it can be also be just thought of as good marketing.

  6. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by teleman3726 View Post
    The instructor had difficulty conveying what appeared to be later rather simple concepts; he dragged the lessons out; insisted on money up front (viz., pay for a block of lessons)
    Sounds like you went in without the necessary prep. I wouldn't take a lesson from anyone who is either known to me or is highly recommended by someone I trust. Nothing beats one-on-one up close and personal with a good instructor--and that includes Skype. When you go to a lesson you get the experience of performing. What you can do in the shed suddenly becomes a challenge when you have to demonstrate it for someone you can't fool. Taking some lessons from a guy who had theory down cold and could play credible examples of blues/bop/modal improv was the best thing I ever did.

  7. #6

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    Nothing is better than instruction from somebody far more experienced than you (and/or talented, knowledgeable, etc.)

    Books and online sources just contain information and perspectives. A teacher in person can look at your technique, get to know you as a person, you can workshop very specific goals, he can hear your progress, he can critique your playing on the spot and give examples of what you can work on...on and on the list goes. For me, taking one lesson from a great teacher is more valuable than spending a month reading blogs and such - many of which are written by guys who aren't very good players! Or at least, whose playing I personally wouldn't be trying to emulate.

    But, as has been pointed out, it has to be the right teacher, and there does have to be clear communication involved.

  8. #7

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    I guess the issue is the right teacher, clearly. And I suspect the notion of the right teacher goes beyond jazz instruction. There are lots of clowns out there claiming they are teachers in a variety of fields. For guitar, perhaps they are OK for guys just learning an instrument.
    I also think the point made about guys who have been playing for some time and have attained a level of proficiency have gaps in their knowledge/playing, which takes some time (for the teacher) to understand.
    I play out several times a week and put myself through the first two college degrees performing a regular club circuit. My goal was to have a teacher that would act almost as a jam buddy who would show me some new things. What I got was a series of scales and patterns that had no apparent connection to the "larger picture." I was told I "thought too much." And then when there was clearly no idea what the larger picture was, he decided to wow me with some dazzling playing and speaking at a rate that would suggest the onset of some cardio-vascular problems.
    FWIW, the first teacher I had for a little while in the late 70s wasn't much better. He knew some cool Beatles tunes and played a nice D28. But he was stoned for every lesson. The doorways to each of the rooms of his house were shrouded in beads.
    His GF was smoking hot, though. I'll give him that.

  9. #8

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    It's true, there are some truly awful teachers. I've had many guitar students that have had other teachers before me and I've heard some really silly things.

    It's buyer beware - the customer has to do some leg work and auditioning of teachers.

  10. #9

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    Finding the right teacher aside, having up close and personal relationships with people much better than yourself also inspires awe and sparks that fire (at least for me) that drove me to play in the first place..Also when actually giving money to someone, we tend to take the discipline of doing those things we knew we should do but avoided in our independent studies, much more seriously. Of course this is a great benefit as well...If you cannot afford a good teacher then transcribing and analyzing is where I would be spending most of my time...I have been transcribing Wes solos...What a great payoff...

  11. #10

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    It's the commercialization of jazz education. I got into music and jazz in 70's like the OP and Jazz education was still mainly in the streets. Regular colleges might have a Jazz band or Jazz History course, but everything else was traditional theory. Then there was Berklee on the East coast and Dick Grove on the West coast. Even then it was mainly Jazz theory, composition, and arranging, and not much on instrument you had to seek out private teachers. Then GIT later called MI came about and so a place for guitarists to get guitar oriented curriculum.

    I worked for one of those schools mentioned, attend another, and spend some time in college as a music major. So have been around music education and publishing for many years.

    What I saw starting to happen was Vietnam era vets were getting out of the service and looking to spend their GI Bill money on education. The music business was booming and new world of rock stars was everywhere, non-traditional schools were finally able for GI's and other students with government grants and benefits to spend their money at. So music education became a big business, but not everyone could attend schools of guitar books and other music instruction publishing because a big business. As the early schools started doing well and pulling students from traditional colleges the colleges started introducing jazz and other programs to draw students back and get their government money. So Jazz students finally had a place for good education and schools were doing well and trying to keep entry standards high.

    Like all good things, times got lean in the mid-late 80's computer boom started and suddenly computer programmers were making money like Rock stars and many of those students that would of gone to a music/entertainment school were now heading to traditional schools and buying books to learn to program. Yes, I was one of those and even started in the computer department at one of those music schools. Now the bad part music school after booming and expanding for years were now struggling to fill seats. So little by little the schools lowered their entry-level requirements to start accepting anyone who could pay. Also all the curriculum started getting watered down and then altered to attracted students who normally weren't interested in music school the shredders. Also schools expanded into music business and courses to attract those who didn't play but were into music business. Jazz became a niche at the schools that were once totally dedicated to Jazz. Where only highly skilled musicians were admitted were now taking anyone who could pay the tuition.

