Archive for the ‘Practice routines’ Category

Eager to Improve? Don’t Make This Common Mistake in the Practice Room…

Friday, August 5th, 2016

Eager to improve at jazz improvisation

In case you were starting to mistake jazz musicians for super-humans…

Or highly talented individuals that know thousands of tunes, have perfect pitch, and transcribe solos in mere minutes, I thought I’d write a post to correct that picture in your mind.

In fact, I want to show you one of the most important rules when it comes to learning to improvise.

I want to show you why absorbing one solo or a single tune into your bloodstream is a good thing.

And I want to show you that unless you do this, you’re missing out on the best kind of practice.

Let me show you what I mean…

Too fast & too furious in the practice room

The problem with the way many players practice jazz improvisation is this:

they are simply trying to do too much at once.

Daily practice becomes a mad rush to cram in tunes, transcribing, memorizing licks, scales in all keys, technical exercises, and ear training.

But despite all of this time and effort, lasting musical progress somehow continues to be elusive.

And here at Jazzadvice, this one of the most common themes we hear from people around the world that are learning to improvise and improve their musicianship – they are overwhelmed.

There is simply too much information out there…and the frustration comes in trying to keep up.

It’s understandable. Many improvisation resources bombard you with music theory information, instructors push you to transcribe solos, and jam sessions put on … Read More

How to Completely Change How You Think About Practicing: Words of Wisdom from Harold Mabern

Thursday, June 30th, 2016

How to change your practice

As he stood in the hallway, the students gathered round…

You could see the crowd growing, one-by-one as the people walking by heard what was happening.

Harold, animated and speaking with vibrant energy, was sharing his experiences with a group of lucky students that happened to catch him in-between classes.

While I was at music school, pianist Harold Mabern’s spontaneous hallway-lunch-time talks became something you did not want to miss.

A walking encyclopedia of jazz history, tunes and techniques, Harold actually lived it.

He played with greats like Cannonball Adderley, Roy Haynes, J.J. Johnson, Sonny Rollins, Lee Morgan, Freddie Hubbard, Hank Mobley, and Miles Davis, just to name a few!

And Harold, as you can tell from the scene described above, loves to share his experiences and knowledge that he’s picked up along the way.

Having the fortunate opportunity to study and spend time with him for several years, he taught me all sorts of things.

But sometimes the things that have the greatest impact on you are the simplest of ideas…

An then it hit me…

Box after box I unpacked. What could be in this one? More lead sheets, another 10 play-alongs, a manuscript notebook filled with messy lines and chord symbols. What is all this junk? And then, in small barely-legible handwriting, scribbled on a piece of paper, I read something profound…‘Harold told me today that it’s not how much you gain, it’s how much you retain’

This was me as I went through my boxes … Read More

Why This Two-Step Approach to Jazz Language Will Take Your Improvising from Good to Great

Wednesday, June 15th, 2016

Take your improvising from good to great

Have you ever felt like you’re stuck with the same old licks when it comes to improvising?

Or that you’re trying to create a solo from a strict set of scales…

The truth is many players share this frustration and it all goes back to the practice room. You see when it comes to tackling jazz improvisation, most players approach their practice in one of two ways:

  • Technical practice
  • Creative practice

There’s the time devoted to developing technique: Memorizing scales, running arpeggios with a metronome, working on articulation, and conquering the physical demands of playing an instrument.

And then there’s the creative approach to music. Thinking about chord progressions, improvising  with play-a-longs, applying language and struggling playing what you hear…

The only problem is that most musicians rarely apply both of these approaches to the language of jazz. Technical practice goes in one box and being creative goes in another. And this is where the trouble begins.

I’m sure you know the feeling. Just jamming with play-a-longs lacks direction while hours of scale practice can leave you feeling uncreative and unmusical.

The truth is you need to find a way to apply both practice approaches to the language of jazz. And today we’ll show you how to reconcile the two in a way that will take your playing to new levels.

Let me explain…

Start by finding a line

To illustrate this concept in action, let’s find a piece of jazz language.

You can choose any line that you like … Read More

2 Simple and Effective Practice Plans for Jazz Improvisation [Free Download]

Friday, June 10th, 2016

Effective jazz practice plans

There seems like there’s so much to practice, but it’s actually an illusion…

In today’s day and age, we’re bombarded by information. In approaching or learning literally anything, there’s a million resources for how to achieve it.

