now you're more knowledgeable about jazz, maybe even an expert jazz cat. if you could go back in time, what would you tell yourself to practice more when you were just starting so you'd be better than you are now?

our idea of what's important probably changes as our skill level increases. for me, i'd tell myself to start early mastering arpeggios, all keys, all chord qualities (min., major, dim, half dim), with extensions, without extensions in four octaves. performed extremely cleanly.

there are cooler things to practice more than this when i was just starting (like voicings), but if i did more of this earlier, i'd probably save a bit of time.

another thing i would have said would be to start with a teacher that can teach advanced piano technique early in the game.
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i personally wouldn't change a thing.
well, i agree with you on the technique but i wish i had teachers that stressed more importance on the development of aural and audiation skills. these skills are the most important but often overlooked by music teachers.
not an option so why go there?
for those of us who are still back there!!  i rather appreciate the question.
transcriptions, i would have done a lot more transcriptions. in fact, i wouldn't have bought any books at all, i would have spent all my time learning solos from the cats i enjoy. i'm doing that now which is great, but if i had been doing that from when i was 20...
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yeah i agree with sdm, its great for those of us in the beginning stages to hear what's important to work on. i know it's different for everyone, and that experimentation is important, but it's nice to hear what the veterans think. keep posting guys!
i would spend a whole lot less time practicing scales and exercises.  instead i would spend a whole lot more time learning tunes and just playing and having fun.  i spent way too much time practicing scales and stuff like that ... with hindsight it was all mostly useless and pointless.
jmkarns, the point is to share with others who are still climbing up the jazz ladder. there are many approaches mentioned in the past about how to learn jazz, including spending a few years learning classical music. it may speed up some other person's learning process.

i personally never learned anything else. i started only with jazz. unlike mike, i didn't do too many scales and exercises but i found that as i got more experienced, they became easier to do automatically. i could give myself advice not to do much of hanon. but actually i didn't do hanon so i don't have to change a thing there.

regarding scot's approach. that's interesting. i actually hardly ever transcribe. my teacher doesn't really make me transcribe. but i listen to jazz an awful lot and i analyze a lot of lines based on shape and sound. i just don't try to duplicate some other person's playing. it doesn't seem to work for me.

my prior teacher was big on licks and transcribing. i think that each person gravitates to a particular system and this system did not match up with me.
another note to myself: be careful about your choice of a jazz teacher. this is a hard one since when you're starting out, you don't know which teaching approach works for you. but i eventually found the teacher that i liked by a personal reference from another jazz student. i was able to find out the teaching style in advance. at the first sign that the lessons are not what you expect, move on.
there is nothing better than transcribing.  unless you have musical photographic memory and can play what you hear note for note without error, transcribing does some very important things.

1. it strengthens your ears in ways that nothing else can because you have to work out exactly what someone is playing.  that means listening very carefully and being very involved in the listening- listening and trying to play what you hear.  there is no substitute.

2. transcribing is a very good way of developing new technique.  it's important to know your scales and arpeggios, but it's even more important to know how those things that the great pianists play

number 1 is the single most important thing for a jazz musician.

i think the only reason some people say "transcription doesn't work for me" is because they haven't done enough.  one, two, three, half a dozen transcriptions are not enough.  fifteen, twenty, then the benefits come out like a dam breaking.

transcription, written down or just learning the solo so you can play along with it, is by far the most common thread in the history of great jazz musicians.
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o.k. so maybe you have something there.  if i learn from your mistakes then maybe i can avoid a pile of them myself.  
i do think it's harder to learn as you get older.
scot is dead on.
scot i do have photographic memory for short phrases. i then listen for general phrasing and apply it generally. not unusual for me to sit for hours copying a phrase in structure. if i listen to a line, i may try to identify actual tones as 1,3,5,b3,b13 etc and think of it that way. but i wouldn't follow a lick since i'm taught to listen for a melody.

i tried lick playing and i fail at connecting them because i'm not internalizing the melodic flow. being conscious of melody changes one's playing habits. it's not easy to do but i'm better at it than licks.

because i'm not memorizing a lick, i don't write it down but the thought process is not too different from actual transcribing. but i'm memorizing the structure rather than actual lines. when i play the lines have to come from my own mind.

seems to work for me.
jmkarns, i think that as one gets older, one loses the patience to go back to the drawing board. i don't think older guys are incapable of learning something new (disclosure: i'm not young).
yeah, i'm pretty capable of learning but there is certainly plenty of effort involved.  (good things come with effort?)
55 isn't like 25 i guess is what i'm saying.  
somebody else here posted doing gigs 5 nights, working  full-time and having a wife and daughter to support.
that makes me tired just thinking about it!
jmkarns, i hear you ;-) so maybe we'll come up with another piece of advice. start younger, because as you get older "life" gets in the way...although not an option for those of us who started later on this.
that was me (working a day job, goging 5 nights, wife and daughter)

but anyways i don't think learning really gets harder as you get older. life just gets more complicated.

also i'd to say again aural and audiation skills should be stressed at the very begining. my teacher (when i was a kid) focussed only on technique and reading. that seems kind of bacwards to me....
paul, i agree with what i understand "aural and audiation" means (i presume it means ear training). i just happened to be an ear player and that just came naturally. helps with listening to jazz because i can hear a pattern and repeat it on the keyboard (without actually writing it out). jazz is so based on "hearing/listening" that your focus is absolutely right.
can those of you who advocate transciption as a means of learning recommend a few artists who are good to start off with?  

adam
horace silver
red garland
wynton kelly
any horn players that might be good to transcribe?
miles davis should be easy to transcribe but you will learn a lot from it.  

sonny rollins.

charlie parker and john coltrane would be chockful of ideas but much harder to follow.
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