I'm building a new way to distribute all of my content online, and currently focused on how best to describe its value and how it's different from everything else out there.
So I've been thinking...
There's no shortage right now of diverse online jazz learning resources, from single source musicians to large sites featuring great players. But I see one thing that is missing in most of them.
Things changed in the late 1950's when learning jazz started transitioning from hanging and playing with a master musician to formally teaching the technical craft of improvisation within high schools and colleges.
At least in the schools, they retained certain elements of playing and hanging with other good players. Moving this formal education model of jazz online has stripped that element away from learning.
Look through today's online jazz classes, videos, and newsletters and you'll see that most of its content focuses primarily on some element of music theory. 'The Math' as I like to call it–so many scales, patterns, and licks, and most of it without any musical context to guide you properly in their use.
For a certain type of musician who knows they have music inside them wanting to come out their instrument, what they're learning online results in a constant analysis during their improvisation about the chords and scales. And all that gets in their way. I hear this from people nearly every day. This mostly technical knowledge of the music is not serving them well.
There's so much educational emphasis on memorizing and parroting the 'right' notes that players aren't developing their ears for deeper listening.
That 'music math' will serve you if you keep it in its proper place. But if you focus on the music theory and instrument mechanics during the heat of performance, your best and most authentic music will never make it out of your instrument.
As a solution, what I've been teaching is what I think is missing from other online jazz resources. Although "teaching' is the wrong word for what I provide people. It's more like I provide tools enabling players to hear for themselves what has been there all along. Deep listening.
For performance, I emphasize right brain over left, present moment playing rather than time traveling to the future or past, and the primacy of intuition over 'the math'.
A friend reminded me today of this entertaining one-minute clip I created years ago illustrating the tug of war that can occur between brain hemispheres when playing jazz. Sound familiar?