Many students are conflicted about learning jazz standards. Why should we learn songs that were popular almost 100 years ago? How does this reflect on my music today?
In this video, I discuss many of the reasons that jazz musicians and improvisers study jazz standards, and some of the many skills we improve through this study. This kind of study will help any improviser, even if they never plan on playing standards.
What components of jazz standards do we study?
How do jazz standards increase your freedom when improvising?
What are the end goals of learning this music?
P.S.: There's much more to say on this topic. In particular, I never mentioned the study of lyrics. The lyricists of the Great American Songbook prided themselves on their witty, urbane lyrics, finding clever and unexpected rhymes to match the sometimes winding harmonies. This is a topic worth studying not only for singers, but for composers and improvisers of all types!