Jazz Guitar: Listen First, THEN Play

With great jazz playing fresh in my ear, I can play from inspiration,

instead of fear…

hey, that rhymes….so fun.

 

Advertisements

Excited at first? Has your plan to blog daily lost it’s dazzle?

Yesterday I posted for the first time in a long time, and I don’t know why or how, but my whole day went better.  I recall how it was when I started; I thought “this blog will be my positive start to each day, a way to listen to the loving voices in me and defuse the doubting, depressed ones.”  Then alas, I fell off the trolley.,..but as in my post from yesterday, I now simply BEGIN AGAIN.

Because it works, it feels good…no need to analyze or justify, if something keeps you working on your goals, frees you from negative monkey mind, just keep doing it for Gods’ sake!

What does it take to get you (i. e. me)  in your own corner, rooting for yourself?  You (I) root for others and would never think of saying, “so…you find blogging a great benefit…oh well, don’t bother, you’re too busy, you don’t have anything to say…”

…and yet that kind of self talk is what kept me away from blogging.

One of my favorite parts about this blog is when I post a jazz video.  Then when I begin practicing guitar I have a vivid sound and picture of why I am putting in all this effort on drills and such…Today’s video is by  jazz guitar icon Grant Green, with a great band backing him up.

For me, it is imperative that I watch role models doing things that I aspires to.  Rather than compare myself and feel I have fallen short, I love hearing the great jazz, it ignites my desire to play the best I can, to allow myself to picture the gigs I plan to get, and picture them going fantastically, and the venues inviting me to come and play all the time, for a decent amount of money or other compensation.

You see, just writing that makes it seem possible, not a distant pipe dream…it makes me wanna up my guitar practice to 7 a day..not hard at all.

I hope my story helps you to start blogging again if you have drifted away like me.

What is your “Path With A Heart?” Know it–for it is the only path that is any good.


path 2If I  don’t “make it” as an artist, should I quit?

That isn’t the question, that isn’t even the even the…That misses the whole point.  A musician friend on Facebook posted that he was discouraged about not making more money with music and not getting emotional support from community and family–thus he was thinking of quitting.

I wrote to him:

either or, do or not…anytime there is a side we must take there is stress…No side needs to be taken, this is Zen so it may go by un-clarified…but…no need to choose a side…An old Zen Koan said, Eat your food wash your bowl. Get up, music, eat sleep, live, take out trash, feed dogs…life.. The path with a heart is the only path that is any good (paraphrased from Carlos Castaneda).

Sarah Vaughn: Listen to the Exquisite Final Note!

Since i have shared many jazz guitar videos, here is one of my first loves, singing, and the jazz singer who brought it to me–the desire to sing in that amazing style.  I had a roommate in the 80s who had old records lying around, she said I could have them.  One of them was Sarah Vaughn and after that I was hooked…Had never heard such vocal artistry.

I continue to improve on guitar, having learned to pick correctly after fumbling and groaning a lot…what a victory!  Now i need to master improv.

 

My jazz guitar adventure has always been in the service of my singing.  Sometimes I forget that.  Unlike pure instrumentalists I have my voice to entertain.

The purpose of learning guitar is so that I can grace my voice with the best jazz feel, jazz timing and with those fills between the vocals that set them of in all their shimmering beauty (at least that is what my vocal coach says my voice is like!)

Take the time to listen and watch the Sassy one:  The quality on this video is very good, showing her face, so relaxed while revealing intense emotion – quite a balancing act…

Wes Montgomery Relax It’s Friday + Philosophy

I found the following words in my stuff and it hit home with me, maybe with you to.  It is by Sir Laurens van der Post, an anthropologist and author from South Africa. A movie was made about his life in 1996.   The second quote below pertains to happiness and affirms: Meaning is more important than gratification.  Think of Nelson Mandela going through that horrible treatment in prison and yet I believe even then he was doing fine because he knew all along his purpose.

 

The spirit of man is nomad. His blood bedouin, and love is the aboriginal tracker on the faded desert spoor of his lost self; and so I came to live my life not by conscious plan or prearranged design but as someone following the flight of a bird.”

 

“The Bushman in the Kalahari Desert talk about two “hungers”. There is the Great Hunger and there is the Little Hunger. The Little Hunger wants food for the belly; But the Great Hunger, The Greatest hunger of all, is the hunger for meaning…

 

There’s ultimately only one thing that makes Human beings deeply and profoundly bitter, and that is the have thrust upon them

A life without meaning…

There is nothing wrong in searching for happiness….

But of far more comfort to the soul…

Is something greater than happiness

or unhappiness and that is meaning.

Because meaning transfigures all…

Once what you are doing has for you meaning,

It is irrelevant whether you’re happy or unhappy

You are content—you are not alone

In your spirit—you belong”

(Sir Laurens van der Post from Hasten Slowly, a film by Mickey Lemle)

 

 

Jazzin’ the Day Away

I am posting a jazz guitarist video today to start my day of practice off right.  The arpeggios are getting easier all the time and I think if I can break the sound barrier so to speak, that place at which most people would quit because they don’t see how any of the drills will make them able to play actual improvised jazz, or even to take the songs they currently know and play them in a much more enjoyable arrangement..

So, yes, in spite of all the lack of proof that it will work, I will practice on in despair, like a mountain climber that knows that even if they reach the top they will most likely not make it down again due to hazards of nature…

That sounds so drama-queen-ish but it is how it feels to work and work for hours on one song and then play it and realize it does not sound good yet…

But I will go on because part of me knows that the day will come, in a month, a year, or 2 years, or more, when I will play well, when each song will be up to par, when I will have the gigs, respect from my fellow musicians, and most importantly, when I will use my new guitar skills to compose songs that I feel will make a difference – will help one or more people to learn, gain a new insight or be free of some mental anguish, due to the message and love in the song that I sing.

