Essays by David Bloom

Read David Bloom’s essays in various categories below: Music, Life, and Jazz Education.

To browse by title click here.

Music

The Ten Commandments of Jazz Soloing

These Ten Commandments are designed to stimulate an enlightened level of jazz soloing for those seeking to move beyond mere imitation in the language of jazz and achieve a level of individual mastery. I derived them from listening and identifying the best concepts present within ...
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Bloom’s Laws

After forty years of listening to sets by jazz masters as well as masters of other genres of music, I’ve noticed they are not always effective in the overall presentation of their music. Many musicians respect linear improvisation far more than they do solo development ...
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Giant Steps…Going Where?

I must preface this piece by saying goodbye to the ones I love because what I will say here will be considered blasphemy by many and as a result, I may be burned at the stake. For years I have been exhausted by the perpetual ...
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The Comping Conversation #1

Comping (accompanying and complimenting) is a critical part of a true jazz group. There are thousands of musicians who play while others are soloing, but are not comping, at least by my definition. Comping is being involved in an intimate dialogue with the soloist, as ...
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Top Albums and Top Songs Are Commonplace: What About Great Phrases?

Many knowledgable music writers make lists of great albums or great tunes. These are "Top Ten Songs" or "Top Albums"; we've all seen these lists. However, what about the most minute part of musical language, the phrase Given that complete CD or album recordings are ...
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Understanding Storytelling and How it Can Dramatically Improve Your Music

Many great musicians and music teachers have described good music as storytelling. A story is a series of events that usually involve overcoming an obstacle. Great stories set up a scenario and then surprise us with the ending-boring stories don't. People from every culture love ...
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The Four Secrets of Practicing Music

Everybody knows that in order to improve any skill, practicing is critical. But what constitutes practicing is quite variable. Some think that if a guitar is in your hands while watching TV, you are practicing. Others think repeating the same exercises you have been doing ...
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Hearing vs. Listening

As we walk down the street many sounds come into our reality. We hear buses accelerate, laughing, shouting, fire truck sirens, motorcycles… a whole array of auditory stimulants. The awareness of these sounds is not a matter of choice but a matter of biology because ...
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Rhythm: The Grand Arbiter of Right and Wrong Notes

Many theory books have been written about which notes are the money notes and which notes are wrong in relation to the chords. Although it is very true that each note has a certain relationship to the the other notes, both melodically and harmonically, it ...
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The 3 Speeds of Improvisation

In improvisation, there are three elements of speed: the speed of aural comprehension, physical execution, and imaginativecreativity. Attention to each is critical to successful jazz. Most musicians spend the majority of their practice time on the speed of execution. However, musical artistry is more than muscle memory ...
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A’s and F’s in Jazz Schools

In America, people who get A’s are smart, disciplined, and will help to enlighten society. And people who get F’s are stupid, uncreative, and probably will have no effect on society. Right? Two questions come to mind. First, what does an A or an F ...
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The Power of Slow: Tip for Beginning and Intermediate Players

To practice an un-improvised exercise effectively you must play it slowly with: perfect form, total relaxation, perfect time and repeat it 100 times perfectly before increasing speed. With this procedure, you can master any physical endeavor so long as you start slow enough for the ...
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Wes Montgomery and Jazz

Though informed jazz musicians know that Wes Montgomery was one of the greatest guitarists, he was way more than a guitar player - he was one of the greatest jazz players who just happened to play guitar. Whatever Wes played had clarity, direction, patience, vulnerability ...
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Six Do’s and Don’ts for a Successful Professional Recording Session

It's important to first determine what kind of session it will be. A live jazz session is different than a pop session and is recorded differently. But to start with, I will be talking about rock or pop sessions. 1. Unless you're rich, do not ...
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Practice Tips: One Week To Better Solos

To learn how to solo, start with this simple step: block out a week and find a solo that you love. Make sure it's not just full of virtuoso technique, but that you can truly imagine yourself playing it (if you just knew how).  Make ...
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Life

16 Square Feet

I remember when I used to go out dancing in the Division St. bars in Chicago. There were always bouncers standing outside of the clubs to insure that the occupational limit was not exceeded. Their presence was troubling in that these bouncers seemed to make an aggressive proprietary statement with ...
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The Best I Can Do

For years I have heard people say “that’s the best I could do.” It’s a nice notion that someone did the very best that they could do. But was it? To do the very best means that you know what your limitations are, and most of us don’t. Many of ...
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Jazz Education

5 Things To Consider When Choosing a Jazz School

Consider these five things when choosing a jazz school:1. What do you expect to get out of it? Do you want to be a jazz artist, a band director, and teacher or just want to learn without any economic benefit?2. What is your relationship with jazz? How many hours a ...
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Jazz School Experience Series Escaping Yourself to Be You (Part 4)

For civilians and musicians alike, I suggest a one week test: turn off the TV and computer games, use the phone only when it's necessary, and spend the rest of the time doing things that make you think, feel, emote, create or anything that shows an active involvement and appreciation ...
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Jazz School Experience Series Escaping Yourself to Be You (Part 3)

A few specific ideas for musicians as well as civilians to help you escape both the outside and inside negative forces are as follows: For musicians, I have found that a good way to work on escaping preconceived notions, and occupying the present is to play the first two bars ...
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Jazz School Experience Series Escaping Yourself to Be You (Part 2)

I had a student named Peter who had already played with numerous national stars when he first came in for an evaluation. During our first meeting he played only fast notes. It was clear to me that he had spent a lot of time on technique and was an accomplished ...
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Jazz School Experience Series Escaping Yourself to Be You (Part 1)

We live in a culture where people go to the Caymans, play Nintendo, watch TV, take drugs, booze and engage in a host of other activities in order to escape negative aspects of their life. "Getting away" is a mantra that we hear regularly from fed-up folks, who can't stand ...
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