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LJS 248: How to Speed Up Your Musical Progress By Focusing On What Matters (feat. Mark Morley-Fletcher)

Welcome to episode 248 where today we have special guest Mark Morley-Fletcher from Play In The Zone on to talk about how to focus on what really matters in your jazz playing to expedite your improvement. Mark is an incredible educator, and combining his background in analytics and his interest in performance psychology, delivers some incredible tips and tricks for hacking your jazz progress.

Listen to episode 248

What if I told you that if you could identify exactly the way you want to sound like in your jazz playing and you were to distill it down to just a few different items and cast away everything else, that you could improve much quicker, especially if you approached it in a goal-oriented fashion.

And what if I told you that if you develop the right mindsets and the right frames of mind, and understood the way your brain works, you could also increase your potential as a jazz musician.

Well, my guest today Mark Morley-Fletcher from Play In The Zone is going to help us with exactly that — show us how we can focus on the things that really matter, cast away the things that don’t and use psychology in order to help us improve even quicker. 

In this episode:

1. Defining what you want to sound like and distilling what elements you should work on

2. The importance of effective learning and how to know when to move on from something you’re stuck on

3. Surrounding yourself with the right community to support your success

4. Mark’s upcoming Learn Jazz Live 2021 workshop

Important Links

1. Sign up for Learn Jazz Live 2021

2. Mark’s

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 to listen to this podcast!!! I subscribe to his channel so get all his emails. Just like I listen to your podcasts always. All this is great stuff. Right on the money. And I (we) try to take in bits and pieces and apply in our musical lives. my problem is there is so much. And I can’t buy everybody’s stuff, and I feel bad that I can’t support all financially by buying their courses etc.
    I’ve already own more online material, memberships etc, than I will ever be able to ingrain and use. So at 75, I just practice systematically what I believe will help me towards my goals. And that is- warmup, technique, language, tunes. This is at the piano. Then there’s ear training, visualization, and listening done away from piano. Luckily I can spend most of my entire day involved in my passion. For that I’m grateful. All is written down on my daily journal.
    Is this the best way to become the best player I can be playing alone( solo piano arrangements)? I don’t know? But that’s what I do. At times I’m totally frustrated with my progress. But keep trying always to remind myself that I play because I love it and therefore each day and time spent makes me happy.

    • Hi Bruce, glad you enjoyed it! I think you’re on to the right thing to systemically practice the things you believe will move the needle for you. But also sounds like you are a bit alone in your journey which could also contribute to feeling like you’re not moving the needle. My suggestion is don’t buy more courses or memberships, or just by one and see it through the end. The problem for most people I find is content overload. They either have access to a bunch of stuff they paid for our are accessing it for free and are all over the place. I’d recommend focusing on just one thing at a time and seeing it through.


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