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LJS 225: When to Stop Practicing Something and Move On

Welcome to episode 225 of the LJS Podcast where today I answer a question that I get asked quite often: when do I stop practicing something I’m working on and move on to something else? Often we get overly concerned about mastery and perfection, which can lead to getting stuck. Learn when you know something “good enough” and why you may want to move on even if things aren’t perfect.

Listen to episode 225

There’s that famous Winston Churchill quote that goes, “Perfection is the enemy of progress”. And when it comes to playing jazz and becoming a better musician, this can’t be more true in my opinion. 

When we get stuck trying to “master things”, we don’t move on to the next lesson that we need to learn. We get stuck in one place, we over-obsess over something. We’re not allowing ourselves to learn all of the multitudes of things that could be learned and refined when we move on to other material.

But at the same time, how do we know when we’ve learned something well enough? 
We don’t want to move on to the next thing if we really haven’t gotten any control over a particular musical concept.

So, in today’s episode, I’m going to dive in deep with that. I want to help us answer this question: how do we know when to move on to the next thing in our jazz playing?

In this episode:

1. Why moving on is sometimes the path to quicker improvement

2. Q1: On a scale of 1-10 how comfortable do I feel with the material?

3. Q2: How long have you been working on this material?

4. Q3: Does the material you are working on occur often in other jazz concepts you will work on?

Important Links

1. LJS Inner Circle Membership

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. Thank you Brent. I comes from the classical site and until yet I could only end if I do it perfectly. Now in this for me completely new improvisation path I can accept it if 70-80% are ok for me. You opened my eyes for a new view of things.

  2. Hi,
    So I am somewhat new to these podcasts, I have to admit its a lot to take in as i am an experienced rock bassist but still newer to the realm of jazz bass….. however, I cant thank you enough for all this. Its really opening my eyes to stuff that always looked like a big mystery to me for many years.
    I grew up on jazz, i love jazz profusely but playing it proficiently on my upright is a whole different matter!
    But I am working on it in earnest now, thanks to your help.


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