If you’re a beginner in exploring the amazing world of jazz and want to learn how to play jazz guitar, there is so many material online it’s hard to focus on what’s best. Endless tutorial videos, e-books and online lectures have made it easier than ever to learn the secrets of jazz guitar, but sometimes a novice guitar player might find themselves lost in a sea of too much info. We consulted a couple of renowned jazz musicians and asked them for advice they would give to young players that are still learning to play jazz. They have shared their opinions and practical tips to make your learning experience as pleasant as possible. Enjoy the advice of the experts!
1) Listen, listen listen
Since you want to become a jazz guitarists, it’s safe to assume that you already love jazz and listen to it constantly. Which is great,because one of the keys to good playing is to listen to jazz a lot. First of all, it will give you a sense of what’s expected from a guitar player in a song, the way they interact with other musicians and subtle changes from being the lead to fading into the background. When listening to jazz, try to focus on the way the melody is developing and the improvisation as well. Your first couple of gigs might be stressful when it comes to improvising on stage, and then it’s essential to listen to the soloist. There are two ways to go – to follow the harmony clean and simple, or to try to add dissonant voicings. It depends on your personal playing style as well as on the people you’re playing with. Some musicians will prefer to stick to a pattern and expect you to follow it, others will let you improvise as much as you want. Pay attention to the rhythm section as well as they give you a way to enhance the theme as you play.
2) Don’t turn the volume up
A very common problem among amateur and novice musicians is they tend to turn their instruments’ volume too much when performing. It’s hard to hear yourself play once everyone is playing together, but the solution isn’t to crank the volume up. This way you’re only interfering with the sound balance and might end up sounding too loud. Try to take a position on stage which allows you to hear yourself better than others. Don’t worry, these kind of problems usually pass with time and experience as you learn to listen to yourself.
3) Take a break now and then
There’s nothing worse than an overzealous musician who doesn’t realize there is a time and place for everything. Jazz is great because it allows you to improvise on stage and have that 3 minute solo you’ve always wanted, but the key to a great performance is balance. Every band member should have their 5 minutes of fame and a chance to show off their skills through a solo, but respect others when you’ve done with your part. It’s not essential that you play all time, so take a break now and then and let others shine.