The digital possibilities for learning jazz

I uploaded my 45th TikTok lesson on jazz this past weekend and starting to see some momentum in engagement. Young and old alike seem to be viewing, ‘liking’, and commenting on these 3-minute lessons – some collecting over 10,000 views within a few days.

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Coincidentally, Richie Beirach and I are in the middle of writing a new book on jazz education and we’re writing the chapter right now on the digital influence on learning jazz. Obviously, I have a lot to say about the Internet and social media relative to becoming better at jazz-the good and the not so good.

There is a significant difference between the old-school master-apprentice means of learning jazz AND the internet distribution of YouTube, social media, jazz instruction sites, streaming Aebersold tracks, and 3-minute TikTok videos.

Jazz is an analog art form that is trying to find its way into the 21st century. The jury is still out as to what type of transformation jazz is undergoing given the realities of our modern economy and ubiquitous digital accessibility.

It’s easy to hate on social media but it has the potential to touch a lot of people from the nearly 5 billion internet users on planet Earth. I’m getting feedback on TikTok from knowledgeable players, but I’m also getting comments from people who have never heard anything like this music and the advice I’m posting. Many seem to be intrigued.

I recently posted a three minute clip from my interview with Jamey Aebersold on the mind/instrument connection which sparked a lot of glowing comments from his very enthusiastic fans, including one commentor calling him the “jazz Jesus!”.

People warned me when I started that TikTok was the wrong audience or too small to matter. I think this has been a worthwhile effort, especially since I have other plans for these three minute video lessons on jazz besides just posting them on TikTok.

TikTok’s biggest demographic is 10 – 19 year old males. That sounds like the perfect people we can expose and attract to jazz, isn’t it?

To the right is video lesson #45. It gave me the opportunity to offer advice without sounding preachy. After all, I was giving this advice to 19-year-old ME!

The talk about improvisationsss

6 thoughts on “The digital possibilities for learning jazz”

  1. Excellent job!!! You can somehow cram a lot of information into three minutes. Man it takes me OVER 3 minutes just to put my socks on in the morning!!

    You NEVER sound preachy bro. Now, if we could just get Kim Kardashian or anyone from the Kardashian stable to give you a proper HAIRCUT!! LOL!



  2. Avatar
    William Ayres

    I started trying to learn solos from transcriptions and listening to YouTube videos. The aha moment came when someone told me you could play them at 75% speed. What? Slow it down? After the subsequent explosion of brain matter, I settled down and gave it a try. Wonderful. So if technology is the ocean, I’m almost up to my toes now.

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Michael Lake

Michael Lake

Trombonist, author, composer, marketer

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This is just a fake book example for the type of website I can build for you. Just trying to use a little humor here!