Learn Jazz Standards Podcast

Brent Vaartstra: Jazz Musician, Author, and Entrepreneur

The LJS Podcast is the podcast where you get weekly jazz tips, interviews, stories and advice for becoming a better jazz musician! Hosting the show is the jazz musician behind learnjazzstandards.com, author, and entrepreneur Brent Vaartstra, who’s one goal is to answer any question about playing jazz music you may have. Jazz can be a challenging

All Episodes

Welcome to episode 237 of the LJS Podcast where today I share a masterclass I am taking out of the vault about listening to jazz. The way we listen to jazz can dictate how much we actually get out of it when we listen. As jazz musicians, listening can be one of our best forms of practice if we approach it mindfully. Listen to episode 237 When you listen to jazz, what are you hearing? What are you listening for?  What kind of things are going through your head as you hear the different instruments play? As you hear the melody played? As you hear the comping being played? The drumming being played? What are you listening for?  Well, listening to jazz is one of the most important things you can do if you want to become a better jazz musician.  But I find that if we really do some mindful listening, some critical listening, and understand what we're listening for, it can be incredibly helpful for not only appreciating jazz more but for getting as much out of it as possible that we can start implementing into our playing.  So, in today's episode, I'm going to be sharing with you part of a masterclass I did once for mindful jazz listening and we're going to listen to a couple of tracks, dig deep into them, and see what we can find out. In this episode: 1. A listen through "Blues Up and Down" 2. A listen through "Someday My Prince Will Come" Important Links 1. LJS Inner Circle Membership

Sep 21

42 min

Welcome to episode 236 of the LJS Podcast where today I show you a simple technique that will help you take your jazz ballad playing to the next level. One of the challenges of playing ballads is the slow tempo and chords that seem to last forever. Side step 2-5's will help you add more harmonic movement and have you sounding like a pro. Listen to episode 236 Ballads can be some of the more difficult jazz standards to solo over top of because they're typically played at fairly slow tempos and there's usually a lot of space in between each chord.  And now that may seem like a bit of a luxury for those who struggle with playing over up-tempos but believe me when I say that soloing over top of slow tempos on ballads can be just as difficult if not more difficult than playing on uptempos.  So in today's episode, I'm going to be giving you a cool little technique called side step 2-5's that can actually help you fill in more of that space, create more harmonic movement and therefore, give you more options and more creativity in your jazz ballad playing. In this episode: 1. Side Step #1: 2-5 replacing the V 2. Side Step #2: 2-5 replacing the vi Important Links 1. LJS Inner Circle Membership (Access to ear training course) 2. LJS 59: 5 Tips for Playing Jazz Ballads Like an Expert

Sep 14

23 min

Welcome to episode 235 of the LJS Podcast where today I put you to the test. Instead of the regular format of tips and tricks for becoming a better jazz musician, we're doing an ear training intervals quiz and I want to see how well you do. Listen to episode 235 Today's episode is a bit more of an experimental episode where I am going to be putting you to the test.  We are going to be going outside of our normal format of tips and tricks for becoming a better jazz improviser and we are going to instead be doing an ear training interval recognition quiz. I want to see how well you do at recognizing intervals, ascending and descending. Now, ultimately as jazz improvisers, we want to be able to play what we're hearing in our head. That's really the goal.  But that doesn't come naturally to everybody. Certainly, it doesn't come naturally to me.  And ear training fundamentals such as interval recognition are ways that we can work out our ears, help us become more critical listeners, and help us know what we are actually hearing.  So, this is a great skill to have. Ear training is something that everybody should do a little bit of and so, we're going to see how well you do and see if you need to be doing a little bit more of it. In this episode: 1. Intervals Ascending 2. Intervals Descending Important Links 1. LJS Inner Circle Membership (Access to ear training course) 2. Video: How to Train Your Ears to Hear Intervals 3. LJS 78: How to Master Hearing Intervals and Level-Up Your Ears

Sep 7

19 min

Welcome to episode 234 of the LJS Podcast where today I give a quick lecture on the importance of having fun when you practice. Of course, having fun should be the center of why we practice and want to improve. But having fun when you practice can also lead to quicker results in your jazz playing. Listen to episode 234 Today's episode is probably the shortest in LJS podcast history, but that's because I want to share a short but powerful message with you. Now, I want to ask you a question first before we jump into it though. When you sit down to practice your instrument, when you sit down to improve your jazz playing, are you having fun? Are you having fun more often than you are frustrated? More often than you are feeling held back? Are you enjoying yourself when you are playing?  Because if you're not, you could be holding yourself back immensely from improving and becoming a better jazz musician quicker. So, in today's episode, I want to give a short lecture all about having fun and why that is so important. In this episode: 1. A short lecture on having fun and how it will help you improve faster Important Links 1. LJS Inner Circle Membership 2. LJS 159: Brain Hacking for Speeding Up Your Jazz Improv Success (feat. Rodney Brim)

Aug 31

8 min

Welcome to episode 233 of the LJS Podcast where today I show you 4 jazz blues licks that I know you're going to love. We listen to them and I explain what makes them work and sound so great. Prepare to have your face melted. Listen to episode 233 Now if you're an avid listener of the LJS podcast, you may have heard me talk a lot about the blues before and how I believe that the blues is a really great song form to master in order to make all the rest of learning jazz standards easier. It just contains so many important chord progressions, a lot of important concepts, and of course, blues.  It's kind of the foundation of jazz as far as the origin story, of course, coupled with European marching music and all of that. But I digress. So, wouldn't it be great to learn some jazz blues language? Of course, it would.  Let's go over some jazz blues licks that are really going to melt your face off, to be quite honest with you, and that you're going to love.  I'll do a little bit of showing you what they sound like, a little bit of explaining, and hopefully, you'll come across some great ideas that you can start implementing into your playing right away. In this episode: Lick #1 Lick #2 Lick #3 Lick #4 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Al-H5R335cw&t= Important Links 1. LJS Inner Circle Membership

