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Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2009
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Discussion Starter #1
Having lessons has made a huge difference in my development all along my career and continues to do so. So rather than a general here I am I did a list of reasons people avoid lessons and try to address those push backs. I even state that I don't care if someone gets someone else than me, its just important to be studying with someone. I see hundreds of posts from many people on this forum and often my first thought is ( man you'd get that fixed in a lesson if only you'd try it? ) and in these days of I can learn anything on You tube its still key to get someone ALIVE to set your boundaries and hold your hand as you slowly get better. I am thinking of calling myself a Musical Trainer more and more since what we do is very akin to a Physical Trainer. We describe, monitor for form and move on when we have gotten the result we want. Just my 2cents . I've recommended people on this forum as teachers more times than I can count. In this day of everybody has 1000 choices a day we are truly in this together , TEACHERS K
 

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Much respect!! Sometimes I feel that there's so much information out there people get confused by it all. That's why it's great to have someone in person that you see regularly (or somewhat regularly) to monitor and coach the progress. The comparison with a physical trainer is a great one- they get to know our bodies, our habits, etc. and know how to to correct things and keep us progressing. It's the same learning an instrument!
 

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I moved to Los Angeles in 1982 just so I could study with Don Raffell. He was one of the best teachers in Los Angeles and he really turned me around. He didn't give me "licks" to play, or run on about Lydian, Phrygian and all that crap rather he taught me about how jazz was played and how music worked. I really miss him, he was always helping other people and though he had a no-nonsense way of teaching he was always kind. You can read about him here:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Don_Raffell
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I have heard the same story from so many musicians, a great teacher not only taught them about the horn but about music and life.
I moved to Los Angeles in 1982 just so I could study with Don Raffell. He was one of the best teachers in Los Angeles and he really turned me around. He didn't give me "licks" to play, or run on about Lydian, Phrygian and all that crap rather he taught me about how jazz was played and how music worked. I really miss him, he was always helping other people and though he had a no-nonsense way of teaching he was always kind. You can read about him here:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Don_Raffell
 

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Don't feel bad if you didn't get much in the way of responses. I notice that it's the controversial posts that get the most response or those that ask for help for a given problem. I totally agree with you regarding teachers. Unfortunately for some people that can be problematical. Perhaps they just can't afford a teacher or they live in an area where any teacher is hard to find much less a really good one. And of course some people are unteachable because they think they already know everything because they read a book or they just have a big ego. I had a few students and came across some of the unteachable people. I just recommended another teacher to them as they were wasting their and my own time. I rather felt sorry for any teacher that ended up with these types. Also some personality types just clash with each other, a situation that just doesn't work out well. For those who do have access to good teachers and have the bucks it's just stupid to teach yourself. It's like reinventing music and makes for poor progress and is rife with many pitfalls like the formation of bad habits which can be difficult to overcome after they become engrained. I would guess that the majority of people who go to the internet to ask questions just don't have access to a teacher or cannot afford one. Zoot Sims said he never took a lesson in his life but he was very talented and an exception and I would not use him as an example in the decision as to whether or not an individual should take lessons. Cheers!
 

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Discussion Starter #7
My message is just the constant little voice in someones head saying, you know Ive done this for years, like playing but seem to play at the same level as I did 5 years ago. (that was me during my day job years) . Then I got a teacher and watched the fireworks explode. K
 

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That's how it was for me. I was a performance major in college when the band director announced we had a new lead alto in the big band. He made the rest of us sound like amateurs. I mean this guy could play! He was doing everything right. I asked him who he studied with and that's how I found out about Don Raffell. His method of teaching was just what I needed to move up to the next level of awareness and playing. His approach was old school and not the way jazz is taught in most colleges, and it was just what I needed. I think just telling someone to play a given scale with a given chord just isn't enough direction. It's rather like an art teacher telling students, well these are paints, they come in different colors, you apply them to a canvas. Not incorrect but not enough direction. I never ever argued
with Don Raffell, I just tried to soak up as much as I could and did everything he told me to do. I'm glad I did!
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Maybe we should start a greatest teachers sticky thread? We have all had someone or someones who made a huge difference in my playing. My current teacher has made me aware of al the patience and hand holding that goes with being a great teacher. Not silver bullet stuff but okay, one more time direction. And I like my current teacher because he is much more chord oriented than scale and he has forced me to daily practice creativity and not licks K
 

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I was between teachers for quite a while and as I said in a previous post I was able to get back with the first teacher that I started with when I decided to take up the sax , now after several months it is really cool the progress that has been made in my playing, even to the point that the people in my circle of musical friends have noticed substantial improvements in areas of my playing that I had struggled with, and the positive comments are also very encouraging,

so +1 for teachers
 

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It sounds like you have a great teacher. I never practiced playing licks and was not taught to play in that manner. I think it's better to understand how music works than to memorize a bunch of licks and then work on developing your own style of playing. One good exercise is to take a tune and write out a solo without using a piano or your horn. Then play what you've written to see if it sounds like you imagined it would. After playing your written solo change anything you don't like. There is no silver bullet, couldn't agree more. Yes! Chord tones are where it's at! They provide the frame work for your melodic lines. My teacher used to say that there's no such thing as wrong notes, only notes that are played wrong. He went on to say that notes are dumb and that it's up to the player to give them intelligence. It's the order that you play them that lends them logic and intelligence. Once you understand how to do that you can play any note over any chord and it will sound good. A sticky sounds like a great idea. Unfortunately my teacher passed away a number of years ago.

I think it's when learning jazz went from the streets and clubs (for lack of better terms) and into the colleges that all this stuff like Dorian, Mixolydian, and all that sort of labeling came into being. I guess it's not actually wrong but I doubt the great players of the past thought about their music in that manner. I think it just over complicates things when there's a simpler more direct approach. Colleges have tried to turn it into a recipe for learning jazz along with Jamey Aebersold. I do think colleges do provide a valuable experience by providing students with the opportunity to play in bands which is very important. I just don't agree with the Aebersold approach or the approach of learning licks. But each to their own and maybe all that labeling works for some people. All I know is it just gave me enough knowledge to make myself dangerous and really didn't work for me.
 

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absolutely agree one of things we are currently working on is just that, chord tones and writing solos using them in my solos , I don't practice written out licks either however my teacher does encourage me to write out and develop my own licks as well as solos,
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Sounds like we should start a club!! I did write out a solo to confirmation years ago and still remember it. What many people dont realize is that handcuffs promote creativity. so if you have to groove on a V7 and can only use the root and seventh what can you do? or if you have only chord tones on Misty what can you do? Doing things like this promoted much more creativity and then when you add approach notes or sub V7s you have more command of the solo. Goal is always the same , to create as good a melody as the original. K
 
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