Worldwide icon-chevron-right North America icon-chevron-right United States icon-chevron-right New York State icon-chevron-right New York icon-chevron-right Here's what it takes to be a jazz musician in NYC

Here's what it takes to be a jazz musician in NYC

You need rhythm if you think you can hit the stage at Jazz Standard. Here's what it takes to perform at the NYC hotspot.

By Danielle Valente

Being overly confident certainly came back to bite me. 

When I was tasked with learning a few riffs on the guitar, I assumed—having been a violinist—that I would be able to pleasantly surprise my blues instructor...and I certainly did. There's a very good chance that I won't be invited back to Jazz Standard as a performer any time soon. (Actually, there's a 100 percent chance.) 

After swapping a bow for a pick and attempting to master a completely inverted set of strings, I realized while on stage that my orchestra days had failed me royally. I joined my teacher and felt completely out of my element (and unfortunately not out of the unforgiving stage lights). It was too late to turn back, so I had to simply pretend that at any moment I'd start shredding. Wishful thinking!

My instructor Chris Bergson, a very patient NYC musician, played effortlessly, almost as if there was no distinction between his fingers and the neck of the instrument. I, however, put the “Time Out” in Time Out Tries. At least I was rocking cool shades that made me look the part. 

Chords were no joke, and bending my wrist to reach certain frets just didn’t happen—at least not right away. It might've taken a few (hundred) tries, but I managed to sound slightly like I knew what I was doing toward the end of our jam session (though most listeners might feel otherwise). 

Even though I wasn't quite up-to-speed in the rocking out department, I did have a really amazing time not only learning a few tunes, but also exploring a new place in NYC I had never been. It made me realize that I should start playing the violin again, and it also exposed me to venues that I wouldn't ordinarily have discovered. 

Next time I head to Jazz Standard, I'll be very comfortable sitting in the crowd and ordering a drink. In fact, I'm looking forward to it. 

Check out my whole attempt in the video above.

Want to check out musicians who actually know what they're doing? Grab tickets to these summer concerts, make a pitstop at the hippest jazz clubs in NYC and head to the best outdoor bars NYC has to offer when your show is over. 


    You may also like