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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
After a long hiatus, I have been back taking lessons and playing/practicing fairly consistently for 2.5 years or so now. Thus far, my lessons have focused on the fundamental aspects of sound production and technique like tone, articulation, time, support, etc. I feel fairly comfortable/confident with the progress made in those areas and I am at a point where I get compliments on my sound/tone at jam sessions. Have been working on soloing as well: guide tone lines / voice leading and targeting notes, ascending vs descending vs flat lines, sparse vs dense phrasing, scalar vs intervallic, call and response, using space, syncopation, etc. and feel like I am getting a decent handle on the horizontal aspects of creating coherent diatonic melodic lines.

However, I am far from satisfied with my playing. I feel like my solos all sound kinda similar and lacking in feeling. I am not using much embellishment like glissandos, bends, approach notes, enclosures, turnarounds, vibrato, etc. that add emotional nuance and use of devices like color notes, substitutions, and outside playing that add tension and harmonic complexity.

My teacher has told me he is against teaching anything pattern-based such as ii-V-I or pentatonic patterns and licks, but I just don't see how you can get around the use of them to some degree, if only to allow you to go on autopilot for a bit while your mind thinks of what to play next. He arrived at this conclusion after having drilled patterns and licks extensively himself, so I can see why one would eventually feel the need to move away from a rigid approach. However, now I am feeling that my current approach is holding me back, and I just don't see my mind and fingers reaching the level where all these aspects are being incorporated coherently on the fly, producing hip 16th note lines at 150bpm over complex changes.

So my question is what should I be focusing on next? Continue with the same teacher, go to a different teacher, or go buy ChadLB's packages and shed patterns and licks? Do I focus on general technique, or should I be working on applying to a specific piece of music?

Obviously if I could do all of the above, I would, but a job and family means one thing at a time.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I've transcribed a few solos off records (albeit simple ones by Miles) that are at my level of playability, and I record and transcribe all my teacher's solos (that I like) from the lessons. I'm totally tuned into the subtle nuances and can replicate them to some extent, but it still feels like I am performing written music and it hasn't really translated into my soloing in any authentic way.
I guess it is like asking how van Gough why did you use this color and brushstroke on this sunflower petal, but not on this other petal? Even if I understood the answer, and imitated a bunch of his paintings, where would that get me? My frustration seems to come from my limited vocabulary, yet also feeling constrained by the idiom and wanting to avoid re-hashing cliches.
So, after having played a standard number hundreds of times, how do you keep things fresh and interesting? How do you structure your approach to a solo? Do you have a framework of cadences over the changes and kind of fill in the gaps? How do you approach your practicing for a piece? Do you "compose" a solo then refine it over time or do you try something new and different each time? When you go to a practice session, what do you hope to accomplish?
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Jeff is fantastic. One of the best pedagogues on utube if not the best full stop.
I’ve also checked out Fishman. He’s a great player, but seems to be oriented to teaching cool licks.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
I really like this Digging Deeper series of vids from Jeff Antoniuk. Each one is a quick nugget that imo can focus you on a digestible task to apply to your playing. I’m recently retired from teaching, but I wish I’d known about these to share with my old students, I can see them helping pretty much anyone. Have a look!

This first vid is just the intro, browse his channel, there are like 200 of these vids with no particular order— if one mini-lesson doesn’t apply to your situation, go on to the next. You’re liable to find something you can be inspired by!

I went through a bunch of his videos last night and I feel inspired again. There are so many cool ideas here. And I really like how he applies it to specific tunes. And the tune choice is perfect; songs that I love and have been working on/struggling with! Case in point is "Side slipping on Speak Low". Really love this song and tried it out at a jam last week, but just felt like I was playing the changes without any coherent approach. Then, BOOM!, this video outlines how to use side-slipping to build tension at specific points in the form. This is exactly the kind of idea/lesson I was looking for! Thanks for the suggestion!
 
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