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  1. #1

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    Dear all,

    I have been trying to come up with a medium term plan for my practice over the next few months. For context, I am an amateur with a full-time job so practice would consist of, at best, 30 to 60 minutes per day and likely less at times.

    Currently on my list:
    1. Working through Leavitt's method, starting from the beginning. I'd like to learn how to read, but I imagine I'll learn more than just this.
    2. Learning and playing over standards. One every few weeks, or whatever, learning the melody and basic harmony, spending time improvising using backing tracks etc.

    I imagine these two would be enough to keep me busy. However, Leavitt will probably only pay off in the longer term (and might be a bit boring, at times, in the interim) and trying to play standards, while important, as a beginner can be frustrating.

    I have several other books I could make use of. I have a copy of Fisher's jazz method, Fewell's melodic approach and Mickey Baker's books. There's also the internet, of course.

    Is there anything you would add as a third stream for my practice?

    For the record, one frustration I'd like to address is as follows. When I was a child I played classical violin and most of my time was spent learning pieces of music that were satisfying to play solo. I felt like I was playing music (alone). However, on guitar I don't (yet) have the chops to learn solo guitar arrangements and playing along to backing tracks doesn't give the same solo-music-playing satisfaction. Working towards being able to enjoy playing just by myself, while also working towards being able to play as part of a group would be ideal, but I'm not sure if there is something obvious to add to the mix to achieve this.

    That being said, I'd appreciate any suggestions independent of the above.

  2.  

    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #2

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    Use your ear and memorize some solos off some records.

  4. #3
    Good call. This didn't occur to me as I really don't enjoy doing it, but I should set some time aside for this.

  5. #4

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    In addition to Leavitt you can use these. Minimizes books and lots to sink your teeth into.


    https://www.amazon.com/Mel-Bay-Jazz-...8449155&sr=8-1

    https://www.amazon.com/Jazz-Guitar-E...8449284&sr=8-1

  6. #5

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    The Leavitt method benefits from not following it faithfully in order. After the first half of volume 1, you can start to pick and choose those exercises and studies that will get you nearer your goal of playing solo, such as the chord studies. You can also start learning simple tunes as solos that may at this point have nothing to do with jazz, but will get you working out melodies with basic accompaniment. Old folk tunes like House of the Rising Sun, or easy standards like Summertime. Also there is good long-term benefit to playing along with backing tracks, especially in learning the melodies, from which your improvisation can then have a shape from which to build. Learn the melodies in both low and high ranges, using all the strings and positions available. Most tunes are only a minute or two long, so this may prove to be an efficient practicing segment. This is also really good for your ear-training. Playing along with recordings of great singers like Ella or Frank and copping their melodic phrasing will give your playing more life as well.

    There are countless studies of practicing that show that a few minutes daily of concentrated practice on a particular technical problem can really improve your coordination and speed, and work with a metronome to be able to gauge your progress. If you can do 20 minutes in the morning and 30-40 in the evening, you'll make steady progress. To avoid boredom, change your routine every week or two. This takes planning and organization, but is very helpful. Guitar-playing is accumulative; everything you work on mindfully improves everything else. You'll likely have a bit more time on weekends, so do some playing rather than just practicing.

  7. #6
    I'm glad to know that working through Leavitt will help with solo playing (eventually). I was a bit disappointed when opening the book up to find that the first piece was a duet, since I'm not working with a teacher. (I can, of course, use a looper pedal or something to play both parts together).

    Once I'm a bit more confident in reading resources like those Gtrman suggests will be fun to work on alongside working on improvisation etc.

  8. #7

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    Take a tune that you have the lead sheet for. In addition to learning the melody and chords, learn the arpeggios in this manner. Play through the chords playing just the root note, then just the 3rd, 5th, 7th, 9, 11, 13 extensions even if the chord doesn't call for it. It will help a lot with learning the notes that make up the chords, but it will really help you HEAR how it flows. Also try learning everything horizontally, ie, learn scales and arps on single strings starting with the first available note. If your playing a C major scale on the first string start from the open E string. Try learning some of the Leavitt book on a single string and memorize the notes name/location. But rule #1 is, Have Fun. I know I forget from time to time

  9. #8

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    I like Randy Vincent Guitarists Introduction to Jazz for someone who can play a bit in other styles already

  10. #9

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    Anyway that sounds like a simple enough plan to work. Use your ears as much as possible.

