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Home LJS Podcast LJS 57: Why I Stopped Hating My Playing

LJS 57: Why I Stopped Hating My Playing

Welcome to episode 57 of the LJS Podcast where today we are talking about how to turn around our mentalities about our music. Podcast host, Brent Vaartstra, tells us his story about how he stopped hating his jazz playing and started having fun again. If you find yourself constantly upset with your playing, this is for you.  Listen in!

Listen to episode 57

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In this episode

  1. Brent tells his story.

  2. Stop comparing yourself to others. Focus on your personal record.

  3. Play from where you are not from where you want to be. This means accepting where you are at on your musical journey all while working towards improvement.

  4. Don’t put all of your self-worth into music. You’re worth so much more. Don’t make this mistake.

  5. Remember that if music stops being fun for you, it means you took a wrong turn somewhere. Step back and re-evaluate.

Listen to episode 57: 8 Reasons Why Jazz Musicians Should Shed Classical

Mentioned in the show

30 Days to Better Jazz Playing eCourse

A 30-day audio eCourse that walks you through focused, goal-oriented practicing, where you will be working on things that actually improve your jazz playing.


Have anything to add to today’s show? 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. So true on not comparing to others! Took me years to learn that and I stopped playing jazz for a period because it stopped being fun. now I just love playing from "where I am" and accept there are good days and hard days. I've met and talked to Julian Lage twice now. Old me would have compared to him and said I'll never be as good as him.(whoever is in the room, Julian is better, right?) Now I can enjoy talking to him and appreciate how much joy is in his music and take inspiration rather than passing self judgement.

  2. I would also comment on musicians ego. I have been guilty more than once on looking down of others that cant play as well as I can, forgetting I was at that level at some point. But also what situations to avoid as a professional musician. As an example, it took me a long time to understand that playing with bands I don't enjoy prevents me from being available for others that I would enjoy more.

    Great Job! Love these.

  3. Okay, I haven't listened to the podcast yet so my comment may be redundant but I'll post it while I have the chance.
    I make a habit of recording all of my gigs. Nothing especially hi-fi or studio quality; just a little mp3 at 128kbps.
    I usually file them away after the gig without listening to them although if there has been an inspired moment in the course of the session, I can and will check out what I did and analyse it for future reference.
    However, more valuably, I will occasionally check back randomly on a gig from months before and listen to a few minutes of it. Time after time I find myself thinking, "Ooh, that's not bad, actually." It's frequently better than I realised at the time and I reckon that's because we can easily get hung up about the idea that we didn't properly express on the night and we fail to realise that what we actually did was more than satisfactory.
    Months later, we can hear it as the audience heard it, just as it happened and without preconceptions or expectations, because by that time we've probably forgotten what it was we were trying to say in that moment.
    There have been innumerable times when I've been in a studio doing a session for someone and the producer has settled for what's just gone down while I'm pleading to be allowed to do another pass. Again, long after I've forgotten all about the session, I've then heard the finished product and realised that it was a decent take after all. I've even heard a few tracks where I've commented, "Digging those keys – who's the player?" and (embarrassingly) been told that it was me, even though I had absolutely no recollection of the song or the session.
    So the point about all this is that we're often the poorest judges of our own work at the time of the performance because, while we're generating the music, we simply don't have the objective perspective that the audience has. It can be a useful boost to our confidence when the passage of time gives us that other perspective.

    (Oh, and if it so happens that you have the bad luck to randomly select that date where you really did stink the place out, just skip forward to another gig and take heart from your immense improvement in such a short time! )

    Thanks for all the stimulating articles, Brent. They're very much appreciated.
    Best wishes,
    Gerry Coogan
    (aka "Horace Norris" for reasons that inexplicably seemed a good idea at the time.)


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