Jazz Guitar Scholars
"Rodney Jones is the single most important mentor in my musical development and is the reason why I was able to find my way as a musician in the two sides of the pursuit that he often describes as "art" and "craft." I studied with Rodney at Manhattan School of Music and worked with him for many years afterward as he introduced me to his closest circle of colleagues and personally launched my career by sending opportunities my way. This wasn't an easy path - Rodney's standards are very high and I had to demonstrate my abilities in order to be able to sub for him and represent him properly. I was very fortunate to pass through this apprenticeship model that is so rarely seen nowadays. When you are held accountable to a specific person who you admire and who has invested their personal time in your development, the stakes are much higher than a grade in a class or some social media attention. You are an extension of their line in a sacred tradition. In my early years with Rodney, I was focused on the element of "craft" - technique, repertoire, the skills necessary to work and survive. Rodney relentlessly schooled me on all of these topics, and most importantly in the areas that can only be taught in person - rhythm, groove, and feel.
Ten years later, I studied with Rodney again at Juilliard, in a period when I was putting more emphasis on the "art" of music making and how I might find my personal direction. Although Rodney is an expert practitioner of the instrument, his deeper skills lay well beyond style and technique. It is my opinion that Rodney has made significant discoveries about the expression of soul through sound and the ability of music to connect humans to each other and access deeper levels of individual and collective consciousness. He doesn't secretly guard this information, but gives with generosity to those who show genuine interest and dedication. Although I'm now the age that Rodney was when I met him, I still consider myself to be his student, and am grateful to pass on the lessons of what is necessary for mastery to the next generation, hopefully with the same spirit of generosity and selflessness that he has shown me over the years."
- Miles Okazaki
“Rodney Jones is a master player and teacher in the fullest sense. For all of his vast technical prowess regarding picking and hip lines, his approach to teaching swing feel, rhythm, articulation and the authentic spirit of jazz, are deep, unique and practical. A must for any guitarist who aspires to call himself a jazz musician in the classic sense. The things I learned from him have profoundly impacted my playing and teaching for close to 30 years now".
"I once asked George Benson about other guitarists I should check out. One of the four names he gave me was Rodney Jones. A few months later, I coincidentally met Rodney at an outdoor gig in Manhattan. I had to leave about 10 minutes after he started playing, but after hearing the first few notes, I delayed my other appointment and stayed until the end of his set. There was a calm mastery to Rodney’s playing that transcended note selection. Something one must experience to understand. I immediately inquired about taking lessons.
At the time, my goal was to simply improve as a Jazz guitarist. I had no idea how much I would actually end up growing as a musician, student and human being.
Anyone who has had the privilege of studying with Rodney knows that besides being a world class guitarist, he is also an outstanding teacher. One does not guarantee the other. The concepts and techniques I learned from him applied to every style of playing I could think of. Rodney’s categorization of picking techniques freed up my right hand. His breakdown of rhythm and phrasing changed my perspective on improvisation. His approach to tonal superimposition basically changed the way I hear music to this day. I learned what to play. I learned what not to play. I learned how to practice and get real results. I literally learned how to learn. Its hard to quantify how much I’ve actually gained from these lessons. I find myself still referring back to these lessons as the foundation to my professional development.
There is an authenticity and conviction to Rodney, with no hint of arrogance. Rodney was always patient and encouraging. Even the most complicated concepts were always broken down clearly and logically. Furthermore, it was easy to tell that Rodney’s knowledge comes from years of playing with music’s elite. Rodney possesses the kind of grasp one can’t just obtain from a book. It’s real world know-how, and its worth its weight in gold. From successful recording sessions to stadiums, I’ve been applying this education to music of every genre with continued success. I cannot endorse Rodney Jones strongly enough as a musical authority. He is a giant I’ve looked up to for years, on and off the stage."
"Rodney is the best playing jazz guitar teacher there is, period. Lessons with him were life changing. There’s no other teacher that I know of, that can play all that he can play, and show you how to do it.
