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  1. #1

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    Hey everyone, I'd like to hear your thoughts on my practice routine.

    For some context, I've been playing now for around 15 years, but haven't improve much (and probably regressed in some ways) for the past 8 or so years. I learned to play initially accompanying a banjo player / singer playing country and bluegrass music, and then took a couple of years of lessons in classical guitar. I've always wanted to learn to play jazz guitar seriously, and took a stab at it about a year ago, but bit off more than I could chew (I quickly jumped into practicing at least 2 hours a day), which was fun but I quickly ran out of steam. Now I'm trying not to repeat that mistake and plan to practice a minimum of 15 minutes a day. If I feel like doing more than that, great, but if I sneak in only 15 minutes a day, I've satisfied my quota.

    Would it be sufficient to practice only these two things, at least to start:

    1. Work a bit through William Leavitt's Modern Method. In the past, I've gotten about 3/4 through volume 1. Now I'm restarting section 2 of volume 1 (position playing), plan to work on 3-4 pages a week while doing 1 or 2 earlier exercises per day as review. I'm also using the speed studies for warm-up.

    2. Learn standards. Last year I set up a pretty rigorous standard learning schedule, complete with chords, comping, chord-melody, improv, learning the melody in various keys, etc. I wanted to 'perfect' one standard before moving onto the next one. It was too much. This time I want to go for quantity. Just learn the melody and basic shell voicing chords for 10 - 20 standards. I can always revisit them later to practice improv, or just fiddle around with improv if I feel like it.But I think it would help me avoid becoming too theoretical about all this to just learn a bunch of songs and have some fun playing them, rather than trying to perfect one song before moving onto the next one.

    What do you all think?

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    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #2

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    I like it, simple and heavy on learning and playing tunes.

    I think it is forum member MarkRhodes that has a tagline on his threads, "Learn 200 tunes and everything else will take care of itself." or something to that effect.
    B+
    Frank (aka fep)

  4. #3

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    Practicing needs to fit your personality. Sounds like you would function more efficiently with bite-sized chunks rather than trying to eat the whole loaf at one sitting. 15 minutes won't really get you anywhere, but three 15-minute sessions or 4 10-minute sessions would give you a good shot at making progress. Here is what I would do, and I've practiced many thousands of hours in a 50-year career as a full-time performer. First off, the initial 10-15 minutes should function as a warmup for both hands, using a metronome to keep your playing slow enough so that it's clean and accurate, and also knowing when you can move the metronome up a notch. If you can practice 6 days a week, you should have 3 segments: warmup, technique, repertoire. Not only that, each day should have different exercises and songs. This way, you make great progress because playing the guitar is accumulative: whatever you work on well and mindfully will improve everything else!

    So, in the Leavitt book, don't worry about going in any particular order: for instance, choose to do easy single-note scale-type studies on Monday and Thursday, arpeggios on Tuesday and Friday, and sight-reading on Wednesday and Saturday, as your warm-ups; make sure they're very easy to play and your hands and brain will immediately enjoy themselves. take a break after 10-15 minutes, when you return, select some more difficult material to LEARN ( that is, to get it into your brain and under your fingers comfortably), and, again, don't beat something to death, try different things on different days, so that you cover more material but without over-extending yourself. Your 3rd set would be working on songs; start with easy harmonies: Autumn Leaves, Fly Me To The Moon, things that have only one or two key centers (G and Em, C and Am in those 2), then move into more complex tunes the might have 3 or 4 key centers (Misty, All The Things You Are); pretty soon, you will start recognizing the way chords move and how similar most tunes are to each other. Spend 3-4 weeks doing the exercises and songs you have chosen, accelerating the metronome slightly each week, then write another routine along the same lines. In a few months, you'll be much more adept and knowledgable, and on your way to being a jazz player. Keep it fun until it starts to work, then add time and make it more work and more fun!

  5. #4

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    Kind of reading between the lines, but I get the sense that you were making progress early on because you were playing with others, and maybe the slowing or loss of progress might have been from not continuing that? Playing with others is the very best way to move forward; I would suggest working that into whatever you plan going forward.

    I never used books, methods, or lessons, so I'm neutral on that. Many use external resources to provide practice content; just don't let that prevent you from additional exploring (see below).

    Definitely learn standards, but "don't let perfect be the enemy of good". The nature of jazz is that a standard will be played in various ways in various contexts, so in a sense there is not a perfect version of playing it. Your goal with standards is to internalize them as music more than as a tune... with sufficient variation and flexibility to play it well different ways with various people.

