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  1. #1
    Hey guys,

    So recently I began taking guitar lessons with a professional jazz guitarist in my area. Going into it though I already knew a lot of the things that jazz guitarists use in their playing, I just wasn't using it those things to play jazz. And plus, I've been going to him for over a month now and I feel I've improved enough to consider myself intermediate. Jazz is basically all I practice at this point.

    So for anyone at this level in their playing, what do you guys think are important things to incorporate into their practice schedules? What are some things to be practicing at this point in terms of like scales, arpeggios, comping, anything.

    I know this is kind of a broad question and answers can probably vary depending on the player, but from your experiences, what have you guys noticed that most players who are around the intermediate level need the most work on? Generally, what types of exercises should be in their practice schedules. Things of that nature.

    Thanks!
    Dangle

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    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #2

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    Record yourself improvising on a song or context that reflects your prime interests.
    Better yet record a session or gig playing with others if you are aiming towards ensemble playing.
    Take notes of what aspects need improvement. Practice that.

    While there are long lists of what are the generic skills needed to function as a jazz guitarist there is no definable condition known as "intermediate". Your personal goals are very important to this discussion.
    For example, the practice routine of someone seeking to become a master side person would inherently be very different than someone driven to develop an individual voice.

  4. #3

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    I always recommend Hal Crook's "Ready, Aim, Improvise!" book because it's a fantastic resource for any level player, and it has a wonderful chapter on exactly what you're asking! He gives specific ideas (and tunes), based on your skill level as an instrumentalist and an improviser, and lays out practice schedules based on the time you have each day. Highly recommended!

    Also, if your teacher is any good, he should be able to tell you, "Work on ___."

    Have fun!

  5. #4

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    Tunes.
    Jeff Matz, Jazz Guitar:
    http://www.youtube.com/user/jeffreymatz

    "Jazz is like life...it goes on longer than you think, and as soon as you're like 'oh, I get it,' it ends."

    --The Ghost of Duke Ellington

  6. #5

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    Have you played jazz with other people yet? (not just your teacher) Getting experience playing combo-style jazz with others will help you figure out where to focus.

  7. #6

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    Not sure what you're paying this teacher for if you need to come on here to ask what to practice.

  8. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by DangleMyStash View Post
    Hey guys,

    So recently I began taking guitar lessons with a professional jazz guitarist in my area. Going into it though I already knew a lot of the things that jazz guitarists use in their playing, I just wasn't using it those things to play jazz. And plus, I've been going to him for over a month now and I feel I've improved enough to consider myself intermediate. Jazz is basically all I practice at this point.

    So for anyone at this level in their playing, what do you guys think are important things to incorporate into their practice schedules? What are some things to be practicing at this point in terms of like scales, arpeggios, comping, anything.

    I know this is kind of a broad question and answers can probably vary depending on the player, but from your experiences, what have you guys noticed that most players who are around the intermediate level need the most work on? Generally, what types of exercises should be in their practice schedules. Things of that nature.

    Thanks!
    Dangle
    Jazz isn't scales, arpeggios or exercises. Those are fundamental things that any musician, regardless of style, should practice in order to become more proficient on their instrument.

    Jazz is songs. Just like any other kind of music. I would expect anyone who is an intermediate level player to be able to cover an evening's worth of music. Say, a three hour set, in the neighborhood of 30 songs, be able to play the heads, comp and solo when called on. Journeyman level playing.

    In short, an intermediate player should be able to cover a gig.

    Regards,
    Jerome

  9. #8

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    Yeah I agree with Monk. I think "intermediate jazz player" is way overused by people who can barely play. It takes a lot of work to be an intermediate jazz player. Maybe the OP is there, maybe not.

    I consider myself an intermediate player and I could gig about 30 - 40 tunes tonight from memory if the playing opportunity was there. It would not be a great gig though because my soloing voice is not yet sufficiently formed and my comping is not yet flexible/varied enough. That is why I consider myself intermediate rather than advanced. It took thousands of hours to get to this point.

  10. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by monk View Post
    Jazz isn't scales, arpeggios or exercises. Those are fundamental things that any musician, regardless of style, should practice in order to become more proficient on their instrument.

    Jazz is songs. Just like any other kind of music. I would expect anyone who is an intermediate level player to be able to cover an evening's worth of music. Say, a three hour set, in the neighborhood of 30 songs, be able to play the heads, comp and solo when called on. Journeyman level playing.

    In short, an intermediate player should be able to cover a gig.

    Regards,
    Jerome
    Only thing I would add to that is besides songs Jazz is a feel and both are where doing A LOT of LISTENING come in to internalize songs and swing.
    No, I'm not going to give you the answer to your question. I don't want to deny you the pleasure you'll receive when you figure it out yourself. -- Bill Evans talking to his brother.

