Do you need to go to jazz school to become a great player?

by | Mar 12, 2018 | Articles | 0 comments

I read a very interesting article today (that might raise some eyebrows), called “Are Schools Necessary?” by V. Orval Watts.

Here’s the link by the way:

I think the question needs to be raised:

Do you need to go to a prestigious music university in order to be a great jazz player?

The answer for me is…

A resounding NO.

The idea that schools, universities and so forth are essential for learning – is flawed.

Of course, they offer a lot of great opportunities and connections with other players. And for sure, they can help accelerate the learning process.

On the flip-side though…

Students often get too dependent on these kinds of institutionalized systems when it comes to learning. They think that passing tests, getting grades and earning a degree or some qualification equals mastery.

But it doesn’t. As everyone knows, getting a formal qualification does not necessarily mean you have fully understood and internalized the subject.

Furthermore, people that haven’t had the opportunity to go to these prestigious schools think that they have “missed the boat”, and they won’t be able to realize their dreams to become a great jazz player.


To quote the above article: “an individual becomes truly educated only as he learns to educate himself.”

Thinking that you need to go to a prestigious jazz school in order to play music is nothing more than a self-limiting belief.

Once I took responsibility for my own learning, put in the effort and sought out the answers to my questions off my own bat, I started to make rapid progress with my jazz playing.

And you can too.

~ Greg

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