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Plugging Holes In Your Playing

Some of the Greats of Jazz weren’t especially theoretical or technical, although they could DEFINITELY play!  Chet Baker would supposedly ask what note a tune started on instead of thinking about the key.  George Benson says that he’s “not a technical man, ” even though he’s a complete master of jazz guitar.  According to Gary Burton, who played with him, Stan Getz wasn’t especially knowledgable about harmony, but he was a still a great player.  Errol Garner couldn’t read music.  Nor could Gene Harris.

Many of us may know musicians that seem to be able to play amazing solos despite some glaring deficiencies like lack of knowledge of music theory or the inability to read music.  So, since there are some Jazz Greats who weren’t especially technical, does that mean that we shouldn’t attempt to plug the holes in our own playing?

Plugging up the holes can only make you a more well-rounded, better musician.  Music is such a vast, deep thing, and no one can do everything.  Is it better to try to beat out all the weakness in your playing, or is it better to focus on mastering your strengths?  What do you think?  Should you try to plug the holes in your playing, or is better to spend time mastering what we can do well already?  Why?  We want to know your opinion!  Let’s continue the conversation on Facebook!

-Camden Hughes

You can pre-order IntroSpective, Camden’s first album, at: The album is mixed and mastered, and will be released on August 8th, 2015!

Camden Hughes
Camden is a working jazz pianist, multi-instrumentalist, and music educator currently living near Boise, ID. He teaches music at the Idaho Arts Charter School, and is the jazz adjunct professor at Northwest Nazarene University. Check out his music at


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