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  1. #1

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    At what moment do you feel you can learn things on your own without having to rely on the teacher for the answers? I feel I've reached that point where I only need him occasionally, not constantly. Also, one thing I've realized is that some teachers try to make it seem you need them desperately unless you are as good as they are.
    "If I don't practice for a day, I know it... for two days, the critics know it... three days, the public knows it." -- Louis Armstrong

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  3. #2

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    Given that many top-tier professionals still reach out to others for lessons/consultations, I guess the easy answer is "never."

    There is always more to learn; taking regular lessons, however, is but one way to do it.

    BTW, "some teachers try to make it seem you need them desperately unless you are as good as they are," is a sign of a bad teacher, IMO.

  4. #3

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    The teachers I've had can in four lessons give me enough to work on for a year. There's a 'wow' stage for me and then an overload stage. When I move from wow to overload it's time to go to the workshed and spend a bunch of time on my own with the material. That's when it's time to stop taking lessons.

    A year down the road or so, I like to take a few more lessons. I also have had good experinces with restarting with a different teacher.

    I also really like the investigation, discovery and self study part of learning.
    B+
    Frank (aka fep)

  5. #4

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    You can exhaust what a teacher can give you...doesn't necessarily mean you're done with lessons.

    Mind you, once you've exhausted what a teacher can "give," they can still be beneficial. If you've developed an honest relationship with them, branching out on your own and then checking in with a teacher periodically can be very beneficial.
    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

  6. #5

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    It totally depends on your goals and where you currently stand relative to your goals.

  7. #6

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    I took lessons with a guy for 6 years until we both realized I'd learned pretty much all he had to teach me. After that we'd jam every so often but then I moved away. About 20 years later I dropped by to see him and inevitably the axes came out. He kicked my ass. In the intervening 20 years he'd just kept getting better...

  8. #7

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    Roger Federer and Raf Nadal still have coaches. So do other elite sportsmen. Everyone will benefit from the right coach.

  9. #8

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    I wouldn't say a teacher is there to give you the answers, they can only give you guidance to things that they themselves had dealt with before.

  10. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by coolvinny View Post
    It totally depends on your goals and where you currently stand relative to your goals.
    My former teacher (a high level pro btw) had this my way or the highway approach. Whenever I brought in material that I was interested in he would push it to the side and do his own thing. And looking back, those material that I investigated on my own helped me way more than he ever could due to my determination. So yeah you are right my goals was not in line with his.
    "If I don't practice for a day, I know it... for two days, the critics know it... three days, the public knows it." -- Louis Armstrong

  11. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by nick1994 View Post
    I wouldn't say a teacher is there to give you the answers, they can only give you guidance to things that they themselves had dealt with before.
    That's what I'm saying. There is no right answer in the arts after you get to a certain level of understanding what that art form is about.

  12. #11

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    Just sounds like you need a better teacher.

    I know a guy who's an absolutely top-level player, but when he goes to New York he gets lessons from Kreisberg. There's always someone better than you until there's not.

    So in answer to your question of "when do you know", you'll know when you're too advanced for a teacher when all of us would instantly recognize your name a la Jim Hall or Wes (or if you're a master in some other respect that doesn't attract as much acclaim, such as teaching music to others). If you're a world-class master, there's probably no one who can teach you. If you're not, then there still is and you just haven't run into them yet.
    Last edited by brightsize; 04-20-2014 at 08:04 AM.

  13. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by brightsize View Post
    Just sounds like you need a better teacher.

    I know a guy who's an absolutely top-level player, but when he goes to New York he gets lessons from Kreisberg. There's always someone better than you until there's not.

    So in answer to your question of "when do you know", you'll know when you're too advanced for a teacher when all of us would instantly recognize your name a la Jim Hall or Wes (or if you're a master in some other respect that doesn't attract as much acclaim, such as teaching music to others). If you're a world-class master, there's probably no one who can teach you. If you're not, then there still is and you just haven't run into them yet.
    I'm not saying that taking lessons is bad. Is just that it can be "exhausted" as Mr. B mentioned above.

