Important Areas To Develop
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.
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.