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If you could go back in time, what advice would you give to your gypsy jazz beginner self ?
It's all a part of the learning process including the mistakes you make along the way, it's what makes us who we are...
Stop winning how you don't have time and just go practice. And when when you do, don't think about "is this the right way to practice, blah blah..." the only not-right way is to not do it at all because you worry if it's the wrong way.
But that's why I said that at the top, had I not struggled to dedicate myself to daily practice, I would've never come up with my two minutes practice routine.
Transcribe Stochelo, copy and paste. Use the 'Dutch style' to sound competent, then move on to other things.
Thick picks make a cheap wet guitar sound wetter and all the upstrokes swooshy. Delrin/gator picks sound dry and bright.
Play lots of rhythm. Don't play rhythm too loudly.
Limit backing tracks to fewer choruses. Practice playing tunes through to the end competently. DC Music school Gypsy Jazz Playalongs Vol. 1 (paid backings) is good for this. I think it is 6 choruses with a proper intro and outro.
Don’t spend all that money on picks!
Where can I steal them then?? Just joking, but I swear: I just have to find that - one - pick and I'll play like Django himself!
Do not waste time with modes. Use your phone to video yourself playing over backing tracks.
Make sure your right hand is relaxed (your whole seated position, for that matter). Right hand should feel and use the weight of the hand. Downstrokes should keep their "momentum" into the next string (don't slow down before you reach the "resting" string). Don't stiffen your grip on the pick as you pluck the string.
Get out now, while you still can!
In Europe, there are small children playing at a higher level than you could ever reach. While you were learning to read and write, they were shredding m7b5 arpeggios. There's no amount of practice for you to catch up, they came out of the womb knowing the rest stroke.
Too much Gypsy Jazz will ruin your enjoyment of other music. The simple chord progressions used in pop songs will bore you. Accomplished guitarists you may have once respected, like Eric Clapton or Carlos Santana or even Jimi Hendrix, will seem like hacks and amateurs compared to Django. They couldn't do half of what he did with half as many fingers.
You'll become increasingly snobbish about instruments. American guitars will sound weak and hollow. Electric guitars will sound too compressed. Nylon guitars sound like toys. Eventually, even your own guitars will annoy you - the action is off by 0.1mm, the B string's intonation is out by 2 cents. You think you hear a slight buzz coming from somewhere around the 14th fret - and even if there isn't, you'll imagine it's there.
Gigging? The better you get, the more your music alienates people. You thought the color of b9 or #5 added some flavor to an otherwise bland dominant chord, but to a normal person it just sounded like a wrong note ("I'm altering the chord, pray I do not alter it any further"). If you play 'outside' only the geeks and weirdos will get it. Some swing dancers might hang around longer, but once you're above 220 bpm they all go home too. At the end of the night, only the drunks are left.
Playing GJ guitar won't get you laid. It might even prevent you from getting laid. Better to play a 4-chord song- and learn to sing! There's no money above the 5th fret.
Friends don't let friends do GJ. Consider a drug habit instead.
Oh man, Wim, that hits close to home. Excellent post.
First, learn proper rest stroke picking technique and abandon the flat wrist. I wish I had done so far earlier in life and although it's taken 5+ extremely challenging years to convert fully over and become technically proficient at my previous level again, the tremendous benefits of persisting rest stroke technique far outweigh the literal misery of painful knuckle blisters. Now? I can play everything I'm hearing again, including all the sweeps and alternate/economy picking licks that I initially thought would be lost forever (thx especially to both Bireli and Adrian for making me realize all of this was still possible). It's truly a dream come true...and no more blisters to boot!!!
Second, stay compact, play from your elbow to wrist and use as minimal motion possible while always staying relaxed.
Third, ALWAYS STAY COMPACT, PLAY FROM YOUR ELBOW TO WRIST AND USE AS MINIMAL MOTION POSSIBLE WHILE ALWAYS STAYING RELAXED.
Fourth, ALWAYS STAY RELAXED. This is so cliche in rest stroke technique but it's ultimately the one universal truth and if it starts to hurt? You're too tense and doing it wrong - put the guitar down and save it for another day.
Fifth, play with GJ guitarists whenever possible. I guess that's more advice to beginner players reading this and not to my young self because I'm fortunate enough to have always had GJ players to jam with that served as mentors. But seriously, play with other GJ guitarists whenever possible.
Last, always keep in mind that you will never find reward in any of life's challenges without unwavering patience and absolute obsession.
Oh man, Wim. I was going to say the same thing. But that was the easy part. The rest of your post was pure genius. So close to the truth. So disheartening.