    So Jazz that was once mainly learned in woodshed, jam sessions, and private instruction because a big business. Typically of business after they saturated their market they watered things down to keep expand markets.

    This is getting long so try to wrap-up. The reduction of live music also hurt traditional Jazz learning. The clubs where you could play nightly getting experience and find after hour jams listen and learn are gone. That left the schools to become the main source of Jazz education. And I just talked about state of music schools in general.

    Bottom line you really want to learn Jazz the information is still there to be had but you have to seek it out and ask the questions. The schools still have great teachers but you need to seek them out in their office hours and ask questions not in the curriculum. There still is some live music and jams but you have to seek them out. Still great private teachers and with the internet you can study with someone thousands of miles away. Still some good books in the sea of how-to for those who don't want to put the time in.

    Okay enough I got things to do c-ya.
    No, I'm not going to give you the answer to your question. I don't want to deny you the pleasure you'll receive when you figure it out yourself. -- Bill Evans talking to his brother.

  12. #11

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    Yea... when I was kid I had lessons, not guitar, but what I got out of those early lessons was concept of organized plans, how to get somewhere.
    I would say... if you don't have the motivation to get your act together on your own... you won't get it together with a teacher.

    If your going to play jazz... I would spend more time and $ trying to actually play jazz, live.

    Granted you need to reach a level of performance skills... and foundation for understanding theory/harmony etc...but you'll have a ton of motivation from sounding like shit at gig as compared to someone your paying to teach you to play say... you need to get this together...

    We are talking about playing jazz, not just helping to become a well rounded human being... right.

    With all the info out there, the actual videos of greats actually playing, man... I wish I would have had the access when I was young...
    Just for general info... I like the teachers... Just like students need motivation, so do teachers, not just $.
    Reg

  13. #12

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    Agree with the last two posts, completely. And docbop's note was interesting.
    I appreciate the idea of getting out and playing and transcribing, etc. All the stuff we had to do in the early days if we wanted to get better and, as a 13 year old, couldn't afford lessons. Can't see much difference now, except the range of material offered for learning is miles ahead of what I had to learn with (believe it or not, I was blown away when I first saw tabs in the 90s!).
    One related point that I think was touched on was the 'democratization' of the music education business, where anyone with a slick message and a modicum of playing ability could get into the act. There's and upside to that, in that as a consumer one tends to become rather discerning about what one's buying. That same level of scrutiny can be applied to music teachers.
    As a side note, auditioning teachers is easier said than done, unless the guy is a total washout. It takes a few lessons to get to know each other, and by then you're into the deal by a couple of hundred bucks. If it fails, you're back to square one.
    As another side note, the dude that I had tended to withhold bits of information in order to maintain the "mystique" of the jazz teacher and keep me drip feeding him with cash (up front, of course). CDs, guitar forums such as this one, and all the other means of learning offer a nice counterbalance to the less-than-upfront efforts of otherwise unemployable human detritus.
    Last edited by teleman3726; 07-08-2012 at 01:15 PM.

  14. #13

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    I ask a lot of questions here and I really study the threads as well as having a great personal library of method books. I also study YouTube and other on-line lesson sites. That said, I also have an amazing teacher that I still can't quite believe I was able to get in with.

    My lesson is the best time I have all week. When I am in my lesson my teacher makes me feel like I can accomplish anything on the guitar, even the miraculous cm stuff he pulls out of thin air (and 30+ years of gigging experience). I walk out of my lessons really believing in myself and have the confidence to really push myself even though it feels impossible.

    That is great teaching, no matter what the subject. I consider myself very fortunate.
    "Talent is a pursued interest; anything that you're willing to practice, you can do." - Bob Ross

  15. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by mr. beaumont View Post
    And having your ass handed to you a few times by someone nice enough to go back and show you how they did it is one of the best ways to learn jazz.
    Or ANY style... jazz is no exception here. Youtube and DVDs are certainly a revelation (as opposed to books), but nothing will ever beat an INTERACTIVE lesson, which is what a teacher is.

  16. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by ruger9 View Post
    Or ANY style... jazz is no exception here. Youtube and DVDs are certainly a revelation (as opposed to books), but nothing will ever beat an INTERACTIVE lesson, which is what a teacher is.
    +1

    I think it helps to be in the same room too, rather than working via the web. The teacher can really check out your technique, posture, sound production etc that way. And you can talk about other stuff, anecdotes etc, which often feeds into the lesson in a positive way.