Not only is Rodney a helluva guitar player, but he’s also a fantastic guy, as well as a veteran of the music industry. He has provided invaluable musical, personal, and career guidance.
Furthermore, just being around him and seeing what is possible in music, the guitar, and life, inspires me to reach further in my own journey everyday.
There isn’t a finer teacher you could have. I’m so grateful for your lessons and friendship Rodney. Love ya."
"Studying with Rodney was the best musical experience for me.
He spoke about very important aspects of music with such clarity that I felt no prior teacher had covered. Including the feeling, intent, commitment and really dealing with the internal conflicts that can sometimes hold back your full potential. He always inspires by making you aware of the bigger picture and why we do what we do. Beyond all that, he brings out more lyricalism and energy in all the personnel I've seen study with him. And he will become your good friend. He truly is a wonderful teacher with an approach crafted through some incredible life experiences."
I learned from Rodney that the art in music is really the art in life. The creative spirit is as much in figuring out how to survive in a meaningful way as it is in learning how to play the right thing at the right time for the right people. I also learned from Rodney that the only variable that we can do anything about is our decision to play and do what matters. The rest, for the most part, is for the gods to decide. Spend time exploring intent and then apply to your instrument and to life. That is how real players are built.
"I was lucky enough to meet Rodney Jones when I was in High School. At our first lesson I learned enough material to practice for years but he gave also me the most important gift a teacher could give a student; inspiration. Rodney has completely changed my life not only at a nuts and bolts level of music but a deeper understanding and passion for music. I'm constantly learning more and more from his incredible lessons, to his facebook videos, his amazing and comical adages that have helped me not only in music but in life, and by transcribing some of the many incredible recordings he has done. You will not regret studying from Rodney. As Rodney himself would say "Don't take professional advice from amateurs."
"Rodney Jones is a masterful musician and teacher in every possible way. He has had a profound impact on my approach to hearing and playing music, both in terms of his tremendous skill and intuition as a guitarist as well as his insightful philosophy/wide ranging experience regarding the nature of making music. His lessons reach beyond the confines of music and are applicable to everyday life. Rodney is a truly soulful musician and person who without question is one of the greatest jazz guitarists!"
"I was lucky enough to meet Rodney Jones at the beginning of my musical journey. He has meant so much to my development on the guitar, that it is difficult to even put into words. His understanding of the guitar and the jazz idiom are unparalleled. I cannot thank him enough, for showing me the path to success. I would not be where I am today if it wasn't for Rodney. Do yourself a favor, and listen to what he is willing to share. He is truly THE MASTER."
“Not every great player is also a great teacher; however, Rodney is of the highest caliber of excellence in both departments. Many times throughout the past several years, I've had lessons with Rodney that have completely opened up my musical vocabulary, and musical mind in ways I will forever be grateful for. Rodney's depth of experience, and true mastery of the music is something that any level of student will benefit from in an incredibly meaningful way".
"I've had the great pleasure of studying with Rodney Jones for 3 years. His guidance has been second to none. His depth of knowledge regarding all facets of guitar playing and beyond is something that makes his teaching invaluable. He is the pinnacle of what I would consider an educator, a mentor, and a friend. He has guided me through some of my most formative musical years. He really reveals all of his secrets to getting to the meat and potatoes of the guitar. It would’ve taken me twice as long to get even close to the player I am today”.
"It is hard to express how much influence Rodney Jones has on me as a teacher and musical inspiration. His ability to break down the various levels of melodic, harmonic, and rhythmic elements of his unique approach to the guitar is unparalleled, and furthermore, his ability to translate that information over to his students in a concise and lucid manner makes him one of the greatest pedagogues of the instrument and the jazz tradition on the guitar. Thank you for everything, Rodney...you continue to inspire on a daily basis!"
"Honestly, I don’t think there’s a better teacher to study music with than Rodney. He is a true master of teaching. His insights into how music works, how the guitar works and his ability to see the next steps his students can take is incredible.”
"Mr. Jones is an exceptional guitarist and teacher. His mastery of the instrument, and understanding of music, make him an incredible resource for learning both guitar technique, and jazz.
