We often get stuck in a rut when it comes to practicing technique. In the practice room we cover the same bases in our efforts to improve our overall technique. We run our major and minor scales in all 12 keys, we practice them in thirds and fourths and fifths, we use jazz articulation, we play with different dynamics, and on and on. These are all essential for improvement, but the problem here is that we often continue practicing these same technical exercises in an identical way, even after we’ve mastered them.
Note: If you aren’t challenging yourself – you’re not going to be improving.
Once you’ve got your scales and patterns together in all 12 keys and have even worked on getting them up to speed, it’s time to take your technique to the next level. Don’t keep playing those same patterns, thinking that they’ll lead you to a new level of technique! Start incorporating articulation, rhythm, time, larger intervals, and chromaticism into the mix to expand your musicianship along with your technical facility.
Technique isn’t only limited to how fast you can push your fingers down on your instrument. Just as important are the technique of rhythm, articulation, and time. When you can combine all of these ideas musically and creatively, you’ll be playing much more interesting lines.
Instead of practicing the same patterns with the same rhythms and articulations over and over again, as you’ll find in many improvisation books, simply alter your approach to these technical war-horses, and you’ll take your playing to an entirely new level.
If you find yourself striving for:
• an improved sense of time
• rhythmic awareness, diversity, and control
• improved articulation
• intervallic interest in your lines
• heightened musicality and instrumental facility
Then these exercises are the key to what is missing from your playing.
The qualities listed above are characteristic of the improvising of more advanced musicians. While beginning improvisers just try to ...