    I don't think name recognition is an excuse for not taking lessons once in a while. I read that Coltrane used to take informal lessons from saxophonist John Gilmore during the height of his greatness. What I've learnt though is that you need a long period of self-exploration (kind of like going out into the field and getting your hands dirty) without using the teacher as a crouch too often. This is once you've reach a competent level which I feel I'm at. Mastery is my long term goal.
    Last edited by smokinguit; 04-20-2014 at 10:02 AM.

  14. #13

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    find your own languade...

  15. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by kris View Post
    find your own languade...
    Yes, you're right, your own languade, will be out of a decent language !
    I'm kidding ! You're right, you can find your own language, then someone will explain to you that what you have found wasn't really yours and you would get it with a 10 minutes lesson, less than years of shredding.

  16. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by Badge View Post
    Everyone will benefit from the right coach.

    I'm curious what criteria you guys look for in choosing an instructor? What traits do you prize? Is it just the "best" player, or someone who has mastered a certain style you want to learn, or some other traits?

  17. #16

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    When your teacher won't stop asking if you think his wife is hot.....

  18. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by teok View Post
    I'm curious what criteria you guys look for in choosing an instructor? What traits do you prize? Is it just the "best" player, or someone who has mastered a certain style you want to learn, or some other traits?
    I look for someone who is active on the jazz scene, preferably with a music degree.

  19. #18

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    A good teacher teaches you how to fish.

    he doesn't just feed you fish. Simplistic but true.

  20. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by Broyale View Post
    I look for someone who is active on the jazz scene, preferably with a music degree.
    Difficult to find, when you can't play, you teach, when you can play, life doesn't let you teach but play more and more and nobody wants to play in front of you.
    Music degree means nothing to me... I forgot... I'm a music teacher !

  21. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by Broyale View Post
    I look for someone who is active on the jazz scene, preferably with a music degree.
    A lot of the older cats didn't bother with a music degree - doesn't mean they aren't super-knowledgeable. Some may have studied at a college for a year or two but then never finished. Someone who's been active on the jazz scene for many years and has played with great players will know their stuff, I reckon.

  22. #21

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    Quote Originally Posted by coolvinny View Post
    A lot of the older cats didn't bother with a music degree - doesn't mean they aren't super-knowledgeable. Some may have studied at a college for a year or two but then never finished. Someone who's been active on the jazz scene for many years and has played with great players will know their stuff, I reckon.
    I will add, people who give music degree (I've never heard a music teacher in the University performing, on the other hand the ones who were performing weren't studying music but other things and they were playing for real) are not musicians, when you are talented you don't need an institution to live.

  23. #22

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    Quote Originally Posted by marcwhy View Post
    Given that many top-tier professionals still reach out to others for lessons/consultations, I guess the easy answer is "never."

    There is always more to learn; taking regular lessons, however, is but one way to do it.

    BTW, "some teachers try to make it seem you need them desperately unless you are as good as they are," is a sign of a bad teacher, IMO.
    i agree with you. Just a funny note, Dennis Sandole did exactly what you said in the last sentence to me when I left him.

  24. #23

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    I used to give classical guitar lessons (my music degree gave me that right) although I don't really play, some of my pupils became better than I am (easy thing) but they still wanted me as a teacher, I said to their parents that I couldn't and they said : "Our son really needs you ! don't give up please !"
    But I gave up in order to work in a factory.

    Trust a good musician not people who only have a music degree.

  25. #24

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    To clarify,
    I don't necessarily NEED my instructor to have a degree, but I want to know the theory behind the tunes I'm learning as well. Its frustrating when I ask a theory-related question and the answer is, "can't you hear it?" and my response is, " of course I can HEAR it, I want to know WHY it works so I can apply it to some other stuff".
    Also, someone with a student loan debt is more likely to make time for my $60 a week in between gigs than say, someone too busy to teach because they're THAT much of a pro with their one-gig-a-week. And lets be real here, this is music we're talking about--unless you're touring nationally, or 60+ with a shelf full of Grammys-you ain't that much of a pro to turn away my $60 a week.