  17. #16
    A very short comment on an interesting topic. I have learnt stuff from books, as well as from some pretty good guitar teachers. But my improvising has been most improved by working with a first-class sax player.

    Has anyone else had a similar experience?

  18. #17

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    All of this is personal. But the greatest progress I make is jamming with dudes better than me: Focusing on their style, pushing myself, and learning new tunes. It's been this way since I began in the late 70s.
    My experience with teachers, as you know, has been less than positive. They've never busted my ass. Rather, they've droned on and made excuses for what I saw as a lack of progress (they would never admit to it = $$)
    Sorry to be a downer because there were lots of very good points and suggestions from the posters.
    To each his own, I guess.

  19. #18

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    I have taught beginning jazz guitar for many years. Here's the deal, there is a special mimic gene that humans have that monkeys and apes don't. Being in the same room with an inspired teacher can save you years of grief as you assimilate what the teacher is showing you by demonstration. There have been some great teachers. Bill Leavitt at Berklee. Ted Greene from L.A. Being around great players can help by osmosis but jazz instruction doesn't really come from books unless you know what you need to progress. An integrated vertical and linear approach based on chord changes is your Hannon or Czerny for guitar. But for a comprehensive approach, find an inspired teacher like the two I've mentioned whose experience can be shared through empathy with the student. If you find such a teacher, study whatever you can from them. They may have half the picture or all of it.
    Forget spending money on videos or books unless you have a specific goal in mind; for me it would be further knowledge of fingering for arpeggios based on jazz changes. But it's like studying voice. You have to find that inspired teacher who really wants to help you and can articulate how.

  20. #19

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    Another thing, personally I don't teach one on one individually. I like working with classes because it emphasizes the give and take each musician needs to know and I find that students help each other. One can play chords, the other leads and can learn how to compliment each other by using different chord inversions up the neck, getting a good spread between the instruments.

  21. #20

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    i have met my fair share of teachers in various instruments... hell i had to help my little cousin deal with a terrible drum teacher, they gave him a drum set without even giving him all the parts lol.

    I have also met and taught with some amazing teachers, who not only can teach but have toured with bands.
    Last edited by calgarc; 09-18-2012 at 09:21 PM.

  22. #21

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    I have found that a mix of one on one and books/DVDs is the perfect combo for me. Ideally, I would spend a few months learning/practicing alone, then take some lessons to put it all together. I do not have enough time to practice/go through new material to make full use of a weekly lesson, so would rather do it alone.

  23. #22

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    This is a very interesting topic. For those of you who do teach jazz I was wondering how you guys felt about rock guitarist teaching the subject? I know of someone who does this for a living, and has admitted to me that jazz is not his bag, but knows how to fake it, personally I feel that this could be detrimental to a students development, but perhaps I'm wrong. He's got the student transcribing Ascension by Coltrane in an effort to have the student approach the guitar in a different manner, which sounds to me good in theory, but again he, meaning the teacher, has never even played or much listened to. So I wondering what the heavy cats on this board think? Thanks again for all the great info!

  24. #23

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    Where rock music and jazz intersect is improvisation, ability to make up stuff, which by the way, can be taught. Rock music can be incorporated into jazz such as what Esperanza or Santana does but faking it doesn't work because jazz maintains a lifetime commitment.

    Teaching music is a special skill not necessarily being part of being a virtuoso
    or even a great musician.

  25. #24

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    Quote Originally Posted by rcaballero View Post
    This is a very interesting topic. For those of you who do teach jazz I was wondering how you guys felt about rock guitarist teaching the subject? I know of someone who does this for a living, and has admitted to me that jazz is not his bag, but knows how to fake it, personally I feel that this could be detrimental to a students development, but perhaps I'm wrong. He's got the student transcribing Ascension by Coltrane in an effort to have the student approach the guitar in a different manner, which sounds to me good in theory, but again he, meaning the teacher, has never even played or much listened to. So I wondering what the heavy cats on this board think? Thanks again for all the great info!
    Would you take your guitar to a cabinetmaker when it needs to be set-up or repaired? A cabinetmaker knows a lot about wood and has tools. Right? Why bother trying to find a luthier or guitar tech who has spent years honing their craft when there's a good cabinet shop right around the corner?

