December 31st, 2015

Goal Setting 101 for the Jazz Musician

Written by Forrest

Goal Setting 101

Everyone wants to set goals, and many actually do set them, but only a handful of people achieve them.

And out of these people that achieve their goals, only a portion of them are truly satisfied with their accomplishment.

What is this exemplary group of people doing differently than everybody else and how can we join this satisfied achieving group?

When it comes to goal setting, I’m no stranger. Flashback to 5th grade, I can remember the guest speaker telling us the importance of goal setting and how it could get us anywhere in life. She was right!

Oh, and the guest speaker? My mom.

I’ve been goal oriented since day one. After dozens of questions seemingly going in circles, a recent personality test—a friend insisted I take it—classified me as “The achiever.”

This was no coincidence.

I spend much of my time thinking about what it is I truly want and how to best get there, all the while, doing my best to not ignore the beauty, joy, and happiness that’s right there in front of me, every single day.

Am I the best at it? Certainly not. I know tons of people that are better at putting into practice what I know in theory, but I’ll do my best to share with you what I’ve found works for me and what I see working for others.

We have one life (as far as we know) and we have the opportunity to architect it how ever we see fit.… Read More

December 29th, 2015

7 Musical Devices That Will Give Your Solos Irresistible Style

Written by Eric

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Open up a music theory book and you’ll likely find pages and pages of definitions…

Terms like Apogituras, retograde inversions, mordents, hemiolas, turns, etc.

Good information, but not exactly stuff that you’d want to put into your next solo. I mean what did stuffy old composers know about improvising anyway?

But before you dismiss all that tedious theory terminology, you should know this…

Some of the best improvisers have used these very musical devices to create their distinctive style that we love to listen to today.

And when it comes to your style, you should too…

Why style is important

There are a ton of solos out there that contain all the right notes and scales. But hardly any solos that have style.

That’s because much of jazz education has become centered around music theory and scales. What notes you play over a G7 chord, what scales to use on the bridge to rhythm changes…

And as a result you get a lot of solos that are fast, technical, and full of the “right notes.”

…but lacking personality and musical style.

However, take a listen to the most famous jazz records and you’ll notice something there that goes beyond the notes…

The elements of style

Great musical style doesn’t depend on a genre of music, a particular time period, or even a location.

It depends on the things you do in your solo to grab the ear of the listener. And there are certain devices that add this … Read More

December 25th, 2015

How to Practice: A Diagram Illustrating the 3 Essential Pieces to Practicing Jazz Improvisation [Free Download Inside]

Written by Forrest

How To Practice Jazz Diagram

Back in September we released a free presentation walking you through What You Should Practice, and in that presentation, we showed you and discussed the 3 essential pieces to practicing jazz improvisation:

  1. Getting new language
  2. Developing language
  3. Working on tunes

But they’re not the easiest concepts to grasp…

So, we thought it might be helpful to give you a flow diagram of how these 3 essential pieces fit together, allowing you to visualize and understand the information more easily.

The result: A beautiful diagram made specifically for you to print out and hang up in your practice room, after all, that’s where you need to remember this information the most!

Here’s a small preview of what it looks like, but download the PDFs below as they’re higher quality:

How To Practice Jazz Improvisation

You can download the whole large diagram, good for digital viewing, or you can download the printable version, conveniently split into 3 printable size pages which you can simply tape together and put up in your practice room.

Download the Free How To Practice Jazz Improvisation Diagram:

We sincerely hope you enjoy this resource and use it in your practice room.

And if you’ve found Jazzadvice helpful this year and  you want to show us some love, Make a small donation here, See what we have for sale, Follow us on Twitter, or Like our Facebook Read More

December 21st, 2015

8 Things No One Tells You About Learning Jazz Improvisation

Written by Forrest

8 Things No One Tells You About Jazz Improv

People will tell you all sorts of things about learning jazz improvisation…

But no one tells you many of the things that could actually help you the most.

As we practice jazz improvisation, we develop a concept of how we think we should go about learning things. This concept primarily comes from what our teachers, friends, and books tell us. The problem is they often either don’t know or think to tell us specific things that could help us tremendously.

