A few weeks ago my pastor preached about "how can we give love to our family and friends". One of the most important ways of loving them is by being good listeners, even if you dont care what they are talking about.
Why do I mention it on this forum? Because as musicians we must be good listeners before we talk. We all like playing our favorite scales, modes, riffs and repeat them often, because they sound cool, right? But what happens if 3 of 4 people are talking about the SuperBowl and somebody came out of nowhere and completely changed the subject? All the sudden everyone looks at you like they're lost. Maybe the subject was good, but just a little out of place. Has that ever happened to you?
The same thing happens when we play. We know some cool scales, blues, pentatonic, etc, etc.. but before we contribute to the conversation, we must know what they are talking about, then we join. The same thing applies to us as musicians. Before we play, we must listen to what the other musicians are talking about (playing) so we can join the conversation and contribute with words (notes) that make sense.
Most of us know that we need to follow the melody and the chord progression, so we follow the piano or the guitar. While this is very important, we should also pay attention to other details that will help us join their conversation:
1) The bass (Identify the root of the chord)
2) Identify a motif on the melody and other instruments.
3) What lines are the strings or the brass playing? Try replying to what they just said (Played).
These are only some ideas. If you are a good listener, you will be able to join a conversation and contribute valuable words (Notes) to the subject.
I hope these tips help. Feel free to contribute and share your ideas.
Good post. Listening is very important I would recommend getting as many recordings of varying styles as you can. Listen to how the masters play and try to figure out what they are doing and apply their concepts to you playing. Ask you self: How do they approach melody, rhythm, articulation, etc.? Find ideas that you like and that make the most sense to you and transcribe them. Then try to create you own ideas based on what you have listened to and transcribed.
Also learn to listen tot he big picture. Not just lifting specific ideas, but the tune as a whole. Try to develop an understanding of the the feel, groove, tempo, style etc. Many time we can't see the forest because of the trees.
A great guide for listening is "Listeneng To Jazz" by Jerry Coker.
Christopher Mickel said:
Many time we can't see the forest because of the trees.
I like that example. We need to focus on the actually song and ask ourselves if we are contributing to make the song better or worst. I think you can actually use this example to compare the difference between an instrumentalist and a musician.