What Charlie Parker was wrong about
Don’t get me wrong – Charlie Parker is one of my biggest musical inspirations.
I’ve spent years delving deep into his solos, each of them a masterpiece. The fact he improvised them on the fly makes it all the more incredible.
He wasn’t right about everything.
In particular, I think he missed the mark in terms of the example he set to other aspiring jazz players.
Firstly, and most obviously:
Parker was notorious for his heroin addiction. Other musicians desperately wanting to play like him tried to mimic not just his music, but his lifestyle as well – at great cost.
But that’s not all (and this is the main thing I want to discuss):
For three to four years, Parker was practicing up to 15 hours a day.
Think about that for a second – that’s barely enough time to sleep, tie your shoelaces, have some breakfast cereal, or well…anything else really.
It goes without saying that Parker was a man completely dedicated to his music. Perhaps his role as a trailblazer in the jazz tradition may never have happened without this arduous practice routine.
But here’s the thing:
I think he gave a misleading impression to other musicians about what you need to do in order to become a great jazz musician. Not only that, I think his extreme lifestyle took its toll. Like so many jazz masters, he died well before his time at 34.
It didn’t necessarily need to be like this though.
I know it’s equivalent to jazz heresy to say what I’m about to say, but here’s my personal opinion for what it’s worth:
If Parker had taken better care of himself and taken a more moderate ‘middle way’ approach to his practice and his lifestyle, perhaps he might have made an even bigger contribution to jazz in the long run.
Anyway, the point I’m trying to make is this:
You don’t need to practice as much as Parker did to get great results. Only a fraction of what Parker did is necessary – but only if you have the right ingredients.
If you have clear, step-by-step instructions and the ability to get guidance from a teacher that knows his stuff, and you practice smart – not hard – you can build your jazz skills quickly and have a fun, relaxed time doing it as well.
If you’re struggling to find a way to get decent jazz instruction, my new online jazz guitar club could be a good alternative for you. It’s got all the resources you need to build your skills on what I call the “Three Pillars Of Learning” – a qualified teacher, A-class materials, and a fantastic community of students from all around the world.
Check it out:
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
Founder, Fret Dojo
World Leader in Online Jazz Guitar Education