Why Jazz Lessons are a rock musician’s best friend! – Part 1 of 2 (Guitar)

The benefits of learning jazz for guitarists of all styles is often apparent to us at JMI music school in Brisbane. 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. Not everyone who comes in wants to sound like Wes Montgomery. We’ve seen this many times over the last 15 years.

Three of the main benefits of learning jazz for the average rock guitarist have always been that:


(1) They gain greater understanding of the fretboard.

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This better understanding happens because it requires you to understand every scale and chord in multiple forms. This makes the fretboard a lot 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 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. The dexterity you can gain from studying jazz in a music course can really improve your ability to play any other genre of music.

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


Better knowledge and understanding of harmony is something most people gain out of studying jazz. You learn about more complex chord progressions and more importantly, why they work. Through studying at JMI you learn about the function of harmony and why things work and why other things don’t work. 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 one’s songwriting abilities and help you to write more sophisticated and interesting music.

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


Through listening to and learning jazz, most rock musicians will initially gain a greater appreciation for what is going on with the music. 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 and be able to know immediately what is happening in the music harmonically. 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.

So drop on in to our music school in Bowen Hills, Brisbane, give us a call, or shoot through an enquiry to get started on expanding your musical abilities!

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