Aug 24

17 min

Welcome to episode 232 of the LJS Podcast where today I talk about the 6 biggest mistakes I see beginner jazz musicians make. Having helped thousands of students through Learn Jazz Standards, I've discovered common mistakes that come up time and time again. Intermediate and advanced players make these mistakes too. I reveal them as well as some alternatives to correct your course. Listen to episode 232 Over the last 9 years as a musician, teacher, and online jazz educator, I've had the opportunity to help thousands and thousands and thousands of musicians learn how to play jazz and improve.  And over that time, I've been able to witness lots of different kinds of issues that these musicians come across in their journey to becoming a better jazz improviser. I've noticed common mistakes that many of them make that only hold them back from reaching their true potential and improving quicker. So, in today's episode, I'm going to be going over the 6 most common biggest mistakes I see beginner jazz improvisers make and even some that I see intermediate and even advanced players make as well. So you might want to check in on yourself no matter where you are in your journey to see if any of these fit with you. In this episode: 1. They don't listen to jazz enough. 2. They use scales as plug-and-play tools. 3. They learn standard and solos primarily from sheet music. 4. They try to copy-and-paste licks into their solos. 5. They consume too much content. 6. They don't have a practice plan. Important Links 1. LJS Inner Circle Membership 2. LJS 229: How to Turn Scales Into Killer Jazz Solos 3. LJS 216: By the End of This Episode You'll Have Learned a Jazz Blues Solo

Aug 17

28 min

Welcome to episode 231 of the LJS Podcast where today I feature a chapter reading from my book "Jazz Improvisation Made Simple" where I discuss establishing your "why" and setting goals for your jazz playing. Establishing your why will help you keep anchored when the going gets tough or you feel like you are in a plateau. Listen to episode 231 If you're a long-term listener of the LJS podcast, today's subject is probably not something that you haven't heard before from me. But this is one of my favorite topics to talk about.  And no, it's not a sexy episode. It's not learning the next music theory trick. It's not you learn a new solo by the time you end this episode. It's not a plethora of other things that I notice that a lot of people love to listen to and for good reasons because they are great things. However, today's episode is really getting down to the bottom of why you're actually learning jazz. Defining your why.  Why you want to actually be doing this so that if you're tapping into that at all times, it will motivate you to keep going further and then after that, defining your actual roles. Now, if you don't think this is important, I hope that by the end of this episode, you will be convinced because I do believe that this is the number one thing that can move the needle in your jazz playing. Trust me on this. In this episode: 1. Establishing your "why" 2. Establishing Master Goals 3. Establishing Project Goals 4. Establishing Micro Goals Important Links 1. Jazz Improvisation Made Simple book

Aug 10

22 min

Welcome to episode 230 of the LJS Podcast where today I go over my 3 step LIT Process for learning and applying jazz licks. Learning licks and then copy/pasting them into your solos rarerly sounds natural, so we need to learn and apply them in a way that allows them to come out organically and expressed our own way. Listen to episode 230 I've got a question for you. Have you ever learned a jazz lick, maybe off of a record, or from some other resource? You were really excited about it, practiced it, it's a great new idea that you can use in your jazz improv.  But when it finally came to actually applying it, maybe at a jam session or gig or just by yourself in a practice jam session, you weren't really able to do it very well.  It just sort of sounded contrived, you're basically copying and pasting it, maybe you couldn't really time it right, couldn't really fit it into what you are trying to do. It just didn't sound very good and you sort of felt like, oh, that went to waste! Well, we don't really want to be using licks that way. Yes, we want to learn them, we want to learn new jazz language. But how do we actually play licks and learn licks so they come out organically in our solos? That's exactly what we are going to talk about in today's episode. I'm going to teach you my LIT process for learning and applying licks in your jazz improv.  In this episode: 1. Learn 2. Internalize 3. Transform Important Links 1. LJS Inner Circle Membership

Aug 3

13 min

Welcome to episode 229 of the LJS Podcast where today I have on special guest Brett Pontecorvo to teach us how to properly use scales to build great solos. Scales are useful tools, but if applied in an un-musical way, can be problematic. Brett walks us through some solid tips for taking vanilla scales and developing them into melodic masterpieces. Listen to episode 229 Scales are a classic way to get started with improvising over a jazz standard and they can be quite useful.  However, in the wrong hands and used the wrong way, they just end up sounding like scales. Very unmusical, very vanilla, and it just sort of sounds like you are playing notes overtop of jazz standards. And that's not really what we want. We want to play actual music, actual melodies.  So the real big question here is how do we make scales musical? How do we take something that is a linear pattern and turn it into something that actually has great melodic value, yet still helps you identify notes and get ideas and sounds in your head that you can use in your jazz improv? Well, on today's show, I have very special guest Brett Pontecorvo, who is my music production manager at Learn Jazz Standards, a phenomenal pianist and educator. He is going to teach us exactly how to take scales and make them musical so that you can play killer jazz solos with them. In this episode: 1. How to choose which scales to play over chords 2. Mapping scales to connect them together 3. Using rhythms as a starting point 4. Intervals and leaps to begin developing melody 5. How chromaticism can help emphasize important scale tones Important Links 1. LJS Inner Circle Membership 2. Brett's LiveKeyboardist.com https://livekeyboardist.com/

