Category Archives: News

Updates from Jens Larsen – Jazz guitarist

When You Really Know The Chords 

If you play Jazz then you need to know how to solo over jazz chords!

In this video, I am going to talk about how just assigning a scale to a chord is not really helping you play a better solo, but another approach which will make your solos sound a lot better.

There are many ways to think about a chord progression or a piece of music, but some of the common ways we break down harmony are really not helping if you want to learn how to solo over chord changes or Jazz Standards.

Locked in Thinking Scales

I have often come across students who spend a lot of time thinking about what scale goes where. This is also often what you will find phone apps say that they can figure out or in old Aebersold books.

Obviously it is nice to have a pool of notes to use when you are soloing and a scale is a practical thing that we can play.

And if you have to think about what scale you are playing you will not sound very good.

At the same time, 7 notes don’t really tell you a lot about how it sounds, you are not going to start all your lines on the root so it is far from a complete picture.

A lot of pieces have the same 7 notes happening all the time, but they don’t sound the same (think of 4 bars of Autumn Leaves). It is also difficult to know what to play out of those 7 notes that work well over the chord. There is more to it that will make it easier to play a good solo line.

Know the chords and How the Harmony moves

First, let’s look at what you need to know and a simple way to use that before I will get into some very useful soloing concepts. So this is what you need to know and then I’ll talk about a few ways to use it.

If you know the chords and the notes in the chords you can also see how each note in the chord moves from one chord to the next, but that is only possible if you really have a good overview of it and can voice-lead from one chord to the next.

You can figure out the Target notes that you want to emphasize in your solo since they are mostly chord tones and often you can look at notes that are not in the previous chord. ‘

This already helps you play something that connects with the chords and is clearly following the harmony.

Voice-leading for melodies and solos!

In the video, I also demonstrate how Voice-leading phrases is a great way to generate lines and something you want to have in your system.

This becomes a tool to really tie together different phrases and make youse solo a more complete musical whole.

Content:

0:00 Intro

0:37 Locked in Thinking Scales

0:52 Music is not just a Group of Notes

1:18 Autumn Leaves Example

2:10 Know the chords and how the harmony moves

2:26 Getting the Overview – Understanding a Chord Progression

3:03 I Remember You Example

3:30 Not just what the notes are but also how the voices move

4:38 Using Voice-leading in Comping and Soloing

4:53 Target Notes 3 examples

6:12 Voice-leading As A Melodic Tool

6:30 Moving Motifs with the harmony

7:29 One way to Practice this

7:53 Going through the progression

8:40 Example – Solo Using the Simple Exercise

9:09 Analyzing the Solo on the song – 3 ways of using voice-leading in a solo

10:44 Like the video? Check out my Patreon Page!

Get a free E-book

If you want to download a Free E-book of 15 II Valt I licks then subscribe to my newsletter:

https://jenslarsen.nl/sign-up-for-my-newsletter/

Get the PDF!

The PDF with examples for this video is available through Patreon. You can check out my Patreon Page here: https://www.patreon.com/jenslarsen

Jazz Guitar Insiders Facebook Group

Join 1500+ Other Jazz Guitarists 🎸Join us in the Facebook Jazz Guitar Group Community: http://bit.ly/InsidersFBGroup

If you have any questions, comments or suggestions for topics then please let me know. Leave a comment on the video or send me an e-mail. That is the best way for me to improve my lessons and make them fit what you are searching for.

Please subscribe to my YouTube channel and feel free to connect with me via Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook to keep up to date with new lessons, concerts, and releases.

This is a Good 10-minute Practice Routine

It is difficult to find time to practice and we all want to spend hours every day. If you only have a limited amount of time for your jazz guitar practice then what should you work on?

This video is going over what a 10-minute practice routine could look like and some of the things that are important to keep in mind if you are trying to make a practice plan.