  11. #10

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    For me there is nothing like getting a call to play with a band, either a jam or a gig, that motivates me to practice. In these situations it is very clear to me what I need to practice. If you were given a list of forty songs that you had to perform in two weeks... How would you prepare?

    I'd get recordings of those tunes and listen to them while I was driving, while at work, etc.
    I'd get to where I could sing the melodies.
    I'd want to be able to play the melodies at tempo, with a metronome.
    I'd want to be able to get comfortable playing the chord progression in a variety of ways, at tempo with a metronome.
    I'd focus soloing over the ones I liked the most and would practice with backing tracks (maybe about half the tunes). I'd map out solos, come up with approaches, record myself, critique, rinse, repeat.

    For me that would be a busy two weeks. There would be no time to practice scales, picking technique, sight reading, new concepts. It would be all about songs.

    I think that is the way someone should practice until they have maybe 30 songs gig ready. After that, one could move on to learning new concepts which could be learned and practiced at the same time as you practice the songs you've learned.

    There are many on this board that wouldn't practice that way simple because the wouldn't need to. They could cover any type of gig in their sleep. There are some that wouldn't want to practice to much for a gig as they would want to keep it 'fresh and spontaneous'. So how you practice really depends on how accomplished you are.

    ___________________

    Whether or not I'm intermediate, hard to say. There is really not a clearly defined scale and everyone is going to interpret that word/level differently. In my opinion, I think it encompasses a very large range of playing skills. One thing is for sure, no one who plays jazz would think of me as advanced. That only leaves beginner or intermediate. I think some would consider me a beginner some would consider me intermediate. The label is not that important.
    Last edited by fep; 06-27-2014 at 07:42 PM.
    B+
    Frank (aka fep)

  12. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by ecj View Post
    Not sure what you're paying this teacher for if you need to come on here to ask what to practice.
    It's not that my teacher isn't doing his job, I practice everything he gives me. He's a great teacher. I was just interested in what you guys might have to say. Just because I get lessons from one guy doesn't mean I can't come on a forum and get some more stuff to work on and learn something new from other like minded guitarists. That's all my intent was.

  13. #12

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    Your teacher suppose to answer your question. He knows your playing. We don't. But one thing you definitely should be doing is SINGING/SCATING along with recordings and then imitating on your axe those lines that grab you. If you do this a lot the music will eventually flow out of you naturally without you having to think much. The prerequisite is to listen/sing/scat along with jazz musicians. Do this like crazy.
    Last edited by smokinguit; 06-26-2014 at 08:44 PM.
    "If I don't practice for a day, I know it... for two days, the critics know it... three days, the public knows it." -- Louis Armstrong

  14. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by fep View Post
    For me there is nothing like getting a call to play with a band, either a jam or a gig, that motivates me to practice. In these situations it is very clear to me what I need to practice. If you were given a list of forty songs that you had to perform in two weeks... How would you prepare?

    I'd get recordings of those tunes and listen to them while I was driving, while at work, etc.
    I'd get to where I could sing the melodies.
    I'd want to be able to play the melodies at tempo, with a metronome.
    I'd want to be able to get comfortable playing the chord progression in a variety of ways, at tempo with a metronome.
    I'd focus soloing over the ones I liked the most and would practice with backing tracks (maybe about half the tunes). I'd map out solos, come up with approaches, record myself, critique, rinse, repeat.

    For me that would be a busy two weeks. There would be no time to practice scales, picking technique, sight reading, new concepts. It would be all about songs.

    I think that is the way someone should practice until they have maybe 100 songs gig ready. After that, one could move on to learning new concepts which could be learned and practiced at the same time as you practice the songs you've learned.

    There are many on this board that wouldn't practice that way simple because the wouldn't need to. They could cover any type of gig in their sleep. There are some that wouldn't want to practice to much for a gig as they would want to keep it 'fresh and spontaneous'. So how you practice really depends on how accomplished you are.

    ___________________

    Whether or not I'm intermediate, hard to say. There is really not a clearly defined scale and everyone is going to interpret that word/level differently. In my opinion, I think it encompasses a very large range of playing skills. One thing is for sure, no one who plays jazz would think of me as advanced. That only leaves beginner or intermediate. I think some would consider me a beginner some would consider me intermediate. The label is not that important.
    Wow man, thanks a lot for the in depth response! Definitely gonna start doing this. You and most of the other users who've replied seem all agree that it's really about songs and being able to play them inside and out and extremely well. That also makes more sense with the approach my teacher seems to have. He focuses less on the picky technique aspects of playing and scales and arpeggios, and all that. I mean, we go over it all, but most of the lesson is jamming on songs he gave me the week before. It's kinda clicking for me now. Really can't wait to apply this to my practicing. Thanks again.

    And thank you everyone else who replied!