Jul 27

43 min

Welcome to episode 228 of the LJS Podcast where today I teach you a few principles and techniques that will help you play "outside" of the changes without it sounding avante garde or playing wrong notes. I use a lick from an etude in our Inner Circle membership as an example. Listen to episode 228 Have you ever listened to a jazz recording and suddenly the soloist that you're listening to starts going outside of the changes like it sounds dissonant, it doesn't sound completely stable, feels unstable, and feels a little shaky.  But then all of a sudden they brilliantly resolve it back into the key center again and everything sounds like it came home and it sounds great and they end up sounding like a genius, right? You're like, wow, how do they do that? And sometimes we might want to start going outside of the "changes" so that we can create some different colors, some different sounds, and then resolve back to where we want to be in the diatonic changes. So, in today's episode, I'm going to be going over some ways to do that by looking at a particular lick that goes through this exact idea of playing outside the changes and then resolving back into the harmony again and see what lessons we can learn from that and take away from it. In this episode: 1. When going out, remember that you need to come back in 2. Use repeated patterns 3. Use melodic direction towards resolutions Important Links 1. LJS Inner Circle Membership

Jul 20

26 min

Welcome to episode 227 of the LJS Podcast where today we cover 3 practice habits for retaining musical material. It can be frustrating when you learn a jazz standard, solo, or lick, only to forget it later. In this episode, I introduce some practice habits that can be helpful for long term retention and set you up for success. Listen to episode 227 It can be tough when we are learning a new jazz language, new jazz standards, to retain all of the information that we are learning.  I mean, there is so much out there that we are learning. We're learning licks. We're learning jazz standards. We're learning melodies. We're learning chord changes to multiple different things. And eventually, we could possibly forget all of those things and it would feel like a lot of hard work has been wasted. But we don't want any of that to happen.  So, what are some of the best practices that we can put into place in order to retain the information that we are learning so that we can get out there and play the best music we possibly can? Well, that's exactly what we are going to talk about in today's episode. Three different practice habits that I want you to adapt in order to be able to retain information better.  In this episode: 1. Consistency (different from repetition) 2. Limiting Material (not overloading) 3. Breaks (to allow your subconscious to absorb information) Important Links 1. LJS 181: I'm Taking a Break from Jazz 2. LJS Inner Circle Membership

Jul 13

17 min

Welcome to episode 226 of the LJS Podcast where today we cover the very important topic of ending jazz standards. Ever come to the end of jamming on a standard only for things to fall apart at the end? We all need some stock endings in our arsenal, and in today’s episode, I go over 7 different endings you can use to conclude jazz standards.

Jul 6

14 min

Welcome to episode 225 of the LJS Podcast where today I answer a question that I get asked quite often: when do I stop practicing something I'm working on and move on to something else? Often we get overly concerned about mastery and perfection, which can lead to getting stuck. Learn when you know something "good enough" and why you may want to move on even if things aren't perfect. Listen to episode 225 There's that famous Winston Churchill quote that goes, "Perfection is the enemy of progress". And when it comes to playing jazz and becoming a better musician, this can't be more true in my opinion.  When we get stuck trying to "master things", we don't move on to the next lesson that we need to learn. We get stuck in one place, we over-obsess over something. We're not allowing ourselves to learn all of the multitudes of things that could be learned and refined when we move on to other material. But at the same time, how do we know when we've learned something well enough? We don't want to move on to the next thing if we really haven't gotten any control over a particular musical concept. So, in today's episode, I'm going to dive in deep with that. I want to help us answer this question: how do we know when to move on to the next thing in our jazz playing? In this episode: 1. Why moving on is sometimes the path to quicker improvement 2. Q1: On a scale of 1-10 how comfortable do I feel with the material? 3. Q2: How long have you been working on this material? 4. Q3: Does the material you are working on occur often in other jazz concepts you will work on? Important Links 1. LJS Inner Circle Membership

Jun 29

21 min

Welcome to episode 224 of the LJS Podcast where today I learn a new jazz standard in real-time on the show. If you'll join with me you'll know a new jazz standard by the end as well. You'll see how I approach learning a jazz standard by ear, no filters, no edits. Listen to episode 224 You know, I love a lot of things about jazz music, like I love the improv, I love the creativity, I love the challenge it provides to us as individual musicians. Just a lot of things are great about it that I enjoy playing and listening to it. But what a lot of people don't know is, my favorite part about jazz is the ballads. I just love ballads! I love playing the ballads. I think it's just some of the most beautiful music. It's all tunes! Oh man, it's so great!  And so, I've been thinking to myself for a while, there's this particular ballad that I've really been wanting to learn and still don't know it. So in today's episode, I am going to learn that jazz standard for the very first time. And I think in the process, you might learn it as well just by going along this with me and maybe at least get inside of my head of what I think about when I learn a jazz standard by ear.  In this episode: 1. I walk through a Brad Meldau recording of "Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered" and learn it by ear Important Links 1. LJS 212: Improv Hacking Jazz Standards (3 Step Process) 2. LJS Inner Circle Membership

Jun 22

48 min

Welcome to episode 223 of the LJS Podcast where today we go over three music theory concepts in the jazz standard On the Sunny Side of the Street that can be helpful for improvising on standards in general. I discuss the three concepts as well as a few different ideas on how to approach them in your solos. Listen to episode 223 I don't know about you, but whenever I work on a jazz standard or learn a new jazz standard, I'm always looking for little nuggets of wisdom, little tidbits that are going to help me in my jazz improv, not just with that song but with all other jazz standards.  Because each jazz standard really is a treasure trove of new explorations, new opportunities for different kinds of improvisation and to spark new creative ideas for ourselves. So, in today's podcast episode, I'm going to look at a really awesome jazz standard called On the Sunny Side of the Street and we are going to look at 3 different jazz theory takeaways and some different ways to approach them in an improvisational standpoint. In this episode: 1. Deceptive Cadence 2. Diminished replacing a dominant 7 3. Dominant II7 chord (Secondary Dominant) Important Links 1. LJS Inner Circle Membership