The Basic Routine

The basic structure of the practice routine is shown below

How to improve the way you practice Jazz Guitar

Jazz Practice Routine How To Find The Perfect Balance

How to practice your scales and why – Positions

Content of the video:

0:00 #1 Intro – Short Practice Sessions

0:40 #2 Warming up fingers and synchronizing hands

1:12 Scales and Exercises – in position

1:32 The things you need to practice in your scales

1:58 Open-ended practice: Change keys, positions, and exercises

2:46 What Do You Practice with scale exercises? 

3:36 Adjusting for a slower tempo

3:59 #3 Exercises along the neck

4:40 #4 Technical exercises on a Song

5:05 Making music and using technique on a piece of music

5:50 #5 Vocabulary and Reading

6:43 #6 Make Music! – Soloing on a Song

7:35 10 minutes to stay in shape and make music every day

8:17 What is your 10-minute practice routine

8:43 Like The Video? Check out my Patreon Page


Learn The Modes is Horrible Advice – This is A Better Skill

You have probably seen people giving the advice like “learn all the modes if you want to play jazz” or “first learn the modes all over the neck and then check out a 2 5 1”

Most of the time this advice is probably given with a good intention but what this makes you study is not going to help you play any better or set you on a path to make music, so the question is really if it is a good goal or advice at all? Maybe you shouldn’t really worry about modes at all.

That’s what I want to discuss in this video, and I will give you something else to study that is a lot more useful for your playing (and which will make you able to play modes anyway….)

Content:

0:00 Intro

0:25 Modes – Are they solving the problem you want to solve?

0:49 What Skills to Develop

1:26 #1 How Modes Are Taught

2:12 The Pentatonic Modal approach

2:42 #2 How Does It Fit With The Music

3:36 Characteristic notes of a mode and the chords you use it on.

4:39 Understanding Chord Progressions?

5:10 #3 What Is Missing – Where do they fail

5:34 What to do instead.

6:28 That is actually playing modes

6:42 #4 A Better Solution

7:40 Rows of notes don’t make you a better improviser

7:55 Like the video? Check out my Patreon Page.

If you have any questions, comments or suggestions for topics then please let me know. Leave a comment on the video or send me an e-mail. That is the best way for me to improve my lessons and make them fit what you are searching for.

Please subscribe to my YouTube channel and feel free to connect with me via Instagram, Twitter Google+ or Facebook to keep up to date with new lessons, concerts, and releases.

How To Solo Over Chord Changes – The 5 Level Challenge

Soloing over chord changes is a part of Jazz. It is a skill we need and in this video, I am going to go over 5 levels of exercises where you actually solo over chord changes and that will also test your knowledge of the chords, the fretboard and your ability to play strong melodies.

I am curious how far you can go, there are not that many who can do all 5 levels, but leave a comment with how far you can get. You can always pause the video and give it a try!

To keep it a bit short I am going to cover this just using a turnaround, but you could do this with any song or chord progression.

I am going to use a turnaround in C (play chords) and I am not really going to explain the scales etc. because if you are checking this out then you should have an idea about what those are already.

A lot of what this is going is about training very basic skills but getting them to a high level. Something that is very important in music. The last level is quite demanding and a goal I think we should all work towards.

The Never-ending scale exercise

Best Exercise for Difficult Chord Progressions – Never ending Scale Exercise

Check out more on improvising over chord changes

How To Solo Over Chord Changes The Right Way

3 ways to Solo over Chord Changes – Important Jazz Strategies

Content

0:00 Intro – A Dm7(9) voicing you already play

0:23 Making great sounding chords with inversions.

1:05 A little Voice-leading and a II V I Chord set

1:52 Inversions of the II V I Chords

2:22 Using Inversions and creating new sounds

2:47 Cmaj7 Shell-voicing and inversions

3:08 II Valt I chord set and inversions

3:59 A Great Counter-movement Trick for Shell-Voicings

4:45 Altered dominant Shell-voicing tricks

5:11 Putting it to use on a II V I Example 1

5:35 Example 2

5:53 Example 3 Inner-Voice movement ideas for these chords

6:24 Other Inversions

6:59 Like The Video? Check out my Patreon Page!

