Posts Tagged ‘scales’

Practice Everything in All Four Directions

Sunday, April 18th, 2010

A significant part of practicing jazz improvisation consists of working on scales, chords, and patterns. Practicing them in a thorough manner will enable you to obtain the most benefit in the shortest amount of time. Unfortunately, we often get caught up in practicing this material in the same incomplete way everyday. For instance, we may run up a scale from the bottom of our horn, to the top, and back down again, like this:

Jazz scales full range of horn

Or, perhaps we will run up the scale in diatonic seconds and reverse it coming down. These are fine places to start, but eventually you’ll want to mix it up a bit. However you currently practice, start to practice everything in all four directions. Nearly every pro I’ve ever studied with emphasized this technique.

First direction: Up, Up

To illustrate the various directions and how to go about practicing them, I’ll use the major scales moving chromatically. Later, I’ll suggest other options that you’ll definitely want to try.

This first example depicts the “Up, Up” direction.

Jazz scale, up up

  1. Start as low as you can on your instrument (always practice full range).
  2. Play the scale one octave ascending.
  3. Then move up chromatically to the next scale and repeat.
  4. Continue in this manner until you’ve gone as high as you can.
  5. Now begin to descend in the same manner you ascended, root of scale ascending an octave, however now you will move down chromatically after each octave completion. See the example below:

Jazz Scales - Up, Up - Descending

Second Direction: Down, Down

This second direction shows … Read More

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