Looking for the perfect way to slice an apple, or the best diet to get a six-pack? A simple stroll of the internet will give you more information then you know what to do with, and that’s exactly the problem.

More information is not necessarily better.

You see, before the books and the DVDS and the countless play-alongs, musicians learned by studying the music they loved. Of course they had a couple technical books and a strong understanding of harmony, but they weren’t drowning in a sea of practice topics to choose from.

This feeling of drowning that’s so familiar to us all, is exactly what this reader expresses:

“I feel like there’s so much to practice, arpeggios, scales, transcription, learning tunes, walking bass lines, working on time, and the list goes on. I find my self trying to work on everything in one day but each thing gets half-assed.

Is it okay to pick different things to work on each day? I always thought that you should do as much as possible in one day but that obviously can’t be the case.”

Even when you know what to practice, it can still be a mystery of how to structure your time. And that’s why today, we introduce two simple and effective practice … Read More

10 Surprisingly Effective Warm-Ups for Jazz Improvisation

Thursday, April 21st, 2016

warm-ups for jazz improvisation

You’ve been thinking about it all day…

As you ate breakfast. On your commute to work. And while you were sitting at your desk watching the seconds tick by.

You need to practice.

You need to start making progress and achieving your musical goals. And you need to do it right now!

But before you jump right into an hour long practice session there is something that you should know.

Something that can make your practice much more effective…

Time to stretch your musical muscles

We’re talking about warming up.

Sure, we all practice certain exercises to polish our technique and improve our sound – a few minutes spent running through scales, etudes and long tones…

But what about a warm-up for the art of jazz improvisation?

A way to get the creative juices flowing. A process for getting your mind and body limbered up for the demands of an improvised solo.

Think about it. Wouldn’t it be great to jump into a solo at your creative peak….without the struggle of not having any ideas.

Below we’ve collected some of the best warm-up exercises we know that’ll make a difference in the way you approach improvisation. The best part? For many of them you don’t even have to be inside the practice room.

Here are 10 effective warm-ups for jazz improvisation that will benefit every improviser…

#1)  The scale workout that works

Chances are you’re practicing scales in your warm-up.

But to improvise effectively these scales need to … Read More

How to Avoid the 4 Harmful Mindsets that are Sabotaging Your Practice Routine…

Wednesday, January 20th, 2016

4 Bad Practice MIndsets

If you’re serious about reaching your musical potential or stepping up your jazz improvisation game then the majority of your time as a musician should be spent in one place…

The practice room.

It’s where you’ll do the dirty work of pursuing your musical goals and where you’ll build your foundation as a performer. It’s no secret that consistent practice is one of the most important factors in determining your musical success this year.

But here’s the catch: Not all practice is “good practice

In fact, the way you define “practice” might actually be holding you back and in some cases, even doing you harm. And this can drastically impact your performance and creative confidence when you get in front of an audience.

Remember, good or bad, the time that you spend in the practice room will ingrain habits and it’s these habits that will determine how you perform, and the fun you have with music.

Sounds pretty serious, but don’t worry, you’re not alone on this journey…

It’s the same for all musicians

From the complete beginner and the music student toiling away in the practice room, to the professional walking onto stages all over the world…

Musicians encounter the same creative obstacles each day. The pressure to play a certain way, sudden nerves before a big performance, or unexpected setbacks that cause self-doubt. Being a musician isn’t easy and creating your own music takes more than just technique.

However, the only advice we often get when … Read More

How to Practice: A Diagram Illustrating the 3 Essential Pieces to Practicing Jazz Improvisation [Free Download Inside]

Friday, December 25th, 2015

How To Practice Jazz Diagram

Back in September we released a free presentation walking you through What You Should Practice, and in that presentation, we showed you and discussed the 3 essential pieces to practicing jazz improvisation:

  1. Getting new language
  2. Developing language
  3. Working on tunes

But they’re not the easiest concepts to grasp…

So, we thought it might be helpful to give you a flow diagram of how these 3 essential pieces fit together, allowing you to visualize and understand the information more easily.