Get a free E-book

If you want to download a Free E-book of 15 II Valt I licks then subscribe to my newsletter:

Jazz Guitar Insiders Facebook Group

Join 1500+ Other Jazz Guitarists 🎸Join us in the Facebook Jazz Guitar Group Community: http://bit.ly/InsidersFBGroup

If you have any questions, comments or suggestions for topics then please let me know. Leave a comment on the video or send me an e-mail. That is the best way for me to improve my lessons and make them fit what you are searching for.

Please subscribe to my YouTube channel and feel free to connect with me via Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook to keep up to date with new lessons, concerts, and releases.

5 Quick Tips When You Are Stuck In A Jazz Solo

We all get stuck in solos, even though you know the song, the chord or the scale. You still don’t know what to play. This video will give you some jazz guitar tips that you can use to get past this.

The 5 tricks are about looking at things differently or taking a step back and finding more options, but working on them will make you a better jazz improviser and improve how you make music.

More tips on improving your Jazz Guitar Solos

The Scale is NOT That Important – This is!

More Melodic Guitar Solos – Three Critical Techniques without Arpeggios and Scales

Content:

0:00 Intro

0:42  You Know The Song, but still..

1:51 #1 Play The Melody  

2:59 #2 Play The Chord

3:43 #3 What Do You Hear? Nothing? Then Play That! (Jim Hall!!)

4:54 #4 What Did You Play Right Before

5:34 How This Sounds on A Song

7:36 #5 Check Available Triads, Arpeggios, Pentatonics

7:52 Share your list

8:12 A Part of My List

9:10 Like The Video? Check out my Patreon Page

Get a free E-book

If you want to download a Free E-book of 15 II Valt I licks then subscribe to my newsletter:

https://jenslarsen.nl/sign-up-for-my-newsletter/

Get the PDF!

The PDF with examples for this video is available through Patreon. You can check out my Patreon Page here: https://www.patreon.com/jenslarsen

Jazz Guitar Insiders Facebook Group

Join 1500+ Other Jazz Guitarists 🎸Join us in the Facebook Jazz Guitar Group Community: http://bit.ly/InsidersFBGroup

If you have any questions, comments or suggestions for topics then please let me know. Leave a comment on the video or send me an e-mail. That is the best way for me to improve my lessons and make them fit what you are searching for.

Please subscribe to my YouTube channel and feel free to connect with me via Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook to keep up to date with new lessons, concerts, and releases.

Avoid Long Practice Plans – This is what you should focus on

You can make a lot of mistakes and waste a lot of time by having inefficient and unrealistic practice plans tie you down. At the same time, a Great Guitar Practice Plan can help you progress and make a huge difference for your motivation.

This video deals with that and helps you make better choices.

Goals and Guitar Practice Plans

If you are learning guitar or learning jazz then a part of what you are doing is setting goals for yourself and trying to reach those goals. That is a natural way of learning, but when you make a practice plan there are some things to be aware of. A Guitar Practice Plan should help you stay motivated and actually reach those goals. It really pays off to be aware of what goals you set for yourself. Especially if you are teaching yourself and don’t have a teacher to guide you.

And that is what I want to talk about in this video: How to set some good goals and work towards them, the 3 things you need to consider when you plan what to work on.

Learn more on Self-teaching

Check out THIS PLAYLIST to see some of my videos on topics related to teaching yourself to play Jazz and Jazz Guitar,

Content:

0:00 Intro – Setting Goals for yourself and learning

0:48 What is a realistic goal and is it realistic

2:02 #1 Long term goals have to have smaller goals along the way

2:35 The Step-wise Plan for Learning to improvise with chord tones

3:25 Be Specific

3:40 #2 Knowing where you are to know wha the next step is

3:55 Am pentatonic! On to Giant Steps!

4:53 Difficult Topics to improve on your own

5:11 #3 The Importance of flexibility

5:39 Stay Flexible don’t force it

5:48 The All scales example

6:36 Making Music Is The Goal

7:24 How do you work on setting goals for yourself?

