Tag Archives: how to learn jazz guitar

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

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How To Learn Jazz Guitar – Suggestions To Begin Studying

This is a question I get very often. And that is in no way strange. Starting to learn Jazz guitar is the beginning of a long journey with a lot of interesting stops along the way.

In this video and post, I will try to give you some places where you can look for the things you feel you need to check out and of course also what you think is interesting.

Learning Jazz, or any other style of music is not a set path the fits everybody. We all take different routes and need to work on different things longer or shorter. That is also the reason that there is no set way to go through this and why I am calling it suggestions. You need to figure out for yourself where to go next. If I have a student learning Jazz it is common that I take a few lessons to figure out what to work on and how to work on it, so expect that when you start working as well.

That said, I will try to make this a little less complicated and stop the information overload a little because I don’t think that is really necessary.

To keep it a bit short I am going to focus on three main topics:

  • Technique and Scales
  • Chords
  • Improvisation and Songs

Technique and Scales

Keep it simple. Start with the Major scale. Don’t overdo technique practice.

Start with one position and one key. You can add positions and keys along the way, with basic exercises.

Start with these exercises:

  1. The Scale
  2. The Scale in 3rds
  3. The Diatonic 7th chords (Maybe Triads first, but many don’t have to)

For more information on what to do work on and how to use it:

The Most Important Scale Exercise In Jazz – Basic Scale exercise and Scale in Diatonic 7th arpeggios

Practice Major Scales like this and You will get more out of it! – More thoughts on scale practice.

How to practice your scales and why – Positions – A bit of a deeper look into options with scale practice and suggestions for exercises

Jazz Chords – A solid set and learn some songs

It is practical to learn some jazz chords so that you can play chords on songs. As jazz guitarists, we spend more time comping than soloing. It is also a huge help to be able to hear the harmony that you are soloing over.

I have a study guide for Jazz Chords where the first two or three lessons will give you more than enough. How to Learn to Play Jazz Chords – Study Guide

Especially I would start with a set of diatonic chords for the major scale which is exercise one or two of this lesson: How to play Jazz Chords on Guitar

From that material you can gradually expand chord vocabulary, learn songs and progress into rootless voicings and more complex comping and harmonization ideas.

Improvisation and Songs

This is the most important part of how to learn jazz guitar because this is where we talk about playing music. So it is about using the material that is practiced in the scales.

If you want to play jazz you need to spend time playing the songs and improvising and you should start doing this from the very beginning. Even if you can’t really play solos that sounds like jazz, just by trying you are building repertoire and skills to use later.

A few things about improvising over changes:

How To Solo Over Chord Changes The Right Way

A practical example of improvising with arpeggios:

How to start soloing over a II V I with arpeggios

For more examples of songs, easy chord melody arrangements and similar then you should browse through this playlist of easy YouTube lessons:
How To Begin Jazz Guitar – Easy lessons to gain an overview

Jazz Standards to start with and how to learn them

When it comes to which songs to start with then I would suggest you start with one of these 10 songs:

The First 10 Jazz Standards You Need To Know

And some of the exercises and things to focus on when learning them are covered here:

Learning Jazz Standards – Important Exercises

Next level for Jazz Guitar

Maybe you already feel comfortable with the things I covered here, and you are looking for more challenges and explore the music further. Of course, you can browse the YouTube channel and my Website.

Another option is to join the 3000+ members of the Jazz Guitar Insiders Facebook group and ask there, get inspired by the posts and comments of others:

Jazz Guitar Insiders

Or join me on Patreon where you can support and help shape the content on the channel in the future. Patreon is really what has made all these lessons and the channel possible.
Check it out here: Jens Larsen YouTube Lessons on Patreon

3 Things You Want To Know In All Keys And Positions

When you play jazz you are improvising over chord progressions that move through different scales. And you need scale positions that you can connect and have an overview off in a way that makes it easy to improvise solos.

In this video, I am going to go over a basic way to practice and test your fretboard knowledge by taking progressions and use them to work on scale positions on the guitar neck. This will help you memorize the right information in the right context for when you want to improvise solos and will help you become freer when you play.

The 3 Levels

I am going to go over the exercises in 3 levels getting more and more difficult, but the exercises are essentially quite basic. This is about knowing essential chord progressions, scales, and arpeggios in a position and being able to improvise with them.