Jun 15

31 min

Welcome to episode 222 of the LJS Podcast where today we have on special guest Kyle Younger on the show to discuss the history of jazz and its ties to the racial oppression of the African American community. Jazz is African American music, and we cannot understand or play this music without recognizing the oppression of those who created this music. Listen to episode 222 When we play jazz music and when we practice jazz music, it's important that we remember that it is African American music and it was born out of slavery. It was born out of racism, injustice, oppression, and it developed under injustice and oppression.  And music is always the reflection of the times. It's always the reflection of the people who are playing the music. And we can never untie jazz and playing jazz, or not connect the two together. They are so intertwined.  And so it's important that when we play this music, we have a reverence, we have an understanding of what this music really means, just even outside of the notes and the theory and how to play it.  Now, I am not the right person to deliver this message, obviously. So I've got a very special guest on the show today, multi-instrumentalist, educator, and jazz aficionado, Kyle Younger, to share what jazz music means.  Not only what it means to the African American community, but what it should mean to us, and what we should think about when we play this music. In this episode: 1. Jazz is a music born out of slavery, injustice, and oppression. 2. When we play this music we need to understand the context of which the music was created. 3. Jazz is music created by African Americans but shared with all. Jazz is love. Important Links 1. Kyle's Book Suggestions: Beneath the Underdog 2. Music is My Mistress 3. The Jazz Life

Jun 7

42 min

Welcome to episode 221 of the LJS Podcast where today in celebration of the launch of my new LJS Inner Circle Membership, I go over my 3 step proven process for "improv hacking" jazz standards. This is one of those episode that has so much value packed into it, I know you'll be reaching for your notepad! Listen to episode 221 From time to time on this podcast, I like to come out with a super high-value episode like one that just really packs a punch.  And in my opinion, when it comes to becoming a better jazz improviser, it's all about frameworks. It's all about step-by-step processes for actually getting better. Not fancy tricks, not new little licks or solos to learn. These are the things that really matter to me in our practicing.  So when a lot of us look at jazz standards and we're confused, we don't know where to start, we're not sure how to take our jazz improv on a jazz standard from one place to the next level, we need frameworks. And so, in today's episode, I'm going to be talking about improv hacking jazz standards. My 3 step proven (and I mean that when I say that) process for really starting to crush it on jazz standards and start getting better at jazz improv.  In this episode: 1. Step 1: Learning Jazz Standards by Ear the Right Way 2. Step 2: Mapping Out Jazz Standards for Improv Success 3. Step 3: Creating Killer Jazz Solos in 2 Phases Important Links 1. LJS Inner Circle Membership

Jun 1

49 min

Welcome to episode 220 of the LJS Podcast where today I talk about how working on less is oftentimes the best way to improve as a jazz musician quickly. It seems counterintuitive to many that practicing less stuff (or even for less time) will produce greater results in your playing. But in this episode I share what will make the biggest differences, and how to apply a less is more strategy. Listen to episode 220 Have you ever been going through YouTube or maybe a podcast like this or blogs collecting a bunch of jazz lessons? Just learning a bunch of different concepts, working on them, going to the next thing, and to the next thing, and to the next thing, and to the next thing. And then before you know it, you're not really quite sure what you've been learning, what you've been doing, what direction you're going in. You just kind of feel overwhelmed.  Or here's a different scenario. Maybe you learn a tune one week and then you learn another tune in the next week, and you learn a solo for that tune.  So you keep learning a bunch of things really quickly and maybe you're reading it off a piece of sheet music so you just blow in through it and you're thinking to yourself, I'm doing all the right things. This is what everybody tells me to do but it's just a lot of stuff.  Right. So you don't really get a lot out of each one.  Well, I don't know about you. I've definitely felt like this before. I'm sure that you can relate to this as well. And my message in today's podcast episode is less is more. So, today we're going to learn about what we should be doing, and some different methods for applying the less is more strategy.  In this episode: 1. The 80/20 rule applied to jazz 2. Working the 3 Pillars of Jazz Improvisation 3. The Single Project Method 4. The Batching Method 5. The 1 Big, 1 Small Method Important Links 1. LJS Inner Circle Membership VIP Waitlist

May 25

35 min

Welcome to episode 219 of the LJS Podcast where today I walk through an exercise for applying scales to jazz standards and song forms such as the blues. Scales are a great way of mapping out note choices over chords. But we want to be able to do this in a way that connects chords together melodically. You'll learn how to do this over a 12 bar blues. Listen to episode 219 Imagine you are planning a cross country road trip in whatever country you live in. And before you go on your trip, you want to map out all the different possible attractions you could possibly see on the way to your final destination. And even though you are not going to end up seeing all of them, at least you know what's available to you. Sometimes it's just going to look like a zigzag. It's going to go way off course. It's going to be taking twists and turns but eventually, you will get to your final destination. But when it comes to jazz improvisation, sometimes we want to map out all the different note choices we have available to us before we start trying to create actual melodies. And this is where scales can be helpful when applied in exercises. So, in today's episode, I'm going to talk about how to start applying scales to jazz, in a way that we can start mapping out note choices but connecting them together so that we end up getting to our final destination at the end of the song form.  In this episode: 1. Scale choices over a concert C blues 2. Scale tone map over a concert C blues Episode Images: Important Links 1. LJS Inner Circle Membership VIP Waitlist 2. LJS 214: 16 Scales to Know for Jazz