    Jazz, blues, rock, gypsy swing, bluegrass and country can all be played with a pick but technically there are subtle differences in pick application between styles. There are differences between playing with a pick on an acoustic guitar as opposed to an electric. With an electric, the amp does the work of producing the sound. An acoustic guitar, archtop or flattop, requires that you physically pull the sound out of the instrument. I've heard rock players try to play bluegrass and jazz players try to play rock with disasterous results. I've heard classical players attempt to fingerpick delta blues and sound equally bad.

    Just because someone can play one style of music well doesn't mean that they necessarily have the skills to play another style unless they immerse themselves in the subtleties of that style. I personally know an exceptional jazz guitarist who is a closet bluegrass fanatic. He loves Doc Watson and Clarence White. When he tried to play that style, he realised that what he was doing didn't sound right; so he located a bluegrass guitar teacher and took lessons until he grasped the technique of playing that style. Now he can play jazz or bluegrass and sound authentic when he does.

    I've seen teachers advertise that claim that they teach "all styles" of guitar. Seldom have I met one who could actually play more than one style well. Over the years, I've learned carpentry, how to work on automobiles and a bit about guitar set-up and repair. The most important thing I've learned about these things is "You gotta have the right tools for the job". The same holds true when looking for a teacher. The right teacher is the one who understands the nuances of the style and can play it.

  26. #25

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    Paul Desmond once said "jazz is like writing. It can be learned, but it can't be taught". For me, the takeway is: learn your instrument as well as possible. It is not necessary to have a "jazz" guitar teacher; it is good to have a thorough guitar teacher who plays and teaches solid fundamentals. Bill Leavitt, for instance, was a phenomenal teacher, but jazz, per se, was not really what he taught, nor what his method addresses, except in a sideways manner, by teaching one to be a fine guitarist with all of the tools necessary to play jazz. Improvisation can be learned or taught by any instrumentalist, and studying "jazz" with a sax player or pianist is really very valuable, since they aren't limited to guitaristic licks. Essentially, there are two basic approaches to guitar mastery: plectrum, or fingerstyle (classical). Mastering either of these gives one the physical and intellectual tools to play jazz, then it's up to talent and inspiration. Leavitt himself was not a jazz player, he was a plectrum master with a huge knowledge of applied fingerboard harmony. I became a much better jazz guitarist under his tutelage, but only because I applied his principles to my own stylistic development.

  27. #26

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    In my experience, a good teacher is very helpful for some people. I grew up playing classical guitar and by the time I was 17 or so could play pretty well at that. My teacher, who was great, then said that I was at a stage where I could basically find my own way and come back to him for tips and advice on a less frequent basis. Eventually I lost direction, started slacking off in my practice time and really floundered around until ultimately I just stopped playing.

    For me, having a teacher meant having someone who had way more knowledge than me about what direction I should take in my development and setting real goals on a regular basis, was really important. It was important that he be a great classical player and that he was a great teacher.

    I have seen my pattern repeated with others that I have known who have played instruments at a very high level. whether that has to do with a teenager's stage of life or what I don't know, but I would say as a result that a good teacher can be vital to a person learning an instrument.

  28. #27

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    I agree with Monk. I think if it's not one's bag, then stay away. Sure, solid fundamentals are important regardless of genre, but having a new student approach jazz from a extremely heavy album, such as a Love Supreme is absurd. Speaking of learning the basics. here's an idea how about standards? Introduce the vocabulary from where it all came from?

  29. #28

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    Quote Originally Posted by ronjazz View Post
    Paul Desmond once said "jazz is like writing. It can be learned, but it can't be taught". For me, the takeway is: learn your instrument as well as possible. It is not necessary to have a "jazz" guitar teacher; it is good to have a thorough guitar teacher who plays and teaches solid fundamentals. Bill Leavitt, for instance, was a phenomenal teacher, but jazz, per se, was not really what he taught, nor what his method addresses, except in a sideways manner, by teaching one to be a fine guitarist with all of the tools necessary to play jazz. Improvisation can be learned or taught by any instrumentalist, and studying "jazz" with a sax player or pianist is really very valuable, since they aren't limited to guitaristic licks. Essentially, there are two basic approaches to guitar mastery: plectrum, or fingerstyle (classical). Mastering either of these gives one the physical and intellectual tools to play jazz, then it's up to talent and inspiration. Leavitt himself was not a jazz player, he was a plectrum master with a huge knowledge of applied fingerboard harmony. I became a much better jazz guitarist under his tutelage, but only because I applied his principles to my own stylistic development.
    Ron makes some excellent points here. A guitar teacher who teaches guitar a complete musical instrument via the Leavitt or Mel Bay methods can be an invaluable asset to a student wants to "master" the instrument. At one time, this was the norm. Unfortunately, these types of teachers seem to be going the way of the dinosaur.

