214 episodes

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, whose one goal is to answer any question about playing jazz music you may have. Jazz can be a challenging music to learn and play, but it doesn't have to be so hard. Each episode features a specific musical challenge that jazz students may come across, where it is discussed and answered. Special jazz guests frequent the show, sharing their expertise on an array of different musical subject matter. Join thousands of listeners getting free jazz education every week!

Learn Jazz Standards Podcast Brent Vaartstra: Jazz Musician, Author, and Entrepreneur

    • Music Commentary

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, whose one goal is to answer any question about playing jazz music you may have. Jazz can be a challenging music to learn and play, but it doesn't have to be so hard. Each episode features a specific musical challenge that jazz students may come across, where it is discussed and answered. Special jazz guests frequent the show, sharing their expertise on an array of different musical subject matter. Join thousands of listeners getting free jazz education every week!

    LJS 212: Harnessing Pure Musical Expression (Improv Session with Brent)

    LJS 212: Harnessing Pure Musical Expression (Improv Session with Brent)

    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

    • 33 min
    Bonus Episode: Special Message from Brent About COVID-19

    Bonus Episode: Special Message from Brent About COVID-19

    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!

    • 18 min
    LJS 211: Making Jazz Standards Your Own and Developing Your Musical Voice (feat. Mike Casey)

    LJS 211: Making Jazz Standards Your Own and Developing Your Musical Voice (feat. Mike Casey)

    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

    • 34 min
    LJS 210: 1-6-2-5 Licks Over Rhythm Changes (Learning From Dexter Gordon)

    LJS 210: 1-6-2-5 Licks Over Rhythm Changes (Learning From Dexter Gordon)

    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)

    • 45 min
    LJS 209: 4 Secrets for Jazz Improv Success

    LJS 209: 4 Secrets for Jazz Improv Success

    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 over complicated, 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.

    Listen to episode 209

    One of the things that drive me nuts about traditional jazz education is just how complicated it is made up to be.







    And for people trying to come into the jazz world to learn how to improvise, it can be very intimidating and it can be very confusing. There is just too much music theory, there's too much everything.







    So, what I've really tried to do on this podcast and everything with Learn Jazz Standards, is try to make jazz a little bit simpler. I just came out with a new book Jazz Improvisation Made Simple, which is just completely all about this.







    In the spirit of that new book and to celebrate its launch, I want to go over four secrets for jazz improv, like how to really accelerate your jazz growth and get started down the right path, and the things you really should be doing and you can strip everything else away.







    You don't have to get confused. You don't have to get overwhelmed. I'm here to help.

    In this episode:

    1. Understand Jazz as a Language

    2. Know the basics of jazz theory

    3. Understand and practice the "3 Pillars of Jazz Improvisation"

    4. Have a practice plan that gets real results

    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

    1. LJS 145: How to Listen to a Jazz Recording and Learn from It



    2. LJS 194: Understanding the Jazz Eras (Jazz History Made Simple)



    3. LJS 193: Jazz Theory Made Simple



    4. LJS 124: The Only Big 3 Things You Need to Be Practicing as a Jazz Improviser



    5. LIST Process for Learning Jazz Standards the Smart Way



    6. LJS 195: Stair-step Practice Plan



    7. LJS 196: Recycling Jazz Practice Plan

    • 35 min
    LJS 208: Making Good Musical Decisions Through Effective Practice (feat. Dani Rabin of Marbin)

    LJS 208: Making Good Musical Decisions Through Effective Practice (feat. Dani Rabin of Marbin)

    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.

    Listen to episode 208

    When we have to play a jazz solo, we are making musical choices in the moment.



    What will determine whether we play a great jazz solo is the quality of those musical choices, and also how fast we are able to come up with them.



    And this all starts with effective practice. That's how we learn to make great musical choices.



    So on today's show, I have a very special guest, Dani Rabin from the prog jazz-rock band Marbin, to talk all about that, his philosophy behind learning jazz improvisation, his philosophy behind effective practice and making great musical choices.

    In this episode:

    1. How Marbin got started and became a world touring band

    2. Dani's definition of practicing jazz improvisation

    3. The power of reduction, induction and deduction

    4. Dani's definition of music theory and scales

    5. Growing from feeling unsatisfied with your playing

    6. About Marbin's latest album "Strong Thing"

    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

    Marbin's website



    Check out Marbin's albums

    • 1 hr 20 min

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