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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Quick and easy mastery of improvising jazz

Okay, let me come clean that the title of this post is completely misleading. But when you first saw it, admit that you had a tinge of excitement that it could be possible. Sorry about that, but I’m trying to make a point. While jazz mastery is not quick and easy, I am going to…

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One fix to your jazz playing that will make you swing

My last couple of posts have been dedicated to time and rhythm. So much of jazz education literature is obsessed almost exclusively to showing you the ‘right’ notes and scales to play over changes that we lose sight of the more important aspect of jazz and improvisation: time and rhythm. Anyway, in an earlier post…

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How is your sense of jazz time?

I’ve been listening to Youtube videos of jazz players. Not the stars, but players who most people would consider to be very capable. If you consider music skill and talent to be a smooth continuum, I want to talk about the players in the circled part of the line below. Not the greats at the…

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Finding meaning for your jazz playing

I just read Viktor Frankl’s classic, Man’s Search For Meaning. It’s been on my reading list for a long time so my recent sojourn to the northern Arizona flower-covered mountains gave me the opportunity to finally read it. In essence, the book is Frankl’s horrifying account of his life in Nazi concentration camps and what…

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Warm up your ear for improvisation

We are all pretty good at warming up our bodies to play our instruments. Brass players require a little extra as we limber up the vibrating mechanism called our lips. For that, we play long tones, lip slurs, tonguing, etc. While each instrument has different needs for warming up physically, each one of us can…

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Memorization and jazz improvisation

I received an email this morning from a classical pianist eager to improve her jazz skills. Her question involves memorization, which she considers her ‘weakest area’. She asked, “How do I train my brain to play without music?” I’m turning my answer into a post because this is such a common question. She is certainly…

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Don’t blame the tool if you use it for the wrong task

There are lots of ‘tools’ available to someone learning to become a better jazz player. Recordings of great players Method books Scales A pitch tuner Transcribing Harmonic knowledge Patterns Band in a Box A metronome A keyboard (for non-piano players) A recording device Jam sessions A teacher Are they good or bad? It depends on…

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