    If someone signs up for piano, violin or horn lessons, they don't seem to question that there is a systematic, step by step approach to learning that involves a thorough examination of the fundamentals of reading, theory and technique. Conversely, the guitar is still seen by most to be a folk instrument that can be mastered without the necessity of a teacher or music fundaments. This is the main reason that a pianist or violinist who has only been playing for a few years can play circles around a guitarist who has been playing for a decade.

    In truth, it is easy to learn to play a few chords and a pentatonic scale but after that, for most people, the barriers begin to rise quickly. Many people take up the guitar with idea that the few chords and pentatonic scales are all they will ever need but even for rock that is no longer true.

    Ron is correct in saying that a teacher, like Leavitt, who gives the student the tools they need to grow in any direction is right on the money. Unfortunately, there is an overwhelming mind-set among the general public that it isn't necessary.

  30. #29

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    Quote Originally Posted by alwayslearning View Post
    A very short comment on an interesting topic. I have learnt stuff from books, as well as from some pretty good guitar teachers. But my improvising has been most improved by working with a first-class sax player.

    Has anyone else had a similar experience?
    Yes, it's been similar for me. I've been playing with a big band for some years now, and even though I'm the only guitarist (I designate myself as 'first guitar' ) I have learned heaps from the sax, trumpet and piano players that have passed through the band. This hasn't been a formal student-teacher arrangement, it's just about listening attentively and discussing approaches to things.

    So I strongly recommend casting as wide a net as possible, and learning what you can from the non-guitarist musicians you may meet.

  31. #30

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    I will repeat what I said on another thread.

    My kids have studied violin for 10 years, in many genres. They have had several teachers, and attended music camps where "living legends" were among the faculty. I have observed that the best indicator of the teacher's ability to teach was their level of formal education. Teaching requires a specific skill set, and proficiency on the instrument is only one of them. Musicians who have attended college have worked with many teachers, who they can emulate. College educated musicians have also developed the necessary communication and analytical abilities.

    As for the living legends, if you can't make sense of their instruction, you must be the problem.

    Want a good guitar teacher? Look for the diplomas on the wall.

    Of course, there are exceptions.

  32. #31

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jonzo View Post
    I will repeat what I said on another thread.

    My kids have studied violin for 10 years, in many genres. They have had several teachers, and attended music camps where "living legends" were among the faculty. I have observed that the best indicator of the teacher's ability to teach was their level of formal education. Teaching requires a specific skill set, and proficiency on the instrument is only one of them. Musicians who have attended college have worked with many teachers, who they can emulate. College educated musicians have also developed the necessary communication and analytical abilities.

    As for the living legends, if you can't make sense of their instruction, you must be the problem.

    Want a good guitar teacher? Look for the diplomas on the wall.

    Of course, there are exceptions.
    Amen.

    The *worst* teachers, IMO, are those who are self-taught and who "turned pro at 18 and went out on the road." There are a few (Jonny P. and Me ; ) who are "formally self-taught" -- and those are your second worst.

    Just joking - Jonny's a great teacher.

  33. #32

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    That's actually a great question...
    These days I'm meeting lots of jazz impro students who have tried learning online and have decided to take lessons with a teacher.
    They always say that online there is alot of information but that it's hard them to organize.
    I guess it depends on the level you're at...

  34. #33

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    I think the two most important things a teacher adds are a practical, long-term plan, and a keen eye/ear for what to improve right now. Usually my kids come away from a lesson with a variety of tunes or exercises, in various states of progress, to work on toward their long-term goals, and 1 to 3 focus areas to improve by next lesson.

  35. #34

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    I've been at this jazz guitar thing on and off for 37 years and have suffered many setbacks and frustrations. In my experience (which has included approx. 250 private formal lessons in jazz or classical guitar) one needs to balance the development of these fundamental skill sets:

    1) Technique fundamentals
    2) Theory/Harmony (and ideally reading fluency on the Staff) aand ear training applied to the guitar
    3) Rhythm and comping
    4) Learning tunes
    5) The "language of jazz" (phrases, articulation, motifs, etc.) and improv skills

    It should also be recognized that historically many of the greatest pioneers in jazz and in jazz guitar particularly did not obtain their skills in the academy. They were largely self-taught and went to collaborate with the giants of the jazz.
    Last edited by SevenStringJazz; 10-07-2012 at 06:05 AM.
    formerly posting as Four2theBar

  36. #35

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    Learning the guitar and learning jazz are not necessarily the same thing. One can benefit greatly from a thorough knowledge of technique and practical, applied theory, from scales to arpeggios to chord studies. So finding a good guitar teacher is probably more important than finding a good jazz guitar teacher. A great example of this is the late Bill Leavitt, who was never known as a jazz guitarist, but who's Modern Method for Guitar is one of the very best and most thorough methods for the aspiring jazz guitarist, because a thorough study of that method will leave the student with a very complete understanding of the both the instrument and the practical applied theory leading to jazz mastery.