May 18

25 min

Welcome to episode 218 of the LJS Podcast where today I talk with LJS course member and saxophonist Trent Jordan. Trent is a hobbyist musician living in Brisbane, Australia who enjoys spending his downtime practicing his saxophone and honing his jazz improv skills. In this episode, Trent shares what's working for him in the practice room and get inside what he's doing to improve. Listen to episode 218 One of the most enjoyable things for me as an online jazz educator is getting to watch my students in my courses post video and audio assignments of the different things that we do in those courses, a video and audio of them practicing, of them playing and improvising. It's just really fun for me to see people making progress and it's also really fun for the rest of the community to see each other working on things. It's very motivating and I feel like everybody gets to learn from each other by just seeing what each other is doing in the practice room.  So on today's episode, I'm going to have on a special guest, Trent Jordan from Brisbane, Australia. He is a member of a few of my different courses and he is an avid practicer, someone who is very engaged in the community. I'm just excited to learn alongside with you what he's doing, what's working best for him, and we will all learn from him together. In this episode: 1. How Trent got started playing jazz 2. Why Trent plays jazz and what keeps him motivated 3. What Trent is working on in the practice room and what is working best 4. I help Trent with a few exercises to help him start connecting his lines together Important Links 1. LJS Inner Circle Membership VIP Waitlist

May 11

54 min

Welcome to episode 217 of the LJS Podcast where today I talk with the founder and director of Musical-U, Christopher Sutton. Musical-U is a music education membership with a focus on training and community learning. Christopher shares the impact he's seen with learning music within his own community, and the power of musical social connection for your jazz playing. Listen to episode 217 It's been my personal experience with learning jazz that when I do it in a community with other musicians who are trying to accomplish the same things that I'm trying to accomplish, I learn much faster and much more efficiently. This is because I'm looking at other musicians taking action. I'm watching them do something that I want to do. I get motivated, and I get to ask questions and learn from them.  And when we pull all of our knowledge and resources together, it can become a powerful force in our jazz education.  I've seen this as well in my students in all of my courses, and how much of a powerful effect this can truly have to get together as a community, even an online community, and learn together and grow as jazz musicians faster and more efficiently together. So, that's what we are going to talk about today. Today we have special guest Christopher Sutton from Musical-U, to talk to us about the power of learning in community.  In this episode: 1. Musical-U and the community it provides 2. Why introverts should buy the idea of community learning 3. The psychology behind learning music in community 4. How to benefit from being a part of a musical community Important Links 1. Musical-U 2. The Musicality Podcast 3. Inner Circle Waitlist

May 4

46 min

Welcome to episode 216 of the LJS Podcast where today I go walk you through a 12 jazz blues etude I've composed, and help you learn it by ear. Learning jazz solos by ear is important, so instead of talking about it and giving strategies, we actually do it on the episode. Listen to episode 216 What if I told you that by the time this episode is over, you are going to be able to play a 12 bar jazz blues solo by ear by memory?  Would you believe me? Well, that's exactly what we are going to do today in this episode. I'm going to walk you through 12 bars of a jazz blues solo, a little etude that I've composed, and I want you to learn it, and we are going to do it on the podcast.  So, even if you are new to learning music by ear and you've heard people talk about doing it and how important it is, and how it's going to help you become a better jazz improviser, and you are feeling a little bit nervous or anxious right now, don't worry. We are going to go slow and I think that you are going to surprise yourself by the time this episode over. And if you are a veteran of this stuff, you are going to know some great new jazz language and this is going to be well worth it for all parties involved.  In this episode: 1. Why learning solos by ear is important 2. I teach you the 12 bar jazz blues solo Important Links 1. Boost Your Jazz Blues free Masterclass

Apr 27

30 min

Welcome to episode 215 of the LJS Podcast where today I go over different apps, software and technology that I and other members of the LJS community recommend for practicing jazz. Apps and software shouldn't be used as crutches, but if they are used as aids to help the learning process they can be a really helpful thing. Listen to episode 215 One thing we're lucky to have as jazz musicians here in the 21st century is lots of apps, software, and technology to help aid us in our jazz practicing and learning the music more efficiently.  Now, some would say that's not so much of an advantage. I mean, if you look back at the jazz greats, they had to put in the hard work and really train their ears by picking up that needle on the record player, by going to gigs, and listening and picking things up on the fly. And absolutely, sometimes, things made easier are not made better. On the other hand, we have all these great tools at our disposal, at our fingertips, and they can be really helpful for us if used as tools and not crutches.  So, in today's episode, I'm going to be sharing some different apps, software, and technology that you can use to help you on your jazz education journey. In this episode: 1. iReal Pro 2. Chord Bot 3. Tonaly 4. Band-in-a-Box 5. Amazing Slow Downer 6. Transcribe 7. iPhone or recorder 8. Spotify Important Links 1. iReal Pro 2. Chord Bot 3. Tonaly 4. Band-in-a-Box 5. Amazing Slow Downer 6. Transcribe 7. iPhone or recorder 8. Spotify

Apr 20

28 min

Welcome to episode 214 of the LJS Podcast where today I go over 16 scales that can be useful when it comes to conceptualizing jazz improv. Scales are never to be used exclusively to improvise, but the 16 I cover in this episode can be helpful to map out note choices over many different chords you will come across in jazz standards. Listen to episode 214 When it comes to jazz improvisation, scales can be really great ways to organize pitches or note choices over top of chords in chord progressions. Now, I don't think scales should be used exclusively by any means to improvise. If we do that, they often become crutches and not tools, and it sounds more like you are playing scales than actual musical melodic lines.  But that doesn't mean we should throw out scales altogether. Not at all. We need to know them in order to know our instruments better, to explore them, to navigate them, and they can also be super helpful for helping us identify those note choices.  So, in today's episode, I'm going to be going over the 16 most important scales that I think you should know for jazz.  In this episode: 1. Ionian or Major 2. Dorian 3. Phrygian 4. Lydian 5. Mixolydian 6. Aeolian 7. Locrian and Locrian #2 8. Half Whole Diminished 9. Whole Half Diminished 10. Altered scale 11. Whole Tone Scale 12. Minor Pentatonic and Blues Scale 13. Lydian Dominant 14. Major Bebop Scale 15. Minor Bebop Scale 16. Mixolydian Bebop Scale Important Links Blog Post: 16 Most Important Scales in Jazz LJS 67: How to Use Pentatonics Over Any Chord