  26. #25

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    Theory means speaking too much and not playing enough but I agree it's something useful. Find people to play with, and read theory, you will have the good questions when you get the right teacher, the theory will become practise.

  27. #26

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    Quote Originally Posted by teok View Post
    I'm curious what criteria you guys look for in choosing an instructor? What traits do you prize? Is it just the "best" player, or someone who has mastered a certain style you want to learn, or some other traits?
    Great questions.

    I've been fortunate to have one-time "master class" lessons with some greats, and then ongoing student-teacher relationships with others. I've also been fortunate in that most of them have been great teachers as well as great players (these two do NOT always go together!).

    - So, I guess I've started by saying, "Wow, I really like how that guy plays!" and then I've sought them out.

    - Sometimes I had specific questions, like, "I want to work on chord solos," etc., and we'd go from there.

    - Other times I'd play, the teacher would assess my skills, and he'd say, "Wow, you really need to work on ___!" and we'd go from there.

    Always more to learn ...

  28. #27

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lionelsax View Post
    I used to give classical guitar lessons (my music degree gave me that right) although I don't really play, some of my pupils became better than I am (easy thing) but they still wanted me as a teacher, I said to their parents that I couldn't and they said : "Our son really needs you ! don't give up please !"
    But I gave up in order to work in a factory.

    Trust a good musician not people who only have a music degree.
    Wait a minute... A music degree gave you the right to teach an instrument that you don't play?
    Jay

    'boobadoobadoobaooababop!'

  29. #28

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    i'm going to say something controversial. I studied with Sandole, Martino, Andrew White, Stan Samole, had lessons with Howard Roberts, Joe Pass, Herb Ellis, Barney Kessel and many others. I think some people are expecting too much of their teachers.

    People often say that some people are great players but not good teachers. If a guy spends an hour or two of his time, he's a good enough teacher unless he's just ripping you off and not paying attention.

    A jazz teacher isn't someone who holds your hand and guides you through multiplication tables and vowels and consonants. He inspires you and causes you to reach for more or in a different direction or path than what you are currently on.

    I studied with Martino for a year and I don't think we played a single tune together the entire time. He didn't give me assignments or listen to me play along with a metronome or over a chord progression. He demonstrated his playing and some concepts when I would ask him a question. Many times he pretended to not understand what was behind what he had played. For example, he denied ever working on octave displaced chromatic scales though a year after I discontinued my lessons he published 12 chromatic forms for guitar.

    The point of all my rambling is that the year I studied with him was the most fruitful period of my entire musical upbringing. Not because of what he taught me. Because of what he inspired me to do on my own.

    He told me that a great teacher is responsible for about 1/2 of 1 percent of your development. The rest comes from within.

    The tradition of jazz as a folk and street music is to learn from those who came before you. Not by having them teach you but by having them inspire you to work hard.

    I remember reading an interview with George Benson where he was asked why he didn't do an instructional video. His response was that jazz isn't meant to be taught. It's meant to be learned by listening to and imitating others and by playing and that he felt that learning through a video was the wrong way.

    By proxy, attempting to make a teacher more responsible than about .5 percent of your development falls into the same category.

  30. #29

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    Quote Originally Posted by teok View Post
    I'm curious what criteria you guys look for in choosing an instructor? What traits do you prize? Is it just the "best" player, or someone who has mastered a certain style you want to learn, or some other traits?
    Traits:

    Experienced

    Organized

    Gives you good value

    After a few instructors you can instantly tell which ones are giving you good value and which ones are just punching a time clock.
    B+
    Frank (aka fep)

  31. #30

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    Quote Originally Posted by jzucker View Post
    i'm going to say something controversial. I studied with Sandole, Martino, Andrew White, Stan Samole, had lessons with Howard Roberts, Joe Pass, Herb Ellis, Barney Kessel and many others. I think some people are expecting too much of their teachers.

