287 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

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!

    How to Play More Melodic Jazz Solos

    How to Play More Melodic Jazz Solos

    Welcome to episode 285 where today I talk about how to play more melodic jazz solos. What separates the amateurs from the experts is how melodic a jazz solo is. So if you are stuck with boring solos, or solos that sound like scales, this episode will give you actionable steps for transforming your solos into memorable ones.







    Listen to episode 285















    If you're like 99% of the people that come to me for help with their jazz playing and their improvisation, you are not happy with your jazz solos right now.







    There's something about them that is missing and you are not quite sure what it is when you compare yourself to other great jazz musicians you know or your favorite ones that you listen to recordings on.







    The key is that great jazz musicians are always playing melodically.







    And they don't sound like they're playing scales. They don't sound like they are playing chord tones. They don't sound like they are playing mechanically at all. They sound like they're playing organic, living, breathing melodies. 







    So how do you play jazz solos that sing and that are melodic? 







    Well, that's exactly what I'm talking about in today's episode -- how do we improvise melodically. I'm going to give you some practical advice, some steps, and some things that you can practice today.







    In this episode:







    1. What makes a melody great







    2. Strategy for making the chord changes come out in your solos







    3. Voiceleading as a tool for developing melody







    4. Making your solos singeable by practicing creating them.







    Important Links







    1. LJS Inner Circle Membership

    • 29 min
    How to Know If You Are Ready to Learn Jazz

    How to Know If You Are Ready to Learn Jazz

    Welcome to episode 284 where today I talk about how to know whether you are ready to start learning jazz. I hear from musicians who wonder if their skills on their instrument are up to par, ears good enough, or in general, have the talent necessary to learn and play jazz. I discuss how to know if you are ready, and several things you can do to set yourself up for success.







    Listen to episode 284















    Am I ready to start playing jazz? 







    That's the question that someone asked me recently and I've been asked this question many times from different subscribers over the years.







    And sometimes I am asked in different ways like, am I technically proficient enough in my instrument to be able to play jazz? I'm a classical musician. Am I able to play jazz even though I've never learned anything by ear before and I'm not even an improviser?







    So many different iterations of this question, but all kind of come down to the root of is jazz a step above where I am right now and therefore, I have to sort of bridge that gap before we get there, before we actually start diving into jazz and enjoying ourselves playing the music.







    Well, that's exactly what I'm going to answer today. I'm going to give you the answer to that question directly and then give you some guidelines and some helpful tips so that you can be prepared to play jazz and really start taking off on the right foot. 







    In this episode:







    1. How to know whether you are ready to play jazz or not







    2. Tip 1: Know the basics of navigating your instrument







    3. Tip 2: Know basic scales and chord tones







    4. Tip 3: Be willing to fail







    Important Links







    1. LJS Inner Circle Membership

    • 28 min
    3 Powerful Mindsets for Improving Faster While Practicing Less

    3 Powerful Mindsets for Improving Faster While Practicing Less

    Welcome to episode 283 where today I talk about 3 powerful mindsets that you need to adopt to start improving faster while practicing less, and setting yourself up to win everytime. If you can start recognizing the less helpful mindsets that many of us musicians have, and then replacing them with these, it could be huge for you.







    Listen to episode 283















    Too many times, we musicians set ourselves up to fail. 







    We set ourselves up to fail so that we are not able to improve in our jazz playing, in our skills, in our comping, in our walking baselines, in our single note lines. Whatever it is that you are working on right now, we set ourselves up to fail because we have the wrong mindset.







    We have the wrong mindset for how to actually improve and because we've adopted some of these bad mindsets for how we approach actually going about learning this music, we dramatically decrease the way that we improve and how we are able to improve.







    So, in today's episode, I'll be going over 3 powerful mindsets that if you can adopt these mindsets, I can pretty much guarantee that you are going to start making more progress in your jazz playing while practicing even less.







    In this episode:







    1. Mindset 1: You can make huge progress with only the amount of practice time you have (without giving up anything)







    2. Mindset 2: The simple stuff is the BIG stuff - you don't need to practice harder and more things to improve







    3. Mindset 3: Perfection is the enemy of progress - when we get stuck on perfecting one thing, we miss out on the other lessons waiting for us







    Important Links







    1. LJS Inner Circle Membership

    • 21 min
    The 3 Pillars of Bebop for Improving Your Bop Solos (feat. Brett Pontecorvo)

    The 3 Pillars of Bebop for Improving Your Bop Solos (feat. Brett Pontecorvo)

    Welcome to episode 282 where today I talk with a member of team LJS, Brett Pontecorvo, about the 3 Pillars of Bebop. Bebop is a style of jazz that has greatly influenced the way jazz improvisers play today. But bebop is no walk in the park. It requires a degree of virtuosity and strong knowledge of navigating chord changes. How do we break it down to make it easier?