While many people can teach guitar technique and jazz theory, Mr. Jones connects his ideas to experiences he has had, and helps guide students in turning these ideas into their own journey. Using analogies that help connect his ideas to my own life, I not only learned many musical lessons from Mr. Jones, but many life lessons as well.
These are lessons that I still carry with me daily."
"Rodney Jones is a teacher like no other. His instruction goes beyond the usual mechanics of the instrument as well as traditional rule-based theory and harmony. Rodney confronts you at your deepest motivations for making music. He will challenge you and motivate you to be nothing less than the full actualization of your greatest potential."
"Eternally grateful to Rodney
Saw Rodney playing with Dizzy in the early 80’s, at the tender age of 21 (both of us). Being completely knocked out by the performance and in search of jazz guitar lessons, I Got his number afterward. His lessons began shortly thereafter.
They were always interesting, enjoyable and enlightening (sometimes more than just in terms of music).
To be brief, Under Rodney’s tutelage we covered a broad spectrum of music and approaches. Within the first 3 lessons we were locking in on the metronome on 2 and 4, to the Charleston feel. I found him to be patient, articulate, thorough and often, hilarious. Rodney knows how to convey the vital information in a way that guides you to the conclusion he wants you to discover. He also always shared his discoveries graciously and with enthusiasm. He is extremely versatile and can offer input and feedback on multiple styles and topics.
What I can say with certainty is that if you do the work he prescribes and give yourself time to process the ideas, the results will be that you’ll be swinging and playing like a pro. If you want to learn what’s hip, and not production-line studies, Rodney is “the man”. After all, who’s gonna tell ya “oh, here’s a trick Diz’ taught me while I was touring with him? "
"I studied for a couple years with Rodney while living in NYC. I think my playing concept and musicianship I grew immeasurably during that time.
Rodney is a well studied individual but the emphasis of the lessons was never focused on sheet music and reading.
Important playing approaches and concepts were passed down aurally, with an emphasis on not only being able to perform the example, but to be able to use it in a creative fashion. Everything was focussed on playing with intent at a professional level. Rodney has years of experience with some of the biggest names in music to draw upon and to pass on. The lessons were master class level.
What I came away with was not only a far advanced ability to play the guitar but a renewed view of how creative one can be within the jazz idiom. Beyond playing the guitar, this has changed the way I hear, create and think about music in general."
"I was lucky to have had the opportunity to study with Rodney in a workshop for several weekends in the summer of 2006. His teachings opened my eyes to so many things I never even considered. He showed me ways to approach learning and practicing that I still use today. I wished that I was able to continue studying with him. But he is Rodney Jones after all! Which means he’s kept busy recording, performing, and teaching at the best music schools in the world. So this course is an invaluable resource allowing us access to the wisdom and teachings of one of the great jazz guitar masters of our time.”
"Learning from Rodney Jones is a guitar player’s dream. It’s not often you get to listen to, or be in the presence of someone with so much incredible experience. I learnt so much about myself, my learning style, and how to approach new techniques and skills on the guitar. Rodney is a wonderful man: any lessons learnt from him help not only your playing, but also your approach to music and future learning."
"To say that Rodney changed my life would not be an overstatement.
I’d recently moved to New York from Australia and was looking for something or someone to shake things up for me. I felt I wasn’t getting where I wanted to get in my playing and everyone I studied or spoke with told me to keep on doing the same things.
I knew Rodney was different from the moment he started playing. He was electrifying to me. I was mesmerized by his technique and his sense of groove which was different from anyone I’d studied with before.
With Rodney’s guidance I reshaped my right hand technique and rethought much of how I mapped out the fingerboard with my left hand. Each lesson I would record our lessons on tape and then spend the next week transcribing as much as I could.
Rodney was not so much a talker as he was a doer; he played amazing things and left it up to me to explore what he was doing. It was a very exciting way for me to learn because I was challenged all the time to play at a level I hadn’t worked at before.