    In general, you might set your routine like a business meeting - old business first, then new business. Start by reviewing things already learned so you don't lose them, then move to new things, both lesson content and your own explorations. I would not worry about the clock. Progress playing alone comes from reviewing and retaining old things, and learning, integrating, and internalizing new things, and there is no set period within which these happen. I would suggest practice sessions that last long enough that you cover old things and do learn something new each time... which means deliberately experimenting, hunting, modifying, elaborating, testing, and exploring perhaps after your warm-ups and lesson plan exercises. When you discover something new and play with it a while you may then end the session on a high note with a positive feeling of progress and an enthusiasm toward the next session. That connection will keep you engaged and moving forward.
    "Bent my ear to hear the tune and closed my eyes to see."

  6. #5

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    The good thing about at least 15 minutes a day is that seems so easy that if you're like me you will almost always do it. And, once I sit down for 15 minutes usually an hour of practice flies by. It's sort of a motivation trick you'd be playing on yourself.
    B+
    Frank (aka fep)

  7. #6
    I appreciate the comment about practicing multiple 15 minute chunks throughout the day. However, that isn't so realistic at this time. I'm usually out the door for work before 7, back in the evening, want to spend some time with the wife and get ready for the kid that's on the way. I think fep (Frank) has the right of it. So far I've not yet played as few as 15 minutes. Today for example I didn't really feel like touching the guitar, but told myself it would only be for 15 minutes and ended up working on standards for 45.

    I think you're right, pauln, about playing with people. I think at this stage I'd be too intimidated to go to a proper jam session. Maybe once I'm basically familiar with 30-40 tunes. Maybe I should try to find some other semi-serious players, and create some kind of accountability system together. Any suggestions there?

  8. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by fep View Post
    once I sit down for 15 minutes usually an hour of practice flies by. It's sort of a motivation trick you'd be playing on yourself.
    100% this. It takes me 10 minutes to get set up lol. Yeah, it's definitely a great psychological trick and one I tell anyone I talk to who is trying to learn guitar. Tell yourself 15-20mins per day 3-4 times per week, and if you actually sit down to try and honor that, you'll be doing 3-4 hour+ sessions per week!
    Last edited by teddypicker; 09-17-2019 at 06:00 PM.

  9. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by Socratic1 View Post
    I appreciate the comment about practicing multiple 15 minute chunks throughout the day. However, that isn't so realistic at this time. I'm usually out the door for work before 7, back in the evening, want to spend some time with the wife and get ready for the kid that's on the way. I think fep (Frank) has the right of it. So far I've not yet played as few as 15 minutes. Today for example I didn't really feel like touching the guitar, but told myself it would only be for 15 minutes and ended up working on standards for 45.

    I think you're right, pauln, about playing with people. I think at this stage I'd be too intimidated to go to a proper jam session. Maybe once I'm basically familiar with 30-40 tunes. Maybe I should try to find some other semi-serious players, and create some kind of accountability system together. Any suggestions there?
    Formal instrumental study involves a plan that includes the following:

    1. Technique
    2. Etudes
    3. Reading
    4. Repertoire
    5. Ensemble work
    6. And for jazz - improvisation


    In other words, all you have to do is everything that a classical player has to do - plus more!

    But seriously, Leavitt's materials help with the first 3. You need a plan for 4-6, especially 4 and 6

    .

  10. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by Socratic1 View Post
    I think you're right, pauln, about playing with people. I think at this stage I'd be too intimidated to go to a proper jam session. Maybe once I'm basically familiar with 30-40 tunes. Maybe I should try to find some other semi-serious players, and create some kind of accountability system together. Any suggestions there?
    I think taking lessons is the best path here. An underrated aspect of lessons is that you are playing with a really good musician (presumably) every week. If I were in your shoes, I'd find the best local bassist or pianist I could, take lessons with them, and just play tunes.

  11. #10

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    Someone once asked Miles Davis in an interview how much he practiced. Miles Davis replied something to the effect of he didn't practice, he rehearsed. That's sort of implies what the tagline mentioned above concerning - learn 200 songs in the rest will fall into place. That's not practice, that's rehearsing.

    Do I follow a rehearsal regimen? Of course not. I don't even rehearse songs, what I do is noodle and work on chord progressions laid out in the Roman numeral format. And then I make arrangements from that as to what extensions or alterations or voicings sound best to my ear. I haven't learned a song in years, futhermore I don't really play with anyone on guitar as my main instrument, in a group setting (for some odd reason) has always been the electric bass. I don't know why that is but it always seems to happen so I just go with the flow and the occurrence and the opportunity to play and interact with both the group, and the audience. I guess you could say I'm a performer in that regard but it's more of an advocation rather than vocationally.

    Did I used to practice? Of course I did, we have to build technical proficiency and dexterity somehow. And practicing material is the time-tested method. But after a point, I think shifting to a rehearsal mode might be a natural flow in the pursuit of the instrument and its mastery
    Last edited by geogio; 09-14-2019 at 02:28 PM.