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Learning plateau; where to go from here?

PassacagliaPassacaglia Madison, WI✭✭✭✭
edited April 2012 in Technique Posts: 1,427
Hi all -

I don't really know where this is best posted, because it relates to several aspects of playing. I'll try here.

Aware that I'm going to DIJ, and knowing I will get a ton of things to work on there, I've hit something of a boredom slump that I'm getting through, really, by just slogging it out.

My emphasis has been almost exclusively on rhythm playing. After coming back to playing a few months back, basically it's been my goal to improve tone, endurance, and tempo-consistency while acquiring a jam repertoire of 25-30 tunes. I've leaned heavily "this" time around on Hono Winterstein's approach, as given in Denis' online school - working on acquiring something like 60+ tunes from memory, in the kind of simple, clean voicings and accompaniment philosophy as discussed by Denis, Michael, Hono, Gonzalo, many others. I can play most of these 60 with nominal reliance on grilles. Anyway, shooting for simple, "square and clean" accompaniment.

I find myself stymied as to next steps. I do love rhythm playing, and thought to just concentrate exclusively on it for the foreseeable future - basically, working Michael's rhythm book, really coming to understand harmony and get a technical and improvisational vocabulary of more advanced stuff - rhythm as a soloist might have, as chops.

That said, I've also kept up with lead work, to an extent. I came to the music because I love the melody and lead improv, and want to be able to do whatever I can in this way, admitting I'm 50 now and there isn't a blank slate of opportunity, in sheer years. I'm able to do most of Michael's picking book at about 120 or so, up to Picking Pattern 13.

I also take Denis' approach, simply trying to transcribe and use my ears to work on melodies. I have to be honest that it gets somewhat discouraging to hear the music, but plod pretty slowly through something as simple as Minor Swing. Digging a bit through the forum (should have been obvious), also seeing the value in concentrating on ballads to apply technique.

Anyway, apologies for the rambling post - probably a symptom of what I'm experiencing at the moment. Basically, wonder if any have any thoughts on focusing exclusively on rhythm, delving into its deeper mysteries, before continuing lead work, or pursuing both, as I'm doing now. And if so, what would be your call - arpeggios, arpeggios, arpeggios, transcribe, apply licks as they've been learned to chords/tunes?

In a word, any suggestions for next practice steps?

Thanks, all.


pas encore, j'erre toujours.


  • pmgpmg Atherton, CANew Dupont MD50R, Shelley Park Custom, Super 400, 68 Les Paul Deluxe, Stevie Ray Strat
    Posts: 140
    Try Gypsy Jazz School - especially the more advanced materials e.g., I Can't Give You Anything But Love. Yaakov Hoter has a great feel for this music and and some fresh ideas on using basic shapes to make a lot of authentic sounding GJ music. Good bang for the $$$ as well.
    I'm always interested in jamming with experienced jazz and gypsy jazz players in the San Francisco - San Jose area. Drop me a line. Bass players welcome!
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