Working on this is not really something that belongs to every day practice for hours and hours, just go check this and find ways to work on this that also involve the repertoire you play.

2 Approaches

When you work on this type of exercise you can do this 2 ways: Staying in one position and going through all keys or choosing one key and going through all positions. Both are useful and you should try what works better for you.

Level 1 – 1 Position, Basic Scale and Chords

The idea is to work on knowing essential material for a position. If you improvise in G major, then the G major scale and the arpeggios for the basic cadence are essential to know. The same goes for the arpeggio from the 3rd of these chords.

For G major we have this scale position:

And the basic cadence is Am7 D7 Gmaj7.

These arpeggios are shown below:

And the arepggios from the 3rds of these chords would be

Am7: Cmaj7, D7: F#ø, Gmaj7 Bm7.

Once you know these arpeggios you should work on being able to make lines with them in this position on a II V I.

Two examples of this, one with the basic arps and one with the arpeggio from the 3rd are shown below:

Level 2 – Altered Dominant

A logical next step would be to alter the dominant, in this case D7.

Let’s first take a new position for G major:

And for the D7alt I am using an Ab7 and a Cø arpeggio.

Both are found in the D7 altered scale and contain the C and the F# really spelling out the D7 sound.

And the arpeggios from the 3rd (with Cø being the arpeggio from the 3rd of Ab7)

Improvising with these arpeggio sets could yield lines like these two:

Level 3 – Making it a complete Turnaround

The next thing to do is to add a secondary dominant for the II chord. This is one of the most common dominants to come across so it makes perfect sense to add this to the exercse.

First a new scale position:

For the E7alt I am doing the same thing as the D7alt which gives us a Bb7 and a Dø arpeggio.

And then the basic arpeggio positions:

The Arpeggio from the 3rd:

Get Your Changes Playing from Turnarounds to Giant Steps.

If you want to check out some more material on how to really nail changes and still play great lines then check out this lesson on using Target notes on Rhythm Changes:

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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.

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5 Common Mistakes When You Learn Jazz

Learning Jazz is difficult and you want to get it right the first time around so you don’t waste any time. When you learn Jazz Guitar then there are some things that you can keep in mind in terms of how you practice jazz, the type of music or jazz theory that you learn and also what you focus on with your jazz practice.

In this video, I am going to go over 5 mistakes that I see many students make and talk about how to approach learning jazz and practicing in a more efficient and useful way.

Content:

0:00 Intro – Be Efficient with your Practice

0:33 You can fix it by thinking differently

0:45 #1 Modes

1:00 Most Jazz Repertoire is Tonal, not modal

1:26 Breaking down Modal vs Tonal Analysis

2:04 Chords are in a context – use your ears

2:37 Play the movement

3:11 Dm7 G7 Cmaj7 vs Dbmaj7 E7 CmMaj7

4:06 Understanding and stripping down Chord Progressions

4:29 #2 Learn Songs

4:30 it’s not all exercises.

4:49 Just Listen to Scofield!

5:21 #3 Listen To Jazz

6:02 What Jazz Do You Like?

6:13 Jazz is not a Skill, it is a type of music….

6:58 #4 Learn Vocabulary

7:30 What is having Vocabulary?

7:48 How To Learn and Develop Vocabulary

8:15 #5 Practice the Right Techniques and Exercises

8:32 Arpeggios and how they appear in a Jazz Solo

9:31 Keep in mind that you need to improvise

9:54 Like The Video? Check out my Patreon Page!

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How To Practice Jazz – Advice From Bill Evans

It is always interesting to check out how the people we look up to learned and practice to achieve the skills that we admire. Bill Evans is both a fantastic jazz musician and also a very interesting example of this because he is also very analytical and philosophical.

In this video, I am taking a look at some quotes from him on practicing and learning. How he sees himself and his perspectives and priorities with learning and practicing.

Content:

0:00 Intro – Learning from the people we admire

0:24 Bill Evans – Perspectives and Practice Priorities

0:42 “Knowing The Problem is 90% of solving it”

0:55 How this ties in with having lessons

1:55 The right piece of information at the right time!

2:24 “1 Tune for 24 hours or 24 tunes for an hour”

2:48 When Do you know a Song?

