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Jazz: The Key to Musical Success

All That Jazz (Eric Marienthal)

Beyond the genre you prefer to play or your instrument of choice, all musicians have one thing in common: we want to become better at our craft. From the moment we pick up our instrument, we set out on a journey to attain the holy grail of genre mastery and instrument virtuosity. This tantalizing desire to become the very best musician is the motive that unites players from all over the world.

Behind every genre of music there is a challenge and lesson to be learned. Whether it be blues, bluegrass, country, or classical, there are various unique styles of music inspiring those who wish to take their skills to the next level. Working in a community rich in culture derived from musical eclecticism, it has been suggested that to fully expand your musical dexterity one should spend some time studying jazz. This genre not only tests improvisational skills while utilizing various musical elements, but it truly helps one understand the potential of incorporating harmony along with music theory into your craft.


Jazz is a vibrant, multi-layered style that can be complex harmonically, rhythmically, and melodically. It is definitely not the easiest genre to comprehend, and can be intimidating at times, as it demands a certain level of patience and virtuosity from the instrumentalist. If you’re a musician who has been contemplating delving into jazz to improve your artistry, here are four reasons why it will be well worth it!


All That Jazz (Jazz Standards)

1. Expand Your Harmonic Knowledge.


Jazz standards are layered with harmonic structure. Utilizing the full spectrum of diatonic and non-diatonic harmony, jazz can help you understand how chords and chord progressions are built and implemented into compositions.


Jazz features a variety of chord sounds and colors. In jazz repertoire, the default chords are 7th chords, and then extensions and alterations are placed on top. The combination of these chord progressions have proven to be incredibly useful in voice leading and learning how to build chord structure.

All That jazz (Guitar)
2. Become P
roficient with Your Instrument.


With the harmonic complexities, the vast range of tempos, and the language of the music itself, jazz music pushes the envelope of musicianship. It has been said that there are “no shortcuts in jazz” because it is not a “one scale fits all” kind of genre. To authentically conceptualize jazz as a language and perform it efficiently, one must be able to navigate their instrument competently.


If there are any basic fundamentals that you believe you haven’t mastered or skills that you might missing, jazz will bring that uncertainty to light. However, this is not the “end all, be all” to taking jazz for a spin, it could actually be a great tool for any improving musician. If you had the tools to identify your biggest weakness within your instrument paired with a solution as to how to make it better, in turn, it will only help improve your proficiency/dexterity.


All That Jazz (Drums)
3. Improve Your Ear.


Some might argue that music improvisation is a lost art, however, improvisation is the core and lifeblood of jazz music. If you wish to add, “great improviser” to your musical repertoire, then it is absolutely necessary to develop a well trained ear. Understanding chord progression, music theory, and scale knowledge does not amount to the benefits of having strong music recognition and comprehension skills.


Jazz is traditionally and fundamentally learned by ear. You can definitely begin to grasp repertoire and solos from sheet music, but that’s not how jazz has been passed down through the decades. Learning by ear has become a staple in jazz training. Understanding the content of jazz standards will encourage you to strengthen your ear. From repertoire to solos, phrases to licks, jazz is harmonically and melodically complex. However, when you adjust your ear and shift your perception to align with these sounds you will in turn begin to hear and recognize more efficiently.

All That Jazz - Piano
4. Become a Better Composer.


Jazz works as a powerful medium unveiling the endless possibilities and untapped potential found within a composition. Having a vast understanding of harmonic knowledge and jazz standards, along with chords and chord progressions, will help you become a better composer.  You might desire to be more versatile in your playing by trying a jazz lesson, aspiring to improve and gain a different perspective in regards to tone and technique. Next thing you know, you are learning major and minor triads in various inversions and shapes, and it completely blows your mind. Now you are yearning to revisit all of your original compositions and add a different perspective you didn’t even know was possible!


There is so much that this genre has to offer to every type of musician and you don’t need to aspire to become a great jazz musician to get something out of your lessons either. If you haven’t already, we at ArtistWorks encourage you to study some jazz standards and see where it takes you.

We have some of the best master jazz musicians in the industry: Eric Marienthal (jazz saxophone), George Whitty (jazz piano), Peter Erskine (jazz drums), John Patitucci (jazz bass), Martin Taylor (fingerstyle jazz guitar), Dave Stryker (jazz guitar).

If you aren’t quite sure where to start, try some Free Sample Lessons on us! Don’t underestimate the power of this versatile style training, it could easily encourage you to take your playing and musicianship down a path you would have never gone down before.


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