Apr 13

34 min

Welcome to episode 213 of the LJS Podcast where today we talk about all thing comping. This isn't just an episode for the guitarists and pianists - everyone can get benefit out of the concepts discussed in this episode. You learn 3 things to keep in mind while you are comping so that you are serving the musicians you are playing with as best as possible. Listen to episode 213 In my personal opinion, one of the hardest things to teach in jazz is comping.  Now, if you are a guitar player or a piano player or a vibes player, you understand that comping is hard to put a method to,  hard to put inside of a box. There are so many different things that are involved in comping. And if you are a saxophone player or a trumpet player, or any horn player, I don't want you to tune this episode out, because indeed, it is also important for you to understand the art of comping. However, I, today, on the podcast, will give you 3 important things that you need to keep in mind as a comper when you are accompanying other musicians on the bandstand over jazz standards. In this episode: 1. Be a rhythmic time keeper 2. Offer supportive harmony 3. Use logical voiceleading in your voicings Important Links LJS 50: How to Become and Expert Comper (feat. Keelan Dimick)

Apr 6

26 min

Welcome to episode 212 of the LJS Podcast where today I get behind my guitar and have an improv session. During trying times, it can be helpful to use music as an outlet to express things that you may not be able to in words or thoughts. In this episode, I perform an improvisation for you that I hope not only you will enjoy, but feel inspired to do the same. Listen to episode 212 During times of uncertainty, music has the potential to be a healing force and to help us express our emotions, to get things out unto the table that maybe we just wouldn't be able to do otherwise through the written word or through language.  There's something about music and the expression through music that reaches some part of our soul that as musicians, we are very lucky and fortunate to be able to tap into. But sometimes music and studying jazz, all the things we talked about in this podcast, can be a little stressful, too. Like you are actually diving deep into concepts and putting pressure on yourself to get better and better. But today I want to live by example here and I just want to create freely for you and hopefully, you will do the same at the end of this episode as well.  In this episode: 1. How music can be a powerful outlet during trying times 2. I perform an improvisation session Important Links Join the LJS Newsletter Sign up for a course

Mar 30

34 min

Today's episode is a special message from me to the Learn Jazz Standards family about how we can get through these trying times together, and come out the other side stronger and more motivated than ever before. Listen to this bonus episode Hey, what's up, Learn Jazz Standards family! I wanted to record this bonus episode today just to say, hey listen, we are all in this together.  I know that we are going through a hard time here in the world with the COVID-19 pandemic. For a lot of us, life has changed quite dramatically. From my listeners in Japan, from my listeners in the UK, from my listeners in the United States, in Canada and all over the world. It's something that affected all of us and I know it is a time where we are feeling a lot of anxiety, some pain, some hurt, and a lot of fear about what the future holds. And what I want to do and use this platform today is not necessarily to talk about music and all that stuff that I always talk about on this show. But rather to say, in solidarity, I am here for you.  In this episode: 1. Default to Gratitude 2. Default to Generosity 3. Default to Community 4. Default to Goal Setting Thanks for listening to this episode of the Learn Jazz Standards Podcast. If you aren't already, make sure you are subscribed on iTunes, Google Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts. I look forward to having you join me in the next episode!

Mar 24

19 min

Welcome to episode 211 of the LJS Podcast where today we have special guest Mike Casey on the show to talk to us about arranging jazz standards so you can make them your own unique expression. Mike lays down the value with lots of practical tips for improving your jazz improv, gives us insight to his musical growth, and gives us examples of how to arrange jazz standards. Listen to episode 211 Once you've learned the jazz standard and feel comfortable with it, you may think to yourself, well, I know how to play the melody, I know how to play the changes. I can go to a jam session or even a gig and play it with other musicians. But then, what do I with it after that? How do I make it my own? How do I give it my own voice and how can I develop that voice through these jazz standards so it sounds like me playing it so that there is something special I'm bringing to the table.  Well on today's episode, I have special guest saxophonist, Mike Casey, who is going to lay down a lot of really value-packed tips today. Full of stuff on how to become a better jazz improviser and a great musician in general. But he also talks a lot about taking jazz standards, arranging them to be that your own and to have your own original voice. You are going to really love this episode. I know you are going to learn tons from it today.  In this episode: 1. How Mike got started playing music 2. How Mike learned every Charlie Parker head 3. A solo that Mike learned and got a lot out of 4. How to arrange jazz standards to make them your own Mike Casey's "Unforgettable" Arrangement https://youtu.be/JFg3jYZcs_w Thanks for listening to this episode of the Learn Jazz Standards Podcast. If you aren't already, make sure you are subscribed on iTunes, Google Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts. I look forward to having you join me in the next episode! Important Links Mike's website Enter to win a free lesson with Mike

