What is the jazz vocabulary and how you can learn it?

I recently listened to a podcast from Brent Vaartstra of LearnJazzStandards.com. Brent does a nice job with his podcasts, and his latest should give us all some food for thought. From his podcast, he shared the results of a survey he sent out that was responded to by over 1,000 jazz musicians. What caught my…

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Thoughts for a prosperous New Year

“Your present circumstances don’t determine where you can go. They merely determine where you start.”       – Nido Qubein Happy New Year to you! For me and perhaps you, a brand new year is a marker impressing upon us  to continue making positive changes in our lives. With the craziness of the pandemic continuing…

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The four stages of competence

Mastering a skill involves an integration of awareness and competence. Being aware of your current level of competence is necessary for improving any skill from riding a bike to brain surgery, including of course, jazz improvisation. In the 1970’s, an employee with Gordon Training International named Noel Burch developed what he called the Four Stages…

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My TikTok experiment in jazz

About a month ago, I started experimenting with the social media platform TikTok. After all, it has over 1 billion users with 200 million downloads in the US alone. And by social media standards, it’s still within its infancy.Yes, I am aware that the vast majority of videos on TikTok are juvenile antics designed purely…

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The power of articulation

A while back I wrote several posts about time, making the point that one’s sense of time and swing was more important in playing jazz than the ‘correct’ notes. The articulation of a note is a partner in time. You can have perfect time but if every note is attacked with the same force, dynamic,…

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A personal note to share from David Amram

The great composer, instrumentalist, and humanitarian David Amram replied to my post the other day on the book Richie Beirach and I put together on the film Whiplash. David occasionally writes me long expressions of his reactions to certain things I post, and since his 91st birthday is coming up in a week, I asked…

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About the movie Whiplash and jazz education

A couple weeks ago I sent Richie Beirach a YouTube clip from the movie Whiplash as a bit of levity. It was the scene where the teacher in the film Fletcher berates that poor trombone player for being out of tune. Spoiler alert: He’s not out of tune and Fletcher knows it but was using…

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