    People often say that some people are great players but not good teachers. If a guy spends an hour or two of his time, he's a good enough teacher unless he's just ripping you off and not paying attention.

    A jazz teacher isn't someone who holds your hand and guides you through multiplication tables and vowels and consonants. He inspires you and causes you to reach for more or in a different direction or path than what you are currently on.

    I studied with Martino for a year and I don't think we played a single tune together the entire time. He didn't give me assignments or listen to me play along with a metronome or over a chord progression. He demonstrated his playing and some concepts when I would ask him a question. Many times he pretended to not understand what was behind what he had played. For example, he denied ever working on octave displaced chromatic scales though a year after I discontinued my lessons he published 12 chromatic forms for guitar.

    The point of all my rambling is that the year I studied with him was the most fruitful period of my entire musical upbringing. Not because of what he taught me. Because of what he inspired me to do on my own.

    He told me that a great teacher is responsible for about 1/2 of 1 percent of your development. The rest comes from within.

    The tradition of jazz as a folk and street music is to learn from those who came before you. Not by having them teach you but by having them inspire you to work hard.

    I remember reading an interview with George Benson where he was asked why he didn't do an instructional video. His response was that jazz isn't meant to be taught. It's meant to be learned by listening to and imitating others and by playing and that he felt that learning through a video was the wrong way.

    By proxy, attempting to make a teacher more responsible than about .5 percent of your development falls into the same category.
    it's why I prefer the word sensei--more literally "guide."

    A real teacher inspires the student to learn. It's not about "bestowing knowledge." It's about lighting a fire under someone's ass.

    My Experience: 12 years in Chicago Public Schools in the same school...
    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

  32. #31

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jehu View Post
    Wait a minute... A music degree gave you the right to teach an instrument that you don't play?
    Yes ! A degree is everything when you're not talented ! I'm not talented. Nature hasn't been generous with me.
    Well, I'm kidding, I do play but not as I would like !

  33. #32

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    I will add, people who give music degree (I've never heard a music teacher in the University performing, on the other hand the ones who were performing weren't studying music but other things and they were playing for real) are not musicians, when you are talented you don't need an institution to live.
    This is ridiculous. I live in Toronto, most of the best jazzers in town teach at the various colleges and universities in the area. Trying to make a living off of gigs alone is impossible.

    These are all big-name guys, some of whom you likely would have heard of.

  34. #33

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lionelsax View Post
    I will add, people who give music degree (I've never heard a music teacher in the University performing, on the other hand the ones who were performing weren't studying music but other things and they were playing for real) are not musicians, when you are talented you don't need an institution to live.
    This is one of the most ridiculous things I've read here. Paul Bollenback, Rodney Jones, Ron Carter and many others make their living teaching music in college. Nobody other than the stars are making a living playing jazz anymore.

    Many of the guys you *THINK* are making a living playing have made their money in real estate or are living on trust funds. You'd be surprised how many name players in NY have parents who are surgeons or big time attorneys or wall street moguls.

  35. #34

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    Quote Originally Posted by Space Pickle View Post
    This is ridiculous. I live in Toronto, most of the best jazzers in town teach at the various colleges and universities in the area. Trying to make a living off of gigs alone is impossible.

    These are all big-name guys, some of whom you likely would have heard of.
    Yes, in Toronto.
    Living of gigs is possible, I know some people who live quite well but a good a car is needed, they drive a lot.

  36. #35

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    Yeah I realize "living" is possible but there is absolutely no way in hell you're going to earn anything approaching a middle-class wage playing jazz in 2014.

    Anyway the issue is not earning a living off of jazz, it's your insulting comment that those who teach can't do. Seriously, look at the faculty list of any top-tier jazz school and tell me those guys aren't "talented"

    I would be interested to hear a sample of your playing.

