You may have heard the expression, “Practice makes perfect.” This is especially true for jazz. While practicing can help you play well enough for a band, live performance requires different skills. While practicing on piano or guitar can help you learn the notes and rhythm of a jazz song, nothing prepares you for the real thing.
Jazz music is a vast and complicated beast. There are so many styles, approaches, and subgenres that it can be hard to know how to start learning about jazz music. Luckily for you, I have some tips on becoming an incredibly bad musician if that’s what you’re looking for!
Make Yourself Human
You’re human. You can play jazz, but you’re still a person. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise!
Don’t be a robot, machine, or computer. Don’t be anything other than yourself when it comes to playing your instrument—and feel free to go all out with that individuality! Just remember: if the audience doesn’t like what they hear at first (and they might), give them time to get used to it before trying something new again. If they don’t like that either, maybe try another style? Maybe just stick to one genre? Maybe… just stop trying anything new at all ever again?
There are no clocks here; there are no rules except for those which apply universally across every single genre of music on earth and beyond in every possible universe where these ideas could possibly exist (which is everywhere).
Make Your Flaws Part of The Thing You Do
Do you have a short attention span? Can you not keep time, or play in tune? Does your playing sound like a wounded hound dog?
If so, don’t be afraid to make your flaws part of the thing you do. When people hear bad jazz, they often think that it has something to do with their own ears—that maybe they aren’t hearing properly or are missing some extra-special talent for music that the performer has. Instead of becoming proficient at playing jazz (and failing miserably), embrace the fact that it doesn’t matter if you’re doing something wrong; doing things wrong might actually be better!
For example: what if every time I played an F chord on my guitar, I purposefully put my finger on E instead? Or how about hitting random notes on my keyboard instead of actual chords? You might think these sound terrible and annoying (and they probably do), but people will look at it as being weirdly fascinating rather than just bad. It’s important not only because it makes them wonder whether or not they hear things right but also because it gives them something more interesting to listen to than lots and lots of boring music by someone who knows what they’re doing all the time.
Misidentify Your Influences
The first step to becoming a truly bad jazz musician is to identify your influences. For this, you must take several things into consideration:
- Don’t be afraid of being influenced by artists you don’t like or don’t know.
- Don’t be afraid of being influenced by artists that the world has told you are bad or shouldn’t be listened to.
- Don’t let fear stand in your way of becoming an incredibly bad jazz musician.
You know the old saying, “If you’re going to be bad, be proud of it,” right? Well, we say forget that. The modern jazz scene is an incredibly competitive one. If you want to make it as a musician in this industry, there’s no room for self-doubt or fear of failure. You must embrace your inner badness and blossom into the kind of artist who’s willing to break all the rules!
Why “scorn standards”? In short: because they’re easy and boring (see below). They’re also designed for people with no musical talent whatsoever—it would take someone with real skillz just to play most standards correctly!
But if you don’t want to learn how to read music…and if you think playing by ear sounds like too much effort…and if improvising on top of chord progressions seems like too much work…then standard tunes are perfect for your needs!
Like all music, jazz arrangements are composed of four parts: melody, harmony, rhythm, and counterpoint. The arrangement is what makes jazz unique as a genre. It’s the arrangement that allows you to differentiate yourself from other musicians in your style of music.
When you write an arrangement for something that already exists (such as a cover song), it gives you a chance to showcase your musical voice by rearranging or reworking the original piece. You can also use the arrangement to learn new techniques by arranging songs that use those techniques heavily (for example Miles Davis’ “Someday My Prince Will Come”).
Stop Being so Damn Serious All the Time. Just Stop It. Seriously.
There’s nothing wrong with being serious about your music. But if you’re not having fun, ask yourself why you’re doing it.
If you want to be good at something—or even better than other people who are also not very good at it—you have to practice. You have to make time for practice and then actually do the things that will help improve your skills when it’s time for practice.
Discipline comes into play here, too: if you make a commitment or promise to someone or yourself about practicing regularly, then keep that promise! Don’t let others down by showing up late or skipping out on scheduled sessions because “something came up” (or worse yet—”something came in”).
But the big thing is consistency: without consistency in all areas of life, nothing happens very quickly or well; but with consistency comes understanding and mastery over one small part of life (i.e., music).
Hire Bad Sidemen
In a perfect world, you would hire musicians who are better than you. If that’s not possible, hire worse musicians. And if not them, then at least someone different from yourself—but only after considering the option of getting in bed with someone just like yourself.
If none of those options are available (or if they’re all too tempting to pass up), consider the possibility of hiring an entire band filled with people just like yourself: everyone playing exactly what they want to play instead of what anyone else wants them to play; everyone managing their own egos while still being friendly with each other; everyone blasting through songs as fast as possible before moving on to something new, and most importantly: no one getting upset when things go wrong because everyone is responsible for keeping things going right.
And hey—if it’s not working out? You can always fire one member of your band! It’s really not a big deal at all!
Properly Utilize Drum Solos as Solos and Not Just to Give Yourself a Break
Many jazz musicians, when they begin to feel tired or bored, begin to use drum solos as a way to give themselves a break from playing in the rhythm section. This is not how you do it. All that means is that you’re using the drums as an excuse for not playing your instrument (the piano). Instead of doing this, try using them as an opportunity for musical self-expression.
Don’t just play random notes; think about what kind of sound you want to create and go after it! You should also keep in mind that drum solos are often used by famous musicians as ways of showing off their skills at playing very fast rhythms or doing complicated fills that require finger dexterity and hand-eye coordination at lightning speeds—both things you are probably not good at right now.
So if all else fails, remember: it’s okay if no one notices how well you played during your drum solo because they probably didn’t notice anything anyway!
There Are No Shortcuts to Greatness. if You Want to Be Great Stay In, Practice, and Use All the Things You Learn.
The only way to get good at anything is by doing it. The first step toward being a bad jazz musician is to stop watching YouTube videos, reading Quora tutorials, and taking lessons from an instructor in your local area. You don’t need any of that! Just put your fingers on the keys and make sounds. Make up your own style; you are unique after all! If you’re unsure how to make interesting sounds with your hands and mouth, just keep practicing until you find something that works for you.
This process might take years, but once you’ve developed a style that’s all yours, then it’s time to start performing live shows! Now there’s no turning back: if someone tells you that what they heard was terrible just tell them “Hey man – this is jazz!” And if anyone asks who influenced your sound reply with “Charlie Parker!”
There is no shortcut to greatness. If you want to be great, stay in, practice, and use everything you learn. If you want to be a terrible jazz musician, then do these things: make yourself human, make your flaws part of the thing you do, misidentify your influences, scorn standards and love arrangements. Stop being so damn serious all the time.
Just stop it. Seriously. Hire bad sidemen and properly utilize drum solos as solos and not just to give yourself a break from playing lead lines over chord changes (which they should be).