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What is your practice regimen?



  • woodamandwoodamand Portland, OR✭✭✭ 2015 JWC Favino replica
    Posts: 226
    Don't you just get the melody from the fakebook? Maybe that is not cool with GJ players, but I don't see anything wrong with it. It is what I do, even though I am a poor sightreader, when I go to jam sessions playing clarient. There is no way I could imagine having a good enough memory with the vast amount of material that is out there.
    I saw a hand written note from Thelonius Monk telling the musicains in his band how to approch their upcoming performance. Line #1 " Play the f**cking melody when you start to solo, no wants to guess what you are doing!"
    Words to live by!
  • Posts: 2,852
    NylonDave wrote: »
    I've learned loads of stuff note for note only to find that afterwards it was hard to use the stuff in a new context.


    Same here. Not that I learned loads, more like few, but I could never pick out small bits and put it my own snack bag. The thing is the solos I have learned, same like all of us probably, come from the best of best and these people have the ability to play a solo in a very cohesive way so it works as as a unit, not a series of stringed licks and once I learned it and could sing it I/my mind just couldn't separate the parts and put it into phrases and take it and use it elsewhere. I haven't tried to just pick the smaller parts that I particularly like, maybe that would work better.
    So I use these solos to observe the way they navigate the instrument and that helps me to occasionally get my own aha moment.

    These days I don't have a structure to my practice. If a band is playing a show I'll go through tunes and remind myself of chord changes and melodies of the songs I play the head on (although I know I should learn the melody of every song I learned the chords of, that is something I wanted to do for a while). Otherwise I'll play along with iReal pro tracks on my stereo system (it sounds loads better with proper speakers).
    I've returned to slowing the song way down so I can keep track of changes and hold my train of thought at the same time (something I did for a while about 10 months ago and it's one of the things that's been the most helpful ever). Sometimes doing this I'm trying to come up with a meaningful melody over the changes and sometimes I experiment with my own little licks which I might throw in a certain parts of a song. Or I'll take a lick and try to fit it over every chord of the song modifying as needed to make it sound major, minor or dominant.
    Every note wants to go somewhere-Kurt Rosenwinkel
  • RE: Learning the melody...many of these tunes are based off of standards which are sung. Find the earliest possible version of the tune (youtube is great for this) and learn the melody from that source. If there are lyrics, learn these, as it can help guide you through the melody. Then learn it in a few positions.
    To address an earlier comment, I think I did address transposition. For me, it isn't so much about shoehorning licks over changes for improvisation...it's about finding out all of my weak spots and making them less weak.
  • Best to get sung version where possible. Billie, Sarah, Ethel, Freddie, Ella, all covered a number of the standards and hearing it sung seems to give a better understanding of the syntax
    The Magic really starts to happen when you can play it with your eyes closed
  • If there's a Sinatra version, that's a great one. He's a master of phrasing in my book.
  • NylonDaveNylonDave Glasgow✭✭✭ Perez Valbuena Flamenca 1991
    Posts: 444
    I like working from the supersimplified one or two notes per bar form of the tune that noone actually performs vocally or instrumentally. Actually strike that I think Louis Armstrong often sings like that but placing the notes in interesting parts of the bar.

    Working with pupils it seems like most people can get to the super simple version on their own and most people get to the same one. Yet noone ever performs it and it is there nonetheless.

    And it seems like it is there when a better improviser is at work even though they don't play it.

  • edited October 2015 Posts: 3,707
    Yes indeed @Jim Kaznosky, ole blue eyes is another who should be on the list. Truly a master of phrasing. Not as many swing feel tunes though
    The Magic really starts to happen when you can play it with your eyes closed
  • ChiefbigeasyChiefbigeasy New Orleans, LA✭✭✭ Alves de Puga DR670; Dupont MDC 50; The Loar LH600
    Posts: 272
    On the three to four nights during the week that I can devote myself to what I call actual dedicated practice, I make sure to do one thing for sure every night: I want to learn some thing that's new. It can be a lick, a rhythm style, and adjustment to a solo I've been practicing. The key is to introduce something brand-new every single night.

    Other than that, I think I follow a pretty standard routine. I do some rest stroke picking and rhythm exercises to begin, then I start working on whatever piece I'm trying to perfect. I then end the evening by browsing over to one of the sites with backing tracks and jam on the several tunes that I know pretty well. During those ending jam sessions, I try to stretch the solos I know into some new territory. I try to make sure that I end each night's session feeling upbeat about what I have been playing.

    Occasionally, though, I may feel tired and get stuck on something that I should know how to play but only manage to fumble through. If I'm feeling too frustrated, I make sure to play a few things I'm very comfortable with before ending the session. I always find that when I return the next day I have discovered the error and I make the appropriate adjustments.

    My weekday study sessions last about an hour and a half to two hours. Every other week or so, my friend joins me and we go over some material we're trying to learn, and practice tunes together. Finally, I often spend Sunday afternoons and portions of the evening adding to my regular practice regimen, if I can get the day to myself.
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