209 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 207: 3 Strategies for Melodic Improv on Jazz Standards

    LJS 207: 3 Strategies for Melodic Improv on Jazz Standards

    Welcome to episode 207 of the LJS Podcast where today I demonstrate three strategies you can practice to help you develop more melodic jazz solos. Often, we are tempted to jump straight to bebop lines and complex theory applications when improvising. But simple melodies are often skipped, and therefore missing an important aspect of making meaningful solos. Learn how to start practicing this.

    Listen to episode 207









    Enjoy listening to this podcast?If you get value from the LJS Podcast, help us out by leaving a rating and review on iTunes or your favorite podcast service. Thanks for your help! Rate and Review on iTunes





    As a jazz musician and an educator, I'm often looking for new ways to practice improvising over jazz standards, whether it be for myself or for you guys.

    And oftentimes, we over-complicate the improvisation process thinking that we have to come straight out of the gate playing complex bebop lines or "hip lines" in order to really sound great playing over jazz standards.

    But the truth of it is, the most important thing to include in our improvisation is melody.

    And so in today's episode, I'm going to be going over 3 strategies that you can start practicing today, that will help you play more melodic jazz solos and also give you a great starting point to start building your jazz solos.















    In this episode:

    1. Strategy #1: Use the melody as a basis for improv

    2. Strategy #2: Improvise a melody based on the standard you are playing

    3. Strategy #3: Base your solo off of a composed theme















    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

    LJS 201: 3 Ways to Start Improvising More Organically

    • 20 min
    LJS 206: Jazz Improvisation Made Simple (A Preview Reading of My New Book)

    LJS 206: Jazz Improvisation Made Simple (A Preview Reading of My New Book)

    Welcome to episode 206 of the LJS Podcast where today I have a special podcast episode planned. My new book, "Jazz Improvisation Made Simple" is launching on Amazon on March 8, 2020. The Kindle eBook version is now available for pre-order and to celebrate, I do a reading of the Introduction and first chapter of the book. I know you'll enjoy this.

    Listen to episode 206









    Enjoy listening to this podcast?If you get value from the LJS Podcast, help us out by leaving a rating and review on iTunes or your favorite podcast service. Thanks for your help! Rate and Review on iTunes





    I've got a really special episode planned for you today, and a real special treat if you don't mind me saying so.

    My new book, Jazz Improvisation Made Simple, is going to be available for Kindle eBook and physical paperback on Amazon on March 8th. But as of yesterday, Sunday, February 16th, 2020, the eBook (just the eBook) is available for pre-order.

    And so I thought I'd celebrate that as we lead up to the launch on March 8th by reading two chapters of the book, the Introduction and Chapter 1 of the book.

    So I'm totally just going to be giving you a sneak preview inside of this book today because I know you are going to get a lot out of it and I'd love for you to see what's inside of this.















    In this episode:

    1. About my new book "Jazz Improvisation Made Simple" and the launch date

    2. A special preview reading of the Introduction and Chapter 1 of the book















    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

    Pre-order "Jazz Improvisation Made Simple" Kindle eBook

    • 31 min
    LJS 205: Learning from the Greats and Embracing the Joy of Musical Growth (feat. Shirley Jansen)

    LJS 205: Learning from the Greats and Embracing the Joy of Musical Growth (feat. Shirley Jansen)

    Welcome to episode 205 of the LJS Podcast where today I have special guest and 30 Steps to Better Jazz Playing alumni, Shirley Jansen on the show. Shirley is a tenor saxophone player who exudes the joy of musical growth. She shares what has been working for her in her jazz playing, the power of learning solos from the jazz greats, and how community is helping her grow.

    Listen to episode 205









    Enjoy listening to this podcast?If you get value from the LJS Podcast, help us out by leaving a rating and review on iTunes or your favorite podcast service. Thanks for your help! Rate and Review on iTunes





    One thing that has become clear to me over the years getting to know the community here at Learn Jazz Standards is that a big reason that a lot of us play music and a lot of us play jazz is because of that infectious joy that it brings to our everyday lives.

    There is just something about music that I would say, especially jazz, that just gives you this sense of freedom and this real sense of accomplishment as long as you view it as a journey and something to be constantly learning from.

    And so I want to introduce to you today a really special guest. Someone who is an alumni of my 30 Steps to Better Jazz Playing course and a podcast listener, Shirley Jansen, who is just someone that gives a lot of great energy, someone who really exudes the joy of music, exudes the joy of learning.

    And we are going to get inside of her head how she learns best, what she's doing in the practice room and what she is doing to continually improve as jazz musician.















    In this episode:

    1. How Shirley got into playing saxophone after a serious injury

    2. Learning from the greats and how its helped her playing

    3. How community playing has helped her grow

    4. What she's struggling with right now and some tips to overcome that















    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

    30 Steps to Better Jazz Playing

    LJS 203: Practicing with a Plan and Crushing Musical Weaknesses (feat Bob Petix)

    • 38 min
    LJS 204: How to Prepare for Jam Sessions and Group Playing (feat. Diego Maldonado and Wallace Stelzer)

    LJS 204: How to Prepare for Jam Sessions and Group Playing (feat. Diego Maldonado and Wallace Stelzer)

    Welcome to episode 204 of the LJS Podcast where today I have professional jazz musicians Diego Maldonado and Wallace Stelzer on the show to talk all about preparing to play live with other people. One of the top musical goals I hear among the LJS Community is to be able to play with other musicians, whether that be at the local jazz jam or with some friends. In this episode we discuss what you need to do to prepare, and how to know when you are ready.

