The George Costanza School of Jazz Guitar
As many of you know, I’m a big fan of the hit TV show Seinfeld.
Here’s one of my favorite moments from the show. It’s the famous “do the opposite” scene:
Remember this one? It always gives me a chuckle.
It’s where George Costanza has an epiphany.
His life hasn’t been working out the way he wanted. Unemployed, no girlfriend, living with his parents, and not sure what to do next. In his own words:
“My life is the complete opposite of everything I want it to be. Every instinct I’ve ever had in my life…has been completely wrong”.
The way he’s been going about things isn’t getting results.
His wise buddy Jerry points out:
“If every instinct you have is wrong…then the opposite would have to right.”
Logically, George needs to “do the opposite” of what he’s been doing up until now.
He begins an experiment:
Instead of ordering tuna on toast, he buys a chicken salad.
Instead of having his regular cup of coffee, he opts for a cup of tea.
His life is instantly transformed – starting with a attractive woman who notices that George ordered the same breakfast as her!
Here’s the thing:
Although Seinfeld is just a TV show, there’s profound wisdom in George’s realization here.
To illustrate, let me share my story with my own jazz guitar playing.
For years I was dutifully practicing endless scales arpeggios up and down the fretboard for hours on end, in a desparate effort to improve my guitar technique. And getting nowhere.
I was still missing notes, had a speed bottleneck of around 120bpm, and, worst of all, was starting to get injuries from the buildup of tension in my hands.
At one point I stepped back and I thought (just like George), “This isn’t working. There has to be a better way.”
I reflected on Costanza’s “do the opposite” approach
It makes sense. If practicing with this “time spent = progress” mindset isn’t getting results, perhaps I needed to practice…less?
I know this sounds crazy…
But it worked.
Very quickly, my playing started to go through the roof and I overcame all those technical roadblocks.
Here’s the thing:
Getting better at guitar technique isn’t about the hours you spend. Rather, it’s about zeroing in on the most essential exercises, and organising your daily practice schedule to take full advantage of how the mind best learns and refines a skill.
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.
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The best part:
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Founder, Fret Dojo
World Leader in Online Jazz Guitar Education