How to learn jazz

My purpose in teaching is to help people achieve their musical goals.

So first we have to define those goals. You might be very unclear about your musical goals at the beginning. That's OK, the clarity will develop as we go into the process of planning and then be modified by your learning experiences.

The first question I ask prospective jazz students is: "What is jazz?". Some typical answers are:

  • Improvised music
  • Very structured music, with elements of improvisation present
  • Acoustic music
  • Electric Music
  • Music with complicated rhythms
  • Music with syncopated rhythms
  • Music derived from the blues
  • Music derived from ragtime
  • Music derived from classical music
  • Traditional American music
  • Music which is constantly evolving
  • Dixie
  • Swing
  • Bebop
  • Post-Bop
  • Fusion
  • Latin
  • Bossa nova
  • Samba
  • Smooth Jazz
  • ... other ....

All these answers are good and valid.

The second question I ask prospective jazz students is: "OK, so you want to learn jazz. Now, what do you intend to do with this knowledge". Some typical answers are:

  • Play for my own amusement
  • As a hobby
  • To get gigs...
  • To play at home
  • To play at a dinner party
  • To play at a work function
  • To play in a restaurant
  • To play at an amateur concert
  • To pass an exam
  • To play Professionally, in a band
  • To play at Professionally in concerts
  • ... other ...

Then more questions need to be answered:

  • "What style of jazz do you want to play?"
  • "What kind of ensemble do you want to play in?"

Look at the Tuition Forms on this site to help you work through answering those questions.

Once we have got a focus to the endeavour we can begin to assess and work on the various skills you will need to succeed in your jazz guitar effort!