Mar 23

35 min

Welcome to episode 210 of the LJS Podcast where today I take out my guitar and do a little bit of practicing with you. We explore some incredible jazz language over 1-6-2-5 chord progressions while listening to a Dexter Gordon recording of a rhythm changes. I learn and pick apart licks from scratch to help you understand what makes them so effective and great. Listen to episode 210 We are going to have some fun on the podcast today.  I have not been able to pick up my guitar in a little while. I've been traveling. I've been doing a lot of work for a new membership that we have coming up here later on in the year for Learn Jazz Standards.  And so, I'm going to be practicing with you today. We are going to learn some 1-6-2-5 material with the help of our good friend Dexter Gordon, to show us the light, to show us the way on some killer jazz language to play over 1-6-2-5 chord progressions.  This is going to be fun. I'm excited to learn and I hope that you are excited to learn along with me.  In this episode: 1. How Dexter Gordon uses minimalism to play powerful melody over fast-moving chord changes. 2. How Dexter Gordon plays great bebop lines over 1-6-2-5's. 3. How Dexter Gordon makes the major pentatonic scale musical over a 1-6-2-5. 4. The power of resolving to the 3rds of different chords in the progression. Thanks for listening to this episode of the Learn Jazz Standards Podcast. If you aren't already, make sure you are subscribed on iTunes, Google Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts I look forward to having you join me in the next episode! Important Links How to Improvise on Rhythm Changes Like a Pro Jazz Improvisation Made Simple (book)

Mar 16

46 min

Welcome to episode 209 of the LJS Podcast where today I talk about 4 secrets for jazz improv success. I find that jazz is often overcomplicated, so in this episode, I do my best to simplify with these 4 secrets so that you can have a great path forward and a good idea of what to work on to make the most progress in the shortest amount of time. View Show Notes: https://www.learnjazzstandards.com/episode209 Sign up for the Newsletter: https://www.learnjazzstandards.com/newsletter/

Mar 9

36 min

Welcome to episode 208 of the LJS Podcast where today I have on special guest Dani Rabin from the prog jazz-rock band Marbin. Dani is not only a phenominal musician, but a great musical mind and educator. We discuss his philosophy on learning jazz improvisation, and effective strategies to practice towards making great musical decisions when improvising. View Show Notes: https://www.learnjazzstandards.com/episode208 Sign up for the Newsletter: https://www.learnjazzstandards.com/newsletter/

Mar 2

81 min

Welcome to episode 207 of the LJS Podcast where today I demonstrate three strategies you can practice to help you develop more melodic jazz solos. Often, we are tempted to jump straight to bebop lines and complex theory applications when improvising. But simple melodies are often skipped, and therefore missing an important aspect of making meaningful solos. Learn how to start practicing this. View Show Notes: https://www.learnjazzstandards.com/episode207 Sign up for the Newsletter: https://www.learnjazzstandards.com/newsletter/

Feb 24

21 min

Welcome to episode 206 of the LJS Podcast where today I have a special podcast episode planned. My new book, "Jazz Improvisation Made Simple" is launching on Amazon on March 8, 2020. The Kindle eBook version is now available for pre-order and to celebrate, I do a reading of the Introduction and first chapter of the book. I know you'll enjoy this. View Show Notes: https://www.learnjazzstandards.com/episode206 Sign up for the Newsletter: https://www.learnjazzstandards.com/newsletter/

Feb 17

32 min

Welcome to episode 205 of the LJS Podcast where today I have special guest and 30 Steps to Better Jazz Playing alumni, Shirley Jansen on the show. Shirley is a tenor saxophone player who exudes the joy of musical growth. She shares what has been working for her in her jazz playing, the power of learning solos from the jazz greats, and how community is helping her grow. View Show Notes: https://www.learnjazzstandards.com/episode205 Sign up for the Newsletter: https://www.learnjazzstandards.com/newsletter/

Feb 10

39 min

Welcome to episode 204 of the LJS Podcast where today I have professional jazz musicians Diego Maldonado and Wallace Stelzer on the show to talk all about preparing to play live with other people. One of the top musical goals I hear among the LJS Community is to be able to play with other musicians, whether that be at the local jazz jam or with some friends. In this episode we discuss what you need to do to prepare, and how to know when you are ready. View Show Notes: https://www.learnjazzstandards.com/episode204 Sign up for the Newsletter: https://www.learnjazzstandards.com/newsletter/

Feb 3

51 min

Welcome to episode 203 of the LJS Podcast where today I talk with special guest and LJS community member, Bob Petix about his journey as a jazz bassist. He talks about getting started playing bass in his late 40's and how he has developed in his musicianship since then. We talk what's working for him in the practice room and some of the key things that has stimulated his musical improvement. Listen to episode 203 One of the biggest themes for Learn Jazz Standards this year 2020 is community. This is really the year of community where we are building community and we are learning from each other as a community because I do believe that this is the best way that we can truly learn — it's from each other. And so one thing that I will be doing a lot more often on this podcast is have guests that are listeners of the podcast, who are members of my online jazz courses so that we can listen and find out what's working well for them in their practice room, what's working well, the things that are making the highest impact in their jazz playing at the moment. And in general, getting to know them and their stories because I do believe that we can learn in so much from each other's stories, so much from each other's experiences as jazz musicians, and this will help us all learn and grow together. So, I have Bob Petix on the show today, who is an attorney, who is a bass player from Jackson, Wyoming, who is going to share with us today and we are going to learn a lot from him. In this episode: 1. How Bob got started playing bass and jazz 2. Why Bob plays jazz and what keeps him motivated 3. What Bob is working on in the practice room and what is working best 4. I help Bob with an exercise he can work on for developing better time feel and longer lines Thanks for listening to this episode of the Learn Jazz Standards Podcast. If you aren't already, make sure you are subscribed on iTunes, Google Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts. I look forward to having you join me in the next episode! Important Links Jazz Blues Accelerator (course mentioned in episode)

Jan 27

37 min

Welcome to episode 201 of the LJS Podcast where today I talk about 3 ways to start improvising organically when you play jazz solos. A common problem I hear from subscribers is the struggle to let go of pre-meditating or thinking about what they need to play. It can be tough to let go, "forget" what you've been practicing, and just improvise freely. I share some simple ways you can start training yourself to do this better. View Show Notes: https://www.learnjazzstandards.com/episode201 Sign up for the Newsletter: https://www.learnjazzstandards.com/newsletter/