I don’t mean that I will be a star or that my video  will go viral, just that the ones who do hear my music will benefit from it.

This is almost like going back to a time when live performers were everywhere, before they had computers, TV, or even radio.

The world I want to live respects  songwriters and musicians of dedication, not because they are famous or because the are “trending” on social media, but because their music is glorious, like a beautiful painting by a master painter.

So enough of my rant, here is a video to inspire and entertain you and me:

Jazz Guitar: Play Every Day, that is “The Way”

This is a good/great concert. Please enjoy.  Upped my hours a day on my jazz guitar adventure to 4 to 5…yesterday made it to 3.5 staying up late as the day was full of to dos…better late then never..

I endorsed the 3.5 hours as success.  Being a stickler for exact time will only make it harder for me to keep my firm commitment.  Yes, I want to be my own “guitar coach”, keeping things on the side of a firm and strong work ethic, like an athlete, while also being kind and gentle with myself.

Today I will follow the advice from my teacher at Monday’s  lesson.  He says, get your coffee and water and do your 3 or more hours of practice, write down what you do, where you left off, and if not all done today, continue where you left off tomorrow.  And the BIG thing he said is, it is not just playing many hours every day that makes you good, it is playing with FOCUS.  Put on blinders, and just focus on one thing at a time, finish it and go to the next thing.  Avoid jumping around.  If you think of a tune while doing a drill, record it so as not to loose it.  But don’t stop the drill to spend hours composing a new tune.

I found another blog called something like “my jazz guitar adventure” (not on word press), and was about to follow it when, oh no, he posted that he had not been playing in a long while and thus had not been posting.

That is a cautionary tale:  At my age, playing every day without stop gaps is the way to bliss.  This is a way of life or nothing.  Seeing the afore mentioneds photo, he was much younger then I, so he doesn’t take it as seriously perhaps,  Not to judge… for the minute I make it into a “have to practice every day or else” kinda thing, it can lead to disaster.

Instead I am making it, “I get to do this..play this amazing music, this beautiful instrument”.

My guitar looks just like the one John Scofield is playing.  Wish me jazzy guitar power for today I begin the triad arpeggios in all 12 keys.

 

 

 

Can A Waitress Play Jazz Guitar (good if not great?)

Today I have a nice dog to keep me happy and I begin another day on my jazz guitar adventure.  Yesterday I was thinking how I previously believed (and often still do) you have to be a genius to play jazz guitar, and  have a super sharp memory, lightening quick reflexes and tons of musical talent.  Then, thanks to a book called Zen Guitar (not exact title, will add later) I thought more productively, and less judgmentally, about the odds that I will ever get good at this.   And this term came to me:  memory stacking.  As a waitress one must remember all the orders, personalities, condiments, and so on.  One needs a good memory for detail.  So is jazz guitar harder than that?  Yes…and no.  If broken down, one skill within the jazz training foundation may tax the memory as much as what a food server has to do within a given working day.  So, if it is like one day, I thought, I don’t have to be smarter than a waitress to play jazz guitar, I just have to only learn and attempt to reproduce ONE thing at a time…

Kind of like, stacking the jazz guitar skills one atop another within my mental circuitry: Memory Stacking.

…Until I have a giant multi-story building…or jazz mansion so to speak.   Will see how that works as I continue on my jazz adventure.

One more thing…before I start daily practice I often find a good jazz guitar video.  Today I will go for 5 hours, with this good example:

 

How to Shut Up (while not suppressing) your inner Critic.

 

You cannot suppress this voice/person/belief system that lives in your head.

You will only make it stronger.  You must come up to it and say,

“Hello, what is your opinion about my (music/writing/clothing/weight…)” and let it/her/him reply.

Then kindly say, thank you for sharing that, now I need to get back to what I do best, writing/playing/being joyful…

This person will lose the desire to bug you when you stop taking the bait.  Just like an external person.  If you are polite but do not let them jerk your chain they will get bored and stop their negative chatter about everything and anything.

The magazine “Real Simple” suggests some tips for controlling your inner critic:

  1. Pluck the weeds – when you have a thought, decide, is this a weed that needs to be plucked so my lovely garden can continue to flourish?  Focus on the thoughts that are beautiful blooms.  You can only focus on and embrace one thing at a time- by the time you immerse your feelings into the astounding  beauty of what your eyes and your heart behold, the weed/critic will have forgotten the point it was trying to make
  2. Rewire your brain – every thought we have paves a neural pathway, making it easier to have the same response over and over again. When the path is taken millions of times, it gets on auto-pilot.  Be aware of this, for example, every time I work on a new jazz technique the critic assures me I am too stoopid to play jazz – so I will recognize this, and take note of things I have mastered that I originally thought I never could.  At first this counter-thought will seem like a lie, I am just fooling myself, but just go along with it, and the next time the critic on auto pilot returns, insert that same response:  “Look at what I have accomplished that proves your criticism is wrong”.  Each time you do this, the new and self-loving neural pathway will get bigger, to the point that you will replace the critic with the warm,  loving supportive inner you that treasures each effort you make to excel at your dream of being a jazz guitarist/author/dancer/painter…or ______ (insert whatever is your passion.

Jazz Guitar practice today

A late start my practice.  I intend to practice longer and better, with more presence, today than i have before.  I intend to relax my hands, be kind to myself and let my creativity flow even as i am memorizing things…i will add in what i can of improvisation and not judge myself compared to Joe Pass…  Here is a video for jazz guitar to start my days’ practice: