A taste of the Ukrainian spirit

A buyer of my book Alto Trombone Savvy wrote me a very sweet email and informed me that he cannot directly receive the book but is making arrangements for its delivery. Not an uncommon email, but this particular one came from Ukraine. This Ukrainian trombone player, Petro, will be teaching himself alto trombone. He wrote, “I dream of […]

Something is happening to today’s jazz. Why and what to do about it

I came across a brand new jazz album today by Ethan Iverson called “Every Note is True.” It is on the Blue Note label. Listening to it got me thinking… If a friend had played this for me blindfolded without telling me that it was a high-profile guy on the Blue Note label, I would […]

Uplift your playing: try something new

Thank you for all the positive comments and emails from last week’s post on building your health. As I thought about all those people wanting to make change, I was reminded of another topic that is super important to the idea of making material change: the willingness to try something new and different from what you’ve […]

The joy of practicing different

In my free improvisation course, Pocket Jazz, I dedicate a lesson to finding ways to mix it up in your practicing. Find new and cool places that bring out the best in your playing and make it more fun. How easily you can do this depends on two things: your instrument and where you live. […]

Getting over your guilt of not practicing enough

No, this is not a post assuring you that you don’t really need to practice in order to become a better player. To get better at playing jazz requires work, and I’ve written about it here, here, and here, among many other places including the lesson on my free course Pocket Jazz called Playing Jazz is Easy (sarcasm). Instead, […]

Michael Brecker on one’s individual sound

A friend sent me a link to a YouTube video with Michel Brecker talking about different topics as part of what looked like a panel discussion. The entire video is: https://youtu.be/Ah0f34pWrSQ I thought I’d highlight one short segment for you. At the very end, he spoke briefly about being comfortable with one’s own unique sound, warts […]

Musicians: getting over stage fright

Richie Beirach and I are about to release our new book called Teaching and Learning Jazz. As a promotion for the book’s release, we will give away as a bonus our first book called A Framework for Jazz Mastery. But we wanted to provide more with our new book, so we added a chapter to […]

Does popularity define an artist?

A comment was recently written in one of the Pocket Jazz lessons. It was a lengthy comment but it ended with these questions: When is someone considered an artist? How many followers needed? Or is your mother enough? (Smiley face emoji) I replied… I don’t think popularity is an indication of artistry. In fact, popularity […]

A rare example of excellence

I admit that I find myself too often frustrated by the awful service dolled out throughout the world. The list includes: Product support chat and phone agents who are clueless about their own product Support tickets that are never responded to The lack of any contact info on many websites Company phones that ring without […]

How you can play so much better right now

There is a fascinating process that I constantly see played out. Instantly, it can elevate the ability of players. They are amazed and delighted that something so seemingly simple can transform their playing into something they hadn’t imagined. Here’s an example. Last Tuesday, my group was warming up on some Bach Chorals, and when we […]

Quick and easy mastery of jazz?

I woke up this morning to an email from an online jazz instructor claiming, in essence, that 1. large amounts of practice is NOT necessary for impressive progress, 2. the goal of practicing is not to eliminate mistakes, and 3. that if one doesn’t keep up a consistent practice habit even when they know they […]

The compound results from better habits

I’ve written about habits and even dedicated a lesson to the topic within my Improvisation Savvy course, but it is the compounding effects of habitual behavior that I want to explore with you.