  11. #10

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    Your OP outlined a pretty good plan.

    The comments are all great.

    I'd add this ... maybe a few minutes spent daily on picking exercises. Going mainly by my own experience (and weaknesses) I wish I had spent more time on picking. When you start, you can be overwhelmed by the amount of knowledge you need to do good things with your left hand. But, as your chops develop, the bottlenecks seem to move to the right hand for many players.

    It's not a simple topic and I don't have a book or approach to recommend. There is a treatise on it by Tuck Andress that is worth reading, maybe not for internalizing technique, but just to get an appreciation for the level of complexity, as viewed by a great player.

  12. #11
    How well do you know intervallic and harmonic identification? There is much to be gained by a really solid foundation in ear training, not just in being able to hear what you play, but in knowing chromatic and harmonic elements that are outside of your usual neighborhood, so to speak.
    In improvisation, the ability to learn and assimilate new things is important and all too often rigorous ear training is not a part of one's foundation. The modern jazz lexicon and harmonic language can be more complex than even 10 years ago. That's where the big conceptual, facility and proficiency lies: the ear's ability to guide thought in real time. Ear training will be more important than you can know 'til you have it "in your ear".

  13. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by bobheff
    Dear all,

    I have been trying to come up with a medium term plan for my practice over the next few months. For context, I am an amateur with a full-time job so practice would consist of, at best, 30 to 60 minutes per day and likely less at times.

    Currently on my list:
    1. Working through Leavitt's method, starting from the beginning. I'd like to learn how to read, but I imagine I'll learn more than just this.
    2. Learning and playing over standards. One every few weeks, or whatever, learning the melody and basic harmony, spending time improvising using backing tracks etc.

    I imagine these two would be enough to keep me busy. However, Leavitt will probably only pay off in the longer term (and might be a bit boring, at times, in the interim) and trying to play standards, while important, as a beginner can be frustrating.

    I have several other books I could make use of. I have a copy of Fisher's jazz method, Fewell's melodic approach and Mickey Baker's books. There's also the internet, of course.

    Is there anything you would add as a third stream for my practice?

    For the record, one frustration I'd like to address is as follows. When I was a child I played classical violin and most of my time was spent learning pieces of music that were satisfying to play solo. I felt like I was playing music (alone). However, on guitar I don't (yet) have the chops to learn solo guitar arrangements and playing along to backing tracks doesn't give the same solo-music-playing satisfaction. Working towards being able to enjoy playing just by myself, while also working towards being able to play as part of a group would be ideal, but I'm not sure if there is something obvious to add to the mix to achieve this.

    That being said, I'd appreciate any suggestions independent of the above.
    Don’t forget to play songs. I try to start and end every session by playing songs that I know and enjoy.
    If you enjoy it, you will do it. Just like going to the gym or working out.
    Playing songs is probably the element that brought you to the guitar and probably the activity that will keep you motivated.
    You should also try to play with other musicians regularly. That will also motivate you to continue learning and playing.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  14. #13
    Thanks again for all the input.

    Picking exercises seem like a good idea.

    Harmonic identification is certainly something I need to work on. I have occasionally downloaded phone apps for this sort of thing in the past but never really put the time into it.

    It seems to me that my original plan is a good one. I can divide most of my time between working through Leavitt and learning/playing songs. I can then round this out with some technical exercises (e.g. picking) and a bit of time spent ear training and learning solos.

  15. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by bobheff
    ...I have been trying to come up with a medium term plan for my practice...Is there anything you would add as a third stream for my practice?
    As of late, I'm (1) working with inversions of triads and seventh chords up the neck and splicing in a set of o7 inversions as passing chords between them, like the old plectrum banjo players used to do 100 years ago.
    Also, (2) harmonised major and minor scales up the neck.

    Both exercises use the same string-sets up and down. But, now I'm practicing to switch between string-sets for when I want to stay around the same neck position. Trying to switch string-sets on any scale degree.

