Inspired by the clinic I attended with Jonathan Kreisberg at LA Music Academy, I've decided to make learning jazz standards a top priority. I was impressed by Jonathan's facility on the guitar, and he attributed much of it to learning all the standards he could when he was younger. Not only does it provide a common platform from which to jam with other jazz musicians, but there are valuable lessons to be learned from the composers of each tune. Experience with how jazz harmony and melody have worked in the past is essential to understanding them in general.

I studied and performed a healthy handful of standards when I was in college, but that was over two years ago. I guess the first thing I should do is revisit "all the things" I used to know. In addition to my old play-along books, a few other tools will come in handy:, Band-in-a-Box for backing tracks, three Real Books in PDF, and Rhapsody to listen to different interpretations of each tune.

Until this change, my top learning priorities were sight reading, ear training, and facility in many different styles. Sight reading and ear training are still most important, but I think I'll replace the third with learning standards. Versatility is a good idea, but I'm increasingly drawn to jazz the more I study and listen to it. Besides, it's as good a foundation as any for developing versatility later on.