It’s not their fault. We need to take 100% ownership of our education and our improvement. Part of  “Being greedy for the music” is being greedy for the knowledge, all the tips and info that can push us to the next level, little gems or ideas that click in our mind and help us to do something we never thought about doing before.

And that’s what we’ll discuss today. 8 things no one is going to tell you about learning jazz improvisation…

It’s never too early to put your approach on things

When you’re developing as a jazz musician, people will tell you that you have to imitate your heroes a lot. And, this is true.

Whether you listen to them for countless hours or transcribe their every note to memory, at some point you must immerse yourself in the music to learn the nuances that are available to you no other way.

But, just because you’re copying all the time doesn’t mean that you can’t begin developing, applying, and Read More

December 17th, 2015

Stuck on Rhythm Changes? Here Are 4 Coltrane Concepts That’ll Set You Free

Written by Eric

rhythm_changes_post

Every improviser has to face it at some point…

We’re talking about those 32 bars of music that you know as Rhythm Changes.

Sure it’s easy enough to sing the melody…

And you’ve heard all the recordings of famous musicians playing circles around this familiar chord progression.

But when it comes improvising your own solos it can be tough.

A single scale doesn’t work and the chords are changing too quickly to think about music theory or those fancy lines you’ve memorized.

To sound great on this tune you need something else…

Time to learn from an expert

So what are you going to do?

You can look in books for patterns. You can think about music theory. You can even try to fake it with a few scales.

But that’s not music…at least not the kind you would pay to hear at a concert.

To start playing the way you envision, you need to get answers from someone that knows what they’re doing. And that means searching for the best recordings and learning why those players sound great.

When you transcribe the solo of a master musician and figure out why it works it’s like having a mentor tap you on the shoulder to say, Hey, instead of that stuff you’ve been playing, try playing it like this!”

Let’s take a listen to John Coltrane’s solo on Oleo from the album Relaxin’ with the Miles Davis Quintet:

Sounds great, right? Now what you can learn from this … Read More

December 8th, 2015

10 Killer Tips for Transcribing Jazz Solos That I Wish I’d Known All Along

Written by Eric

killer_transribing_tips

Transcribing jazz solos is an essential part of learning to improvise…

But here’s the catch: it’s trickier than it sounds.

…especially if you’re just getting started.

Many hopeful players attempt to learn solos from recordings, but often give up in frustration. And this is exactly how I felt when I was beginning to learn how to improvise.

I would try to start learning a solo, spend hours struggling with a few notes and give up in despair. Then a month later, discouraged with the way I was improvising, would try again with a new solo.

And the cycle would continue…

If you’ve spent any time on JazzAdvice you know that learning solos from recordings is necessary to improve and that transcribing involves more than writing the notes down

But what most players don’t realize is that there are some key skills that will make this entire process much easier and much faster.

Here are 10 killer tips for transcribing jazz solos that I wish I had known all along…

#1) Know why you are transcribing

What is the purpose of transcribing jazz solos and why the heck is everybody talking about it?

You’ve heard all the hubbub about transcribing, but before you devote valuable time to transcribing or lock yourself for hours in a practice room, you should ask yourself one question:

“What am I going to get out of the process of transcribing solos?”

I used to think that by figuring out the notes to one solo I … Read More

November 30th, 2015

5 Easy Tricks With Approach Notes That Will Make You Sound Like a Pro

Written by Eric

approach_notes

Ever wonder how the best players seem to improvise brilliant lines without any effort?

All while you’re struggling to make even the simplest chord tones sound good…

If you’re like most players you know this frustration. However, the solution doesn’t lie with a hidden secret or advanced music theory – it all goes back to the musical foundation that you already know.

By now you should be able to visualize the root and chord tones of any chord.

But knowing this information is only the starting point. The trick lies in making music out of these harmonic building blocks.

Pat Metheny quote

So how do you start with the basic notes of a chord and turn them into a solo that sounds good? How do you transform a few boring triads into music that people actually want to listen to??

As you’ll soon see, the gap between memorized theory and musical solos is closer than you think – you just need to know a few tricks.

It’s all about your approach…

Many of the complex lines that you hear in your favorite solos aren’t based on fancy scales.

