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Jazz Advice

Practice: Stay in Balance

Chuck Anderson

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The word practice is often equated with long, tedious repetition. It doesn’t have to be… In fact, it shouldn’t be!

There are two ways to work on your jazz guitar style – one is technical, the other is creative.

The technical is a lot like conditioning in athletics. Running, lifting weights, stretching are all important to a top athlete but they are not the game itself. Whether it’s basketball, soccer, football or any sport, you have to learn the specific skills of the sport. Those skills are enhanced by a well conditioned body. Athletes who have great individual sport specific skills but are out of shape still can’t compete at the world class level.

When you do your technical work, approach it as conditioning but make it interesting – make it creative.

Even when you do scales, change the rhythm of the notes. Change the direction of the notes. Change the dynamics. This is true for your scale, arpeggio, sequence and interval work.

Use this work as a warmup. Then focus your time on the jazz guitar skills. Chord voicings and applications, improvisation, learning heads of tunes, comping and melody and chord work are a few of them. Always keep a balance between conditioning, creative and street skills.

There are far too many jazz guitarists with great hands but no creative development or street level skills. 

Stay in balance and it will take you far!

Top photo credit: Mike Lynch

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