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Tips on Becoming a Great Jazz Guitar Player

I first picked up the guitar when I was 11. I remember walking into the “harmony house” and staring at the guitars on the wall. As a young man I made my purchasing decision on what colour the guitar was - so I chose a red Yamaha guitar. It was beautiful and she lasted me 15 years before I accidentally left her behind at the beach (insert violins here).

As a 6 out of 10 guitar player, I am what you would call “self taught.” Maybe I lack the discipline to actually sit down and learn it, either way I would say that I am content with the level I am at. I can play any chord under the sun and if I apply myself I can learn any song.

When it comes to playing jazz guitar I would say that I know very little. My good friend on the other hand is what they call a jazz guitar guru. I first met Dixon Nacey in the music room at college. We picked up the guitar at the same time and where I took a “snail pace” approach to learning, he skyrocketed to fame and fortune (an exaggeration but when you see him play you will get what I mean!).

Fast forward twenty years and we began work on a video teaching site together. I spend hours every week listening to him play (on the video screen) and I can honestly say that I have been challenged to learn guitar all over again.

But what is it about Dixon that makes him different from me? Because I believe that if we can understand the attributes of a great player- perhaps we too could be great at it one day?

So here it is - A Beginners Guide To What Make a Great Jazz Guitar Player- through the eyes of a novice student and friend...

1. He had a natural knack for it.

I can’t deny it. There is something in his DNA that got him here. His brain was wired differently from the start. Don’t worry you can train your brain. It may take you longer to learn the craft but eventually with time and effort you can get there.

2. He was always a good mathematician.

Jazz guitar is an intellectual art form. Some people may disagree but I would say a majority of people that go full time at it are hungry for learning more. So lets be honest if you are going to retain the technical beauty of jazz theory you will have know the 8 times table!

3. He is humble and learns from anyone.

A lot of people when they master the guitar become too big for their boots. Maybe it’s the lime-light, maybe the ladies (or gents), maybe it’s the crowd calling your name? But fame changes people. Humility is the key to learning. I have seen this in Dixon over the years and his students and followers can testify to it. Plus he still receives paid lessons, he still learns and keeps himself open to learning from others.

4. He is hungry for more.

At age 18 he would sit in his bedroom and learn whole albums at a time. I unfortunately was out chasing ladies and being a rock star. Hmm I wonder which approach paid off?

5. He doesn’t take criticism personally.

To be a player on the big stage you’ve got to understand that people will want to cut you down. If your identity is too firmly attached to you Axe, then you can react and close down musically. Over the years I have watched the trolls try and put Dixon down but his response is always the same. Ignore them.

6. He loves it like it was His first date. You don’t have be a genius to see that music is more than a habit or a practice, it is a romance (sorry rock guitar guys!). What I see in Dixon Nacey is a daily renewed passion, every single day for the art of jazz guitar. This is a romance that leads to greater fulfillment and higher levels of learning.

So if you are wanting to learn jazz guitar then take 1 of these points and implement them into your life and your approach. I guarantee that you will be better off for it!

About the Author
Brendan Hall is a Speaker, Author and Entrepreneur at jazzguitarlegend.com. His passion is helping people to discover their potential through online video training, coaching and blogging.

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