    Listen to episode 204









    Enjoy listening to this podcast?If you get value from the LJS Podcast, help us out by leaving a rating and review on iTunes or your favorite podcast service. Thanks for your help! Rate and Review on iTunes





    Those who are enrolled in some of my online jazz courses know that I like to ask, "What is your ultimate goal? What are you really trying to accomplish?"

    And a lot of people say, "I want to be able to play at my local jam session or even just start playing with other people in general". That is a big goal for a lot of people.

    And I also get a lot of questions from Learn Jazz Standards community members asking me, "How do I know when I am prepared to go to a jam session? How do I get in the door?"

    Maybe you feel a little unconfident with your skill level or where you need to be in your jazz playing before you can go out and start playing live, or just start getting together with a buddy and playing with others.

    Well, in today's episode, I have special guest Diego Maldonado and Wallace Stelzer, some incredible professional jazz musicians who were in the show just recently back in December.

    Got them coming back on to help us answer these questions, to talk all about playing out live, some skills you need to have in place, and how you can get started right away.















    In this episode:

    1. What are some of the basics you need down to play live?

    2. Watching jam sessions and taking notes

    3. Using playing with others to practice vs. perform

    4. How to know when you are ready to start going to jam sessions















    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

    Wallace Stelzer's website

    Wallace Stelzer's Instagram

    Diego Maldonado's website

    Diego Maldonado's Instagram

    • 50 min
    LJS 203: Practicing with a Plan and Crushing Musical Weaknesses (feat Bob Petix)

    LJS 203: Practicing with a Plan and Crushing Musical Weaknesses (feat Bob Petix)

    Welcome to episode 203 of the LJS Podcast where today I talk with special guest and LJS community member, Bob Petix about his journey as a jazz bassist. He talks about getting started playing bass in his late 40's and how he has developed in his musicianship since then. We talk what's working for him in the practice room and some of the key things that has stimulated his musical improvement.

    Listen to episode 203









    Enjoy listening to this podcast?If you get value from the LJS Podcast, help us out by leaving a rating and review on iTunes or your favorite podcast service. Thanks for your help! Rate and Review on iTunes





    One of the biggest themes for Learn Jazz Standards this year 2020 is community.

    This is really the year of community where we are building community and we are learning from each other as a community because I do believe that this is the best way that we can truly learn — it's from each other.

    And so one thing that I will be doing a lot more often on this podcast is have guests that are listeners of the podcast, who are members of my online jazz courses so that we can listen and find out what's working well for them in their practice room, what's working well, the things that are making the highest impact in their jazz playing at the moment.

    And in general, getting to know them and their stories because I do believe that we can learn in so much from each other's stories, so much from each other's experiences as jazz musicians, and this will help us all learn and grow together.

    So, I have Bob Petix on the show today, who is an attorney, who is a bass player from Jackson, Wyoming, who is going to share with us today and we are going to learn a lot from him.















    In this episode:

    1. How Bob got started playing bass and jazz

    2. Why Bob plays jazz and what keeps him motivated

    3. What Bob is working on in the practice room and what is working best

    4. I help Bob with an exercise he can work on for developing better time feel and longer lines















    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

    Jazz Blues Accelerator (course mentioned in episode)

    • 36 min
    LJS 202: How to Overcome Negative Self-Criticism and Start Loving Your Playing

    LJS 202: How to Overcome Negative Self-Criticism and Start Loving Your Playing

    Welcome to episode 202 of the LJS Podcast where today I talk about improving your mental health as a jazz musician. All of us have felt those bad feelings of self-consciousness, insecurity, and self-loathing of our playing. We struggle with comparing ourselves to others and are constantly unsatisfied with our music. In this episode, I go over 6 tips for overcoming these negative mindsets so we can grow as jazz musicians and have fun at the same time.

    Listen to episode 202









    Enjoy listening to this podcast?If you get value from the LJS Podcast, help us out by leaving a rating and review on iTunes or your favorite podcast service. Thanks for your help! Rate and Review on iTunes





    It's the beginning of the year and if there's one thing that I know is going to hold us back from improving our jazz skills this year, it's a negative mindset.

    That self-loathing, self-criticizing, self-conscious behavior that we experience when we go up to play in a jam or a gig or even listen back to ourselves on a recording and feel absolutely disgusted with what we are hearing.

    We feel embarrassed for the way we play, we compare ourselves to other musicians and we leave feeling absolutely horrible.

    Now, it goes without saying, this is a complete waste of our time. This is not really going to help us move forward. It's only helping us stay right where we are right now. We need to move past that.

    So in today's episode, I will be going over 6 things that we can do to start overcoming this negative mindset, start succeeding, start getting into a better place with our mental game and start enjoying music more.















    In this episode:

    1. Establish your "why"

    2. Develop a growth mindset

    3. Listen back and give positive affirmation

    4. Practice positive self talk

    5. Practice things that help you reach a "flow state"

    6. Accept your current skill level















    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

    LJS 98: How to Beat the Brain Game for Musical Freedom (feat. Matt Vaartstra)

    LJS 178: Becoming Your Own Jazz Teacher by Recording Yourself (feat. Jens Larsen)

    LJS 131: The Neuroscience Behind Radical Musical Improvement (feat. Marc Gelfo)

    • 37 min

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