  37. #36

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    Quote Originally Posted by ronjazz View Post
    Learning the guitar and learning jazz are not necessarily the same thing. One can benefit greatly from a thorough knowledge of technique and practical, applied theory, from scales to arpeggios to chord studies. So finding a good guitar teacher is probably more important than finding a good jazz guitar teacher. A great example of this is the late Bill Leavitt, who was never known as a jazz guitarist, but who's Modern Method for Guitar is one of the very best and most thorough methods for the aspiring jazz guitarist, because a thorough study of that method will leave the student with a very complete understanding of the both the instrument and the practical applied theory leading to jazz mastery.
    I agree Ron. There are no shortcuts to growing musicianship on the guitar. That's why my "fundamental skill set" is so ordered. That said, there are plenty of great guitarists (in all genres, including jazz) who likely would have to "start from the beginning" in the Leavitt series due to poor (or nonexistent) reading skills and a deficient formal understanding of what is being musically communicated in many of the études.
    formerly posting as Four2theBar

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  39. #38

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    Quote Originally Posted by monk View Post

    If someone signs up for piano, violin or horn lessons, they don't seem to question that there is a systematic, step by step approach to learning that involves a thorough examination of the fundamentals of reading, theory and technique. Conversely, the guitar is still seen by most to be a folk instrument that can be mastered without the necessity of a teacher or music fundaments. This is the main reason that a pianist or violinist who has only been playing for a few years can play circles around a guitarist who has been playing for a decade.
    That is the longstanding argument against guitar folk learning and is quite true. However, some times you get stuck for a long time just getting through the systematic lessons before playing what you really want to. I have a piano teacher now who recognizes my prior knowledge of music theory and who took me through the system at first ( a few months) and is now helping me to apply the scales and chords to real tunes already.

    I had a guitar teacher once who took me through the Will Leavitt books with supplementary material from Bruce Clark (from Australia). It is true that the books gave me the tools (fretboard knowledge, chords, scales, reading) mentioned above. However in my opinion the books are only a starting point. After three years of working through the books we were just beginning to get onto applying the info to tunes and chord changes to which i was directed to the Abersold material. That was when I ran out of money for lessons.

    I came away feeling a bit ripped off because I could already read before going to this guy since I was already playing classical guitar and I knew heaps of theory of scales through reading also but hadn't been able to put the stuff into improvising.

    Upon reflection I think I would have benefitted from a different teaching approach but trusted the guy with knowing the right direction of me. The problem with the Leavitt books is that you are learning a whole lot of little etudes to help solidify the scale positions which take a lot of time to learn but in the end are only good for that purpose. The true repertoire comes from elsewhere, except maybe a few of the chord solos. That is one of the flaws in the Leavitt books in my opinion. They should have a more direct application of concepts to actual tunes. Even if they have to be renamed as Byrne does in his Linear Jazz Method. His books are more like an encyclopedia to me now. You know, if I want to apply a melodic minor scale to some changes I might look up the fingering he uses as a reference to make my job easier. A lot of books are like that I think.

    While it is true that you can get a lot from a teacher you can also be led up the garden path and on a tangent to your real goals if you are not careful. Some teachers abuse the trust that is put in them by their students by not recognizing/ listening to the individual needs and desires/goals of the student.

    Now, I don't have a guitar teacher but I set my own goals and my practice routine and learning is directed toward those goals. You could achieve a lot I reckon with a few dedicated buddies by jamming on problem areas and knew ideas as well as on tunes and then discussing successes and failures and new approaches .
    If I ever get a guitar teacher again I will be very specific about what I want from him/her.

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    It's up to the student to explore, not slavishly follow the teacher's instructions. I studied with Leavitt, for a few months, but it took years to make the lessons real, to absorb and really understand the concepts and the musicality. Leavitt's voice-leading freed me from playing chords, now I play simultaneous lines, even when playing rhythmically, as in a bossa-nova.