7:47 Like The Video? Check out my Patreon page

Get a free E-book

If you want to download a Free E-book of 15 II Valt I licks then subscribe to my newsletter:

If you have any questions, comments or suggestions for topics then please let me know. Leave a comment on the video or send me an e-mail. That is the best way for me to improve my lessons and make them fit what you are searching for.

Please subscribe to my YouTube channel and feel free to connect with me via Instagram, Twitter Google+ or Facebook to keep up to date with new lessons, concerts, and releases.

Do You Need To Have Your Own Style?

What are the advantages of having your own style and do you need it to play better music? Or is it maybe not something you should spend time on at all? How to learn jazz guitar and think about developing a personal style.

This is going to be a little philosophical and it is a video that is coming out of a long conversation with a student, and also from similar discussions through the years.

Content:

0:00 Intro (a ballad of mine 🙂 )

0:56 What is having a style? 

1:17 The Styles of Scofield, Wes, and Frisell

2:18 Why do you need to have a style?

3:01 What You Control

3:28 What You Don’t Control

4:29 Your Taste is a Musical Filter

5:16 Why I didn’t like Oscar Peterson

5:49 When is Your style getting in the way

6:28 What A Student should never say!

7:02 History, but don’t only look back

7:50 Do You Need To Have Your Own Style?

8:44 Don’t close the door on other styles

9:21 Give yourself room to grow!

9:47 Like the video? Check out my Patreon Page

Get a free E-book

If you want to download a Free E-book of 15 II Valt I licks then subscribe to my newsletter:

Jazz Guitar Insiders Facebook Group

Join 1500+ Other Jazz Guitarists 🎸Join us in the Facebook Jazz Guitar Group Community: http://bit.ly/InsidersFBGroup

If you have any questions, comments or suggestions for topics then please let me know. Leave a comment on the video or  send me an e-mail. That is the best way for me to improve my lessons and make them fit what you are searching for.

Please subscribe to my YouTube channel and feel free to connect with me via Instagram,Twitter, or Facebook to keep up to date with new lessons, concerts, and releases.

Guitar Practice – How To Be Your Own Teacher

Even if you have lessons you know that most of the time you need to teach yourself and make sure you are improving while you practice guitar. You need to make sure that are getting something out of how you practice and spend your time.

In this video, I am going to talk about how you can easily add something to your practice sessions that will help you evaluate your playing and give you an idea about whether you are progressing. I will also go over 3 things to keep in mind to get the most out of this way of working.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KUFfHa09LM0

Content:

0:00 Intro – How Lessons really work

0:36 How To Teach Yourself

0:53 The Only Approach to Know how you sound

1:22 Why Should You Record Yourself

2:00 The main reason this works better

2:48 How To Record Yourself

3:36 Using Video – A Phone and A Coffee Mug

4:05 More Metronome than Backing track?

4:52 I HATE listening to my own playing. (The Confidence problem)

5:16 Just Get Started! – Notice Negative and Positive Things

5:52 Strategies for using recordings

6:39 The Gap Between how it feels and how it actually sounds

7:14 3 things You Need to Do

7:31 #1 – Distraction

8:14 #2 – How Do You Want it to sound

9:12 #3 – Measure over a longer period

10:01 How Do You Use Recordings of your playing in your practice?

10:13 Like The Video? Check out My Patreon Page.

Get a free E-book

If you want to download a Free E-book of 15 II Valt I licks then subscribe to my newsletter:

Jazz Guitar Insiders Facebook Group

Join 1500+ Other Jazz Guitarists 🎸Join us in the Facebook Jazz Guitar Group Community: http://bit.ly/InsidersFBGroup

If you have any questions, comments or suggestions for topics then please let me know. Leave a comment on the video or  send me an e-mail. That is the best way for me to improve my lessons and make them fit what you are searching for.

Please subscribe to my YouTube channel and feel free to connect with me via Instagram,Twitter, or Facebook to keep up to date with new lessons, concerts, and releases.

