Im­por­tant Ar­eas To De­velop

Guitar Techniques - - Play: Big Band, Jazz & Swing -


Jazz pi­anist Bill Evans once stated that the dif­fer­ence be­tween a truly great player and an aver­age one was that the less ac­com­plished mu­si­cian was pre­pared to ac­cept an ‘ap­prox­i­ma­tion’. Stu­dents too of­ten fall into the trap of mov­ing away from a topic be­fore they are re­ally fin­ished and fully au fait with it, so more at­ten­tion to de­tail and pa­tience reaps re­wards.

Lis­ten­ing crit­i­cally

My role as a teacher is very of­ten re­flec­tive, giv­ing crit­i­cal feed­back on a stu­dent’s play­ing and per­for­mance. I’m of­ten sur­prised by some, al­though not all, of my stu­dents in what they can’t hear in their own play­ing. Sloppy time­keep­ing, poor in­to­na­tion and just out­right mis­takes can of­ten go com­pletely un­no­ticed.

Be­ing too ‘gui­tar-cen­tric’

Again, this is a gen­er­al­i­sa­tion but an un­for­tu­nate trait dis­played by some gui­tar stu­dents is a com­plete lack of aware­ness of what the other mu­si­cians are con­tribut­ing to the sound they are col­lec­tively mak­ing as a group. I’ll of­ten ask a gui­tar player af­ter a per­for­mance to sing the bass line back to me, or ask about what they thought of the hi-hat pat­tern. “Er...”

Read­ing the dots

This Is the uni­ver­sal Achilles heel for our kind. To quote my good friend and col­league Les David­son, read­ing equals money! You don’t need to be amaz­ing; merely be­ing per­func­tory is more than of­ten enough to make a ma­jor dif­fer­ence to your em­ploy­a­bil­ity and you’ll en­counter a more var­ied and in­formed group of fel­low mu­si­cians as a re­sult.

Rhythm and dy­nam­ics

We’re of­ten so pre­oc­cu­pied with what we’re play­ing, which scale to use, what notes, what chord voic­ings etc, that we give lit­tle thought to when and how we might say what we’d like to say (mu­si­cally speak­ing). Giv­ing some thought to dy­nam­ics and ‘time feel’ can be just about the most pro­duc­tive thing a player can do to sound more pol­ished, fo­cused and pro­fes­sional; al­though for many stu­dents these as­pects can sadly be over­looked (in favour of look­ing flash, etc) which, in my hum­ble opin­ion, is a mon­u­men­tal mis­take.

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