    Axeman, regarding your situation, I would suggest this tactic: rather than finding "a" teacher, grab a lesson from anyone who plays something you like, and learn that. I did this with Joe Pass, Pat Martino, Barney Kessell and several other masters, and in one or two lessons, new pathways were opened. As far as technique goes, if you've had good tutelage and are in a good posture and attitude as regards the hands, arms, back, legs, neck, head, shoulders and how they work together most efficiently, that should take care of itself by practicing a variety of exercises that together give you all the elements you need in playing; you can even make them up. In any event, all really good teachers will tell you that you teach yourself, they're only guides.

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    Finding a really good teacher outside of a major metropolitan area could be difficult. In a lot of areas there are no teachers.

    I think that probably the best way to judge the quality of a teacher is to listen to several of his or her students play (not just the star pupil). Note how long each has taken lessons with that teacher, and their level when they started, and you can probably figure out where you will be in x years with that teacher.

    The proof is in the pudding, as the old saying goes.

  42. #41

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    Quote Originally Posted by axeman View Post
    That is the longstanding argument against guitar folk learning and is quite true. However, some times you get stuck for a long time just getting through the systematic lessons before playing what you really want to. I have a piano teacher now who recognizes my prior knowledge of music theory and who took me through the system at first ( a few months) and is now helping me to apply the scales and chords to real tunes already.

    I had a guitar teacher once who took me through the Will Leavitt books with supplementary material from Bruce Clark (from Australia). It is true that the books gave me the tools (fretboard knowledge, chords, scales, reading) mentioned above. However in my opinion the books are only a starting point. After three years of working through the books we were just beginning to get onto applying the info to tunes and chord changes to which i was directed to the Abersold material. That was when I ran out of money for lessons.

    I came away feeling a bit ripped off because I could already read before going to this guy since I was already playing classical guitar and I knew heaps of theory of scales through reading also but hadn't been able to put the stuff into improvising.

    Upon reflection I think I would have benefitted from a different teaching approach but trusted the guy with knowing the right direction of me. The problem with the Leavitt books is that you are learning a whole lot of little etudes to help solidify the scale positions which take a lot of time to learn but in the end are only good for that purpose. The true repertoire comes from elsewhere, except maybe a few of the chord solos. That is one of the flaws in the Leavitt books in my opinion. They should have a more direct application of concepts to actual tunes. Even if they have to be renamed as Byrne does in his Linear Jazz Method. His books are more like an encyclopedia to me now. You know, if I want to apply a melodic minor scale to some changes I might look up the fingering he uses as a reference to make my job easier. A lot of books are like that I think.

    While it is true that you can get a lot from a teacher you can also be led up the garden path and on a tangent to your real goals if you are not careful. Some teachers abuse the trust that is put in them by their students by not recognizing/ listening to the individual needs and desires/goals of the student.

    Now, I don't have a guitar teacher but I set my own goals and my practice routine and learning is directed toward those goals. You could achieve a lot I reckon with a few dedicated buddies by jamming on problem areas and knew ideas as well as on tunes and then discussing successes and failures and new approaches .
    If I ever get a guitar teacher again I will be very specific about what I want from him/her.
    If your goal, at the time you took lessons with this teacher, was to learn jazz then he was remiss in not giving you material that you could use as you were plowing through the method book. For instance, he could have started teaching you chords exercises that could be put to immediate use with simple repertoire like Satin Doll, or blues or I Got Rhythm. Page two of the oft discussed Mickey Baker book has all the information anyone needs to learn the three tunes I mentioned in a couple of weeks.

    Howard Roberts used to say that guitarists have been brainwashed into believing that they have to learn all the scales and all the theory BEFORE they can learn to play jazz and in doing so consign themselves to an unnecessary, indeterminate period of intermediacy. He felt that one should learn the theory and such WHILE they are learning to play jazz. Your teacher apparently didn't understand that. Most teachers teach the way they were taught, perhaps your teacher didn't know any other way to teach. On the positive side, you learned a set of skills that will allow you to explore any type of music you so desire in the future.

    The Leavitt and Bay methods, which are currently being discussed on another thread are not jazz methods, they are guitar methods, comprehensive but not stylistic. As you pointed out, they are just the first step.

  43. #42

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    Knowledge is knowledge only if you know to pass to pupile ... One of them is Predrag STANKOVIC from Tuzla -Bosnia (teacher of classical guitar) his ex-students are the best in the world: Sanel REDZIC, Denis AZABAGIC, Boris TESIC etc.
    Bato

  44. #43

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jonzo View Post
    Finding a really good teacher outside of a major metropolitan area could be difficult. In a lot of areas there are no teachers.

    I think that probably the best way to judge the quality of a teacher is to listen to several of his or her students play (not just the star pupil). Note how long each has taken lessons with that teacher, and their level when they started, and you can probably figure out where you will be in x years with that teacher.

