271 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
    • 5.0 • 3 Ratings

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 269: ONLY Scale and Chords You Need to Know for Jazz

    LJS 269: ONLY Scale and Chords You Need to Know for Jazz

    Welcome to episode 269 where I have the audacity to suggest that you only need to know one scale in order to start improvising over jazz standards. And chords? Only a small handful. This episode will help beginner and intermediate jazz musicians cut the fat, weed out the excess, and get down to the essentials.







    Listen to episode 269















    Every month in our LJS Inner Circle membership, we do something called the Monthly Jazz Mastermind. 







    And this is an opportunity for all the members to get on a live Q&A call with me to ask any music or jazz-related questions. 







    It's a lot of fun and we had a great question that came up, and the question was, "as a trumpet player, which scales and chords are considered to be a must-know before going on to others?"







    And the first way I answer this particular member was that it doesn't matter if you're a trumpet player or a guitar player, a bass player, a saxophone player.







    Whatever instrument you play when it comes to jazz, there's really only a few scales and really only a few chords that you need to know before going on and exploring more in-depth things. 







    In fact, I had the audacity to suggest that this particular musician only needs to know one scale. 







    So, let's dig into that in this episode. Let's discover this. Let's break things down, make things simpler and let's do this thing.







    In this episode:







    1. Understanding the major scale







    2. Understanding how to harmonize a major scale with 7th chords







    3. There are only 5 chords you need to know







    4. Understanding how to utilize the major scale over all of the 7th chords







    Important Links







    1. Podcast Sponsor: Modacity (music practicing app)







    2. LJS Inner Circle Membership

    • 40 min
    LJS 268: Musicians Like YOU Share Their Jazz Breakthroughs (Inner Circle Celebration)

    LJS 268: Musicians Like YOU Share Their Jazz Breakthroughs (Inner Circle Celebration)

    Welcome to episode 268 where today we have a very special episode in celebration of our 1 year birthday of our LJS Inner Circle membership. We have a lot of guests on the show, members of our Inner Circle, share their musical breakthroughs to help you get an idea of what's working for them so you can take action for yourself.







    Listen to episode 268















    Today's episode is a very special episode. It's an episode where we are celebrating the one-year birthday of our LJS Inner Circle membership.







    And to celebrate that I wanted to have members of our Inner Circle come in on the podcast and share their musical breakthroughs with all of you.







    Because I believe that when we listen to other musicians who are in the same position as you, you're not professional musicians, not any of those other people, who have actually seen success in their jazz playing.







    We want to know what those things actually are. If we can learn from others like us trying to accomplish the same thing, we can fast-track our growth by just keying into these things. 







    So you are going to learn so much in today's episode from so many different special guests. Get ready for this. This is going to be a fun celebratory episode.







    In this episode:







    1. Our members share their jazz breakthroughs so you can learn what is working best for musicians just like you







    Important Links







    1. LJS Inner Circle Membership

    • 1 hr
    LJS 267: Innovative Practice Strategies for Mind, Body, and Music (feat. Marc Gelfo)

    LJS 267: Innovative Practice Strategies for Mind, Body, and Music (feat. Marc Gelfo)

    Welcome to episode 267 where today we have special guest, founder and CEO of Modactiy, Marc Gelfo, on to talk about practice strategy. In this episode, Marc digs beneath the surface and shares his thoughts on practicing effectively drawing from neuroscience, psychology, and his experience as an extraordinarily accomplished french hornist.







    Listen to episode 267















    When it comes to practicing, we often talk about what you should be practicing to improve your musicianship or your jazz skills. 







    And often some tactics are prescribed. I know that I often prescribe certain practice regimens, different things that you can do to accelerate your progress.







    But we often don't talk about the deeper side, the brain side, the psychological side of practicing. How we can speed up our development by the way we think, by the way we feel physically.







    And all these things that are kind of meta and beneath the surface of what we normally talk about when we talk about practicing.







    So, on today's show, I have very special guest Marc Gelfo, the founder of the practicing app Modacity, to get inside of all this stuff with us, to talk about the mind, the body, and music and how we can apply some real strategies for improving our practicing and improving our progress.







