- Wednesday, October 05, 2011
- by Jonathan Martin
Every instrument is different. And, each instrument will have its own demands, techniques and challenges.
I can't go into the specifics of technical practice for each and every instrument there is, or even the ones used most frequently in Jazz. That would be way beyond the scope of this tutorial.
What I can tell you is to look for resources specific to your instrument. Listen to as many people that play your instrument as you can. And, take lessons from a competent and caring teacher.
The number of music scholars in the world is staggering. So, there is no shortage of books, CD's, videos, blogs, podcasts, and anything else you can imagine directly related to the study of your instrument. Of course, Google can be your best friend in this search.
Here are some search terms to get you started:
- "Your Instrument" (replace this with the name of your instrument without the quotes)
- "Your Instrument" Studies
- "Your Instrument" Technique
- "Your Instrument" for Beginners
- Intermediate "Your Instrument"
- Advanced "Your Instrument"
- "Your Instrument" Jazz Studies
- "Your Instrument" Transcriptions
Be specific about "Your Instrument" in the search. "Alto Saxophone" will deliver better results than just "Saxophone".
Search, Research, and Search Again
You may try going directly to some well known retailers like Amazon, or Barnes and Noble. Use their search functions the same as for any search engine.
And, don't forget to go visit Jamey Aebersold. His site is the standard for Jazz Studies. He has partnered with many of the best Jazz educators to create books, play-along cd's, etudes, and transcriptions for a lot of different instruments.
You can use the same ideas above to find recordings of the master players of your instrument. The catalog of Jazz recordings is immense.
Your initial search term may look like this:
- Great "Your Instrument" Players or Great Jazz "Your Instrument" Players
Listen to Live Performances
It's very important that you also find local players in your area to go hear play live. Recordings are great, but you can't see the performer from a CD or .mp3 You need to see the player's physical connection to the instrument in order to understand what it takes to play that instrument.
I learned more about playing the trumpet from seeing Wynton Marsalis perform live in concert than I did from listening to all his albums that I had at the time.
Listen to real people who play the same instrument you do. It will make your own playing more real for you.
Can't Beat Private Lessons
Private lessons on your instrument are essential. Nothing can replace a good teacher, especially when the teaching happens in a one on one situation. You have the opportunity to ask questions and get answers and hold the undivided attention of your teacher during the lesson time.
You will have the advantage of viewing first-hand demostrations of exactly what the teacher wants you to learn, and you get immediate expert feedback on your performance; so, you'll know what you're doing right and what you need to work on.
A knowledgeable teacher should also be able to help you find resources for further study, and name great players of your instrument and help you find recordings of important performances.
The Joy of Study
It may sound like a lot of work, but if you do it right it can be a lot of fun. There is an unmistakeable joy of discovery as you explore your own potential to master a musical instrument. There is nothing quite like the feeling when you get it, you finally get it; even after what you've been trying to learn was a hard fought challenge.
Up Next ...
What do you do that's different when you practice your instrument? Tell us about it in the Comments ...
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