Or even complex chords…

They are rooted in the basic structures found in every common chord: the root, 3rd, 5th and 7th.

One way improvisers create complex lines with limited material is through the use of chromatic approach notes.

For example listen to the opening of Dizzy Gillespie’s arrangement of Blue n’ Boogie:

Blue n' Boogie

 

Without the ornamentation or 16th notes the line … Read More

November 22nd, 2015

The Smart Improviser’s Process for Creating Stellar Solos Every Time

Written by Eric

smart_improviser

Contrary to what many people think…

…great solos don’t just happen by chance.

They aren’t a lucky run of notes that happen to sound good or a sudden stroke of divine inspiration that hits once you walk on stage.

If only it were that easy!

The ability to get up and improvise in front of an audience takes some guts and creativity, but it also requires something much more concrete: planning.

Despite what it looks like from the audience, improvisation isn’t magic and it’s not all spontaneous…

What the best improvisers know all too well is that there’s a process that leads to every great solo.

Let me explain…

The secret of the prepared improviser

Think of your favorite solo.

Miles Davis’ solo on So What immediately pops into my mind.

What most musicians forget is that this stellar solo started before Miles put the trumpet to his lips.

It started before he showed up to the gig or recorded Kind of Blue. It began taking shape back in the practice room weeks, months, even years before…

And this is exactly what many players miss when they set out to learn jazz improvisation. Improvising seems like a spur of the moment activity, however there is a process that leads to every great solo.

If you’re unhappy with the way you’re soloing right now, don’t get frustrated with that last concert and don’t blame the tune or how your instrument felt that day.

The process that lead to that solo … Read More

November 11th, 2015

Overwhelmed with Transcribing Jazz Solos? – Here’s the Secret That Will Speed Up Your Improvement

Written by Eric

secret_transcribing

“What solo should I transcribe?”

You’ve probably asked yourself this question. And you’ve probably searched far and wide for answers.

If you look in the Aebersold Jazz Handbook you’ll find a list with over 100 historically significant recordings to choose from…

Search the internet and you’ll see page after page of important players. For instance trumpet players have to deal with Louis Armstrong and Clark Terry, Miles and Dizzy, Lee Morgan, Kenny Dorham, Freddie Hubbard.

And that’s just scratching the surface…

So where do you begin with all of those options? How do you choose the solo that’s going to make you sound better?

Maybe you could start with just one player, like Clifford Brown. There’s his solo on Joy Spring or Cherokee or Sandu or Stompin’ at the Savoy or Jordu or Pent Up House…”

Suddenly you’re overwhelmed and right back where you started. Before you’ve even set out on your journey to learn the jazz language, you’re already falling behind…

Why less is more in learning jazz improvisation

What most people aren’t telling you is that you don’t have to transcribe hundreds of solos to start speaking the jazz language…

But you do have to learn a few of your favorite solos. Extremely well.

And that’s the key to getting started. Realizing that it’s OK to start at square one and understanding that you don’t have to rush to play catch-up with every jazz solo under the sun.

As a musician looking to improve quickly, picking one

Read More
November 5th, 2015

How to Turn Boring Theory into Your Next Brilliant Solo…

Written by Eric

boring_theory_post

You may think you know music theory…

And you’re probably willing to bet good money that you know the chords to your favorite tunes.

Most musicians would…

Hell, a few years ago I would’ve looked you straight in the eyes and said without a doubt that I knew all the music theory that I need to know.

But here’s the thing – As a performing musician knowing this stuff isn’t good enough…

To create your own music in front of an audience, you have to transform this mental knowledge into living and breathing sound. You need to be able to play it on your instrument.

You need to be able to improvise with it.

And to get there you must do some very specific things…

How to learn anything in 3 steps

In our last post, we uncovered the essential elements of jazz theory that you need to know.

But this information is only useful if you can do something with it in your solos.

Today we’re going to show you how to transform those elements of jazz theory or those tunes you’re learning into usable knowledge. To get you from the point of “knowing it” to the point of improvising with it.

And this process has 3 steps…

For anything that you want to learn the steps are the same: Memorization, Repetition and Visualization.

It could be a scale that you’re learning in your private lessons, a tricky chord in a jazz band chart, or the changes to … Read More

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