12 Rules for Success as a Modern Musician

advice Dec 31, 2020

No matter what life throws at you, there are principles you can live by to ensure you're doing all you can on the path to success. These 12 Rules have served me over the years and I'm curious to know which rules resonate most with you and what rules you would add to them.

  1. Sharpen the axe daily 

    One of my favorite quotes of all time is “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” by Aristotle. If you agree with this quote, in order to be excellent musicians we must have a daily habit of practicing our craft. If you want to be able to hear harmony better, is it something you work on daily? Any area of music in which you feel you are not yet excellent, ask yourself if that is something you have made into a daily habit.

  2. Leverage your musical strengths...

    In a world of over 7.5 Billion people, it's important to distinguish ourselves based on our strengths. What is the one thing you do better than anyone else in your musical peer...
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Hack Your Practice: The Key Principles for Creating a Consistent Practice Routine

Uncategorized Nov 28, 2020

“In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is.”

-Yogi Berra

Think about the last time you went to practice. Put yourself in the moment when you thought, “I need to go practice.” How did you feel? If you’re like most people, you felt a bit overwhelmed by all of the possible things to practice and by how little time you actually have to do it all. Maybe you decided you’re just too busy and don’t have time to practice today (like yesterday and the day before that...). Or maybe you went to practice and pushed through, knowing you didn’t really put in the focus and energy to make solid improvements. What happened to those early days of learning when practice was fun and exciting? What’s changed? How can you hope to make lasting improvement if your practice is inconsistent, and what’s the point if the day-to-day practice is a drag?

I want to show you the three key principles that helped me go...

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10 Killer Melodic Minor Lines in 9 Minutes

Check out the video below to watch Chase teach you 10 Killer Melodic Minor Lines. To get the free PDF with music notation and TAB for this lesson go to:


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Words of Wisdom from Wynton Marsalis during the Coronavirus / COVID-19 Pandemic

Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center held an hour-long livestream last night answering questions directly from people tuning in. At the start of the stream, Wynton spoke about what musicians can do during this period of social distancing and quarantine and then the JALC video producer Adam Meeks moderated the questions that came in.

I’ve grouped Wynton’s thoughts and responses based on topic and hopefully they will provide you with food for thought and encourage you to join the next livestream from JALC or watch previous talks from Wynton Marsalis.

If you enjoy this, share it with another musician. Let's pass on the wisdom passed down to us from the elder statesmen of this jazz community.

10 pieces of advice for when you’re stuck inside:

  1. “Embrace the space”
  2. “Set long-term internal goals.”
  3. “Keep perspective.”
  4. “Organize your short-term goals and plan each day with a doable schedule."
  5. “Diversify your...
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What to do when the “Coronavirus” (or other disaster) cancels all of your gigs

Uncategorized Mar 12, 2020

With the widespread concern and panic surrounding the SARS-CoV-2 virus, otherwise known as the “Coronavirus”, many musicians have had their gigs and tours, and therefore the work they rely on to make a living, canceled.

Instead of rehashing all of the harm the coronavirus is causing, you can choose to take advantage of the positive side of this extra time. Here are seven ways you can make your isolated time productive and come back on the music scene stronger than before, whenever that happens to be.

1. Rest

Most of the time as musicians we burn our candle at both ends. Late night gigs can lead into early morning lessons, sessions, rehearsals, or church and brunch gigs. Aside from the time it takes to maintain and grow as a musician, most musicians are also busy working other jobs and freelance work to make a living and haven’t really given themselves a chance to take a breath. Use the time to sleep, rejuvenate, and take care of your health.

2. Practice


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9 Lessons I learned from artists at GroundUP Music Festival 2020 (feat. Becca Stevens, Brian Blade, Camila Meza, and Wayne Krantz)

Last week, we had the opportunity to attend the GroundUP Music Festival in Miami and I put together the nine best lessons I learned from interviewing some of the artists, and from the masterclasses held throughout the festival. Quotes are lightly edited for ease of reading, and you can click the artist names below to go to the full video interview they are quoted from. If you dig the content, share it with one of your friends or leave a comment below.