Jan 13

27 min

Welcome to episode 200 of the LJS Podcast where today we celebrate the big 200 episode mile marker! To do that, I have a lot of special guests today, you, the podcast listeners, to share your 2020 jazz and music goals. We go through each goal and I give some feedback. Get inspired and get ready to take action! View Show Notes: https://www.learnjazzstandards.com/episode200 Sign up for the Newsletter: https://www.learnjazzstandards.com/newsletter/

Dec 2019

34 min

Welcome to episode 199 of the LJS Podcast where today we take a look back on 2019. A lot of really great stuff happened with Learn Jazz Standards in 2019 and I go over some of the big mile markers, as well as the top 5 downloaded episodes of the year. I also share my favorite episodes, and a sneak peak into what's coming next year. View Show Notes: https://www.learnjazzstandards.com/episode199 Sign up for the Newsletter: https://www.learnjazzstandards.com/newsletter/

Dec 2019

31 min

Welcome to episode 198 of the LJS Podcast where I go over my 3 step process for learning to hear chords. Being able to hear different chord qualities is important for being able to hear chord progressions, which of course is important for learning jazz standards. It's also important for our improvisation as well, so I show you a great method for training your ears to hear any chord. View Show Notes: https://www.learnjazzstandards.com/episode198 Sign up for the Newsletter: https://www.learnjazzstandards.com/newsletter/

Dec 2019

18 min

Welcome to episode 197 of the LJS Podcast where I have my good buddies drummer Diego Maldonado and bassist Wallace Stelzer over to the studio to hang out and geek out on jazz. This is a fun episode full of jazz nerdery, music philosophy, a little bit of alcohol, NYC's best cookies, and some shenanigans. View Show Notes: https://www.learnjazzstandards.com/episode197 Sign up for the Newsletter: https://www.learnjazzstandards.com/newsletter/

Dec 2019

71 min

Welcome to episode 196 of the LJS Podcast where today I go over jazz practice plan #2, the last in a series of 2 episodes. This practice plan is called the Recycling Jazz Practice Plan which is having a powerful effect on my Jazz Blues Accelerator course students, which is based on this framework. Learn how this practice plan works and how to start taking action. View Show Notes: https://www.learnjazzstandards.com/episode196 Sign up for the Newsletter: https://www.learnjazzstandards.com/newsletter/

Dec 2019

28 min

Welcome to episode 195 of the LJS Podcast where today I go over a jazz practice plan in a series of two episodes we'll be going through. This practice plan is called the Stair Step Practice Plan, and this has been highly effective for students in my 30 Steps to Better Jazz Playing course, which uses this exact framework. View Show Notes: https://www.learnjazzstandards.com/episode195 Sign up for the Newsletter: https://www.learnjazzstandards.com/newsletter/

Nov 2019

42 min

Welcome to episode 194 of the LJS Podcast where today we take a look back in time at jazz history. We look into the different eras of jazz, the important musicians to listen to from them, and how the music evolved over time. View Show Notes: https://www.learnjazzstandards.com/episode194 Sign up for the Newsletter: https://www.learnjazzstandards.com/newsletter/

Nov 2019

50 min

Welcome to episode 193 of the LJS Podcast where today I take the often overwhelming and confusing world of jazz theory and make it simple. Jazz theory is often overcomplicated with way too much information and concepts that are unnecessary. I boil things down to the basics and help make things more understandable. View Show Notes: https://www.learnjazzstandards.com/episode193 Sign up for the Newsletter: https://www.learnjazzstandards.com/newsletter/

Nov 2019

50 min

Welcome to episode 192 of the LJS Podcast where today I put my self on the spot and compose a jazz tune on the podcast. I had no pre-conceived ideas before recording, I just start going in real time. See how I did and the tune I came up with in the end. View Show Notes: https://www.learnjazzstandards.com/episode192 Sign up for the Newsletter: https://www.learnjazzstandards.com/newsletter/

Nov 2019

39 min

Welcome to episode 191 of the LJS Podcast where today I walk you through a chords analysis of the popular jazz standard All the Things You Are. This tune is packed full of valuable lessons that will help you understand other jazz standards better and ultimately improve your improvisation skills. View Show Notes: https://www.learnjazzstandards.com/episode191 Sign up for the Newsletter: https://www.learnjazzstandards.com/newsletter/

Oct 2019

28 min

Welcome to episode 190 of the LJS Podcast where today I talk about how to get jazz gigs. One of the big goals for most musicians is to get out there and play. That's where the real fun and learning can happen. But how do you acquire those gigs? I go over three ways with different strategies for each to help you get out there and start performing. View Show Notes: https://www.learnjazzstandards.com/episode190 Sign up for the Newsletter: https://www.learnjazzstandards.com/newsletter/

Oct 2019

24 min

Welcome to episode 189 of the LJS Podcast where today I have on special guest pianist and educator Brett Pontecorvo to talk about making time to practice and setting up a masterplan to achieve your musical goals. Not having time to practice is a common complaint, but this episode crushes that limiting belief and shows you a path to achieve more in your musical life. View Show Notes: https://www.learnjazzstandards.com/episode189 Sign up for the Newsletter: https://www.learnjazzstandards.com/newsletter/

Oct 2019

46 min

Welcome to episode 188 of the LJS Podcast where today I have on special guest jazz pianist Keelan Dimick to discuss the transformational moments in his musical development. Keelan is a jazz piano phenom and he opens up and shares his journey as a musician and the key points in his development. View Show Notes: https://www.learnjazzstandards.com/episode188 Sign up for the Newsletter: https://www.learnjazzstandards.com/newsletter/

Oct 2019

52 min

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