    This is, of course, from George Van Eps' Harmonic Mechanisms. Rob MacKillop has videos of this on his site for Exercise 1, Forms 1-6.

    I'm taking it further by playing the matching scale modes over each grip and practicing them in cycle order as major or minor Rhythm Changes, Back-Door Changes, Sear-Roebuck Bridge, Montgomery Ward Bridge and others: 1625, 2516, 5147b, 3625, 1425, 4125, 6m 37 6m 27.

    Guitarists need to learn/practice chords anyway, so why not do it within the order of the Diatonic Scale, the Inversions, and the standard cycle chord changes. This should keep anyone busy for a year...

    BTW
    In the end, the repertoire driven practice is the best. One may do all the above within the context of their current song cover attempt. Apply it to the changes and melody of your favourite songs in your repertoire.
    ...
    Last edited by StringNavigator; 06-13-2021 at 06:22 PM.

  16. #15

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    Yea... all of the above is useless if you don’t have technical skills on the guitar. Almost all of us have full time something. There is never enough time, it just depends on what your willing to give up.

    30 to 60 min a day will not really get it done... It would be better to have one or two longer sessions.

    You don't improve by just going through the same material long enough to just get where you were before. Al you do is get better at playing the same thing....

    Sorry... but you would do better just working on technical skills for 6 months and then start going through typical lesson plans.... which generally don't really get anywhere, but at least you would have some skill to get through them.

    Do you know the fretboard... how the guitar is even organized to play music. From your posts... I'm assuming you want to play in a jazz style.

    If you decide to go in the technical direction... I'll gladly give you some material to get you through 6 months. The point will not be to learn tunes... the point will be to develop skill to be able to play tunes.

    If not... no problems. You'll be normal.
    Last edited by Reg; 06-13-2021 at 07:47 PM.

  17. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by Reg
    If you decide to go in the technical direction... I'll gladly give you some material to get you through 6 months. The point will not be to learn tunes... the point will be to develop skill to be able to play tunes.
    My original post was from almost a year ago & I have to admit that I was not nearly so regimented in my practice as I had intended to be (in particular, I didn't really get the ball rolling with Leavitt). Now that I'm heading into the summer again (when I have more free time) I'm back to thinking about how I would like to spend my practice time.

    Oddly enough, in recent months I've been spending more time on technical stuff than anything else. So, Reg, I'd be quite interested in any material you are willing to send along.

  18. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by bobheff
    So, Reg, I'd be quite interested in any material you are willing to send along.
    That makes two of us. Thanks in advance Reg.

  19. #18

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    Cool... Ok I'll have a simple lesson posted later today.

  20. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by Reg
    Yea... all of the above is useless if you don’t have technical skills on the guitar. Almost all of us have full time something. There is never enough time, it just depends on what your willing to give up.

    30 to 60 min a day will not really get it done... It would be better to have one or two longer sessions.

    You don't improve by just going through the same material long enough to just get where you were before. Al you do is get better at playing the same thing....

    Sorry... but you would do better just working on technical skills for 6 months and then start going through typical lesson plans.... which generally don't really get anywhere, but at least you would have some skill to get through them.

    Do you know the fretboard... how the guitar is even organized to play music. From your posts... I'm assuming you want to play in a jazz style.

    If you decide to go in the technical direction... I'll gladly give you some material to get you through 6 months. The point will not be to learn tunes... the point will be to develop skill to be able to play tunes.

    If not... no problems. You'll be normal.
    This needs to be reread by all beginners. Perfect answer based on real experience.
    Play live . . . Marinero

  21. #20

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    ... so bob, do you have a fingering system. A starting reference.
    ... do you have a picking system.

    I think I remember a previous post of your about scales etc, you posted examples of you playing a minor tune... softly or something like that, Was that you.

    Do you want a complete system... I have a very organized technical approach for getting one's technical skills together. It's tough, it will kick one's ass. You will get frustrated... I'm not a babysitter.

    It's not about learning tunes, singing melodies, the usual BS. Those aspects of playing are performance skills. Technical skills are about physically learning and developing physical skills to play the instrument.