    Listen to episode 282















    Chances are, some of your favorite jazz musicians and the amazing solos that they play, are influenced by the style of jazz that emerged around the 1940s called bebop.







    Now bebop was pioneered by musicians like Charlie Parker, and Dizzy Gillespie and a host of others, of tunes like "Moose the Mooche", "Relaxin' at Camarillo", "Anthropology", "Ornithology" --  the list goes on and on of all these amazing tunes that are just wonderful and just the amazing solos that came out of this period.







    But you may have noticed that playing bebop is quite difficult. It's a virtuosic style of music, it's very hard but we need to know how to play bebop lines in order to improvise as a jazz musician in a way that is typical of the dialect that is played today.







    So, in today's episode, I have a very special guest, member of team LJS, Brett Pontecorvo, on the show, to talk about the 3 pillars of bebop so we can understand it better and you can start soloing over it better as well.







    In this episode:







    1. Pillar #1: Melodic Chromaticism







    2. Pillar #2: Altered Harmony







    3. Pillar #3: Syncopated Rhythm







    4. The one thing you should do to improve your bebop solos







    Important Links







    1. LJS Inner Circle Membership

    • 45 min
    The 3 Track System for Skyrocketing Your Jazz Playing (feat. Justin Nielsen)

    The 3 Track System for Skyrocketing Your Jazz Playing (feat. Justin Nielsen)

    Welcome to episode 281 where today I talk with a musical mentor of mine, Justin Nielsen, all about his 3 track system for accelerating your jazz growth. Justin has taught hundreds of students, some of which have gone on to be world-class jazz musicians, and his powerful 3 track system will make sure you are practicing the right things and moving the needle.







    Listen to episode 281















    Today's episode is one of those episodes where I know I'm going to be pointing back to this one all the time because it is absolutely filled with golden advice, golden systems for truly improving your jazz skills much faster than you normally would.







    In my opinion, it's a great secret sauce formula for truly improving your jazz skills in a way that will yield huge results.







    And I'm excited to have on today my jazz mentor, Justin Nielsen, who's going to walk us through his 3-track process that he talks all of his students through, so many of his students have gone on to become world-class musicians, and it's going to blow your mind.







    I'm really excited to share with you. He's going to show you real strategies, real ways to practice to get amazing results in your jazz playing. 







    In this episode:







    1. Track 1: Apply new concepts to these 7 chord progressions, take through all 12 or multiple keys







    -Maj 2-5-1







    -Maj 1-6-2-5







    -Blues







    -A section to rhythm changes







    -Minor 2-5-1







    -Minor 1-6-2-5







    -Minor blues







    2. Track 2: Pick your "Tune of Destiny," commit to it for a year and apply everything you learn to it.







    3. Track 3: Choose 10 tunes, including your Tune of Destiny, that you will apply everything you learn to them, and commit for a year.







    Important Links







    1. Justin Nielsen's Divine Colors album







    2. LJS Inner Circle Membership

    • 55 min
    How to Create Killer Set Lists for Your Jazz Gigs

    How to Create Killer Set Lists for Your Jazz Gigs

    Welcome to episode 280 where today we talk about jazz gig set lists and how to create ones that keep you and the audience inspired. A great set list can make a huge difference in both how you and the audience feel about your gig. I talk about 3 guidelines to consider when creating your set lists, and then I walk you through a 7 song set list that I created.







    Listen to episode 280















    Alright, picture this. You're at your jazz gig, your bandmates are there. Everybody is set up, everybody is ready to play. And right before you are about to start, someone asked, "Well, what tune are we going to play first?"







    And dead silence comes over all the other bandmates. No one really knows which tune to play. It takes a while to come up with one. You play the first tune and then... dead silence again. What tune do we play next?







    Or perhaps you do start coming out with tunes and calling tunes and eventhough it takes some time to come across them, you notice that everything sounds the same.







    It gets boring for you. It gets boring for the audience, and in general, it just kind of lowers the quality of the gig and the performance. 







    Well, my friend, that is exactly why you need a killer set list for your jazz gig that actually has variety, that is actually interesting to the audience and is interesting to you. 







    That's exactly what we are going to talk about in this podcast. We'll go over some guidelines and give you a 7-song set list to consider.







    In this episode:







    1. Guideline #1: Add stylistic variety







    2. Guideline #2: Add emotional variety







    3. Guideline #3: Consider what kind of gig you are playing







    4. I walk you through a 7 song set list and why I made each song choice







    5. Bonus Guideline: keep variety in your song keys and don't play the same key back to back







    Important Links







    1. LJS Inner Circle Membership

    • 36 min

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