3 Things You Need to Improve in Your Jazz Solos

The fact that you need to improve something in your playing is not the end of the world. In this jazz solo lesson, I am going to discuss how you are able to spot problems and realize that it needs work. Then you can start looking for a good strategy to fix issues and get you on the path to becoming a better Musician.

This Jazz Solo Lesson is a little philosophical and going over 3 very common problems that I come across with students and with my own playing. I also discuss some of the strategies that you can apply to help solve the problem.

Content:

0:00 Intro

0:12 Improving and learning is a part of playing Jazz

0:28 3 Common Problems and how you deal with them

0:52 #1 Overplaying

1:34 Good Taste?

2:15 A Solution (and Wes Montgomery)

2:58 Ideas for Exercises

3:28 #2 Timing – A problem with a few nuances

4:10 Authentic Re-enactment of bad timing

4:44 Ideas for Exercises and ways of working

5:40 #3 Playing The Changes

6:00 Identifying the problem

6:25 Ideas for exercises

7:24 Like The Video? Check Out My Patreon Page

Get your Timing and Practice sessions together

Rhythm is the most important part of Jazz, and a big part of having good rhythm is your ability to play in time and feel time. Check out some solid exercises in this playlist:

Metronome Practice – Tips and Tricks for Jazz Learning

If you want to check out more advice and ideas for your practice sessions and your journey to learn jazz guitar then check out this playlist:

Learn Jazz Guitar – Thoughts and Advice on how and what to practice

Get a free E-book

If you want to download a Free E-book of 15 II Valt I licks then subscribe to my newsletter:

Get the PDF!

The PDF with examples for this video is available through Patreon. You can check out my Patreon Page here: https://www.patreon.com/jenslarsen

Jazz Guitar Insiders Facebook Group

Join 1500+ Other Jazz Guitarists 🎸Join us in the Facebook Jazz Guitar Group Community: http://bit.ly/InsidersFBGroup

If you have any questions, comments or suggestions for topics then please let me know. Leave a comment on the video or send me an e-mail. That is the best way for me to improve my lessons and make them fit what you are searching for.

Please subscribe to my YouTube channel and feel free to connect with me via Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook to keep up to date with new lessons, concerts, and releases.

How To Learn a Jazz Standard – Important Exercises

Learning Jazz Standards is essential to learning jazz, in fact learning the repertoire is everything with any genre of music. There are of course many ways to go about this, but since it is important and you want to learn a lot of songs then it is also useful to do this in an efficient way.

The first time I started to learn a Jazz Standard it took me about two months, and there are better ways to do that how I did it. And that is what this video is about.

If you want to check out my other video on the 10 first Jazz Standards to learn, you can do so here: The First 10 Jazz Standards You Need To Know

If you want to check out some more videos on the topic of studying songs then check out this short playlist: Learning Jazz Standards

Content:

0:00 Intro

0:07 Learning Jazz is Learning Jazz Songs

0:28 Take a better approach than I did

0:44 A Method or a Checklist

1:10 #1 Pick A song

2:02 #2 Listen

2:29 Learning By Ear and using vocal recordings

2:54 #3 Analyze the Song

3:35 Join the FB Community

3:54 #4 Playing The Song

4:13 Play the music, not only exercises

4:31 #5  Pick a Position

5:12 #6 Learn The Melody By Heart

6:04 #7 Play The Chords

6:44 #8 Learn The Arpeggios

8:01 #9 Other Exercises

8:50 Like the Video? Check out My Patreon Page

Get a free E-book

If you want to download a Free E-book of 15 II Valt I licks then subscribe to my newsletter:

Jazz Guitar Insiders Facebook Group

Join 700+ Other Jazz Guitarists 🎸Join us in the Facebook Jazz Guitar Group Community: http://bit.ly/InsidersFBGroup

If you have any questions, comments or suggestions for topics then please let me know. Leave a comment on the video or  send me an e-mail. That is the best way for me to improve my lessons and make them fit what you are searching for.

Please subscribe to my YouTube channel and feel free to connect with me via Instagram,Twitter Google+ or Facebook to keep up to date with new lessons, concerts and releases.