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It has been described like this: "Classical music is like a train going through picturesque scenery - beautiful, glossy and always reliably the same. Jazz is like then getting in a four wheel drive - exciting and unpredictable, and you go where you want to go and never know where you will end up."

Because jazz music was developed more recently than classical music some of the classification systems are more modern and systematic and the theory is generally considered more logical, so younger or busier students often find it quicker to learn and easier to understand. Jazz also tends to emphasise the attainment of musical perception sooner (rhythm, pitch etc) so even classical & rock musicians benefit by incorporating jazz concepts. Younger students also often improvise naturally as it has less rules and so accesses their innate imagination. 

Jazz requires some extremely developed technical skills in the areas of rhythm, coordination, and pitch perception, and some components of jazz study have been shown to increase cognition and mental development in many other key areas such as maths and language. Jazz musicians are required to think on their feet, and to react in split second timing to rhythmic, harmonic and melodic changes in the music as they occur.

Most jazz players will also include Latin American music side by side with their study of pure jazz styles such as bebop and swing. Jazz has a way of incorporating and absorbing other styles so some jazz players may sound like classical musicians, South American or African musicians, rock or folk musicians etc, but all will identify as being jazz players conceptually. 

Jazz music is considered by many to be the modern development of classical music. Both use the same basic theory and require the same technical skill but jazz includes some significant additions - rhythm and improvisation. Jazz is often more rhythmically complex than classical music, especially when we include the Latin American and African rhythmic patterns. The definition of improvisation is 'immediate and spontaneous composition of music during performance', in other words, creating music as you play rather than writing it and playing it later. Most of the great classical composers were great improvisors - Mozart, Beethovan etc, and classical music still occasionally contains improvised sections, but jazz is really what you need to study if you want true musical freedom.