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LJS 126: Practicing Away from the Instrument Effectively and Using Jazz as Therapy (feat. Joyce Kettering)

Welcome to episode 126 of the LJS Podcast where today we are doing a coaching call with current 30 Steps to Better Jazz Playing student, Joyce Kettering. Joyce has an inspiring reason why she started learning jazz. We spend some time talking about that, and how she can effectively practice even when she doesn’t have access to her instrument. Listen in!

Listen to episode 126

We have another special guest on the show this time around. This time it’s Joyce Kettering from Paris, France, and she’s a current student in my jazz practicing course, “30 Steps to Better Jazz Playing.”

Joyce has a really inspiring reason why she started studying jazz and ultimately decided to take my course. She listens to jazz and plays it on her piano during times where she feels down. She treats it as a means of therapy, and her goal is to improve upon that.

During our coaching call, she asked how she can practice even when she doesn’t have access to her piano, which she only has when she goes and visits her parents.

This isn’t just her problem. Many of us may have access to our instruments, but we don’t always have the time to actually spend time with them. So how can we practice effectively and improve, even away from our instrument?

That’s something we go over in this episode. Here is the basic outline of what we talk about:

  1. Joyce’s “musicpreneur” job and how she got into it.

  2. Joyce’s jazz goals and why she ultimately took my course.

  3. Ways she can practice effectively away from her instrument.

I was really inspired to talk to Joyce, not only because it’s always fun for me to talk to my course students, but because she’s an excellent example of how life-changing music can be.

Your challenge for this episode is to think about what relationship you have with your instrument, and what you want it to be. Also, think of how you can apply some of the things talked about when it comes to practicing without an instrument.

Important Links

Joyce’s website:

Accelerate Your Jazz Skills free mini course

30 Steps to Better Jazz Playing

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….All true. I am curious to know what classically trained players are feeling and thinking about the dilemma they face when they want to improvise. The thought process, their demons and fears interest me because they are the complete opposite of mine! It seems to me, with their skills, they would break out far quicker into the improv world than people like me coming from the opposite side of the pendulum having to fix the damage done by learning without good instruction. It's just a curious thing to me.

  2. I'm amazed when I hear classically trained musicians that find improv to be so challenging. I'm not saying it's not a challenge to everyone. It seems to come naturally to people that started playing by doing just that, playing. For me, the challenge is to play the head. The thought that every note has to be spot on causes a not so helpful physiological response whereas, improvising over the same progression allows so many different roads to travel, it's hard to screw up! I can even pull over to the side for a moment to think where I want to go next and that in itself becomes part of the improvisational road trip for the moment. Memorizing the head and hopefully being able to recall it days later and maybe having to resort to looking at the page is like work to me!

    • Hey Joel! Everyone comes from different musical paths. Reading is hard for some while improv easier, or vice-versa. Keep in mind, when it comes to jazz, many of the great musicians were quite expressive with the melody as well. Not to say they didn't know the original, note-for-note melody, but they also took liberties.


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