3:30 Besides learning songs: Make it A Part of your system

3:55 “I Don’t Consider Myself Talented”

4:45 Explore and stay motivated

5:36 “Don’t take their motivation away”

6:06 Keep improving and developing

6:57 The Essence of Jazz – Being Personal

8:04 Is there only room for Copycats?

8:12 Do you have a great quote on Practicing or Learning?

8:20 Like the video? Check out My Patreon Page!

Check out some more material on Bill Evans!

My Other Video On Bill Evans: Bill Evans – How To Get Your Rhythms To The Next Level

The Complete Interview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2zufMaufJZo

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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.

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Triads – How To Make Them Jazz Chords

In this video, I am going to show you how you can use the triads that you already know as a great way to create some beautiful jazz chords. Starting with material that you already know to open up a vast amount of jazz voicings is a really efficient approach to becoming much freer and begin to create a jazz chord vocabulary, and it is also really great for fretboard knowledge.

It is really interesting to explore how great a tool the triads are as jazz voicings.
I am going to do this in three steps:

  • How To Find Triads You Can Use, in a Practical Way
  • Easily Turn This Into a lot of chords and ideas to play
  • Find Triads for more Complicated Chords with Extensions

Step 1 – Rootless Jazz Voicings for a II V I

If we take a II V I in C major with some very basic jazz chords then we have this:

If I remove the Bass note then I have

Turning Diatonic 7th chords into triad voicings

The same principle use on all the diatonic chords in C major would yield:

And without the root we have these triads that could work as the above chords:

Step 2 – More Triad voicings with inversions

Before looking at adding extensions and alterations to the chords, let’s have a look at how much we can already do with these simple triads.

We now can play a II V I with these rootless, triad-based, but if this F major triad is a good voicing for Dm7 (Example 3) then the inversions of it are as well.

If I do this for the II V I progression I have these 3 ways to play that:

And of course this is just on the middle string set. This works on other string sets as well

Step 3 – Adding Extensions and using other triad types

If you look at a G7b9 voicing spelled out x 10 9 10 9 x or G B F Ab then the top notes of this chord are B F Ab which is, in fact, an F dim triad.

If I inser these into the II V I’s from example 4 then I have:

In the same way a Dm11: 10 x 10 10 8 x or D C F G has the three notes C F G on top. That is a Csus4 triad.

This gives us these II V I examples

And finally we can add a 13th to the Cmaj7: which is the same as playing an Asus4/C which gives us:

If you want to check out more options on using upper-structure triads for Cmaj7, I also have this lesson: 6 Triads for a Cmaj7 Chord (well 10 actually..)

Mix it with Other Chord Types

Check out how Triads work well with other 3-note voicings in this lesson on the changes of Some Day My Prince Will Come.

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You can also download the PDF of my examples here:

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.

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This Is The Exercise That Shows If You Are A Beginner

There is one exercise that you want to do to develop a lot of essential skills for playing jazz guitar. A way of practicing where you use and develop both musical and technical skills in your playing in a way that really internalizes them and helps you make music. Be warned: It is a Metronome Exercise!

In this video, I am going to explain why you should practice with the metronome on 2 & 4 and go over all the things you train in doing so: Timing, Ear-training, swing-feel, and playing changes

Content:

0:00 Intro

0:40 Practicing Songs The Right Way

1:19 Internalizing – It’s more than just timing

1:51 #1 Develop Your Internal Time Feel

2:46 #2 Develop your Swing Feel

3:00 Ear-training for Groove

3:33 Example – Just in Time

4:05 Example – Hearing A Groove

4:33 #3  Hear the harmony and the form of a song

5:00 Hearing the Harmony of a Blues

5:33 Getting Started With Metronome Practice

5:59 #4  Play clearer lines that spell out the changes

6:17 Why You Need To Spell Out The Changes

6:30 Blues In C – Hearing The Changes

7:19 Do You Practice with A Metronome?

7:38 Like The Video? Check out my Patreon Page

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How To Get The Most Out Of Transcribing

The amount of improvement you can book by transcribing guitar solos or Jazz Solos and learning to play them is quite amazing. In this video, I am going to talk about how you can use the solos you transcribe to improve your Phrasing, Learn New Vocabulary, Connect your phrases and add a better build up to your solo.