Becca Stevens

“What advice would you give to young musicians?”

  • Say yes to a lot of things early on. Play with lots of people. Have sessions. Be respectful. Learn the music so people want to call you again and hang out with you”
  • Make the music — create the art — that you want to make. Even if maybe somewhere in the back of your mind you have a fear that people aren’t going to like it. At least if you’re making what inspires you, and what you want to make, then you have that. If...
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The 9 Essential Books for Jazz - Sent in from the JazzMemes Community

Uncategorized Feb 13, 2020

We recently polled our #JazzMemesFamily on Instagram asking them what are their essential books for jazz. The question was left open to include instructional jazz books or books written on the topic of jazz and music. We collected the most popular responses that were sent in and categorized them into two categories Performance and Theory/Concept. If you're new to jazz or haven't checked some of these books out, they're a great starting point to further your jazz education. Let us know in the comments which books you would add to this list.


  • The Realbook - A collection of sheet music containing some of the most widely recognized jazz standards. Great to learn tunes from if you aren't at the level of transcribing everything by ear. Don't bring on a gig or jam session unless you want to be vibed. 
  • The Omnibook - Essential study for learning the bebop language through one of its masters, Charlie Parker. Includes Parker's most famous bebop head,...
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Play for Someone You Love - A Lesson from Louis Armstrong

Uncategorized Feb 07, 2020

How do you get over the fear of making a mistake on a performance?

How do you let go of all the things that are on your mind and bugging you when you need to perform?

Rich Matteson, best known as a jazz educator and euphonium player with the Dukes of Dixieland, posed these questions to Louis Armstrong during a break in their recording session.

The answer as Louis Armstrong saw it was simple: 

“I always play for somebody I love. That’s all. You play for somebody you love, all the time. I always play for Him because he gave me the talent, I play for Lucille because she’s my wife and if I make a mistake she’s understands. They all want to listen, that’s cool. If they don’t want to listen, it’s still cool because I was going to play for Him and her anyways.”

Why does playing for someone you love make you play better?

As Rich Matteson says in this full interview:

“When you play for someone you love, you automatically try to do...

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What the Navy SEALs can teach you about New Year's resolutions

Uncategorized Dec 27, 2019

So, here’s the bad news: Your New Year’s resolutions suck. 

The good news is that it’s not totally your fault, and I’m going to show you how to take your vague resolutions and change them into easy-to-follow goals that you will actually accomplish.

I believe that if you want to get better, you should learn from the best. Lucky for you there’s already a highly-successful organization that has developed a tested system for creating bulletproof goals: the Navy SEALs and SMART goals.

SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely. I’ll breakdown each part and then apply it to a few common New Year’s resolutions that I saw this past week on social media.

Common New Year’s Resolutions

  1. Start going to the gym
  2. Stop eating carbs
  3. Get better at guitar

Any of these sound familiar? Write down three of your own resolutions to work on as you read along. Let’s get started.



Your goals...

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How to Train Your Ear Without Your Instrument

Imagine you’re in a bookstore one Sunday afternoon and, for whatever reason, you happen to notice the music playing in the background.  Maybe it’s a classic rock song that you haven’t heard in awhile or a jazz standard; the genre doesn’t really matter. Can you listen to the song and know what the chord progression is? When the guitarist is soloing do you instantly recognize the scale being played or what specific notes make up the melodic riff?

If you’re hesitating to say ‘yes’ to these questions, then keep reading because I want to share a simple concept with you that will have a profound impact on your ability to recognize chords, progressions, and scales by ear which you can implement today.

To start, there are two kinds of pitch recognition: perfect pitch and relative pitch recognition. Having perfect pitch is the ability to recognize the exact note being played and having relative pitch is the ability to recognize the...

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