Learning to Play Jazz

Learning to Play Jazz

Born in the American South, Jazz is a music style unlike any other and learning to play jazz is different from any other style of music.  Jazz has its own distinct sound that you can recognize anywhere, but before you call yourself a jazz musician there are some things you need to learn first.

Pick Your Instrument

When it comes to jazz you have some options, you can choose piano, guitar, saxophone, trumpet or the drums.  All of these can be used to create the jazz sound.  You can start with piano and that will help you to learn the basic chords.  These basic chords can help you no matter what instrument you end up playing.  However a piano may not be practical.  Pick an instrument that you can practice on regularly and that you like.

Learn the Standards

The jazz standards can help familiarize you with jazz and how to play like you have been doing it for years.  With jazz standards you can learn chords and chord progressions in your journey to learn jazz.  Once you have an understanding of the standards and you can play a couple of them by heart it will help you tremendously in learning your instrument.

Playing by Ear

When it comes to jazz you need to have a basic understand of what it is you’re hearing.  If you want to play jazz then chances are you have been listening to the music for a while and you understand what it should sound like.  Take a second listen to some of your favorite songs, can you hear the different instruments?  Can you figure out which chords are being played?  Stop and pause a couple of bars into the song or use some software to slow it down, now break the songs apart until you can hear the chords.  When you get good at this you can learn to play songs by ear.

Learn the Language of Jazz

Jazz has its language and playing jazz means becoming fluent in that language.  The language consists of notes, chords and chord progressions that make jazz so incredible.  Learning jazz means you need to be patient and dedicated.  Jazz, for most is a life long  journey and you get to explore all the facets of jazz along your travels.