Making your own transcriptions is a huge part of learning jazz, but often it is not so much about writing down the solo and a lot more about playing them and figuring them out by ear!

Content:

0:00 Intro

0:27 Transcribing – What You Learn

0:47 Transcribing – Do You Write It Down?

1:12 It depends on the focus and what you want to learn

1:44 #1 Learn To Play The Solo With The Recording

1:55 Phrasing!

2:27 How To Start Sounding Like Jazz, not Just Notes

2:39 Smart Phone – Swing Feel! 🙁

3:15 Are These the biggest benefits?

3:27 #2 Learn New Vocabulary – Analyze The lines

4:01 Analyzing Lines and Melodies

4:53 #3 Analyze the Phrases

5:09 Zoom Out – Understand the Phrases

5:23 Wes Montgomery Example

6:47 A General Thing for Wes Solos that we miss

7:38 #4 Analyze the Form of The Solo

7:48 Zoom out (More)

8:05 The Form Of The Solo

8:16 Wes as an Example

8:37 Other things used in a larger form9:18 Like The Video? Check out My Patreon Page

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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.

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How To Learn Great Concepts From Thelonious Monk

Thelonious Monk is one of the most important composers and improvisers to emerge from Bebop. His very personal style of both playing and writing songs has both simple and complex sides to them and is a great place to study and improve your jazz solos.

In this video, I am going over a way to use a Thelonious Monk blues, Straight No Chaser, as a resource in making your own lines and how to take a melody and use different techniques to create new musical ideas from it.

While I made the video with Monk in mind and using Straight No Chaser as an example this will really work in other genres and with other melodies than just jazz and bebop.

In making the video I also analyzed the melody of Straight No Chaser, and the way it is constructed is surprisingly elegant and sophisticated. I am curious about what you think!

Content:

0:00 Intro – Not just the right notes or the right arpeggio

0:27 Better Improviser – Better Composer

0:39 Exercise for using composition to solo better.

0:59 Thelonious Monk and the Composition

1:34 The Blues Cliché deluxe

1:48 #1 Inversions of a melody

2:23 Making Licks from the main statement

2:52 #2 Octave Displacement – Bebop Melodies

3:16 How to use Octave Displacement on the melody

3:37 #3 Chromatic Enclosures

4:10 Understanding the melody of Straight No Chaser

5:17 Analyzing the Phrases of the Melody

7:44 #4 Rhythmic Displacement and Repetition

8:04 Using the repetition in a lick

8:25 Example of a II V I lick with this type of repetition

9:01 Phrasing across the barline

9:07 Displacing the rhythm

9:21 Developing the melodic idea

10:12 Changing the polyrhythm

10:56 Some thoughts on how to use repetition11:12 Like the video? Check out my Patreon Page.

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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.

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When Do You Know A Scale?

If you play Jazz Guitar then you will often be confronted with learning and practicing scales. The major scale, pentatonic scale or a jazz scale like melodic minor.

A big part of the vocabulary and the material that you use when you are improvising is linked to scales in some form or other and it is common to practice scales on a daily basis.
But of course, you want to also make sure that you can actually make music with it and think a little bit about how and what you practice

Content:

0:00 Intro

0:23 Jazz and Scales – What you Need and How to Learn It

1:00 #1 Learn To Play The Scale

1:07 Start with a Scale Position

1:47 How To Play The Scale – what is important

2:26 Connecting Positions

2:52 Next Level After Positions

3:26 #2 Music Theory

3:40 Learn The Notes(!)

4:14 The Basic Things You Need To Know

4:50 Finding the material available with Music Theory

6:08 #3 Making Music With The Scale

6:11 It’s not all exercises

7:23 Cmaj7 in G major example

8:14 Cmaj7(#11) identifying triads that are good upper-structures9:00 Like the video? Check out my Patreon Page

How To Learn and Practice Scales for Jazz Guitar

How do you practice and learn scales for Jazz Guitar? These videos go over different approaches and practice strategies with exercises for scale practice.

When you learn a scale on guitar because you want to use it to play jazz guitar and improvise then there are many things you need to know and some things that can make your practice more efficient. These videos will give you ideas on how to work on this and build a scale practice routine or strategy that fits your way of working.

You can check out more information over this topic in this playlist:

How To Learn and Practice Scales for Jazz Guitar

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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.