I just remembered something I want to tell you…
Let me let you in on a little secret.
Lately, I’ve been completely obsessed with studying books by memory masters – you know, people that can memorize the order of 5 randomly shuffled packs of cards in the space of 10 minutes.
Why this strange fetish, you may ask?
Because a lot of jazz guitar isn’t so much about improvising, as it is about remembering.
People often complain (rather dramatically) that when they improvise it’s like being ‘a deer in the headlights’ or having ‘a big blank canvas’, with no idea where to start.
Here’s the thing:
If you haven’t learned jazz vocabulary (i.e. the specific ‘sounds’ in a melodic line that gives it the jazz sound), you won’t sound jazzy when you go to improvise.
But there’s something I would consider even more important than this:
If you can’t remember the jazz vocabulary you’ve learned in the past and how to make it end up on the fretboard…
All that hard work you’ve done learning vocabulary has been largely a waste of time.
Even if you have 8 hours a day to practice, if you can’t remember what you’ve practiced, it will just be like pouring water into a leaky bucket.
Turn your back for one minute, and then look back – lo and behold, the bucket is empty again.
People often complain “I have a terrible memory!” – in fact, most people seem to tell themselves this.
They give the excuse they are ‘getting old’ and becoming forgetful.
But what I’ve been realizing through my fanatical obsession about memory masters is that being able to remember isn’t so much about innate ability.
Case in point: memory masters generally score no higher in cognitive or IQ tests. They have simply acquired the skill of memorization through practice.
It’s all about technique. Learning to memorize things like jazz vocabulary requires that you not only develop your guitar technique but your memorization technique as well.
The great thing about being able to memorize jazz material faster and easier in the practice room?
Elementary, my dear Watson:
You won’t need to practice nearly as much to remember the same amount of music.
One book, in particular, I’ve gotten a lot out of when it comes to memory training is Moonwalking With Einstein by Joshua Foer – a fascinating look not only at very clever memorization techniques but also an eye-opening journey on how memorization has gradually become a lost art in modern culture.
Now the exciting bit:
If you're keen to have a structured, step-by-step approach to learning jazz guitar, it might be worth checking out my online learning system, the FretDojo Jazz Guitar Academy.
Here's what you get when you join up:
- Detailed step-by-step video lessons on new classic jazz tunes and essential jazz guitar skills added to the club website each month. Includes listening recommendations, demonstrations of the melody, analysis of the harmony, and detailed explanations on how to solo over the tune.
- Key improvisation concepts and techniques for soloing, and classic licks and example solos that relate to each tune, so you can continue to expand your jazz vocabulary and have more options when it comes to soloing.
- Detailed comping ideas to suit the style of each jazz standard covered
- Lessons on how to make chord melody and solo jazz guitar versions of tunes featured - play a complete jazz standard completely on your own like Joe Pass!
- Members only forum - A worldwide community of jazz guitarists from all around the globe.
- Regular workshops, masterclasses, and Q & A Sessions - get direct answers from me on anything holding you back in the practice room. Replays of all sessions are available to access for all members even if you can’t make it live.
- Massive searchable database of jazz licks and soloing concepts - the ultimate idea "grab bag" for your solos.
- Optional monthly challenges where members participate to get feedback on their playing, reach new milestones and be eligible for cool prizes.
The best part:
You can access this all of this and more for just $1 by signing up to a 14 day trial. Go here for more info: https://www.fretdojo.com/signup-offer
Over to you…
What techniques, books or resources have YOU come across when it comes to developing the skill of memorization, in particular for remembering musical material?
Leave your reply in the comments below.
It would be great to get your input, as I’m currently experimenting with some memorization techniques and thinking about the best way to apply them to jazz guitar. I’ll let you know how I go.
World Leader in Online Jazz Guitar Education