    In this episode:







    1. Marc's background on how he came to effective practicing







    2. Why practicing well matters (and the consequences of not)







    3. Marc's emotional, mental, and technical practice hacks







    4. The role of recording your practice







    5. Modacity and how it can help you practice more effectively







    Important Links







    1. Modacity (Marc's Practice App)







    2. LJS Inner Circle Membership

    • 1 hr 9 min
    LJS 266: Mastering Swing Feel and Finding That Perfect Swing

    LJS 266: Mastering Swing Feel and Finding That Perfect Swing

    Welcome to episode 266 where today we talk about swing feel, what it is, how to properly swing, and some common mistakes musicians make. Swing is the most unique style to jazz, despite there being multiple straight eighth styles associated with jazz. But what exactly makes up a swing feel, and how do we find the balance between "over swinging" and "under swinging." This episode gets you headed in the right direction.







    Listen to episode 266















    Even though jazz has a lot of different styles and grooves associated with the genre, the most unique to the style is swing.







    The idea of swinging your eighth notes, then of course all the other rhythmic associations that come with that. I mean, even a bass player just playing quarter notes can swing really hard and have that feeling underneath it. 







    But I hear a lot of musicians not really quite hitting the mark. Not really getting the swing feel correct.







    And so, I want to dive into that in today's episode, to really kind of discover the rhythmic background to the swing feel and then try to figure out what is the sweet spot with swinging and playing eighth-note lines that are straight, what's the beautiful perfect match between the two of those that will really make us groove really hard.







    In this episode:







    1. Swung eighth notes are based off of a triplet pattern







    2. How to play straight eighth, triplet eighths, and swung eighths







    3. Avoid accenting the "let" of the triplet.







    4. Finding the sweet spot between straight and swung eighth notes







    5. Copying other jazz musicians swing feel will help you better understand the feeling of a good swing feel







    Important Links







    1. Podcast Sponsor: Modacity (music practicing app)







    2. LJS Inner Circle Membership

    • 27 min
    LJS 265: Overcoming Musical Frustration and Maintaining Motivation (feat. Michael Lake)

    LJS 265: Overcoming Musical Frustration and Maintaining Motivation (feat. Michael Lake)

    Welcome to episode 265 where today I have on special guest musician Michael Lake to talk about overcoming musical frustration. It's not uncommon for a musician studying jazz to get frustrated with their musical progress, which in unhealthy amounts can sometimes lead to demotivation. Michael lends his thoughts on how to work through this and how to set yourself up for long term success.







    Listen to episode 265















    The reality of studying any kind of music is that eventually, you are going to get frustrated with your progress.







    You are going to be frustrated with the way you sound. You are going to be frustrated with how quickly you are progressing. You are going to get frustrated if there's something difficult in that music that you are having a hard time wrapping your head around.







    And this is especially true for jazz being of a more complex kind of music, with more complex harmony, and improvisation just in general being a challenging concept. 







    But we don't want to stay in that place of frustration for too long. We want to be enjoying ourselves and progressing. 







    So, in today's show, I have special guest Michael Lake to talk about overcoming musical frustration and give you some really practical tips and really powerful things for overcoming those barriers of musical frustration and musical motivation. 







    In this episode:







    1. Defining your goals for what you want to get out of the music







    2. Accepting you musical skill level as you grow







    3. Overcoming frustration with action







    Important Links







    1. Michael Lake's Music Savvy







    2. LJS Inner Circle Membership

    • 51 min
    LJS 264: Memorizing Jazz Standards 101 (So You Don’t Forget Them)

    LJS 264: Memorizing Jazz Standards 101 (So You Don’t Forget Them)

    Welcome to episode 264 where today I go over some tips and strategies for memorizing jazz standards in such a way that you are less likely to forget them, and can recall them even if you haven't played them in a while. I go over a few don'ts of memorizing jazz standards, and some work you can do ahead of time and during the process of learning that will make a difference.







    Listen to episode 264















    The question I get quite often is how do I memorize jazz standards so I don't forget them, especially because it seems as if it's required of me to know a lot of them?







    Like 10, 15, 20, 30, 50, maybe even more jazz standards when you go out to a jam session. Maybe you are a musician who is actually starting to gig around a little bit at your local coffee shops and bars, and you need to know a lot of tunes.







    And it can be really frustrating especially if you have learned the tune only later when it's called on a jam session or a gig to forget it.







    So in this episode, I'm going to be digging into some strategies and some tips I can offer to help you memorize jazz standards better and really get the most out of them so that you are not forgetting them so that you are able to put them to use on the bandstand.







    In this episode:







    1. Learn the melody using the LIST Process







    2. Understand the major and minor diatonic series







    3. Be able to recall in your head and on your instrument common chord progressions in different keys







    4. After learning the chords to a jazz standard, categorize each set of changes rather than thinking of chords individually







    Important Links







    1. LJS Inner Circle Membership

    • 34 min

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