i'll speak to transcription as a beginner.  first, it's not easy.  i actually started with a solo someone else transcribed that you can get here at ljp.  i believe it's in the transcription room -- it is wynton kelly's solo on freddy the freeloader.  i use an mp3 player that let's me slow things to 75% or 50% speeds and allows for a bookmark that let's me go back over (and over, and over, and over) the same section.  

to begin, listen until you can sing or hum the tune of whatever you're trying to get.  don't worry too much about the harmony yet, just try for the line.  i hear some people can do the chords but thatís still beyond me.  it is important to know what the harmony is however so get a lead sheet (chords and melody) of what you want to work on.  

then just start picking notes and lines.  for me itís a very slow process.  right now iím working on 24 bars that my teacher recorded for me on c blues.  this happens to be on a simple cassette recorder so no slow-down.  

itís work but it seems to pay off and almost everyone that can play recommends it.
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