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LJS 144: How to Know When to Move On From Something You Are Practicing (feat. Brent Arnold)

Welcome to episode 144 of the LJS Podcast where today we are closing up a series of coaching calls with one of my 30 Steps to Better Jazz Playing students, Brent Arnold. Brent asks a lot of really great questions, including how to know when to move on to something new. We talk through them one by one. Listen in!

Listen to episode 144

I love when I get to talk in person to students of my online jazz courses and eBooks. This episode closes off a series of coaching calls with some of my 30 Steps to Better Jazz Playing students, and it’s a good one.

Today’s guest is trombonist Brent Arnold from Utah, who used to be a professional musician but now continues pursuing jazz as a hobby. He played and taught professionally until he decided to make a career shift.

Now he loves spending his free time improving his jazz skills. Brent has a lot of passion for the music and becoming a better player.

This is one of those episodes where I know you will relate to just about every questions Brent asks. We go through them one-by-one and talk them through.

Here’s a bit of what we talk about today:

1. Should I skip over practicing things that are easy for me?

2. How to know when to “move on” from something you are practicing.

3. How to boost confidence for playing live and changing mindsets.

Big thanks to Brent for allowing his coaching call to be shared on the podcast. I think we can all relate to Brent and some of the questions he has about practicing and improving as a jazz musician.

Important Links

30 Steps to Better Jazz Playing

LJS 142: Creating Melodic Jazz Solos and the Art of Not Thinking (mentioned in episode)

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. Great podcast. I share a similar fate with Brent Arnold, moving from playing with my eyes(reading music), to playing with my ears, and really, really hearing what I'm playing. Seems simple, right? So, it was good to hear someone else going through the same transition.

  2. How about when you start feeling like you're getting a repetitive stress injury? I have been plagued by such injuries for 20 years now, from carpal tunnel to dislocated hyoid bone and throat muslce strains to my current struggle with strained tendons in my upper jaw behind my ear. You should do an entire series on how not to hurt yourself practicing. This is athletics but we do not train like athletes with a lot of stretching and warm up, and end up with severely debilitating problems, sometimes even career ending problems!

  3. How long should I stay on a particular exercise? One answer that cane to me naturally was when one of the exercises brought me to a point where I realized I couldn't play notes on the bottom and top of my instrument comfortably and in time. I had not completely learned all the notes so, I have stopped the lessons and really focused on knowing the fingering in my mind as well as with my fingers. I'm doing trill exercises to build strength and coordination and 5 note chromatic scale drills. I might be ready to re-visit the course soon.

  4. Thank Brent Arnold for sharing your story. Listening to other's musicians stories could be inspiring and helpful…Hearing other's struggles, difficulties and resolutions can also offer a way out to the constant engagement of playing music. Shouldn't we listen more to fairy tales, and bring more attention to the larger picture, all the wishing and willing behind the music playing? Thank you Brent Vaastra for helping us to become better human musicians!


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