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LJS 75: How to Internalize Jazz Language

Welcome to episode 75 of the LJS Podcast where today we are talking about how to internalize jazz language. At the end of the day, we don’t want to just learn new musical information. We want to keep it forever and we want it to make a lasting impact on our playing. Today’s show breaks down 4 important processes for internalization. Listen in!

Listen to episode 75

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Too often musicians waste their time in the practice room learning musical language only to forget it later. The problem often comes down to the actual learning process. If you don’t learn the material in a way that allows you to internalize it, you’re not going to get good results from your time investment.

It all comes down to repetition. But repetition is more than just playing something over and over again. It all has to do with approaching the jazz language you are learning from different angles.

In this episode

  1. Singing and why it’s important.

  2. Practicing jazz language in all 12 keys.

  3. Playing along with the recording you learned the language from.

  4. Analyzing the language so you thoroughly understand it.

  5. The challenge: learn a lick and follow the 4 steps to internalization.


Did you take the challenge? Leave us a comment below. 

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
    Just wanted to say this podcast was helpful for me.
    I choose On green Dolphin street, and for the first time I played it in different keys.
    Helped to see what was happening in the song, and once you get that, it is more easy to play it in another key.
    For 3 practise sessions I took up this song again, so I played it now many times.
    I am looking forward to do this practise with another song which I don't know already.
    Thanks for all your podcasts and other work for the jazz community!

  2. Hi, Brent! Thank you for such a professional and interesting material! I have the following question:
    When I start to sing improvisation, I don't always hear it previously in my head. Ie. on the one hand, my inner improvisation comes out from somewhere in the subconscious; on the other , if it does not satisfy, then I must change it by singing and Internalize back . Is this so?

    • Hi, thanks for listening and glad to help! Hopefully I understand the question. Indeed a lot of improvisation is subconscious, and you don't want to be thinking about everything you're improvising. The internalization and practicing process is for making actions you want to take feel natural. It's like when you learn to tie your shoe. At first you have to think about all of the steps and practice them, but eventually, it becomes second nature. Hope that helps!


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