Without Rodney’s insights and unparalleled musicianship, I wouldn’t be where I am today. Rodney laid the path forward for me to which I am eternally grateful and forever humbly in his debt."
"Studying with Rodney is a life changing experience... with Rodney you study music in order to play music later on... he really encourages you to practice and live jazz guitar... I met him as a part of the Juillard Jazz Faculty in a workshop and then I studied with him privately in Nyc... He gave me detailed information of all the 4 years study program including repertoire, scales, arpeggios, transcription etc... he also showed me how to comp in style and much more advanced stuff as quartal harmony... he is a master of this stuff and he is the guitarist that sounds more modern today and still swings... his technique is incredible and he can show you all the picking methods there are such as the George Benson method or others... Rodney is one of the best jazz guitar players ever and it's a privilege to study with him... monster technique, blues, soulful, expresive, modern sounds, knows the tradition... a gem among guitar players."
"I had the pleasure of studying with Rodney Jones when I attended Manhattan School of Music.
I found him to be an inspiring teacher and a remarkable human being. He set a very high bar for me and I am sure he does the same for all of his students.
He readily shared his vast harmonic knowledge, deep rhythmic concept and technical mastery as well as some less tangible elements that he felt could help me
on the path toward mastery of the guitar. The picking technique that Rodney taught me and the articulation, phrasing, and velocity that it facilitates is something that I am particularly grateful for. "
" I always listen to all types of Music. Jazz is my Favorite. I've been listening to Rodney Jones since the 80's. In 2000, My son had just been born, and I knew that in order to continue my passion in Music, I had to grow as a guitarist.
I sought out the person - I knew would best develop what I envisioned as a Guitarist. Unlimited Chops, Vocabulary, Rhythm, Tone, Chord Soloing, Professionalism, Versatility, regardless of genre - Jazz, Blues, R&B, Funk, Soul, Hip-Hop, etc...
I was most privileged to have Rodney Jones accept me as a student. He was extremely busy then - being the Guitarist for the Rosie O'Donnell Show - in addition to teaching at Manhattan School of Music and Julliard just to start - amongst the myraid of other duties he performs.
18 years later, After many hangs, Checking him out performing live, rehearsing, recording, he remains a Hero, Dear Friend, Primary Influence and All Round Beautiful Person.. Any guitarist out there - if you're serious about your craft... you won't find a better teacher than Rodney Jones... "
"Rodney Jones helped me find out what could be done with a guitar and helped me find to tools to do it. My practice time is more productive and my confidence is growing."
“Rodney Jones was my primary guitar mentor and teacher when I first came out to NYC and was trying to get my playing together. At that time I was able to play some things, but there was so much I didn’t know! Rodney was able to patiently guide me through the secrets of modern jazz guitar, synthesizing the guitar language of Grant Green, Wes Montgomery and George Benson with the harmonic language of Wayne Shorter and John Coltrane. Rodney, who is not only a masterful player but also a profound musical thinker, has taken the guitar to a new place of his own. His ability to break this knowledge down in a clear and engaging way had a profound impact on my understanding of music (and life!) that I carry with me to this day.”
"Rodney Jones is the rare type of teacher (and person) that has as much heart as he does expertise in everything he does. I studied for three years with Rodney and he completely overhauled my approach to playing guitar and music. In our very first lesson, Rodney diagnosed a problem I had with my picking technique articulating melodic phrases with clarity and dynamics. With that one suggestion, my entire sound changed and opened my technique to a new world of possibilities that I use to this day. Over the course of the next couple of years, not only did we dig deep in to the mechanics of the guitar, but also (and more importantly) in to the complexities of music and how to express it with coherence, intent, and love.
Rodney Jones teaches from a place of knowing. He talks the talk, and does it well. But it's only because he's lived it and continues to live it. I would not be the musician or person I am today without Rodney's guidance and support!!"
" With you i learned how to study, first. How to have a path into my studying process. I learned how to create my own language, how to believe in myself and the meaning of being one and unique in the world. So, thank you a lot!"