Five Tips for Jazz Guitarists: How to Make It Work

You want to become a jazz guitarist. Although it sounds simple, the reality is that this dream can be quite challenging. It is not easy to make it in this industry. These 5 tips may be of some help to you.

#Tip 1

it is not possible to become a great jazz musician or guitarist overnight. It takes years of practice, analysis, theorizing and conceptualizing as well as lots of listening and playing. You must be committed and have an OCD-like knack for creating practice routines. You could also be a genius musician or savant.

#Tip 2

many jazz musicians that I know, including myself, travel quite a bit to play jazz. If they have residencies/regular work in their area, they may also teach or do other non-jazz-based gigs to supplement their jazz addiction. Jazz gigs are generally very lucrative. Jazz musicians are not able to measure success in monetary terms. Kenny G, who is the most famous ‘jazz musician’ ever, would have been the most successful. If you decide to follow a monk-like lifestyle of studying and meager gig opportunities, be prepared to travel a lot, be poor, or do other things to make it worthwhile. You can also sell out, which may mean that you compromise what you originally set out to do. There are only two choices: be poor or sell-out – it is up to you to choose which one it is on any given day.

#Tip 3

Music is a third favorite pastime of many people. Most people will like, or even love, some music regardless of its ‘type’ or genre. Jazz music is not as popular as pop music. This is due to the fact that jazz music requires more attention than an average Justin Beanhead song to ‘get’. Be prepared to produce music that might not be popular. It is possible to not sell a million copies of your music. You may not sell a million albums. 250 is great! This doesn’t mean that you won’t get millions of hits on your YouTube video jazz guitar. However, it may be worth putting’melons’ or ‘baps’ in your tags to increase views.

#Tip 4

(that might have sounded strange writing it …),) it is a smart idea to build thick skin. It’s not the dreadful feeling on your fingers from spending 19 hours per day learning Kurt arpeggiotic lines. I was metaphorically speaking. Many people will question, laugh, naysay, tease and, in extreme cases, even beat you to the jazz love out of you. They won’t appreciate the thousands of hours spent on acquiring the specialized muscle training required to improvise at 320bpm in 7/8. Or care enough to understand it if you take the time to explain the process to them with diagrams and a well-made instructional video. With your thicker-jazz-skin, the harsh criticisms of critics (often completely uninformed, pointless, and brainless) will be forgotten.

#Tip 5

*Not an actual product

Play your heart out, fifthly (say it fifty times fast). Every note, every gig. Or, else, why would you be there? This question will never be answered ‘just for the money’. Answer: ALWAYS “because I chose to” You can choose it, and then live it, my son. You can do whatever you want. You must be on stage 100% of the time.

*Unless: There are musicians of the same type as the audience. In which case, just start wildly shredding as fast as possible if you’re mid-solo. **

If you are comping while other musos are watching, insert ‘out,’ hip, extremely dense, and unnecessary cluster chords at disjointed rhythmic places behind the soloist 

If no one interacts with you during your solo pack a big sadness and internal wonder how you got to be playing with such heartless brutes.

Glare on the drummer if it decides to read or write a phone-text while he plays a song. This is a great way to see how talented he really is and how easy it is to do both a complex text and perform this jazz-drumming music lark. He is a good drummer. You could send him an email to express your concern about how his behavior is destroying everything you believe in. But, let him know that you are staying with the group as you hope to learn from one another. It’s not because the drummer is the one who makes the bookings, pays everyone, and picks up your gear for every gig. But seriously.

These are my 5 tips for being a jazz guitarist

Give yourself to the music, practice, listening, and to the musicians.

Expect to be poor at times, or perhaps many times in your career. Being humble and poor will teach YOU BEST how to see and take advantage of the opportunities that present themselves.

You don’t have to make music that everyone likes. Your music should be honest and full of integrity. You may have to sell out if necessary (to learn or live), but you must always keep your ideals at heart.

Be able to take criticism constructively or not. Learn from it.