  22. #21
    Quote Originally Posted by Reg
    ... so bob, do you have a fingering system. A starting reference.
    ... do you have a picking system.
    I don't think I have either. When it comes to fingering, I have learned various scale shapes but when actually playing I don't find myself thinking too much of positions and scales. When it comes to picking, I mostly play with what's often called "hybrid picking", but again not slavishly.

    Quote Originally Posted by Reg
    I think I remember a previous post of your about scales etc, you posted examples of you playing a minor tune... softly or something like that, Was that you.
    Yes. That was me.

    Quote Originally Posted by Reg
    Do you want a complete system... I have a very organized technical approach for getting one's technical skills together. It's tough, it will kick one's ass. You will get frustrated... I'm not a babysitter.
    Yes indeed. I have found that I actually enjoy practicing technical things & would happily work through a complete system.

  23. #22

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    You already have some great replies going but I would like to comment on one particular aspect of your original post as it resonates with my experience.

    For the record, one frustration I'd like to address is as follows. When I was a child I played classical violin and most of my time was spent learning pieces of music that were satisfying to play solo. I felt like I was playing music (alone). However, on guitar I don't (yet) have the chops to learn solo guitar arrangements and playing along to backing tracks doesn't give the same solo-music-playing satisfaction. Working towards being able to enjoy playing just by myself, while also working towards being able to play as part of a group would be ideal, but I'm not sure if there is something obvious to add to the mix to achieve this.
    A reality in my life has been that I never had time nor opportunity to maintain a band or jam situation. I suspect this is reality for many amateur players. So being able to play independently of others is the de facto musical satisfaction.

    To do that, we need to find that kind of music and that kind of role models. The problem is that most jazz is group activity, with practice materials/methods geared towards 1. comping and 2. improvising backed by a band.

    One of the few current jazz educators that teachers an independent guitar approach from the get go is Tim Lerch. I would check out his TrueFire courses if you haven’t already, they are very organized and provide say six months of solid work.

    My personal experience comes from folk guitar, and I echo Reg’s statement about practice time. My playing took off exponentially when I was freelancing, and could schedule up to 3 hours daily, split across 2-3 sessions. This enabled me to play pieces by Leo Kottke, John Fahey, Rev Gary Davis etc. Very satisfying music.

    I think my point is that given limited time, one has to think about what’s possible. Do you have a way to play with people regularly? If not, perhaps it makes sense to focus on the guitar as a solo instrument. And with limited practice time, go directly to the people that inspire you.

    Also consider if jazz is the right vehicle, historically being a horn genre. There is a lot of solo guitar music elsewhere, check out all the videos at Stefan Grossman’s site for examples of great country blues.

    For jazz, besides Tim Lerch there is some great chord melody lessons on Barry Greene’s site. I’m a subscriber and getting my butt kicked in a very inspiring way.

  24. #23
    Quote Originally Posted by frankhond
    Also consider if jazz is the right vehicle, historically being a horn genre.
    Thanks for your response.

    Your description of your own experience resonates with me. I picked the guitar back up a few years ago, having not played for a bit, and at first I started with stuff like Bob Dylan and ended up learning more complicated fingerstyle folk stuff (e.g. Nick Drake). It is satisfying, as you say. However, to respond to the quoted bit above, I gravitated towards learning jazz as I has always loved the music. At first I thought I might just learn "a little" jazz & now I'm much less interested in learning anything else.

    You're right that jazz is primarily/ideally a group activity. I'm in Ireland & at the moment live music is still verboten and will be for some months to come. Hopefully when life returns to some sort of post-covid normality the few small jazz jams in my town will start back up!

    Whatever about being able to play like Tim Lerch or Joe Pass, or whomever, I think a certain amount of chord-melody type stuff is essential: e.g. when accompanying a vocalist. Also, the guitar in a jazz trio setting has to work a fair bit harder than it might in a blues trio setting. Even getting closer to that level would probably have me playing music alone in my bedroom that is satisfying (while not being quite at the level of bona-fide solo guitar arrangements).

    I really like Tim Lerch's Youtube videos (and Barry Greene too). I don't think I'll sign up for his TrueFire stuff right away, but I'm glad to hear good reports about it. I think I will take a look some day.

