Hey y’all. This week has been really a blast. I have been doing a small guitar workshop with a few students on “blues and jazz”.
I was not quite sure what my students were requesting when they asked for a blues meets jazz type workshop,but we managed to strike gold about 2/3 of the way through the week.
Most guitar players can get a pretty good blues feel happening but experience a “disconnect” when they switch into what they “think” is playing on jazz chord changes.
Here’s what we re-discovered:
What’s getting lost is the basic notion of what a key is. A key is a “central tone around which the others revolve” , not a scale. So, “D Blues” has D as it’s central tone. “D Blues” can be a major or minor key blues.
Now, if you have a ii-v-i in D Major, D major or minor blues could work. In the minor key, D minor blues will work.
Here’s what is important though, and here is the essence of the experience rather than the book smarts – you can get the depth, the nuance and the magic in your blues going and then plop it onto jazz changes.
Doing this and only this is limited – but spiritually, it is more correct than running scales and licks.
Once I was able to get the students into this “place”, or “zone”, or get their playing into the behavior of grooving, soulful blues, I had them play over me playing chord changes to tunes like “Autumn leaves”.
With ear to ear smiles and in a state of utter disbelief, here’s what they said:
“This feels too easy.”
“This feels like cheating.”
“I’m not even thinking.”
“I feel so relaxed.”
“I am not even trying.”
And so while I strongly advocate music school and becoming literate with reading, scales and theory, there is a BIG difference between learning vocabulary and learning how to speak or write with a “flow”. Essentially it’s “book smarts” and “street smarts” on a musical level…
Unless a teacher can take you into that “flow” all the scales and licks (book smarts) don’t mean squat!!!
Until next time…. keep swingin’