  37. #36

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    Quote Originally Posted by Space Pickle View Post
    Anyway the issue is not earning a living off of jazz, it's your insulting comment that those who teach can't do. Seriously, look at the faculty list of any top-tier jazz school and tell me those guys aren't "talented".
    They are talented, they play but I was talking about something else and well... I wanted to be a musician but I'm not talented, I became a teacher. Some people say I am "talented", I always tell us that if I were "talented" I wouldn't be a teacher and add maybe they're "talented" and don't know it, my argument : I'm 37 years old and I'm still struggling.
    You would like to hear me play... I'm so bad that I don't have recording but only stupid videos.




  38. #37

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    i notice he ignored my posting which I think says it all. If rodney jones, paul bollenback, randy johnston and ron carter are teaching at universities for $$$, it blows his theory all up.

  39. #38

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    Quote Originally Posted by jzucker View Post
    Many of the guys you *THINK* are making a living playing have made their money in real estate or are living on trust funds. You'd be surprised how many name players in NY have parents who are surgeons or big time attorneys or wall street moguls.
    That's really true, I must agree, but I know some guys who only play and they live well, they play all over the world.
    When I was younger, I had studied in a jazz school and there was a kid, 16 years old, very humble and talented, I was older and couldn't do 10% of what he used to do...
    This is the little guy now... He doesn't teach... And stayed very humble...


  40. #39

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    A good a car is critical. A bad a car is detrimental. Driving ALOT also helps. That's the essence of it.

  41. #40

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    Back to the original post, I think it is extremly important for every individual to know when it's time to continue their music journey more self guided than other guided. It is possible to both at the same time not be the player you want to be AND not need lessons or a teacher. A great teacher will recognize that your ability has improved that all of the essential basic foundational material has been learned, memorized and that as a student you are now ready to find your own path, explore your own voice and can trust your self to maintain self discipline and practice and play what you determine to be your needs. I believe that no matter how many lessons we take everyone is "self" taught because the ability to play comes from within, ultimately it is up to each individual to do the work to maximize ability. A great student knows when it is time to leave the physical space of lessons and move on to the path of self discovery through music.Though we are hopefully never finished with learning there is definitely a time when we are done with lessons, at least formal weekly lessons with specific activities to practice. One may find after a period of time that a lesson or two every so often is helpful for maintaining a sense of wonder and awe of what is possible, but yes for certain it is goood to stop taking lessons and move on to realizing your own path in music.

  42. #41

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    Quote Originally Posted by Broyale View Post
    When your teacher won't stop asking if you think his wife is hot.....
    ... or keeps remarking that he thinks your wife is hot...

  43. #42

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    Last month Vic Juris commented on his Facebook page that he was taking a few lessons with a teacher. If Vic can use a teacher I daresay that most of us here are not beyond it.

  44. #43

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    When to stop lessons? In my case I stopped after my first couple of years because by then I could figure out on my own what I was interested in learning (classic rock stuff).

    I got into classical guitar after a while, (I did learn to read near the end of my lessons with the first guy via Joe fava books) and took occasional lessons from another teacher who was mainly a classical player for another few years.

    So I think I got a fairly good foundation from my two teachers and continued to learn using books, listening to recordings, video etc...

    Now, twentysomething years later I wish I could go back in time and have myself ask my first teacher about jazz guitar.

  45. #44

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    I think, there's a point where you can stop formally studying with a teacher when you're working so often, you get to learn from your peers (hopefully, you're working with cats older than you, since people at your same skill level will likely not replace a teacher, although you can learn stuff from guys at your level as well).

  46. #45

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    Another angle on this... given one doesn't want to waste an instructors time and/or given one doesn't want to waste their money:

    How much time and dedication do you need to have to justify taking lessons?
    B+
    Frank (aka fep)

  47. #46

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    I think time is secondary to dedication. If something is important to someone, they usually find a way to fit it in. An hour a week won't kill anyone - I don't care what they do for a living. The harder thing is having the discipline to work on the lesson materials in-between lessons, since we all have our own "things" to work on in addition to lesson materials.