    Dangle

  15. #14

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    Of course you should be practicing your repertoire constantly. That should be the FUN part of your practice sessions. But always try to fit the basics in also (sight reading, scales, arpeggios, picking techniques, ear training etc.) to maintain or improve your skills. The better you become at those things the easier playing tunes will be.
    "If I don't practice for a day, I know it... for two days, the critics know it... three days, the public knows it." -- Louis Armstrong

  16. #15

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    one point of view goes like this:

    aside from ensemble work, your practice routine should be like a 5 point star. how much time you spend on each point depends on your needs/level of development. the five points:

    1. technique
    2. repertoire (tunes)
    3. improvisation
    4. etudes (including reading studies)
    5. theory/harmony/ear training
    Last edited by fumblefingers; 06-27-2014 at 08:57 AM.

  17. #16

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    out of curiosity... what is he having you practice?

  18. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by fumblefingers View Post
    one point of view goes like this:

    aside from ensemble work, your practice routine should be like a 5 point star. how much time you spend on each point depends on your needs/level of development. the five points:

    1. technique
    2. repertoire (tunes)
    3. improvisation
    4. etudes (including reading studies)
    5. theory/harmony/ear training
    You can't go wrong with this.
    Jeff Matz, Jazz Guitar:
    http://www.youtube.com/user/jeffreymatz

    "Jazz is like life...it goes on longer than you think, and as soon as you're like 'oh, I get it,' it ends."

    --The Ghost of Duke Ellington

  19. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by DangleMyStash View Post
    Wow man, thanks a lot for the in depth response! Definitely gonna start doing this. You and most of the other users who've replied seem all agree that it's really about songs and being able to play them inside and out and extremely well. That also makes more sense with the approach my teacher seems to have. He focuses less on the picky technique aspects of playing and scales and arpeggios, and all that. I mean, we go over it all, but most of the lesson is jamming on songs he gave me the week before. It's kinda clicking for me now. Really can't wait to apply this to my practicing. Thanks again.

    And thank you everyone else who replied!

    Dangle
    Glad it was helpful.

    One thing, I think my 100 tunes was a bit overboard. I'm revising it to, I'd be able to play 30 tunes before I'd practice anything else.

    Cheers
    B+
    Frank (aka fep)

  20. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by djangoles View Post
    out of curiosity... what is he having you practice?
    All the modes and being able to play them in any key starting on both the 6th string and the 5th, arpeggios, chord families with 6th and 5th string roots, a little left and right hand technique, comping, and tunes. And he's also helped me some on swing guitar, like big band stuff since he actually knows Bucky Pizzarelli. That's mainly it I'd say.

    Also I've come to realize now that I'm probably not at the intermediate level I claimed to be in my post. Apparently the bar in jazz for "intermediacy" is much higher than what it takes to reach intermediate in, say, rock, so I was mistaken. Apologies if that affected any responses.

  21. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by DangleMyStash View Post
    All the modes and being able to play them in any key starting on both the 6th string and the 5th, arpeggios, chord families with 6th and 5th string roots, a little left and right hand technique, comping, and tunes. And he's also helped me some on swing guitar, like big band stuff since he actually knows Bucky Pizzarelli. That's mainly it I'd say.

    Also I've come to realize now that I'm probably not at the intermediate level I claimed to be in my post. Apparently the bar in jazz for "intermediacy" is much higher than what it takes to reach intermediate in, say, rock, so I was mistaken. Apologies if that affected any responses.

    that's roughly Berklee level 1. that's good.

  22. #21

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    Quote Originally Posted by fumblefingers View Post
    one point of view goes like this:

    aside from ensemble work, your practice routine should be like a 5 point star. how much time you spend on each point depends on your needs/level of development. the five points:

    1. technique
    2. repertoire (tunes)
    3. improvisation
    4. etudes (including reading studies)
    5. theory/harmony/ear training

    I suppose one could flip this a bit and say:

    aside from daily or frequent theory/harmony/ear training, your practice routine should be like a 5 point star. how much time you spend on each point depends on your needs/level of development. the five points:

    1. technique
    2. repertoire (tunes)
    3. improvisation
    4. etudes (including reading studies)
    5. ensemble work

  23. #22

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    Good point Fumblefinger. It's all about what YOU should be working on more often to get to the next level. What seems simple to one guy is like rocket science to another.
    Last edited by smokinguit; 06-28-2014 at 09:37 AM.
    "If I don't practice for a day, I know it... for two days, the critics know it... three days, the public knows it." -- Louis Armstrong

  24. #23

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    There is a DVD by Dave Liebman, Maximize Your Practice that has lots of advice and commentary. The video aspect SUCKS someone setup one camera to record this clinic and never checked the shot. So you see the Liebman and tops of some students head on the bottom of the screen and rest is view of the room. But the things Dave has to say are worth listening to.


    Amazon.com: David Liebman - Maximize Your Practice: David Liebman: Movies & TV
    No, I'm not going to give you the answer to your question. I don't want to deny you the pleasure you'll receive when you figure it out yourself. -- Bill Evans talking to his brother.