In The Groove

The Jazz Music Institute (JMI) explains why learning jazz assists guitarists of all styles.

People can be a little hesitant to study jazz as they often don’t understand a lot about it and/or don’t really listen to much of it. Some of the guitarists we’ve helped have come in not wanting to lose their sound and identity but have found that they gain further skills and apply them to their band or at everything from Blues jam sessions to their cover acts.

Three of the main benefits of learning jazz for the average rock guitarist:

(1) They gain greater understanding of the fretboard.

This better understanding happens because it requires you to understand every scale and chord in multiple forms. This makes the fretboard more familiar and you understand it from more than one perspective, rather than playing lines or melodies the same way. Being able to play the melodies written by bebop pioneer Charlie Parker will also greatly improve your understanding of the fretboard. These melodies are complex melodically, rhythmically and harmonically. The facility needed to be able to play these melodies at even half of the speed they’re supposed to be played can be a very difficult technical challenge. You may never play these melodies in public, but they will give you a greater understanding of your instrument, which can be used for your own music and creativity.

2) They end up with a better knowledge and understanding of harmony.

You learn about more complex chord progressions and why they work. Through studying at JMI you learn about the function of harmony. You learn the “rules” of harmony and then learn how you can break those rules. That’s where things get interesting for musicians interested in transferring skills into rock and other genres - knowing which rules can be broken harmonically. It’s this skill that can really improve song-writing abilities and assist in writing more sophisticated and interesting music.

(3) Improving your ability to hear and transcribe music is always a handy plus.

Through listening to and learning jazz, after a bit of time your ears start to improve and suddenly it’s very easy for you to hear the chord progression in a song. After some time we’ve found through intense listening that you can hear many aspects that can be taken back into your rock playing, including group sound, dynamics, tuning and pitch control.

There are a range of ways in which people can learn jazz. If you’re interested in learning how to improve your musicianship JMI provides music classes in Brisbane at night for those who work during the day and can’t commit to studying full-time. Alternatively, there are music courses in Brisbane from Certificate to Bachelor level available for musicians who want to make a career out of their music.