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The Only Big 3 Things You Need to Be Practicing as a Jazz Musician

Welcome to episode 124 of the LJS Podcast where today we are talking about the Big 3 things you need to be practicing in order to improve as a jazz musician. This episode piggy-backs off of last week’s episode where we talked about focused, goal-oriented practicing. Learn what to practice so you don’t get overwhelmed and how to do it. Listen in!

Listen to episode 124

What’s great about the internet is that you can type in any question and immediately find blog posts, podcasts, and videos telling you the answer and teaching you how to do stuff.

The bad thing about the internet is it is so cluttered and so distracting that often times we don’t know where to start or how to apply the information we learn. As it applies to musicians, we can get completely lost and confused about what to learn, how to learn it, and when to learn it.

That’s why we need a focused, goal-oriented approach to our musicianship, which we talked about in last week’s episode 123.

But once we have goals and once we understand that we need this kind of practice, what stuff should we actually be working on? How do we know which things will help us make quick and efficient improvement as jazz musicians?

In comes what I like to call, my Big 3. These are three things that if we just hone in on these categories, we can cover a multitude of skills that we need to develop as jazz musicians.

Here’s a little bit of what I cover in this episode:

1. A recap of why we need focused, goal-oriented practicing with an action plan.

2. Why we need to boil things down and get rid of the clutter.

3. Technique, why it’s important, and what to work on.

4. Jazz repertoire, why it’s important, and what to work on.

5. Jazz language, why it’s important, and what to work on.

I hope you start thinking about the Big 3 and how you can start creating an action plan for achieving your jazz performance goals. I especially want to invite you to sign up to receive the Accelerate Your Jazz Skills free mini-course where I go into further depth on all of this.

Important Links

Accelerate Your Jazz Skills free mini-course

30 Steps to Better Jazz Playing

Episode 123

Brent Vaartstra
Brent Vaartstra is a professional jazz guitarist and educator living in New York City. He is the head blogger and podcast host for which he owns and operates. He actively performs around the New York metropolitan area and is the author of the Hal Leonard publication "Visual Improvisation for Jazz Guitar." He's also the host of the music entrepreneurship podcast "Passive Income Musician."


  1. Hi Brent, thanks for this and all the stuff you share with us. It's always so helpful and inspiring! I have a question that came in my mind especially after listening to this episode. As a musician (I'm a middle/advanced guitarist), we all have to study a lot of things such as triads, arpeggios, scales, voicings (talking about the basics/fundamentals of the technique) and so on.. So my question is: do you think we should work on all of them at the same time or focus on one topic (arpeggios for example) per time, maybe for one week or two. I know that I have to improve on all of them but I don't know in which "order" to start. Maybe focus on one topic? Or maybe alternate between them day after day? Thank you in advance! Cheers from Sicily!

    • Hey Alberto! Glad to be of help. Great question. What I like to do with students is have them focus on just one technique concept at a time. Pick a certain goal you want to attain with something in particular, work on that for a week or two, and then switch it up. But make sure you sustain the study of one thing at a time so it sinks in. Hope that helps!

  2. I would be very happy to go to itunes to leave a rating an review but I don't have an iphone, and I can;t seem to get on from my windows laptop. Can you advise please?

    • Hi Dina, thanks for listening! If you have iTunes installed on your computer you can also do it from there in the podcasts section. But if it's too much trouble, don't sweat it! I just appreciate having you as a listener.


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