Re: Joe Pass as teacher
- From: "Mark Cleary" <mcleary1@xxxxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Tue, 12 Jun 2007 21:45:07 GMT
I met Joe on a few occasions and my father knew him well in his Synanon days. I never had a chance to play with him but I did talk to him about his approach. I also have seen his videos and read all his method books and actually I think Joe was a great teacher.The real trouble with Joe as a teacher is that in order to get something out of his method was you needed to already be pretty advanced as a player. Not a killer player but if you were just begining or were trying to play jazz guitar for the first time he was not the person best for you. I think you go to Joe as a teacher when you reach a level that was beyond the scale/chord approach or academics. I actually think if Joe wanted he could teach even a beginner because he really could if he focused on that aspect, he just didnot need to since even great players wanted to know his approach and thoughts.
What he explained to me was that he thought about the root of the chord in the tune and chord tones. He then made changes as needed. He also gave me the best advice I have heard when he said " do you know the fingerboard." Well I do but what he wanted to get out was that to know the fingerboard meant you could play a melody and the chords in any key with no problem. In other words he elimnated all the discussion of improvising until you could take a standard Like Autumn Leaves and play it without music ad lib. Just call out a key a start playing. I ask him about complicated tunes or ones he did not know well, he said playing with Oscar ( the big guy he called him) put him on the spot many times and his ear got him through the situation. Joe had an ear that mortals like myself don't have so we keep working on it.
The moral of the story is if you take a standard and learn it in all keys and memorize it then I am betting you could probably simly by using your ear play a decent solo. If I play Autumn Leaves in any key I can relate it to chord forms and melody lines, along with looking at the neck and "seeing the extesnions" then I don't care about the academics until after the fact. So as a teacher he was Prophet because if I actually did what he said to any tune I played better. I have used the approach and it works well for me my trouble is I don't have the time to get this all in nowdays. It really is still the way I learn a tune. He was actually very simple melody and chords no fancy stuff until then and then play in all keys. I think is works.
Mark Cleary makes music on the finest Jazz guitars.
<clay@xxxxxxxxxxxxx> wrote in message news:1181668469.597163.278100@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
I wrote about this on the "finding a taecher" (sic) thread and have
written about it in the past, but thought it was worthy of its own
post. Whenever the topic of teaching comes up inevitably someone will
bring up the idea that some great players can't teach, and inevitably
Joe Pass will be mentioned in that context. I thought it might be
helpful to share my take.
I think Joe gets a bad rap as a teacher because of the vids he did
many years ago, but IMO this has more to do with the production of the
videos than Joe as teacher. I've seen a few vids from that company
over the years and they seemed to just stick someone in front of a
camera and ask them to teach. Improvising a lesson to a crowd is hard
enough, but with a camera it can be quite daunting. When I did my
instructional vid @ 1990 I watched every music instructional vid I
could get my hands on, took notes, figured out what was working and
what wasn't, and carefully charted my own course. I was ready, and it
was still intimidating. A guy over at Amazon panned it, saying I was
dull and monotonous - something to that effect - and truth be known I
had had no sleep the night before (I played an out-of-town gig and
didn't get in until 4:00 or 5:00 in the morning, then spent some time
polishing up my presentation). But I did have a plan and the material
was organized - not so with some other players' - like Joe's. Does
that make him a bad teacher? Hardly.
The difference is that when someone is in a one-on-one situation their
teaching is going to be a lot different than the frozen-in-time world
of video. In the seminar Joe got guys up to play with him and he
critiqued us one at a time. In the context he explained a lot of
things about playing jazz that were just as important (if not more so)
than music theory examples. A couple of people didn't like that, but
the fact was they weren't listening to what he had to offer; they came
in with pre-conceived notions of how he was "supposed" to teach. And
those guys didn't get up to play with him. Hmm.....
So that's a big part of what anyone who is considering taking lessons
with a supposedly "great player, bad teacher" should consider. This is
a performance art. Observing a great artist up close has all kinds of
benefits that won't be obvious if you're on the sidelines expecting
everything to be explained to you. Unless the player/teacher is a mean
jerk I don't see a problem. Watch, listen, take your own notes. Ask
them to play something over again, slowly. If you have trouble with
that you're going to have trouble playing with other players until you
develop it. Every skill can be improved, and observation is critical.
I know someone is going to say "yeah, but even a less competent player
who can explain things will be a better teacher." Not necessarily.
Jazz performance skill is only honed over years of practice and time
on the bandstand. Sorry, but it's true. I've known a lot of pro "jazz"
teachers who I would not recommend for a gig to my peers. Why would I
recommend them to students? They don't know what's needed to play a
gig, so what can they tell a student who might actually want to gig?
Practice these scales? Lots of jazz books can do that.
I'd like to hear some spirited ranting now!
- Joe Pass as teacher
- From: clay@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
- Joe Pass as teacher
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