  25. #24

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    yea... sorry I'm also extremely busy. But here we go Bob.

    So I'm going to give some lousy and boring exercises, there are going to be 3 parts or sections. The first is Spider type of exercises or Drills, which eventually are about picking technique and phrasing with pulse and rhythmic concepts. Helps you have great time and feel, naturally. (because of organized technique)

    The second is just simple chromatic patterns. Which obviously help picking and also the rhythm/ feel and phrasing thing.

    The last moves into scales and arpeggios and fretboard organization. The 1st step of... using good technique to begin musical concepts. Actually playing.

    There is much more... but this is really just about building GOOD TECHNIQUE. You just can't do anything without it..

    I'll post an old vid about hand posture etc. just for basic references.



    1) Spider like drills... the point of spider drills begins with fingerings if you don't have basic technique.... but develops into being about PICKING technique. Part of picking technique is dynamics... both using natural results from how you pick and then about your technical skills of being to control dynamics and articulations. Hear is the start of a few.

    SPIDER style Drills

    Start in 3rd position. On low “E” string, the 6th string.
    1st finger on 3rd fret, 2nd finger on 4th fret, 3rd finger on 5th fret and 4th finger on 6th fret.
    Think and hear as one beat …with four 16th notes. Each string has four 16th notes. Slightly accent the 1st note. Then add the rest of the strings, 5th, 4th, 3rd, 2nd and 1st. Slightly accent the 1st attack on each string. Everything is just 1 e & a, 1 e & a, 1 e & a etc… All your working on is getting your fingerings and Picking. So 6th string up to 1st string and back down, then up a fret and same thing, up and back down. Maybe play from 3rd fret “G” up to “C” and back down.
    Once your able to play at some tempo… go ahead and try to play faster. It’s OK to be sloppy but try and at least have the 1st note with your 1st finger… clean and in tempo. Your hands will eventually be able to keep up with your Head. Your not training yourself to be sloppy. The slow and clean approach is for rehearing and memorizing music.
    That’s it just go through 1 drill a day or even every two days, and it’s part of the plan to use the previous drill to warm your hands and head. Try and keep a note pad going on. You sound like you can easily play these drills a MM 60, or 1 string a second, each string up and back down... 12 sec. Maybe play from 3rd fret “G” up to “C” and back down., 2 or 3 min. for 1 drill. The complete Drill A 15 to 30 min. And after a few times through... becomes easier and faster.


    1) 1 2 3 4 1st drill
    From group “A”, drills starting with 1st finger


    Drill Group “A”, single string starting with 1st finger
    1) 1 2 3 4
    2) 1 2 4 3
    3) 1 3 4 2
    4) 1 3 2 4
    5) 1 4 2 3
    6) 1 4 3 2

    That's a start... later tonight or tomorrow I'll post variations of this drill and add Chromatic drills... they can actually become fun and part of playing.

  26. #25

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    OK... so as well as the boring drills above ... there's

    Group A Group B Group C Group D
    1 2 3 4... 2 3 4 1... 3 4 1 2... 4 1 2 3
    1 2 4 3... 2 3 1 4... 3 4 2 1... 4 1 3 2
    1 3 4 2... 2 4 1 3... 3 1 2 4... 4 2 3 1
    1 3 2 4... 2 4 3 1... 3 1 4 2... 4 2 1 3
    1 4 2 3... 2 1 3 4... 3 2 4 1... 4 3 1 2
    1 4 3 2... 2 1 4 3... 3 2 1 4... 4 3 2 1

    After you start getting patters together, you'll expand drill with adding 4 strings instead of 1.
    So same finger pattern, like 1 2 3 4 on single string but of 4 strings.
    1st finger on 6th string 3rd fret "G"
    2nd finger on 5th string 4th fret "C#"
    3rd finger on 4th string 5th fret "G"
    4th finger on 3rd string 6th fret "C#"

    Then 5th, 4th, 3rd and 2nd strings
    then 4th, 3rd, 2nd and 1st strings

    Then back down and move up a fret etc... Now you actually working on technique... they will get much more difficult.
    You won't get through as many patterns.... just try and keep what ever amount of time your putting in the same.
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