The result: A beautiful diagram made specifically for you to print out and hang up in your practice room, after all, that’s where you need to remember this information the most!

Here’s a small preview of what it looks like, but download the PDFs below as they’re higher quality:

How To Practice Jazz Improvisation

You can download the whole large diagram, good for digital viewing, or you can download the printable version, conveniently split into 3 printable size pages which you can simply tape together and put up in your practice room.

Download the Free How To Practice Jazz Improvisation Diagram:

We sincerely hope you enjoy this resource and use it in your practice room.

And if you’ve found Jazzadvice helpful this year and  you want to show us some love, Make a small donation here, See what we have for sale, Follow us on Twitter, or Like our Facebook Read More

The Smart Improviser’s Process for Creating Stellar Solos Every Time

Sunday, November 22nd, 2015

smart_improviser

Contrary to what many people think…

…great solos don’t just happen by chance.

They aren’t a lucky run of notes that happen to sound good or a sudden stroke of divine inspiration that hits once you walk on stage.

If only it were that easy!

The ability to get up and improvise in front of an audience takes some guts and creativity, but it also requires something much more concrete: planning.

Despite what it looks like from the audience, improvisation isn’t magic and it’s not all spontaneous…

What the best improvisers know all too well is that there’s a process that leads to every great solo.

Let me explain…

The secret of the prepared improviser

Think of your favorite solo.

Miles Davis’ solo on So What immediately pops into my mind.

What most musicians forget is that this stellar solo started before Miles put the trumpet to his lips.

It started before he showed up to the gig or recorded Kind of Blue. It began taking shape back in the practice room weeks, months, even years before…

And this is exactly what many players miss when they set out to learn jazz improvisation. Improvising seems like a spur of the moment activity, however there is a process that leads to every great solo.

If you’re unhappy with the way you’re soloing right now, don’t get frustrated with that last concert and don’t blame the tune or how your instrument felt that day.

The process that lead to that solo … Read More

What Should I Practice? The 3 Essential Pieces to Practicing Jazz Improvisation: A Free Presentation

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2015

What to Practice

Nearly every day we get asked, “What should I practice?”

…And, this is not an easy question to answer. In fact, it’s pretty complicated.

So, in an attempt to help everyone who has always wondered what to practice and what professionals practice, I began to put together what I had thought would be a quick short presentation.

But, as I got going, the depth of this question got more and more prevalent. It’s not that there’s so much to practice, although there is, but it’s the relationship between everything and the fact that learning how to improvise well is not a linear process.

I did my best in this presentation to illustrate this complex relationship and to showcase how you can make use of everything we talk about to architect your daily and weekly practice plans to effectively improve at jazz improvisation.

Keep in mind that the shared perspective is through how a professional might tackle things. There are no shortcuts here, just down and dirty methods of figuring out what you want to know and determining the best route there.

I sincerely hope you enjoy this presentation and if you like it, share it! Click the share icon in the lower left of the viewer to share it on your favorite social network or you can even embed the presentation on your own website!

You can Download the presentation here.

Enjoy!

The Secret to Getting Good Fast at Jazz Improvisation

Thursday, August 20th, 2015

How to get good fast at jazz improvisation

Trust the process. Keep going and you’ll get there. Anything worth doing takes time…

We hear these things over and over when we’re learning and it’s all good advice…

But what they don’t tell you is that there’s one key thing that separates those who excel quickly, from those who get mildly better at a much slower rate.

So what is it? How do you get good fast at jazz improvisation, something that seems nearly impossible when you realize how much information there is to know?

In a hurry to go nowhere

It’s late. I grab my horn and brave the cold to get to the practice rooms. Another solitary night in the practice room. I need to get there. I need to get there fast. There’s so much to know. What am I going to work on tonight? I’ve got to learn that tune, I think I printed out a chart. And perhaps I’ll work out of that transcription book a bit or maybe that new Bergonzi book I just got. And maybe I’ll spend some time on that new scale I just heard about.

This was me when I was 18. Frantically racing from one topic to the next, approaching them all in the wrong way. Printing out charts instead of learning tunes from records. Using transcription books instead of using my ear and transcribing solos. Buying literally every new book on improvisation, desperately hoping that it revealed the secrets I was missing.  And doing endless … Read More

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