    The proof is in the pudding, as the old saying goes.
    That is not really an accurate measure, because talent is not measurable. There is also a "chemistry" between teacher and student that cannot be predicted.

  45. #44

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    There are no accurate measurements; only best estimates.

  46. #45

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    Quote Originally Posted by monk View Post

    Howard Roberts used to say that guitarists have been brainwashed into believing that they have to learn all the scales and all the theory BEFORE they can learn to play jazz and in doing so consign themselves to an unnecessary, indeterminate period of intermediacy. He felt that one should learn the theory and such WHILE they are learning to play jazz.
    I can testify to the truth of that. Even now I am still working a lot of intermediate things. However I feel I need to work on competency of getting through the changes when soloing and on chord voicing. Still I might have been further ahead if things had of been approached differently when I was starting out... The trouble was I was a broke teenager when I started playing so I got started on my own and by watching friends play rather than having a real teacher. I have a bent for books and reading also which is why I read up on so much theory early on.

    Thanks Monk and ronjazz for your comments.

  47. #46

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    Quote Originally Posted by axeman View Post
    I can testify to the truth of that. Even now I am still working a lot of intermediate things. However I feel I need to work on competency of getting through the changes when soloing and on chord voicing. Still I might have been further ahead if things had of been approached differently when I was starting out.

    Thanks Monk and ronjazz for your comments.
    i

    +1

    In my ongoing experience, the Leavitt books help me to remediate basic-to-intermediate musical issues as applied to the guitar. However, the fact that I've not yet mastered everything in all three volumes has in no way prevented me from learning jazz tunes and working on improvisation alongside the Leavitt work. In fact, I began learning jazz tunes before I even began serious study in Leavitt volume 1. In retrospect that's one thing I would do differently. That is, ideally I would have spent a year or so with a very competent teacher, working through Leavitt volume 1, before beginning to learn jazz tunes. Of course I could already basically play the guitar before this.
    Last edited by SevenStringJazz; 10-11-2012 at 07:38 AM.
    formerly posting as Four2theBar

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    Why not starting out with a teacher and then moving to study online? I think it's just a shift you have to make once you can play a little already. Spending $50/lesson can add up very quickly...On top of that studying with just ONE teacher narrows your boundaries when it comes to style, technique and taste...

  49. #48

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    I've certainly exhausted myself checking out every book / method on the market, and I can honestly say that I've learned the most from one-on-one sessions with teachers. I am currently studying with a Dan Balmer, a great guitarist living in Portland, Oregon.

    Dan is a firm believer that we teach ourselves. He is more than willing to show you the way he went about learning to play jazz, but he certainly encourages me to figure this stuff out on my own. What I love most about Dan is that he can be quite blunt with me when I'm not playing up to my potential. He is also quite complimentary when I play something well.

    As far as internet content goes, I must say that I have found Jimmy Bruno's online method to be quite helpful.

  50. #49

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    Quote Originally Posted by ronjazz View Post
    It's up to the student to explore, not slavishly follow the teacher's instructions.
    Amen. I consider the role of a teacher to be one of guidance and inspiration: guiding a student into an informed perspective with as few limiting prejudices as possible, and inspiration so the student can begin a journey of self discovery.
    Bad teachers, all over the place. Even at a huge resource like the music school I'm affiliated with, there are horrible teachers. AND there are brilliant students who have flourished in spite of them. It's really important to reject a teacher that doesn't feel right. A teacher/student relationship is a special one, and one that involves feedback from the student.
    I'll say that what I've seen from the international pool of students at my school, the median level and ability of the top level student has gone way up in the past years, due in no small part to exposure to dvds and youTube instruction. But those exceptional students were exceptional because the did NOT look to a teacher or any one source to make them musicians.
    There's a huge body of knowledge that goes into mastering the jazz idiom. That given, there is an equally huge responsibility for a student to assimilate the fundamentals and have their OWN filters regarding what they do with them. I've gotten great wisdom and knowledge from masters along the way and the things that have stuck are the questions they posed that compelled me to find my own answers. It takes a good teacher to do that.
    Quote Originally Posted by alwayslearning View Post
    ... But my improvising has been most improved by working with a first-class sax player.

    Has anyone else had a similar experience?
    Piano player, and then a theory teacher for me. Both of them never gave me advice about guitar.
    Off topic and right on, I learn more about music by spending time in the company of artists, with a guitar or paper in my hands. It's not a linear or obvious path.
    David

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    It is great seeing you post again David...Happy holidays to you and yours my friend...