What makes a good player a great player?

If you spend time looking at videos on YouTube of the young whiz kids who can play the most amazing solos, bass lines and drum solos you would be led to believe that the level of their technique is such that they are just about to take over.
The question I like to pose to my pupils is quite simply was Jimi Hendrix the best guitar player? Is Victor Wooten the best bass player? The answer is no if you are looking at technique, but what makes a great musician isn’t technique, it is all about having something to say. When Jimi Hendrix was on the scene, there were players such Wes Montgomery, Pat Martino Tal Farlow and many others including John McLaughlin who dwarfed him with their technique.
One thing that all great musicians have is a memorable way of playing, they are known for catchy and melodic ideas and that is the thing about wild technique it is often not tuneful or catchy. Like lots of jazz and lots of classical music it is not easily remembered, unless you’re a musician of course.
So get across to budding musicians the need for ideas to become melodically interesting not just to be like a jobbing musician’s way of playing, think of the bass line that would be played by someone like Paul McCartney or Sting. Because they are songwriters there is a tendency for them to play more melodically or for the bass line to support the chord sequences.
So try stripping an idea back to the basics and then make it sing a melody to you instead of playing by rote. Another idea is to ditch any idea that you play out of habit, really listen!

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